Arthur Maurice WELCH

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WELCH, Arthur Maurice

Service Number: 418026
Enlisted: 24 April 1942
Last Rank: Flying Officer
Last Unit: No. 10 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Toorak, Stonnington - Victoria, Australia, 22 August 1914
Home Town: Toorak, Stonnington, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: U Boat attacked and sunk but aircraft lost, Atlantic Ocean, 1 August 1943, aged 28 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Runnymede Air Forces Memorial
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World War 2 Service

24 Apr 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 418026, Aircrew Training Units
1 Aug 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 418026, No. 10 Squadron (RAAF), Battle of the Atlantic - RAN and RAAF Operations

No. 10 Squadron, RAAF - Sinking of U454 and loss of Sunderland W4020

On 1 August 1943 while Flight Lieutenant Fry (No. 10) was cooperating with 2nd Escort Group in this same area he saw a U-boat travelling surfaced at ten knots in a very rough sea only six miles from the sloops. He swung immediately towards the enemy and flew overhead, then made a tight turn to port to attack from the U-boat’s starboard quarter against very accurate fire. His starboard-inner engine was hit, and when the Sunderland closed to 400 yards a shell exploded in the starboard main fuel tank and petrol flooded the bridge. All three pilots were probably seriously wounded at this point but Fry with supreme determination pressed home the attack. The tail gunner saw the U-boat enveloped in the explosion plumes and then sink bows first. The Sunderland maintained course for about six miles, turned towards the ships and plunged into the sea, bouncing twice before settling heavily into the 15-foot swell. Meanwhile HMS Wren turned immediately to help the crashed aircraft. When it arrived ten minutes later all that remained was a stump of the mainplane with five of the crew clinging to it while a sixth man was seen swimming a quarter of a mile away. It was too rough to launch a boat even after oil had been pumped into the sea, but five men were hauled aboard by lifebelt and a seaman dived overboard and supported the other who was near exhaustion. Fry himself, whose indomitable spirit and skill combined to make this attack under conditions which might well have daunted the bravest heart, did not survive; but those members of his crew rescued soon learned that U454 had been broken in two and had sunk within thirty seconds.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 443

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Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

418026 FLGOFF Arthur Maurice WELCH (1914-43)
 

2nd Navigator - 418026 FLGOFF Arthur Maurice WELCH .  He was born in Toorak Victoria on 22 Aug 1914, and enlisted on the 24th of April, 1942. His name is listed at Panel 100 at the AWM.He was the 2nd Navigator aboard Sunderland W4020 on 1st August 1943 when it attacked and sank U-454.  The Sunderland was damaged and crash landed at sea and broke up on impact, killing six of the twelve crew. His name is listed at Panel 99 at the AWM. See the personal story tab.

Of the 12 man crew, Arthur Welch and 5 others were killed. The remainder survived the war. The names of those killed in this action are listed on the Runnymede Memorial and in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Hamilton Roland Dacre BUDD's name is listed at Panel 99 at the AWM.

From a tribute to the aircraft Captain, Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Gregson FRY, MID, which was compiled by members of the Highgate RSL, the crew comprised:

Captain - 407057 Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Gregson FRY, MID, KIA. Born 10 August 1913 Adelaide SA.  Kenneth had enlisted on the 27th of May, 1940. His name is listed at Panel 99 at the AWM, on the Glenelg (SA) WW2 Honour Roll and on the Wall of Remembrance in Adelaide, SA.

2nd Pilot - 416307 Flying Officer (FLGOFF) Hamilton Roland Dacre BUDD, born Murwullimbah NSW 18 Apr 1915.  He enlisted on the 25th of May, 1941. On the 1st of August, 1943, he was 2nd Pilot on board RAAF No. 10 Squadron Sunderland W4020 when the aircraft was lost in action.

First Pilot - 410218 FLGOFF John Maxwell CURTIS. KIA. Born in Ballarat, 16 July 1921, John had enlisted on the 5th of December, 1941. His name is also listed at Panel 99 at the AWM.

KIA29746 FSGT John Edmund FRYER, KIA. John was born in Claremont WA on 06 Mar 1909, and had enlisted on the 28th of January, 1941. He was a Fitter 2A on board Sunderland W4020 on 1 August 1943.  

Air Gunner - 27964 SGT Herbert Barry LYDEAMORE, born 22 Apr 1913 in Rose Park, SA, and living in Port Pirie SA when he enlisted on the 1st of July, 1940. His name is listed at Panel 100 at the AWM and on the Wall of Remembrance in Adelaide, SA.

Survivors

Air Gunner - 420734 Flight Sergeant (FSGT) Donald Ian CONACHER born in Sydney 8 March 1923, and had enlisted on the 9th of November, 1941. He survived, was rescued, and, later commissioned. Donald was serving as a Flight Lieutenant with No. 10 Squadron when discharged on the 30th of June, 1945.

Radio Operator - 405965 FSGT Phillip Edward COOK, born 17th June 1922 in Goondiwindi  Queensland, and enlisted on the 17th of July, 1941. He survived and was serving as a Warrant Officer with No. 10 Squadron when discharged on the 30th of June, 1945.

Armourer - 41635 Sergeant (SGT) Jack HASLEM, born 21 Apr 1920 in Albury NSW, had initially served with the Australian Army. Jack enlisted to the Army as S/No. V64029 on the 9th of August, 1940. He was serving as a Sapper with 20 Army Field Company and took discharge on the 6th of July, 1941 in order to join the RAAF the following day, 7th of July, 1941. Jack survived, was rescued and was serving as a Leading Aircraftman with No. 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot when discharged on the 8th of August, 1945.

2nd Flight Engineer - 17142 SGT Frederick Olaf PETTERSSON was born in Cottlesloe, WA on 11 Oct 1914 and enlisted on the 1st of July, 1940. He survived this crash, received promotions through to WOFF and was discharged at No. 5 Personnel Depot on the 28th of May, 1946.

Navigator - 407932 Flying Officer John Hereford PORTUS, DFC was born in Cessnock, NSW on 12 May 1913 and enlisted on the 3rd of February, 1941. He was also rescued and was serving as a Flight Lieutenant at No. 4 Embarkation Depot when discharged on the 4th of August, 1944.

Radio Operator - 416911 FSGT Ronald Gifford WELFARE was born at Semaphore, SA on 03 Nov 1916.  He  enlisted on the 11th of October, 1941. He survived this crash, was later Commissioned and was serving as a FLGOFF with No. 10 Sqn when discharged on the 24th of September, 1945. 

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