CRASH OF A WACKETT
AT MARYBOROUGH, QLD
ON 13 JANUARY 1944
NOT TO BE SHOT AT OR EXPORTED
An airman's Letters Home 1942-1945
By Leslie Harold Sullivan
Winner of the 1994 Heritage Award
Letters from No. 3 Wireless Air Gunners School, Maryborough, Queensland
17 JANUARY 1944
It may be some time before I again mention to you that I want to get into aircrew. Last Thursday (13 Jan 44), just after take-off, a Wackett crashed, killing the pilot, Flying Officer Cornall, and critically injuring the WAG trainee, LAC Wood. [Diary: They were flying in A3-16.]
The pilot had only recently been posted here after returning from the Middle East, where he flew Kittyhawks before he was shot down and taken POW by the Italians. When they surrendered he was released , and eventually was repatriated to Australia to fly again.
It was only his second flight here and I was on the wingtip and had strapped him in. He seemed a beaut bloke and was asking me about tarmac drill and taxiing procedures here. I watched him taxi out and take off and five minutes later saw the plane crash about a mile away. We gave the alarm and jumped on the crash tender, arriving at the scene in a cane field just as the ambulance did. Fortunately the wreckage didn't catch fire but I'll remember the sight as long as I live. Every time I think of it I see him slumped in the cockpit with his officer's cap lying on the wing, and to think I was talking to him only a few minutes before. The boys who got him out of the wreckage said every bone in his body seemed to be broken. I will have to give eye-witness evidence at the Court of Enquiry.
To think he had to be killed in Australia flying a slow moving plane. Just fate, I suppose. I think I'll get the address of his wife and write to her. I have enclosed a report from the local paper.
Can anyone help me with more information?
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 12 April 1999
This page last updated 12 April 1999