407225 Flying Officer Brendan John DAVIS
– killed in a flying accident on 29 August 1942
Brendan John DAVIS was born at Victor Harbor on 15 December 1920, the only son of Edward Joseph DAVIS and Coral Neta DAVIS (nee Grosvenor). The family later moved to Adelaide and after his schooling Brendan joined the South Australian Police Force. Following his cadet training he was posted as a junior constable in the mounted division.
On 27 March 1940, Brendan, age 19, enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve and undertook his basic training at No. 1 Initial Training School (ITS) at Somers, Victoria. Apart from basic training, the role of the ITS was to determined whether a recruit was suitable for either pilot, navigator or air gunnery training. He was mustered for pilot training and on 17 August 1940, was posted to No. 7 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) at Western Junction, Tasmania. He trained on Tiger Moths and in early December 1940, was posted to No. 1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) for further training in single-engine aircraft at Point Cook. He was awarded his flying badge on 6 February 1941, graded as an above-average pilot, and commissioned as a Pilot Officer (P-O).
P-O DAVIS’ first posting was to No. 4 Squadron in Canberra. This Squadron was equipped with CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) Wirraways and pilots trained in a variety of roles including dive-bombing, ground attack and photo-reconnaissance. His service record reveals he was also trained in army co-operation. On 8 October 1941, he was promoted to the rank of Flying Officer (F-O) and in February 1942, was posted to No. 24 Squadron at Townsville. The Squadron was equipped with Wirraways and Lockheed Hudson bombers. General-purpose training and maritime patrols were conducted with little incident until early December 1941 when 24 Squadron moved to Rabaul in New Guinea.
When Japan entered the war, patrols were intensified and, as Japanese forces moved closer, attacks were mounted against their bases. Rabaul soon came under attack from enemy aircraft and on 20 February 1942, over 100 enemy aircraft struck at the island. Eight Wirraways took off to intercept the raiders but were immediately attacked by a large force of Japanese Zero fighters. The Zero was a superior plane and the Wirraways were no match for them. Three of the Squadron’s planes were shot down, two crash-landed and another was damaged. In the face of a superior force, the Squadron was soon withdrawn to Townsville.
In May 1942, Brendan was attached to Kanga Force in New Guinea. This army unit had been recently formed and consisted of the 1st and 2/5th Independent Companies and the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. Its mission was to conduct a number of small-scale raids and reconnaissance operations around Lae and Salamua against the enemy forces. FO DAVIS undertook a number of reconnaissance flights in and around the islands gathering much needed information for Kanga Force headquarters.
On 28 August 1942, he ferried a Kittyhawk to Milne Bay. The next day a Japanese convoy was reported approaching Milne Bay and all available aircraft were ordered to attack. Brendan was one of the pilots in the attacking force. On his return to base at Fall River, New Guinea, his approach was too low and the aircraft hit a coconut tree on the side of the airstrip; ground crew had placed the marker lights on the wrong side of the airstrip. The port wing was seen to drop and the plane crashed into the nearby coconut plantation. Brendan suffered serious injuries in the crash and died of his injuries one hour later. He was later buried in the Port Moresby Bomana War Cemetery.