27 FEBRUARY 1942
CRASH OF AN RAAF SHORT EMPIRE FLYING BOAT
A18-12
IN CLEVELAND BAY, TOWNSVILLE, QLD

 

27feb42.jpg (37893 bytes)

Short Empire A18-12, ex QANTAS aircraft
VH-ABC "Coogee", at Rose Bay, NSW in 1940

Short S23 C-Class S.849, Empire Flying Boat, A18-12 G-AEUG "Coogee" VH-ABC (see above photo) of 33 Squadron RAAF, was extensively damaged in a landing accident in Cleveland Bay near Townsville on Friday 27 February 1942 opposite the Queens Hotel. The following six RAAF crew were all killed and buried at the Townsville War Cemetery:-

LAC Maurice Clayton (15065) 23 years
Cpl William James French (10429) 31 years
Pilot Officer Peter Satterswaite Devonshire (407942) 20 years
Flying Officer Robert John Love (400004) - Pilot 27 years
Pilot Officer Harold John Wagner (4125) 37 years
Sergeant John Gordon Nicholson (17708) 21 years

G-AEUG "Coogee" was registered as VH-ABC on 26 September 1938. It was impressed to RAAF service from QANTAS on 28 August 1940.

The Empire was previously VH-ABC "Coogee" which had been one of four Empire flying boats impressed into RAAF service from QANTAS.

coogee01.jpg (37454 bytes)

QEA owned Empire Flying boat "Coogee" at
Southampton embarkation dock in England in early 1939.

Maurice Clayton was the son of Stanley and Florence Anne Clayton, of East Katoomba, New South Wales. He was buried at Townsville War Cemetery, Grave Reference/Panel Number: A.A.9.

William French was the son of William James French and Mary Jane French. His wife was Doris Ethel French, of Ulverstone,  Tasmania. He was buried at the Townsville War Cemetery, Grave Reference/Panel Number: A.A.6.

Peter Devonshire was the son of of Lt.-Col. Guy Satterswaite Devonshire and Doris Devonshire, of Unley, South Australia. He was buried at the Townsville War Cemetery, Grave Reference/Panel Number: A.A. 10.

Robert Love was the husband of Patricia Christine Love, of Potts Point, New South Wales. He was buried in the Townsville War Cemetery, Grave Reference/Panel Number: A.A.11.

Harold Wagner was the son of John Henry and Catherine Wagner; husband of Vivien Beatrice Aileen Wagner, of Kingaroy. He was buried at the Townsville War Cemetery, Grave Reference/Panel Number: A.A. 14.

John Gordon was the son of Joseph and Maud Augusta Nicholson, of Fremantle, Western Australia. He was buried at the Sydney Memorial Cemetery, New South Wales, Australia, Grave Reference/Panel Number: Panel 6.

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Short Empire Flying Boat "Carpentaria"

 

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ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

PRELIMINARY REPORT (EXTERNAL) ON FLYING ACCIDENT OR FORCED LANDING

Serial No.    : 759             

Period           : 1941/42              

            The Secretary,

            Department of Air.

            Herewith are preliminary details of a flying accident.

(a) AIRCRAFT:

Type:   

Number:   

 

Empire Flying Boat

A18-12

(b) UNIT No. 33 Squadron
(c) LOCALITY

Place:    

Date:    

Time:    

 

TOWNSVILLE

27.2.42

1802 hrs. E.A.S.T.

(d) PILOT

Rank:    

Name:    

Condition:    

 

Flying Officer

R.J. LOVE

Dangerously Injured - Fractures both thighs and legs, fractured pelvis and abrasions

(e) CREW:

Rank:    

Names:    

Condition:    

Pilot Officer P.S. DEVONSHIRE missing believed killed
15928 Cpl. SHORT, R. Dangerously injured
10429, Cpl. FRENCH, W.J. Missing, believed killed
34542 LAC. POULTON, K.M. Seriously injured
17708 LAC. NICHOLSON, J.C. Missing, believed killed
15065 LAC. CLAYTON, M. Missing, believed killed
P/O. L.C. LAURENCE, Seriously injured
P/O. H.J. WAGNER, Missing believed killed
P/O. A. FILMER, Slightly injured
93900 Cpl.
DIGGLES, R.S. (WAAAF) Missing, believed killed.
(f) NATURE OF ACCIDENT: Crash during alighting after test flight on completion fifty hourly inspection.
(g) PROBABLE CAUSE: Obscure
(h) EXTENT OF DAMAGE:

Airframe:    

Engine:    

Aircraft still partly submerged - total damage as yet unknown
(i) Has Minister for Air been informed by unit? Not by D.T.

     Date:  28.2.42

Air Commodore              
DIRECTOR OF TRAINING    

     Copies for information to-

     Minister for Air, C.A.S.
     A.M.O.E., A.M.P., Secretary Air Board
     D.M.S. (Air), D.T.S., M.A.A., D. Production, O. i/c. Casualty Section (D.P.S.)

     File (D.T.), D.T., D.S.D.

     (TD96/41)

 

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WINGS AROUND US
By Rodney G. Cardell

Page 88
The squadron (33 Sqn) acquired two Empire Flying Boats from Nos. 11 and 20 Squadrons, and operated these from the bay between Townsville and Magnetic Island. One of the prettiest sights I ever witnessed was when I lived on the strand myself in about 1939/1940, and watched civil versions of these beautiful big silver boats approaching majestically from over Castle Hill way, to alight out in the bay. One of the 33rd Squadron's 'boats' crashed on take off from the bay on 27 February 1942, with much loss of life.

 

AIRCRAFT OF THE RAAF
By Sqn Ldr K. Isaacs, AFC

During 1939/40, the RAAF impressed four S23s as follows:-

A18-10 ex-G-ADUT "Centaurus"
A18-11 ex-G-AEUA "Calypso"
A18-12 ex-VH-ABC "Coogee"
A18-13 ex-VH-ABB "Coolangatta"

"Coogee" was written off in a landing accident at Townsville on February 27, 1942, and a few days later, on March 3, 1942, "Centaurus" was destroyed during a Japanese air-raid on Broome.

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 104

Position:     19.13 - 146.47

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

 

NOTE:- In September 2003, I was contacted by June Stones, the daughter of Cpl William French.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Richard Gibbons for his assistance with this home page.

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

 

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