Tomaree Museum Association supported by Marine Rescue Port Stephens, the Port Stephens Historical Society and the Nelson Head Trust have commemorated the fatal crash of a Catalina Flying Boat at Jimmy’s Beach on the north side of Port Stephens in 1943.

Special guests, RAAF Williamtown commander, Group Captain Anthony Stanton and Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer,


The Event…

On the 24th of May, 1943 the crew of RAAF Catalina A24-384 of 3 Operational Training Unit Rathmines were conducting practice circuits and landings when a freak wave struck them.

Seven airmen out of the nine on board were killed.

Those airman who lost their lives in the accident were;

Flt Lt B.H. Higgins

PO M.A. Larkan

Sgt A.F. Craddock

FO N.J Brown

Cpl T.H. Poole

Cpl J.D. James

Lac H.G. Lovett


The memorial came about after TMA members Gabrielle Carrick and Mary Silince were researching an information Pop Up about the Catalina Flying Boats and their connection to Port Stephens during World War 2. Out of the research, Gabrielle and Mary found out about the fatal accident in 1943 and contacted Lieutenant Brian `Tubby’ Hartley Higgins’ family in Wangaratta, Victoria.

The TMA decided that such an event should be commemorated and Tubby’s nephew Brian Higgins and his wife representing the family accepted an invitation to attend Monday’s commemoration at the Inner Lighthouse on Nelson Head where he gave an informative and enjoyable speech.

For more information on the Catalina’s and the accident, visit the page on the Museum site by clicking this link.

Images of the memorial were captured by Museum member and professional photographer Henke Tobbe and are available to view in a gallery on his Flickr page here.