A commemorative service was recently held at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Perth for the family members of Flight Sergeant Richard Hobbs, who died in a World War 2 air crash.
CAPTION: Air Commodore Robert Lawson, Director-General of History and Heritage – Air Force, addresses family members and friends of Flight Sergeant Richard Hobbs, crew member of Catalina A24-50. Story by Flight Lieutenant Karyn Markwell. Photo by Sergeant Gary Dixon.
Flight Sergeant Hobbs was a crew member of No. 11 Squadron Catalina A24-50, which was lost in September 1943 during a wartime mission.
The crash site of Catalina A24-50 was found near Fakfak in Indonesia in 2018, and a commemorative service was held in Cairns in July 2021 for the 10 crew members on board who lost their lives.
However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the family of Flight Sergeant Hobbs – who served as Catalina A24-50’s wireless operator/air gunner – was unable to travel to the event.
Air Commodore Robert Lawson, Director-General of History and Heritage – Air Force, delivered the keynote address at the service.
“It is a great privilege to be here today as we commemorate the crew of Catalina A24-50 and, in particular, Flight Sergeant Richard Hobbs,” Air Commodore Lawson said.
“We hope today offers you the chance to commemorate his service and sacrifice.”
Air Commodore Lawson presented Flight Sergeant Hobbs’ family with four medals and his Certificate of Service, along with an artefact preserved from the crash site.
The service also included a wreath-laying ceremony at the museum’s Catalina.
Catalina A24-50 failed to return from a mine-laying sortie to Sorong in occupied Dutch New Guinea on September 2, 1943.
It was not until 2018 that locals from Fakfak located its wreck on top of a small mountain in a rainforest.
Historic Unrecovered War Casualties – Air Force (HUWC–AF) sent a team to investigate the wreck.
While HUWC–AF could not recover any remains from Catalina A24-50, they did recover a wide variety of artefacts, including a portion of the aircraft’s tail painted with its serial number (A24-50), the aircraft’s anchor, the master clock from the pilot’s instrument panel and a US-made M9 flare pistol.
Director of HUWC–AF Group Captain Grant Kelly said some of the artefacts recovered from Catalina A24-50 were gifted to the Australian War Memorial for future display.
“The story of Catalina A24-50 will now be known and honoured. In reflecting on that sacrifice, we honour our past and use it to guide our future,” Group Captain Kelly said.