Catanach, James

Date of birth:
November 28th, 1921
Date of death:
March 29th, 1944
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Graves Poznan
Grave: 9A.
Service number:
Australian (1901-present, Federal Republic)


Only three months after finishing at Geelong Grammar, Jimmy Catanach had enlisted at 18 years old in the RAAF. At 20 he was a squadron leader, the youngest in the history of the service.
On September 6th, 1942 Catanach was detailed for Murmansk, Russia, to protect Arctic convoys with his Hampden. Near the Finnish/Norwegian border, anti-aircraft fire from an armed trawler forced him to crash land.
He was subsequently sent to Stalag Luft III.
On March 24th, 1944 Catanach took part in the Great Escape where 76 men tried to escape trough a tunnel. Catanach was recaptured at Flensburg and was one of the 50 men who was ordered by Hitler to be murdered. On March 29th, 1944 Catanach was executed by Sturmbannfurher Johannes Post who shot him trough the heart. Jimmy Catanach was cremated at Kiel.

Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!

Second World War (1939-1945)
Acting Flight Lieutenant
No. 455 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force
Awarded on:
June 26th, 1942
"On three occasions, in spite of severe damage sustained by his aircraft, this officer flew it back to base and landed without further damage or injury to the crew. Fit. Lt. Catanach has made successful attacks on Hamburg, Essen, Cologne, Lorient and Lubeck.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Second World War (1939-1945)
Squadron Leader
Awarded on:
June 8th, 1944
Awarded for:
Operation Escape 200
Mentioned in Despatches