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John Norman George Dunn

This is the story of John Norman George Dunn.

John Norman George Dunn was born in Port Pirie, South Australia on the 31st October 1907 to John Henry and Eva Gertrude Dunn (nee Tunstall).

John was one of eight children raised on the farm in Wandearah, South Australia and attended Wandearah West School.

He enlisted into The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in Port Pirie on the 20th May 1940 and pursued a vocation as a flight mechanic, spending time at Evans Head, NSW. In 1944 John was attached to 5 Communication Unit at RAAF Garbutt Airfield in Townsville.

On the 22nd August 1944, after departing Higgins Field, Horn Island, Queensland for a flight to Merauke, Dutch New Guinea with a crew of two and four passengers the Noorduyn Norseman A71-1 aircraft in which they were travelling had an in-flight failure and made a forced landing into the sea in Torres Strait.

The engine failed at approximately 1000hrs causing the aircraft to ditch in about 50 feet of water, eight miles South East of Boigu Island, Papua New Guinea. All six people exited the ditched aircraft, but the pilots Mae West was faulty and he lost his life by drowning shortly after the accident.  The others set off to try and swim the eight miles to Boigu Island. Unfortunately, by the time a local arrived in a canoe some hours later three of the six survivors could not be found. Searches were carried out by sea and air on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of August with negative results, and in view of the fact that many sharks were sighted in the area on the 23rd August, it was concluded that John Dunn and Clifford Searle lost their lives while attempting to swim to the island, and upon abandonment of the search as hopeless, they were reclassified as missing believed killed.

The survivors were brought back by launch to Thursday Island where they were admitted to No. 6 Australian General Hospital suffering from burns and effects of exposure, but not seriously injured. A Court of Inquiry was held at which the survivors of the accident gave evidence.

Pilot A432268 Flight Sergeant Frank Henry Rositter; crewman A28046 Leading Aircraftman John Norman George Dunn; passenger A76295 Leading Aircraftman Clifford David Searle were missing presumed drowned; passenger A41715 Leading Aircraftman D R Tomasetti; passenger A33134 Corporal V C Robinson; passenger A130941 Leading Aircraftman A J Stormont; and passenger A63374 Leading Aircraftman L J Hart were rescued.

Leading Aircraftman John Norman George Dunn, Service Number 28046 died on the 22nd August 1944 aged 36. John has no know grave –“Known Unto God”. He is commemorated on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Canberra; Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, the City of Port Pirie WW2 Memorial Gates, Port Pirie Garden of Memory Cenotaph, Sydney Memorial (Sydney War Cemetery) Rookwood, Wandearah West Memorial and Flagpole, Wandearah Cemetery.

John’s story was collected by the Port Pirie RSL to preserve the history of people in their local community.