Private Arthur Trevor Jorgensen

Service number QX60848
Birth Date 1925-04-17
Death Date 1945-09-18
Death Place Netherlands East Indies: Dutch New Guinea
Final Rank Private
Service Australian Army
Unit 2/31st Australian Infantry Battalion
Place Dutch New Guinea
Conflict/Operation Second World War, 1939-1945

Arthur Trevor Jorgensen (known as Trevor) was born at Toowoomba, Queensland, on 17 April 1925 to parents Arthur and Wilhelmina (née Naumann). He spent his early years on the family’s wheat farm at Ellangowan before relocating to Toowoomba after his parents purchased a dairy farm in the suburb of Centenary Heights in 1931. He subsequently attended nearby Rangeville State School. After several years at Centenary Heights, his father’s failing health prompted the sale of the family farm and a move to the suburb of South Toowoomba. Jorgensen enrolled at Toowoomba South Boys School soon after, where he completed his education.

Jorgensen enlisted with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force on 29 April 1944, two weeks after his nineteenth birthday. He was attached to the 2/31st Infantry Battalion and joined the unit shortly after their return to Queensland following campaigns in New Guinea. Over the next year, the unit completed an intensive training program interspersed with periods of leave. In late August 1944 they entered camp at Kairi on the Atherton Tablelands for training in open country, relocated to Cairns in October for a series of amphibious exercises, and returned to the Atherton Tablelands in December for operational exercises involving 20,000 men. The unit moved to Lake Barrine in May 1945 for training in street and house fighting, and subsequently entrained to a staging camp at Oonoonba before their final deployment overseas.

Jorgensen departed Townsville aboard the American troopship Howell Lykes, and disembarked at Morotai Island on 18 June 1945. The 2/31st Battalion spent the next week preparing for the last major Australian operation of the Second World War, the Battle of Balikpapan. On 25 June Jorgensen accompanied his unit to the beach for embarkation and joined the largest convoy to ever carry an Australian invasion force. On the following day the convoy of over 200 ships sailed for Borneo.

The 2/31st Battalion landed at Green Beach south of Balikpapan on 2 July 1945, a day after the first landings commenced. After two weeks of action Jorgensen was seriously wounded in battle, suffering gunshot wounds to his left wrist, right elbow and rib. After initially receiving treatment at Balikpapan, by 22 July he was evacuated to a hospital ship en route to Morotai Island. He spent the next three weeks at 2/5 Australian General Hospital before being scheduled for a repatriated flight carrying stretchered cases and walking wounded to Australia.

Jorgensen was amongst 27 passengers and crew on board Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Dakota A65-61 that took off from Morotai on the morning of 18 September 1945. The plane was bound for Townsville via Biak Island and a subsequent stop variously reported as Merauke, Horn Island or Higgins Field. The plane landed at Biak Island, picked up two passengers and took off at 11.45 am in clear conditions. Dakota A65-61 did not make its scheduled radio call 15 minutes after take-off and disappeared without trace. An extensive search and rescue operation involving hundreds of planes was launched and continued for over a week but without success. All 29 on board the ill-fated flight were officially presumed dead.

In 1967 Jerry Reeder, an American missionary, was flying in the vicinity of the western central highlands of Papua Provence in Indonesia when he sighted what appeared to be wreckage on Mount Carstensz (also known as Puncak Jaya), the highest mountain in Indonesia. He reported the sighting to the superintendent of the DeLong Timber survey team, who offered the use of a helicopter to visit the site. They aborted their first attempt to land at the site due to bad weather and a partial engine failure, but were successful on the following day. The scene was surveyed, and evidence collected and submitted to the Australian Embassy in Singapore, which led to the positive identification of Dakota A65-61. Yet with one mystery solved, other questions emerged. The location of the crash site revealed the plane deviated from its planned route via the coast to a more direct route through the mountain ranges of Papua Provence. Why Dakota A65-61 deviated from its planned route and what caused the crash remains a mystery and a source of ongoing speculation.

RAAF teams conducted recovery missions at the crash site on Mount Carstensz in 1970, 1999 and 2005. During the final recovery mission, the last remains of those who perished on Dakota A65-61 were removed and interred at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bomana in Papua New Guinea. On 10 August 2005, an official military funeral was held at the cemetery in Bomana, attended by over 50 relatives who were flown to Port Moresby for the occasion by the RAAF. Amongst those paying their last respects was Jorgensen’s older brother Errol, himself a veteran of the Second World War.

The crash of Dakota A65-61 remains the largest single air disaster in the history of the RAAF.


  • Roll of Honour:

    2/31st Australian Infantry Battalion
    Second World War, 1939-1945


Date of birth 17 April 1925 Toowoomba, Queensland
Date of death 18 September 1945 Mount Carstensz, Indonesia