Flying Officer Lyle Manhire McLAREN

Service No: 416874
Born: Wagin WA, 17 January 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1941 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 100 Squadron
Died: Air Operations (No. 100 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-571), Wewak, 20 May 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Colin Roy and Violet Alice McLaren; husband of Lorna Jean McLaren, of Largs Bay, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 6, Lae Memorial, PNG
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

While on a bombing mission at Wewak on 20 May 1944, Beaufort A9-571 was shot down by ground fire and ditched. Two crew members were killed by ground fire after the ditching, one was last seen swimming away to sea and the fourth crew members was rescued by a USN patrol boat. The crew members of A9-571 were:

Flying Officer Sydney Louis Anderson (410192) (Navigator) Killed by ground fire
Flying Officer Raymond Arnold Graetz MC (417175) (Wireless Air Gunner) Rescued, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 September 1946
Flight Sergeant Francis Maloney (410995) (Wireless Air Gunner) Last seen swimming away
Flying Officer Lyle Manhire McLaren (416874) (Pilot) Killed by ground fire

Flying Officer Graetz who survived the crash, evaded capture behind enemy lines for 10 days, was rescued by a PT boat and returned safe to his unit on 30 May 1944. For his exploits he was awarded the Military Cross. In a later report he stated. “We dropped our bombs about 30 miles west of But. Going home we strafed. But mission from about 100 feet, the port engine was hit and Aircraft filled with black smoke. Aircraft ditched 20 yards from beach. Nobody injured. The Japanese opened up with several machine guns from the rising ground behind But mission. The first burst of about 3 seconds was very accurate, the navigator Flying Officer Anderson being killed. The second burst of fire holed the dinghy which started to fill with water. The remaining three men jumped and started to swim alongside the dinghy and tow it to seaward when the third burst of fire collapsed the dinghy completely and killed the pilot (Flying Officer McLaren). I was hit and the lobe of my right ear was shot away. I started to swim west away from the fire. I last saw Flight Sergeant Moloney swimming seawards.”


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 262

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