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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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RAF Crest
18.07.1945 145 Staging Post Liberator EW631 Sq/Ldr. Rayner

Operation: Freight Flight

Date: 19th July 1945 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 145 Staging Post

Type: C-87 Liberator Express C.VIII

Serial: EW631

Code: None carried

Base: RAF Mascot, Sydney, Australia

Location: Muddy Creek, North Brighton (approximately one mile west of Mascot Airfield)

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Ivan St John Rayner 41531 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Pilot 2: F/O. Frank Forden Hildreth NZ/416117 RNZAF Age 33. Killed

Fl/Eng: Fl/Sgt. Alexander Finlay Stevenson 1570436 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. Duncan McNee 187280 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

W/Op: F/O. John Leonard Till 161364 RAFVR Age 25. Killed


Commander James Edward Bass RNVR Age 27. Killed

Lieut. Commander Henry Peter Byrne RN Age 31. Killed

Leading Steward Eric Morris RN P/LX 22687 Age 26. Killed

Commander Leonard Evelyn Romaine Govett RNVR Age 37. Killed

Surgeon Lieutenant Colm Nolan RNVR Age 26. Killed

Captain John Dwight Harvey RN Age 45. Killed

Captain James Gregson Roper OBE. RN Age 44. Killed


Taking off at 20:08 hrs on a passenger and freight flight to Manus from RAF Mascot, Sydney in Australia.

Aircraft failed to gain height on take off and banked sharply to avoid hitting power cables, before clipping a pine tree and crashing into the viaduct of the Southern and Western Suburbs Sewer Outfall over Muddy Creek, where it joins the Cook's River at North Brighton.

The aircraft was carrying seven Royal Navy passengers for Manus, forward operating base of the British Pacific Fleet.

Civilian, Mr. Gordon William Knowles was awarded the George Medal for his bravery. He raved to the scene and despite the flames manage to remove one cody from the plane and with help of others pulled two more from the wreckage. Due to carbon monoxide poisoning and suffering burns he collapsed and was taken to hospital. Despite his injuries he survived.

Burial details:

11 of the fatalities were buried on the 21st July, with over 2000 people attending.

Sq/Ldr. Ivan St John Rayner. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 16. Son of Gordon Rayner and of Mabel Rayner (née Allen), of Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex, England. (His elder brother, Corporal Cyril Louis Rayner was killed on 26 October 1942, aged 27 at El Alamein whilst serving with the King's Royal Rifle Corps) Grave Inscription "Greater Love Hath No Man, R.I.P."

F/O. Frank Forden Hildreth. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 15. Born on the 09th September 1911 at Otaki. the son of John William and Mary Jane Hildreth (née Taylor), of Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Prior to enlisting on the 06th November 1941 worked as an agricultural contractor.

F/O. Duncan McNee. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 11. Son of Duncan and Helen McNee and husband of Edith Mary McNee. Grave Inscription "He, As He Flew Passed Death Upon Death Upon The Wing And, Deathless Rose To Immortality".

Fl/Sgt. Alexander Finlay Stevenson. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 9.

F/O. John Leonard Till. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 13. Son of Leonard Stephen and Nina Emily Till and husband of Phyllis Joyce Till, of Yeovil, Somerset, England. Grave Inscription "Over Land And Sea Our Prayers And Thoughts Of My Dear Beloved Husband Will Never Cease".

Commander James Edward Bass. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 1. Son of Henry Edward and Ann Elizabeth Bass and husband of Margaret Annette Bass, of Southsea, Hampshire, England. Grave Inscription "I Am The Resurrection And The Life. Lead Kindly Light".

Lieut. Commander Henry Peter Byrne. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 3. Son of Albert John Henry and Elsie Byrne, of Shripney, Sussex, England. Grave Inscription "O Valiant Heart".

Leading Steward Eric Morris. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 5. Son of John and Mary Elizabeth Morris, of Gorton, Manchester, England. Grave Inscription "Worthy Of Everlasting Remembrance. His Loving Mam And Dad".

Commander Leonard Evelyn Romaine Govett. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. A. 3. Son of Francis Algernon and Evelyn Jessica Govett and husband of Lyspeth Desirie Govett, of Boveney, Buckinghamshire, England. Grave Inscription "O Perfect Love. Beloved Above All For Ever".

Surgeon Lieut. Colm Nolan. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. A. 6. Son of John James Nolan and Teresa Nolan, of Dublin, Irish Republic. L.A.H. (Dublin). Grave Inscription "Requiem Aeternam Dola Ei Domine. Requiescat In Pace".

Captain John Dwight Harvey. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. A. 1. Son of Turlington Harvey and Mary Harvey (née Dwight) and husband of Joyce Elizabeth Harvey (née Marett) of Duxbury, Massachusetts, USA.

Captain James Gregson Roper OBE. Buried at Sydney War Cemetery, Grave Reference 2Z. B. 7. Son of John Gregson Roper and Marion Roper and husband of Margaret Roper, of Southsea, Hampshire, England. (Awarded OBE on 8 March 1940 for "exemplary conduct and cheerfulness in adversity after an explosion had occurred in his ship" whilst serving as Executive Officer in the cruiser HMS Belfast, when it was mined in November 1939.)

Researched by Steve Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew and passengers with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire also to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

KTY/SH 19.12.2019

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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