Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Windibank FRETWELL

459 RAAF Squadron

RAF Service Number: 1358319 (RAF - WAG)

Below is an extract from “Desert Scorpions” - A History of 459 Squadron RAAF by Leon Kane-Maguire


On 3rd of February 1944, Pilot officer William Lupton and four other crew members lost their lives on a radar training flight in the newly arrived Ventura “S” FP543. To assist in the use of the ASD radar, Lupton had taken with him, as well as his standard crew (pilot Officer P G Lee, Sgt J D Jones, and Sgt G W Fretwell) one of the squadron radar technicians, Leading Aircraftman George Campbell.


They took off from Gumbut at 08:40 hours but when they had not returned after the aircraft’s limit of endurance, two other Squadron Venturas and a B-25 from nearby USAF unit began a search.


Wreckage of the missing aircraft was eventually sighted by one of the Venturas piloted by Flying Officer Lindsay Caldow. The broker remains were strewn on a beach near a wrecked ship at Cape Azzaz, some 30 miles north east of Gambut.


The CO, Wing Commander Peter Henderson, immediately took off in another Ventura to inspect the crash seen. A search party, including the Medical Officer, Flight Lieutenant Duncan Henderson, set out the same night but could not locate the wreck.


The following morning, the search party set out again and reached the crash site at midday. All five members of the crew were found to be dead, with multiple fractures and the aircraft was a total wreck.

  • Facebook
  • YouTube

© 2018 - 454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons Association