Graham Stanley (Jessie) JAMES


JAMES, Graham Stanley

Service Number: 416260
Enlisted: 28 April 1941
Last Rank: Sergeant
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Kersbrook, South Australia, 1 March 1918
Home Town: Kersbrook, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Aircraft accident, Hinchinbrook Channel, Queensland, Australia, Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia, 5 May 1942, aged 24 years
Cemetery: Tully Cemetery, Queensland, Australia
Methodist Plot. Sc. 3. Sb Sc. 1. Row E Grave 77, Tully Cemetery, Tully, Queensland, Australia
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Gumeracha Our Fallen Heroes WW2 Honour Board, Kersbrook Roll of Honor
Show Relationships

World War 2 Service

28 Apr 1941: Involvement Sergeant, SN 416260
28 Apr 1941: Enlisted Adelaide
28 Apr 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Sergeant, SN 416260
Date unknown: Involvement

Help us honour Graham Stanley James's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by David Barlow

RAAF Lockheed Hudson A16-162 of Number 32 Squadron experienced engine problems when it ran into a storm near Hinchinbrook Island as it returned from a long surveillance patrol in the Coral Sea

The aircraft crash-landed into some mangroves on a beach near Cardwell with only one crewmember killed: Sergeant Graham Stanley James 416260 - Son of Stanley Marden James and Elfreda Laura James of Kersbrook, SA


The rest of the crew were:

(Crew Captain) Sergeant Alwyn Ruta Samuel 405113 - discharged December 1944

Sergeant James William East 405301 - discharged January 1946

Sergeant Geoffrey Eric Fletcher 416253 - discharged June 1945


Biography contributed by Paul Padley

The Last Day

SGT Graham Stanley James or Jessie James as he was fondly called, was a Wireless Airgunner of 32 Squadron.

On the 5 th of May Graham's crew were tasked to search Area H of the Coral Sea during the famed Battle of Coral Sea. 

 From the very start of the mission things were not going to plan. The crew's co-pilot had received other tasking in support of a rescue mission, so a substitue pilot was allocated.  The crew's normal aircraft had been pulled for servicing, so a substitue aircraft was allocated and a rush ensued to meet takeoff time.
  The mission departed on time and proceeded without major incident but had to rely on dead reckoning navigation due to another couple of minor occurrences. On the leg returning to the Australia coast the team encounted a storm which would see them ultimately break off patrol, climb above the storm and attempt to return to base. 

 Off course and descending to gain visual contact with the coast the aircraft momentairly broke through storm clouds, mountains dead ahead and maybe to either side! Aerobatic wrenching of the control column saw the aircraft reverse course and head out to sea. Now out to sea and under the storm they could then again approach the coast safely and head south, though by this time they were sandwiched between heavy cloud above and being so low that the wave tops were visable in every window.   

  As they made their way south SGT Graham James was in the nose of the aircraft trying to get a radio bearing to Townville, unbeknowns to him the radio beacon at Townville had been turned off at night fall lest it provide some aid to the enemy.

  It was while in the nose, skimming above the waves, the motors coughed and died, out of fuel, moments later the aircraft impacted.

When the aircraft came to rest it was lucky enough to be only partially submerged, supported in part by sandbank and the bouyancy of the empty fuel tanks.
 Of the crew only one had survived with enough capacity to assist the others.   While the storm continued SGT Geoffery Fletcher (wireless airgunner) was able drag the unconscious pilot SGT Alwnyn Samuals, the seriously injuried (co-pilot) SGT James East to the mangroves and then return for his missing crew mate SGT Graham James and having extricated him from the submerged nose of the aircraft attempted resusitation in the storm ravaged mud and filth of the mangroves. 

When all hope had expired Geoffery turned his efforts to constructing a makeshift hammock in the mangroves from a parachute to get the injuried and injuries out of the mud and water.

In the morning upon hearing a rescue vessel Geoffery swam out into Hinchinbrook channel (complete with crocodiles) and was able to guide the vessel to the crew.

The crew were recovered to Cardwell (origin of the vessel) and from there were transfered to Tully.

SGT Graham Stanley James had been killed instantly and was buried in the Tully cemetery. The internment ceremony was attended by the whole of Tully township. His grave was adopted and tended every Sunday by Mrs Hyatt. Mrs Hyatt had lost a son in Sumartra. In later years tending of the grave was taken over by Mrs French (Mrs Hyatts daughter) and the RSL.

SGT Alywn Samuel was admitted to Tully Hospital, later discharged to sick leave then developed Dengue Fever as a consquence of that night on the mosquito riddled mudflates.

SGT James East spent a month in Tully hospital before release, as result of his injuries he was medically restricted from flying. Discharged to civilian life after the war he died 9 years after the accident never having fully regained his health from his injuries.

SGT Geoffrey Fletcher returned to 32 SQN and a few days after the crash departed to New Guinea where he served with distinction.  His actions on the night of the 5 May in rescuing his crew mates and then facilating their recovery were never recognised.  Geoffrey died in 1959 after a short illness partly attributed to his war service.

The 32SQN Aircraft A16-162 was recovered from Hinchinbrook Channel to the Cardwell Township where it was disassembled and shipped to Townsville.

The above information has been supplied by Alwyn Samuel;The Fletcher Family; The people of the Townships of Cardwell and Tully.