CRASH OF A C-17B STAGGERWING
AT ARCHERFIELD AIRFIELD
ON 21 MAY 1941
At about 8.20pm on 21 May 1941, C-17B Staggerwing, VH-UYI, owned by grazier John William Fitzclarence Collins of "Nindoonbah" property near Beaudesert in southern Queensland crashed while taking off from Archerfield Airfield in Brisbane in southern Queensland. It caught fire when it hit a tree about 580 yards outside the south west corner of Archerfield Airfield. Flight Lieutenant John Collins (35 years old) and his passenger, Squadron Leader Roy Cecil Phillips, M.C., D.F.C., (45 years old, married with four children) of No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School (2 EFTS), were both tragically killed in the crash. It is believed that Phillips mistook the throttle lever for his undercarriage lever.
John Collins had more than 1,600 hours of solo flying up his sleeve by the beginning of the war, including winning the Brisbane to Adelaide air race in his Vega Gull in 1936.
By the outbreak of war, Collins had achieved 1,645 solo flying hours. His attempts to join the Royal Australian Air Force were at first frustrated by deficiencies in his eyesight, but on 26 March 1940 he was commissioned as a Flight-Lieutenant, and attached as an instructor to the No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School which was equipped with Tiger Moths and Gypsy Moths at RAAF Archerfield, Brisbane. In November 1939, Archerfield had become the RAAF's principal base in Queensland and the EFTS shared the airfield with 23 Squadron (City of Brisbane) which was equipped with six Hawker Demon bi-plane fighters intended to defend the city of Brisbane, and Lockheed Hudsons for training and reconnaissance.
In June 1940, a Station HQ was established and Collins was serving with that unit at the time of his death.
Collins is buried at Mundoolun Private Cemetery, Queensland, Australia. He was the last surviving male member of his family. A street in Beaudesert is named after him.
I'd like to thank Roger Hutchins for his assistance with this home page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 30 January 2003
This page last updated 30 December 2016