Arthur Drohen MEADOW


MEADOW, Arthur Drohen

Service Number: 9034
Enlisted: 13 February 1940
Last Rank: Aircraftman
Last Unit: No. 11 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Port Pirie, South Australia, 11 April 1920
Home Town: Solomontown, Port Pirie, South Australia
Schooling: Solomontown and Port Pirie High Schools, South Australia
Occupation: Wireless Mechanic
Died: Flying Battle, Yambo, east of Lae, New Guinea, 21 January 1942, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, City of Port Pirie WW2 Memorial Gates, Lae Memorial
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World War 2 Service

13 Feb 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 9034, RAAF Ground Training Units
13 Feb 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 9034, RAAF Ground Training Units, Laverton, VIC
21 Jan 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 9034, No. 11 Squadron (RAAF), Battle of Rabaul

Help us honour Arthur Drohen Meadow's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Faithe Jones

Son of William and Mary Edith MEADOW, Solomontown, SA

Educated at Solomontown and Port Pirie High Schools he was a wireless mechanic in civil life.  He enlisted in R.A.F. on 9th February 1940, and has been killed in action in Lae, New Guinea on the Catalina flying boat on January 21st 1942.  The Catalina was damaged by enemy action and crashed near the coast.  His brother Cpl. Norman James MEADOW is also in the R.A.A.F.

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Arthur Drohen MEADOW (1920-1942)

Arhur Meadow was rostered on as 1st Wireless Operator, on RAAF Catalina, No. A24.9, of No. 11 Squadron RAAF, during the lead up to the Battle of Rabaul in early 1942.  The aircraft was commanded by Lieutenant George Hutchinson of the US Navy, who had been seconded to the RAAF early in the Pacific War.

On 15 January 1942, Hutchinson's crew in A24.13 was accompanying another Catalia on a raid on Truk Lagoon from Kavieng in New Ireland.  Hutchison's aircraft took off successfully despite a heavy swell running. but the second, A24.11 was destroyed when one of its bombs detonated, killing the entire crew.  Hutchinson landed his aircraft but there was nothing to be done.  Their takeoff was delayed but they conducted the raid later that day, in company with A24-14, arriving over Truk (a major Japanese shipping base) and bombed the target returning without incident.

Just six days later, flying in in A24-9, they were tasked to convey signals equipment from Port Moresby to Salamaua.  They were intercepted by five Japanese Zero fighters.  The following account came from Tom Keen, the only survivor of the incident described (1):

They had crossed the Owen Stanleys further east so they didn't require as much altitude. They were at 1,000 feet when we spotted Japanes fighters in the distance, and then climbed for the cloud base at 7,000 feet.  The Japanese fighters caught them at about 5,000 feet.

Co-pilot Tom Rowe ran from his seat to the rear to coordinate defensive fire from both side blisters (the large characteristic perspex bubbles on the Catalina's rear fuselage).  Four zeros attacked while one loitered above as top cover.  The first burst shattered Keen's blister while he loosed off a long burst at the attacking zero which dived away causing Tom Rowe to shout "you got him!".  A fire started in  the rear and then the other blister was hit wounding gunner Bruce Craigie who clutched his shoulder and fell.  The fire consumed  the Catalina's fabric control surfaces , while Keen heard Hutchinson calling Moresby to let them know he was jettisoning bombs.  Flames were now burng Keen's back, and one of his twin guns had seized.  The sights had been shot away.  Craigie was slumped over his guns, dead.   The Catalina was slowing, approaching stall speed, and with the potential for un-jettisoned bombs to detonate, so Keen decided it was time to get out.

He grabbed a parachute and dived out of the shattered blister without having time to put on the harness.  He managed to hook one arm through the harness and pulled the ripcord with the other.  A Zero dived past him firing as it went.  Keen played dead, and observed the Catalina fall and explode into a ridge about a mile away, the shock wave rocking his parachute. After landing in trees, which left him dangling two metres above the ground, he dropped to earth to hide from the marauding Zeros.

When the Zeros left, Keen trudged towards the coast on native paths and soon met up with locals who escorted him to Lau Mission.  The Mission despatched a party to the crash site but all they found were three charred bodies in a clearing where the wreckage had disintegrated.

Keen returned to Port Moresby ten days later after his misdaventure.  George Hutchinson became the first US airman to die in the South Pacific.  Seven RAAF aircrew died in the crash.

LT George Hutchinson [USN] (1st Pilot)
P/O Tom Rowe [400293] (2nd Pilot) - 
SGT Doug Coote [407763] (Extra Crew - Wireless Operator) -
CPL Jack Wyche [12217] (1st Engineer)
LAC Arthur Meadow [9034] (1st Wireless Operator)

LAC Alan Downes [16809] (2nd Wireless Operator)
LAC John 'Bruce') Craigie [22050] (Armourer)
AC1 Kenneth Murphy [15165] (2nd Engineer)

CPL Tom Keen survived the crash and evenetually made his way back to Port Moresby.


1.  Claringbold M.J. and Ingman, P. (2017) South Pacific Air War Vol 1 The Fall of Rabaul December 1941-March 1942, Avonmore Books ISBN 978-0-9945889-4-4  (1) pp81,82

2. ADF Serials - (