RAAF pilot finally awarded with US gallantry award after 72 year long “administrative oversight”

File:Beaufighter (AWM OG0001).jpg

The Royal Australian Air Force joined missions of the Allies over Papua New Guinea during the Second World War. The photograph on the right shows a Beaufighter plane flying over Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea in 1942.

(Photo Source: Australian War Memorial)

Australian airman was recently awarded with a Silver Star for courage after finally settling his case in a 72-year old “administrative oversight”. The case was settled in Canberra granting Edward “Mobs” Mobsby the award by the United States. The Silver Star medal is the third highest award the US Department of Defense grants to men who have displayed gallantry. Mr. Mobsby was on board a US plane on a mission over Papua New Guinea in 1942. Their plane was shot down and the flying officer was the only Australian on the plane. The other four men on board were also posthumously awarded with the Silver Star Medal.

There was however some confusion between the Australian and US Air Forces leading to the delay of the awarding of Flying Officer Mobsby. A statement released by the US Air Force showed their gratitude to have the matter finally cleared and the airman awarded with the much deserved medal. “Awarding the Silver Star to RAAF Flying Officer Edward Thompson Mobsby corrects a 72-year administrative oversight,” the statement said.

“By formally presenting Flying Officer Mobsby’s family with his Silver Star we have an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the gallantry and courage he exhibited alongside his American crew members so many years ago.”  Each of the air force of both countries were under the assumption that the other would grand the award to Mobsby family. During the recovery of the plane wreckage in Papua New Guinea in 2010, the family lobbied for recognition leading the countries to discover their oversight.

Wreckage of the plane shot down over Papua New Guinea in 1942.
Wreckage of the US plane shot down over Papua New Guinea in 1942 was recently recovered. Flying Officer Edward Mobsby was reportedly on board the plane on the mission when the plane crashed.

“Confusion among the services contributed to why he wasn’t awarded the Silver Star at the time,” the US Air Force statement said.  “But we are extremely thankful for the stalwart efforts of Jenny Read [Edward Mobsby’s daughter] who revived the quest for her father’s award.” Ms. Read who is from Adelaide and her twin sister Rae Rayner who is from Geelong attended the ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for the presentation of the medal.

“We’ve been overwhelmed,” Ms Read said. “We his children, grand children, great-grandchildren and our extended families are so very proud and grateful for this amazing day.” Ms. Read recalls that the aircraft his father was on board on was shot down near Buna, Papua New Guinea on July 26, 1942. “In December 2010 we were informed that the wreckage… had been positively identified as the plane in which my father was shot down,” she said. “It was located in a small village called Isoge, only a short distance from Kokoda.”

The ABC News reports that the US Air Force further stated that the awarding was an effort to right a wrong which have been missed out for a very long time.

“This award is one of the highest decorations for valour that can be awarded in our armed forces and we are thankful to finally be able to honour Flying Officer Mobsby’s gallantry in action against the enemy.”


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE