A plaque was unveiled at the Busselton War Memorial on September 9 to honour the four crew members and one passenger who went missing in a RAAF Beaufort Bomber 77 years ago. 

The dedication ceremony honoured the service and ultimate sacrifice of Flight Lieutenant Arthur M. Aitken, Flight Sergeant Peter D. Hastie, Flight Lieutenant Cedric S. Richards, Flight Sergeant Alexander Emerson and Captain Harry D. Kolbig.

No. 14 Squadron's Beaufort Bomber A9-317 failed to return to RAAF Base Busselton on September 9, 1943, and the aircraft was never found.

The ceremony was a chance for families of the lost Defence members to come together with the Busselton RSL to reflect on their loss and celebrate their service to the nation.

Pamela Harrison has led a search for the missing aircraft for the past six years. 

She said holding the ceremony was the least that could be done to recognise the five men.

“The plaque will be installed on the wall at the Busselton War Memorial for anyone to see and acknowledge - these five lads deserve it so much,” Mrs Harrison said.

“They died protecting our coastline and country and are just as important as those poor souls who died overseas in unknown watery or earthly graves far from home. 

“Only the lads on the plane that fateful day in 1943 know what really happened. I have been trying to find answers to this mystery for years to bring peace and recognition to the lads and their relatives.”

RAAF honoured the lost members and the Beaufort aircraft with a flypast over the ceremony by a Hawk 127 Lead-in Fighter from No. 79 Squadron at RAAF Base Pearce.

Commanding Officer No. 79 Squadron Wing Commander Simon Ashworth said the Air Force and the ADF would never forget the contribution of those who came before.

“Our Australian society is borne from the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families and it’s imperative that they understand our appreciation and that we never forget their contribution,” Wing Commander Ashworth said.

“It is always humbling to reflect on the incredible bravery of the young men and women who fought in World War II and while COVID-19 has made it difficult for us to gather in remembrance, it was an honour to take part in this dedication ceremony.

“I am so proud my squadron performed a flypast for this occasion. There is no more appropriate and poignant way to honour our fellow aircrew than to fly over as a mark of respect and remembrance.”