Ref: Article 048 [Beaufighter] Jap. Explosives Dump Strafed – Daring Beaufighter Raid From Height Of 10ft.
JAP. EXPLOSIVES DUMP STRAFED – DARING BEAUFIGHTER RAID FROM HEIGHT OF 10FT.
From Geoffrey Tebbutt
NEW GUINEA, - Strafing an explosives dump with cannon fire from an altitude of 10ft., a Victorian Beaufighter pilot, directed to his target by signals from Australian troops fighting in the gold-fields campaign on Saturday, barely saved his aircraft from destruction.
He was Sergeant Pilot Ronald Downing, of Moonee Ponds, navigated by Sergeant D. K. Box, of Perth.
The dump was in a native village of about 15 huts, five miles south-east of Wau, and it blew up after five rounds of cannon-fire.
The Beaufighter was thrown on its side as Downing, flying temporarily blind from the mud hurled against the cockpit cover, struggled to regain altitude. He dropped out of the formation and brought the aircraft home with its flat surfaces still caked with mud, badly holed in many places by fragments of steel, and with the controls damaged.
Downing, when he had righted the aircraft, saw that all the huts around the dump had disappeared and that smoke was rising to 1500ft.
Flying conditions on these strafing raids in the Bulolo Valley are extremely difficult. Pilots who were engaged in the Buna beach-head strafing say that the Bulolo Valley presents many more problems. The valley itself is 4000ft. above sea level, and it is surrounded by mountains which, to the south and east of the target area, are as high as 10,000ft.
The Army, which wanted certain tasks carried out in a hurry late on Saturday, has sent a message of thanks to this Beaufighter squadron for its work.
While the Beaufighters have been busy nearer to Wau itself, Bostons have been concentrating on the Japanese line of communication from Mubo, 22 miles east-north-east.