Aircraftman Francis Neaylon (20361) was born on 2 May 1920 in Petersham, New South Wales, to Joseph Patrick and Olive Myra Neaylon. He lived with his mother at 33 Johns Street, Woollahra, New South Wales.
Before he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Neaylon had been employed by Grimes Control Garages, A.A.A. Garage, Oxford Street, Woollahra, and Eveready Batteries Ltd, and was experienced in motor repairs. He had also worked as a cart assistant for Dairy Farmers Milk Co, Spring Street, Waverly, and as a chauffeur for two years with A. C. Brennan Real Estate in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
Neaylon enlisted in the RAAF on 10 December 1940 and was serving at RAAF Station Darwin when Darwin was bombed on 19 February 1942.
The only aerial defence during the bombing was provided by a squadron of Kittyhawks from the 33rd Pursuit Squadron USAAF. Led by Major Floyd Pell, the Kittyhawks had just arrived back in Darwin after turning back from a flight to Koepang because of bad weather. Four pilots, including Major Pell, were killed as they fought bravely against the overwhelming number of Japanese Zeros.
Seven RAAF Station personnel also died on the ground, including Aircraftman Neaylon. Neaylon had jumped into a trench with Barton, Latham and Smith during the second raid. All four were killed instantly when their trench received a direct hit. Neaylon was twenty-one years old. Buildings and facilities on the airfield were also severely damaged but the base continued to operate throughout the war.
Neaylon’s father, Joseph, served in the 30th Battalion during World War I (1353) and then served again in 1 Australian Signal Corp as a Signalman during World War II (NX20935). Joseph was in the Middle East when his son was killed in Darwin; the Sydney Morning Herald (3 June 1942) reported how Joseph learnt of his death some months later when he returned to Australia.
Can you tell us more about this person? Please contact us.