25 KILLED IN TRAIN / BUS ACCIDENT
NEAR WODONGA ON 8 MAY 1943

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On 8 May 1943, a bus carrying Australian Army personnel from Bonegilla to Albury for a Saturday night recreation leave was hit by Steam locomotive A2 863 at the level crossing on the Tallangatta Road to Wodonga. The driver, twenty-three servicemen and a member of the Australian Army Medical Womens Service (AAMWS) were killed. Nine other service people were injured. This tragic accident was Australia’s worst rail-road smash at that time.

KILLED

Lieutenant Harry Parkinson NX28217 SIGNALS TRAINING BATTALION
Lieutenant Alan McGuire Harris TX110 HQ SIGS 1 AUST ARMY (died 9 May 1943 on WWII Nominal Roll)
Lce-Sgt Alexander Caleb McFarlane VX22465 2/5 AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION (died 9 May 1943 on WWII Nominal Roll)
Lce-Cpl Keith Reginald Barnett NX69234 SIGNALS TRAINING BATTALION (died 9 May 1943 on WWII Nominal Roll)
Private Cyril Alfred William Alderton VX123501 6 COMPANY, 3 AASC TRG DEPOT
Private Anne Anderson VX116678 106th AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL (AAAMWS
Driver Roy Barnes V22014 AASC TRG DEPOT
Lieutenant Lyle Radford Brinsmead VX10597 LHQ SCHOOL OF SIGS
Private Sylvester Daly (also shown as Patrick Daly) SX18874 NO 1 AASC TRG BN
Acting Corporal Richard George Dunne VX72329 6 COMPANY, 3 AASC TRG BN, buried Albury War Cemetery
Acting Warrant Officer Class 2 Robert Augustine Frewin NX100574 SIGNALS LHQ
Private Albert Ernest Goddard S8086 3 AASC TRG DEPOT
Private Keith Hurst SX19427 3 AASC TRG DEPOT
Private Ernest Adam Johnson VX91906 3 AASC TRG DEPOT
Private Boyce Mackay Mackenzie VX91878 AASC TRG DEPOT
Temporary Warrant Officer Class 2 Noel Roscoe Mills VX42669 SMALL ARMS SCHOOL
Acting Sergeant Ernest Arthur Nairn NX151768 7 MACHINE GUN BATTALION
Private Arthur Claude Neale SX19399 3 AASC TRG DEPOT
Signalman George Stanfield Nicol NX147960 5 AUSTRALIAN AIR SUPPORT SIGNALS UNIT
Private John Robert Alexander Quinn V508580 AASC 3 AASC TRG BN
Acting Corporal William Henry Roberts VX22901 SIGNALS LHQ
Temporary Warrant Officer Class 2 George Henry Rose NX15518 LHQ SMALL ARMS SCHOOL, VIC L of C Area
Private Frank Thomas Steel VX125009 3 COMPANY AASC TRG DEPOT
Signalman Adrian Francis Falconer Try NX161801 SIGNALS 4 AUST AIR SUPPORT CONTROL
     
William Henry Lord,   Bus Driver of Williamstown

 

I also discovered that Captain David Stirling Sharpe (N429337) of the Small Arms School, had died on the same day somewhere in Australia. On 24 February 2014I was contacted by Andrew Johnston who advised me that Captain Sharpe was killed on the same day in a head on collision on a bridge on the Hume Highway a couple of hours before the Wodonga bus tragedy. Captain Sharpe was a returned Veteran of WWI and a recipient of the Military Medal.

 

THE ARGUS (Melbourne) Tuesday 11 May 1943

MILITARY FUNERAL TODAY
Service Victims of Train-Bus Smash

The 23 soldiers and a member of the AAMWS who were killed when a bus collided with a light engine and tender at the racecourse level crossing near Wodonga on Saturday night will be buried this morning with full military honours in the military portion of Albury Cemetery. The cortege will reach the cemetery at Ham.

A military spokesman yesterday said the condition of the injured was unchanged, excepting Sig C. Barton, NX114360, who had been removed from both the dangerously and seriously ill lists. Signalwoman G. F. Lawton, VF388601, and Cpl E. J. Laird, VF388143, had been reported as having been seriously injured. Al though admitted to hospital, they were not classified as being either dangerously or seriously ill.

The victims were:-

KILLED
Lt Harry Parkinson, VX28217
Lt Lyle Brinsmead, VX10597
Lt Allan Harris, TX110.
W02 Robert Frewin, NX100574
W02 Roscoe Mills, VX42669
W02 George Rose, NX15518
Act-Sgt Ernest Nairn, N21683
Act-Cpl Richard Dunne, VX72329
Act-Cpl William Roberts, VX22901
Lce-Sgt Alex McFarlane, VX22465
Lce-Cpl Keith Barnett, NX69234
Sig George Nicol, NX147960
Sig Adrian Try, N257840
Pte Keith Hurst, SX19427
Pte Patrick Daly, SX18874
Pte Prank Steele, V500607
Pte Albert Goddard, S114089
Pte Roy Barnes, V22014
Pte Cyril Alderton, VX123501
Pte Boyce McKenzie, VX918718
Pte Ei-nest Johnson, VX91906
Pte Arthur Neale, SX19399
Pte John Quinn, V5085.0
Pte Anne Anderson,. AAMWS, VPX116678

William Henry Lord, bus driver, of Williamstown.

ON DANGEROUSLY ILL LIST
Act-Cpl W. D. E. Thomson, NX87886
Sgt R. K. J. Hodgkinson, V110509
Pte F. H. Austin, Q46676
Sig V. Tressider, N257038
Signalwoman Durford, VF389634
Cpl N. L. Hardie, QX34097

ALSO IN HOSPITAL
Signalwoman G. F. Lawton, VF388601
Sig C. Barton, NX114360
Cpl E. J. Laird, VF388143

The funeral of Mr William Henry Lord, of Victoria St, Williamstown North, driver of the bus, will leave the chapel of Mr E. W. Jackson, Ferguson St, Williamstown North, after a service beginning at 3.10pm today, for Footscray Cemetery.

GEELONG VICTIMS
GEELONG, Mon: Pte Anne Anderson, AAMWS, one of the victims of the level - crossing tragedy near Wodonga on Saturday night, was a Geelong girl. Before enlisting she lived with her mother in Weller St, Geelong West. Her brother is a prisoner of war in Italy. She was educated at Ashby State School.

Vie Anne Anderson (AAMWS)

Lieut Lyle Radford Brinsmead, 25, another victim, was the son of Mr and Mrs W. H. Brinsmead, of Fitzroy St, Geelong. He was born in Geelong, and was educated at Geelong High School. He enlisted in the AIF at the outbreak of war, and was one of the first members of the Allied forces to enter Tobruk when first it was taken.

 

The Argus (Melbourne) Tuesday 29 June 1943

WODONGA TRAIN-BUS CRASH

How 25 People
Were Killed

WODONGA, Mon: An inquest was opened today by Mr F. W. Whan, acting deputy coroner, assisted by Mr I. W. Williams, PM, into the deaths of 25 persons who lost their lives in a crash between a light en gine and tender and a motorbus on a level crossing near Wodonga on the night of May 8.

The victims were: Lieut Harry Parkinson, Lieut Lyle Brinsmead, W02 Robert Frewin, W02 Roscoe Mills, W02 George Rose, Act-Sgt Ernest Nairn, Act-Cpl Richard Dunne, Sig George Nicol, Sig Adrian Try, Pte Keith Hurst, Pte Patrick Daly, Pte Frank Steele, Pte Albert Goddard, Tpr Roy Barnes, Pte Cyril Alderton, Pte Boyce McKenzie, Pte Ernest Johnson, Pte Arthur Neale, Pte John Quinn, Lieut Allan C. Harris, Pte Anne Anderson, Act-Cpl William H. Roberts, Lce-Sgt Alex P. McFarlane, Lce-Cpl Keith R. Barnett, and William Henry Lord, bus driver, of Victoria st, North Williamstown.

O. R. Midgley, manager of the Symons bus service between Wo donga and Bonegilla, said that Lord, the bus driver, was employed by Mr Samuel Symons, of Kew. The bus was licensed to carry 19 passengers. The lights and brakes were in good order. It was a good bus to drive, and did not impose any limitations on Lord on the number of passengers he carried. Lord was not running to time-table.

CAREFUL BUS DRIVER

Replying to Mr J. V. Barry, KC (for Samuel Symons), Midgley said Lord was a most careful driver. He was not prone to speed. It was not possible for a driver to prevent passengers getting on a bus while there was room. There were 34 passengers on the bus that night. They would not prevent the driver from having proper control of the bus. Following the accident he examined the lighting on the tender of the engine. There was only one lamp alight. It was at the top, and hard to see. A piece of brown paper was pasted across the glass for the brownout purposes. There was no lamp on the right of the tender. The light on the left of the tender was not functioning.

To Mr J. F. Mulvany (for the Rail- ways) witness said he could not say whether the brown paper was inside or outside the lens.

T. A. Morton, mechanical engineer, of Hume Weir, said he left Wodonga about 6.30pm in a car with his wife and family. Before he reached the level crossing where the smash occurred 2 buses passed travelling ' to- ward Wodonga. About that time he heard an engine whistle approximately 6 times. He saw the lights of a third bus approaching the crossing. He estimated the engine was travel- ling toward the crossing at approximately 15 or 16 mph. The whistle was loud and continuous. He

stopped his car about 60 yards from the crossing. Almost immediately he heard the-crash. When he saw the engine it was approximately 200 yards from the crossing. The lights on the front were dull and heavy. There was no beam. He did not think the locomotive decreased speed from the time he first saw it until the crash occurred.

To Mr Mulvany he said he would not swear that there were not 3 lights on the front of the tender. It was clear to him that the lights were on part of the engine.

"ENGINE WHISTLE DISTINCT"

E. C. Maloney, soldier, said that he was walking on the roadway from Bandiana to Wodonga and heard the train whistle approximately 3 times. It was particularly dark at the time. The first time he heard the whistle he could not see anything. When the second whistle blew he heard the noise of the approach of the train. He then saw lights on the engine. They were fairly bright. The driver of the bus slowed down to take the crossing. The whistling was quite distinct. He estimated speed of the engine at l8 mph.

To Mr Barry: He would consider it impossible for the driver of the bus to see the lights of the engine with the street lights behind.

To Mr Mulvany: The lights in the background came, he believed, from the Wodonga railway yards.

To Mr H. T. Frederico (for the relatives of the dead persons), witness said he was not sure of the number of lights he saw on the engine, but he did see lights.

The hearing is not concluded.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to than Andrew Johnston for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information
on this tragic accident?

 

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This page first produced 15 February 2011

This page last updated 25 February 2014