CRASH OF A BEAUFIGHTER
INTO A CANAL AT WESTERN END
OF NARRANDERA, NSW
ON 3 SEPTEMBER 1945
On 3 September 1945, pilot W/O L.H. Jorgensen (429501) of 92 Squadron took six of his RAAF mates at Narrandera on a "joy flight" over the town of Narrandera in Beaufighter A8-245. During the flight, the Beaufighter struck high voltages wires at about noon and crashed into the canal at the western end of Narrandera killing all seven RAAF personnel on board. Electricity supply to the town was cut off for about 2 hours.
The main body of the Beaufighter ended up in the canal, one of the engines landed in the backyard of a nearby house. One of the Beaufighter's bullet-proof fuel tanks was hurled through the side of a cottage about 100 yards away, where a woman was having lunch with her small child. It hurtled across a bedroom and knocked another hole in an internal wall without bursting.
Police Sergeant C. Rosser recovered 4 bodies from the canal using grappling irons.
W/O Jorgensen had flown his Beaufighter from Queensland to Narrandera with a friend L.A.C. Rendell, who was travelling to his mother's funeral.
Those killed were as follows:-
Warrant Officer Leslie Hunter Jorgensen, Queensland, Pilot, 92 Squadron
Warrant Officer Henry Thomas George Griffin, Forbes, Care and Maintenance Unit
Sergeant Norman John Bailey, Tempe, Care and Maintenance Unit
Flight Sergeant Albert Victor Whittington, Geelong, Victoria, Care and Maintenance Unit
Flight Sergeant Harold Stewart Currie, Punchbowl, Care and Maintenance Unit
Corporal Hilton George Shung, Narrandera, Care and Maintenance Unit
LAC Robert Lindsay Norton, Dimboola, Victoria, Care and Maintenance Unit
The victims were given a military funeral at Narrandera.
92 Squadron was formed at Kingaroy in Queensland in May 1945 and was disbanded about two weeks after this crash.
Merle Longbottom nee Spencer recalls that her father John Spencer, who was working at the Narrandera air base as a Leading Aircraftman (#80566), was also offered a joy flight on this plane, but turned it down as he was making a brooch for his daughter and needed to get it done in time to send it back to Western Australia for the anniversary in October (picture of the broach below). Merle says that after the tragic crash, her father was instructed to stand guard over the crash site during the night and spent a lot of time reflecting on “what if” he had not been making the birthday gift for his daughter!
Brooch made by John Spencer
I'd like to thank Gordon Barker and David J. Barnes for their assistance with this web page.
I'd also like to thank Mike Duggan for his assistance with the story about John Spencer.
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© Peter Dunn 2007
This page first produced 15 June 2006
This page last updated 30 March 2013