CRASH OF A VENTURA
AT CAMDEN, NSW
ON 28 DECEMBER 1943

 

While landing at Camden Airfield on 28 December 1943, the port brake shuttle valve snapped off on Ventura A59-56 of 13 Squadron RAAF. This caused the brakes to become inoperative. The aircraft rolled off the end of the airfield and went through a boundary fence.

Crew details as per Aircraft Accident Data cards:-

F/O Alexander "Lex" George Goudie (409991) (Pilot)
F/O Edward Gough Whitlam (423371) (2nd Pilot)
F/O Robert Hamilton Smyth (408491) (Navigator)
F/O R.M. Turnbull (W/T Operator)
F/O F/Sgt W. Baxter

There were no serious injuries. The Edward Gough Whitlam shown above is actually Gough Whitlam who went on to become Prime Minister of Australia. Gough was actually a Navigator (B) rather than a 2nd Pilot as shown on the Aircraft Accident Data cards.

 

whitlam.jpg (11328 bytes)

Gough Whitlam

 

A 1945 edition of Wings magazine described a bombing raid during which a Ventura flown by Goudie with Gough Whitlam as Navigator was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. This ruptured a fuel line in one of the engines. Goudie feathered the engine before it caught fire. Goudie then turned the Ventura around and headed for Australia which was some 500 miles away. On one engine a Ventura was expected to have a nominal range of 200 miles. As the aircraft continued to lose height, the crew threw anything that was moveable out of the aircraft to lighten it to conserve fuel. So serious was the outlook that a Catalina was dispatched to rescue the crew from and expected ocean ditching, however with his experienced flying skills Goudie managed to coax the aircraft back to the Australian coast and land at Truscott airfield. Goudie was mentioned in despatches for this mission.

There was another incident involving Gough Whitlam and the rest of the crew of their Ventura during a night time mission off the Queensland coast. They became the victim of "friendly fire" incident when an Australian warship, possibly the HMAS Warramunga opened fire on their aircraft thinking it was a Japanese aircraft.

In yet another incident the brakes of their Ventura failed as it came in to land at Archerfield airfield in Brisbane. The aircraft went of the end of the strip and up a small rise. The crew all climbed out and unbeknown to them at the time, their bomb bay had been torn open leaving a depth charge hanging out of it. The Ventura suddenly started to roll back down the rise towards them. Pilot, Lex Goudie described Gough Whitlam's escape into the scrub as a 'a most awkward complex of long arms and legs' (see photo below). Gough was 6ft 4 inches tall.

 

13sqn01.jpg (36677 bytes)
Photo: Brian Rowland

Relaxing on the beach at Gove Peninsula, 1944

L - R at Rear:   Gough Whitlam, Peter Clarkson, Ian Sinclair,
L-R at Front:   Les "Digger" Davies, Jim Pugh

 

The WW2 Nominal Roll shows an Edward Gough Whitlam (N42054) being in the Australian Army. So perhaps Gough was in the Army for a short time before joining the RAAF on 20 June 1942 at No. 2 Recruiting Centre in Sydney. He had been working as a Judges Associate with Mr. Justice Maxwell at the Judges Chambers, Supreme Court, King Street, Sydney prior to his enlistment. Gough was promoted to the rank of L.A.C. on 12 September 1942 while at 1 AOS. Gough's Personal Record of Service - Airmen shows that he served as a Private with the Sydney University Regiment from 15 December 1939 through to 24 December 1941.

He received his Air Observers Badge on 4 February 1943 at 3 BAGS. Flight Lieutenant Gough Whitlam was discharged from 13 Squadron RAAF on 17 October 1945.

His postings were as follows:-

2 ITS Bradfield Park       20 Jun 1942

1 AOS Cootamundra      17 Sep 1942

3 BAGS West Sale        14 Dec 1942

1 ANS Parkes                 6 Feb 1943

1 OTO                            22 Apr 43

Gough successfully completed No. 29 Navigators (B) Course from 8 Feb 43 to 4 Mar 1943.

Gough was promoted as follows:-

Pilot Officer          4 Mar 1943

Flying Officer        4 Sep 1943

Flight Lieutenant   4 Mar 1945

Gough served in the period between 9 June 1944 and 20 February 1945 in North eastern and North Western Areas and the period between 14 March 1945 and 20 September 1945 in the Philippines Islands with 13 Squadron RAAF and Pacific Echelon.

Gough was posted to 13 Squadron, RAAF in 1943. They operated mostly out of the Northern Territory and Dutch New Guinea, patrolling northern Australia, carrying out convoy escort, and attacking Japanese positions and shipping. In April 1944, Whitlam moved to Merauke. From here 13 Squadron carried out operations against Tanimbar and Aroe Islands. In 1945 Gough had moved with 13 Squadron to Truscott Airfield in northern Western Australia  from where they attacked places as far away as Soembawa. During 1945, 13 Squadron flew long operations, usually through Morotai. These operations extended to as far as the Philippines.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 7 May 2007

This page last updated 31 August 2015