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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 193194
Last updated: 26 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic L37 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed Ventura V
Owner/operator:17 Sqn SAAF
Registration: FP586
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Aircraft missing
Location:Eastern Mediterranean -   Palestine
Phase: En route
Departure airport:St Jean
Destination airport:
In January 1944 the Venturas of Lt-Col G. T. Mollís 17 Sqn SAAF, now based at St Jean in Palestine, flew 576 hours 25 minutes on convoy and area patrols, anti-submarine and special searches during January, with the regular Famagusta-Haifa convoy as a primary task. Training on radar, astro-navigation and high-level bombing practice had also kept the crews occupied.

In the evening of the 28th, Lt Hugo A Schonken and his crew (Lt Allan Earl, F/Sgt John Anderson and F/Sgt Garth V Hare) took off at 1930 hrs with the Ventura V FP586 from St Jean to escort convoy ROSE from Famagusta to Haifa in poor weather but failed to return. The last R.D.F. plot on the aircraft was at 2024 hrs, presumably in the vicinity of the convoy.

Immediately he was overdue a search was instituted and was carried on for 48 hours without any trace of the missing aircraft being found. Wellingtons from the OTU at Aqir and Hurricanes of 127 Sqn RAF from St Jean took part to the search. During the search a Wellington was lost at sea and 17 Sqn SAAF in turn assisted in the search for it.

This was the first crew lost by the squadron and it came as a shock to the while unit. What upset everyone was the lack of any evidence of what had happened to them. Lts Schonken and Earl, despite their youth were most competent at their respective jobs as pilot and navigator. They and their two gunners were a sad loss both as an experienced operational crew and as four very fine personalities. Speculation as their fate was rife but served no useful purpose and in fact did more harm than good to morale.

Crew (all lost):
Lt Hugo A Schonken (pilot)
Lt Allan Earl (navigator)
F/Sgt John Anderson (air gunner)
F/Sgt Garth V Hare (air gunner)


"Eagles victorious: The operations of the South African forces over the Mediterranean and Europe, in Italy, the Balkans and the Aegean, and from Gibraltar and West Africa", by Henry James Martin and Neil D. Orpen. ISBN: 0868430080
AIR 54/61, 17 Sqn SAAF ORB, January 1944

Revision history:

31-Jan-2017 16:47 Laurent Rizzotti Added
31-Jan-2017 16:48 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Country]

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