The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has conducted a memorial service for the families of the 10 crew members of RAAF No. 11 Squadron Catalina A24-50 who perished on a war-time mission 78 years ago. In honour of the lost aviators, a No. 11 Squadron P-8A Poseidon flypast opened the commemoration held at the Catalina Memorial on the Cairns Esplanade. Catalina A24-50 was reported missing on 2 September 1943 while on a sea-mining operation to Sorong, in occupied Dutch New Guinea. Initial searches found no sign of the aircraft, however in April 2018 it was finally located at Fakfak in Papua, Indonesia.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld said a joint Australian Defence Force-TNI (Indonesia military) operation to the crash site helped bring closure for the descendants of the 10 Catalina crew members. “Today we demonstrated our unwavering commitment to honouring the service and sacrifice of Australian military personnel from all theatres of war, no matter the passage of time,” Hupfeld said. “Families were today presented with service medals, certificates of service and, importantly, artefacts recovered from the crash site. Our hope is that families will take some comfort in knowing the resting place of their loved ones and their aircraft after such a long time. While we remember and honour those Australian Defence Force members lost in service to our country, we must also acknowledge the families who sustained life on the home front during those war years, and who continue to do so today. Theirs is no lesser service or sacrifice.”


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