RECORDS show that the Beaufort crashed into St Georges Basin on January 17, 1944.
The plane was serving with the Base Torpedo Unit/6OTU.
The crew included: Flight Sergeant John Frederick Francis Doepel (pilot), Flt Sgt John Francis Cokeyne Frith 427082 (observer), Flying Officer Douglas William Thomas 285135 (observer instructor), Flt Sgt George Freeman 408647 and Flt Sgt Frank Harold Appeldore 416480 (WAGS).
A long-time local navy aviator and reservist with 40 years’ experience, Cris George has researched a number of aircraft crashes in the area, including numerous Beaufort incidents.
Mr George’s records have a series of 11 serious Beaufort accidents occurring over an 11-day period April 3-14, 1943, resulting in 10 fatalities and one injury. This period included the collision over Jervis Bay.
There was another period when a particularly high accident rate was experienced from January 5 to February 11, 1944, when 11 Beauforts were lost or seriously damaged and 12 aircrew killed, which would include the Basin crash.
There were other losses, injuries and deaths outside these periods, in Beauforts and other aircraft types.