Plaque honours wartime losses

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Email Jackson Lavell-Lee
RAAF Wing Commander Simon Ashworth and Navy Sea Power Centre Lieutenant Will Singer salute Sergeant Hastie’s niece Priscilla Smith
Camera IconRAAF Wing Commander Simon Ashworth and Navy Sea Power Centre Lieutenant Will Singer salute Sergeant Hastie’s niece Priscilla Smith Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

A Royal Australian Air Force Hawk 127 flew over Busselton on Wednesday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of a lost Bristol Beaufort Bomber which disappeared after leaving the RAAF Busselton base.

On September 9, 1943, Bristol Beaufort Bomber A9-317 with a crew of four and one passenger, left the base at 11.50am on a seaward scan for enemy shipping from D’Entrecasteaux Point to Rottnest Island. The bomber was sighted and said to be flying normally by the MV Nordnes at 2.02pm 45 nautical miles off D’Entrecasteaux Point, however, the plane was never seen again.

The four crew included two WA servicemen, Lieutenant Arthur M Aitken and Sergeant Peter D. Hastie, and two Victorians, Lieutenant Cedric S. Richards and Sergeant Alexander Emerson.

The passenger was Army temporary Captain Harry Kolbig of Adelaide from the Australian Air Liaison Section.

Seventy-seven years later, a plaque was unveiled at the Busselton War Memorial in honour of the young men who never returned to their families.

The unveiled plaque at Busselton War Memorial
Camera IconThe unveiled plaque at Busselton War Memorial Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

Relatives travelled from Kalgoorlie, Albany, Perth and Manjimup to acknowledge the young men, along with Defence Forces Personnel, RSL Members and City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley.

Sergeant Hastie’s niece Priscilla Smith attended the ceremony and spoke of the cathartic end to historic investigation into the crash.

“We would never have known as much about the mystery of the plane crash if it wasn’t for this plaque,” she said.

“I’m very proud to represent our family and all of the men deserve to be honoured because they were all so young.”

The ceremony was made possible by the diligent hard work of hobby historian Pamela Harrison.

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