William Oliver BECKETT


BECKETT, William Oliver

Service Number: 43169
Enlisted: 27 June 1941, Admitted as a General Clerk. Stationed at Amberley, Qld.
Last Rank: Leading Aircraftman
Last Unit: Aircrew Training Units
Born: Nundah, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 24 November 1920
Home Town: Stafford, City of Brisbane, Queensland
Schooling: Nundah Primary School (Grade 7), Stotts Business College, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Clerk, Sanitarium Health Foods Co.
Died: MIA presumed Dead after Flying Battle, Koepang, Timor, 30 January 1942, aged 21 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Adelaide River War Cemetery, Australia Panel 11.
Memorials: Adelaide River Northern Territory Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 2 Service

27 Jun 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 43169, RAAF Ground Training Units, Admitted as a General Clerk. Stationed at Amberley, Qld.
21 Jul 1941: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman, SN 43169, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
6 Nov 1941: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, Stationed in Darwin.
7 Dec 1941: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, SN 43169, Australia's Northern Periphery

Help us honour William Oliver Beckett's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Tracey Sullivan

William Oliver Beckett was born in Nundah, a suburb of Brisbane, Qld, on 24 November 1920 to James Oliver and Helen McDermott Beckett.  James was a Chef and confectioner. Helen a homemaker.

William was the 3rd eldest of 6 children. 3 boys and 3 girls. He attended the local primary school until Grade 7. He was always trying to better himself and attended AM College for 2 years and in 1935 attended night school at Stott's Business College studying typewriting and book-keeping whilst working as a clerk for Sanitarium Health Foods.

William was raised Methodist, but converted to Seventh Day Adventist upon his engagement to Daphne May Backhouse in 1940. Daphne and her family were from Cooranbong, in NSW. Daphne's father, Gustav was a German immigrant and her mother Dora, was the daughter of Joseph Everson Steed, a Seventh Day Adventist missionary.

Unfortunately, William was killed before they could marry.

In 1947, at the age of 24, Daphne married a German immigrant, Langdon Ochotomann and had a son, she died at the age of 90, in 2012.

William joined the Airforce in June 1941 as a General Clerk and was stationed at Amberley Qld.  He was 20 years and 6 months old requiring his father's permission to join. 

William was 6ft tall with an olive complexion, black hair and hazel eyes.  He weighed about 70kgs (156lbs).  He was described on his enrollment application as "a fair type" with a "clean and neat appearance".

He attended Signals School at Point Cook RAAF Base in Victoria in July 1941.  His report said he was a "conscientious trier" and of "good character".

Aircraftsman First Class Beckett was transferred to Darwin on 23 January 1942.  

He was listed as "Missing Believed Killed" after a flying battle on 30 January 1942, over Koepang, Timor, Netherlands, East Indies.  Just 7 days after arriving in Darwin.

He was listed as "Presumed Dead" on 21 May 1942.

His body was never recovered.  His memorial is located at the Northern Territory Memorial, Adelaide River, Northern Territory, Australia.

He had been in service for a total of 230 days, and had just turned 21 at the time of his death.

He was awarded the Pacific Star War Medal 1939-1945.

Thank you for serving, William Oliver Beckett. RIP.




Biography contributed by David Barlow

Qantas Empire Airways Flying Boat G-AMUH “CORIO” was shot down by Japanese aircraft during a flight from Darwin to Koepang, Timor in the Netherlands East Indies


The aircrew (RAAF Reserve) that were killed are commemorated on the Ambon Memorial, Maluku, Indonesia (note: not on the WW2 nominal roll, no Personnel or Casualty files are held by the NAA) -

Pilot Officer Archibald Sloan Patterson (Radio Officer) 268075

Pilot Officer William George Cruickshank (Purser) 267534

Leading Aircraftman Sidney Charles Elphick (Steward) 301034


The RAAF personnel on board as passengers enroute to Timor are commemorated on the Northern Territory Memorial - Additional information on this incident is provided on the entry for Sergeant James Charles McMillan 6544

Corporal Edward George Kerr 18607

Aircraftman William Oliver Beckett 43169

Aircraftman John Henry Holliday 403513

Aircraftman Gordon Charles Van Treight 8041

Aircraftman James De Pinna 60211

Aircraftman William Norman Lee 34535


Also killed:

Mister E. Cutfield of Sarawak (CWGC - Civilian War Dead)

Mister G. A. Farrelly of Sarawak (CWGC - Civilian War Dead)

RAN Paymaster Lieutenant David William McCulloch HMAS Leeuwin - commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in England



Captain Aubrey Albert Koch from Tasmania (Flying Boat Commander). Received a broken right leg and machine-gun bullet wounds in the left arm and left leg.  Evacuated to Darwin where he was caught up in the first Japanese raid on the town.

First Officer Victor Lyne - served in RAAF January 1938 - March 1941 - discharged as a Flying Officer from the Signals School

Passenger - Mister Frank Moore - Sarawak Civil Servant (Aged 32)

Passenger - Mister John Fisher - Sarawak Civil Servant (Aged 30)

Passenger - RAN Paymaster Lieutenant Bruce Lempriere Westbrook - discharged January 1946