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Missing WWII airmen remains recovered

MEDIA RELEASE

THE HON. BRUCE SCOTT, MP Minister for Veterans Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

Sunday 29 October, 2000 MIN 311/00


MISSING WWII AIRMEN REMAINS RECOVERED IN PNG

The Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott, today announced that the remains of two World War II Australian airmen have been recovered by the Royal Australian Air Force, 57 years after they were reported as missing in action.

Mr Scott said the remains were recovered near the wreck of an RAAF Beaufighter A19-97 that crashed 40 kilometres south-east of Rabaul on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

"The aircraft, from the RAAF's Number 30 Squadron, was part of a large force of allied aircraft involved in an attack on Tobera airfield and was last seen climbing to attack a Japanese fighter on the 12th of October 1943," he said.

"The remains, positively identified by RAAF Reserve forensic specialists, are those of Flight Lieutenant Derrick Robert Stone (Pilot) and Flying Officer Edward Burford Morris-Hadwell (Wireless Air Observer), of 30 Squadron."

Both of the deceased airmen are listed on the Monument to the Missing at the Bita Paka War Cemetery, Rabaul, and their remains will be interred with full military honours at Bita Paka War Cemetery, 15 November, 2000. A memorial plaque will also be erected at the crash site.

Flight Lieutenant Stone's wife and daughter have been informed of the discovery although, to date the RAAF has yet been unable to locate or contact any of the family of the late Flying Officer Morris-Hadwell.

"I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the families of these gallant airmen," the Minister said.

"It is always with mixed emotions that I receive the news of these discoveries, however, I understand the sense of relief experienced by families in such circumstances, and I thank all involved in this current operation.

"Every effort has been made to contact the family of Flying Officer Morris-Hadwell, and I hope through this announcement we can quickly locate his next-of-kin," Mr Scott said.

Next-of-Kin of Flying Officer Morris-Hadwell should contact Wing Commander Ron Hodges at Air Force Headquarters on 02 6265 3939 during working hours.

The RAAF will assist family members to attend the funeral at Rabaul.

ENDS


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