CRASH OF A BEAUFIGHTER
AT DURRIE STATION, QLD
ON 21 MAY 1944
On 21 May 1944, RAAF Beaufighter A19-113 crashed after dark on Durrie Station in south west Queensland (between Durrie and Betoota). The plane caught on fire and the pilot, navigator and two RAF spitfire pilots who were hitching a ride, baled out.
The pilot was PO Huggard RAF, the navigator was PO Harrold Kelly and the two passengers were FO Appleton RAF and FO Coleman RAAF. After they baled out, they all eventually made it to Durrie Station where the alarm was raised by pedal radio. Personnel from 15 OBU at Charleville took part in the search for the missing crew members. They were all picked up by a Lockheed Ventura that landed on a temporary strip at the station.
Their flight was from Gorrie airfield near Katherine, Northern Territory to Wagga Wagga in NSW. They were to fly to Cloncurry the first night, but due to heavy storms, Cloncurry was out and so was Longreach. They had just done a left turn to skirt the storms to fly to Charleville when the port engine caught fire, hence the order to bail out.
The starboard engine is on display at the Trading Post at Coopers Creek near Innamincka in NE South Australia about 235kms SSE of Durrie. The caption with the motor lists the pilot and navigator. Neil Derrington told me that he looked up the WW2 Nominal Roll and found the particulars for the navigator, Harrold Kelly, then looked up the Brisbane phone book and found one listing for Harrold Kelly, rang the number and was talking to the navigator of the crashed Beaufighter approx 59+ years ago. Neil still cannot believe that it happened that way. The odds of finding a particular person after so long are very high.
Engine of RAAF Beaufighter
Photo:- Ross Liersch
via Daniel Leahy
The photographs were taken at Innamincka, South Australia
Mike De La Hunty visited Birdsville and Innamincka in 1999. He saw the engine at Innamincka and decided to visit the crash site. The station manager gave good directions and he found the wreckage still in good condition and spread over a large area. Apparently the RAAF sent up a Caribou that landed on the station strip in the 1970's to remove ammunition from the guns, they then blew it up, ammunition was still present at the site. Apparently the RAAF went there to dispose of the live ammunition after someone in Melbourne had lost fingers trying to separate their souvenired cannon shells. Mike met the son of the stockman that found the crew who told him that the other engine was at Broken Hill probably at a tyre service place, he also said he has the makers plate, although it is with his ex wife and he is unlikely to get it back!
I'd like to thank Andrew Arthy, Ross Liersch, Daniel Leahy, Jon Joubert, Mike De La Hunty (Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) and Neil Derrington for their assistance with this page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 8 June 2001
This page last updated 31 August 2015