CRASH OF A WIRRAWAY
25 MILES SOUTH OF ADELAIDE RIVER, NT
ON 1 APRIL 1943

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Wirraway

At 1605 hours, on 1 April 1943, Wirraway A20-535, of 12 Squadron RAAF, crashed 25 miles south of Adelaide River in the Northern Territory, during a training flight killing the two occupants:-

Sergeant K.E. Spedding
Sergeant W.S. Walker

Doug Scott was very lucky to escape death that day as he recalls the incident:-

"I was detailed to fly with Sgt. Spedding in a formation flight. F/Lt. Newman had arranged the crews. I was sitting in the aircraft, waiting for Sgt. Spedding when Sgt. Walker came up and asked me what I was doing in the aircraft. He said that he had been detailed by F/Lt. Newman to fly with Sgt. Spedding. He took a bit of persuading, but eventually I convinced him that it was better for him to fly as he was new to the squadron and needed to familiarise himself with the countryside. So I got out and he got in. I was walking back to the briefing room when Sgt. Thompson called me over and asked if I would fly with him. I said 'OK' and climbed into his aircraft."

"The schedule of the flight was to form 'V' formation and climb to 8,000 ft, the tight-turn dive, keeping on each others tail, until at 2,000 ft break off, reform, climb to 8,000 ft., change the leader and repeat the performance. We were on the last detail with F/Lt. Newman in the lead, Sgt. Thompson second and Sgt. Spedding as 'Tail End Charlie'. Suddenly, Spedding made a move to get past us and pull in on Newman's tail. My pilot veered away as the aircraft cut in in front of us. We watched as Spedding dived and pulled into a very tight turn to get onto Newman's tail. Suddenly, his plane flicked over and went into a flat spin. We watched, horrified, as the aircraft continued to fall. Then it hit the ground. It was obvious that no one could have survived. We left Barry Newman to make a closer check while we made for the base to report the crash."

The enquiry, at which I had to give evidence, found that the aircraft had crashed through misadventure."

Another 12 Squadron RAAF member, Jason Hopton, was detailed to put the bodies in the coffins. He recalls:-

"The lovely Padre, F/Lt. David Bush, said, 'I've got a bottle of brandy which we might drink afterwards or we can bribe the nurses to do the deed and put the lads into boxes.'  We gladly gave up the grog!"

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Manuscript History of 12 Squadron RAAF

 

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This page first produced 25 July 1999

This page last updated 23 December 2001