22 OCTOBER 1942
CRASH OF A BEAUFORT BOMBER,

COCKLE BAY, MAGNETIC ISLAND

 

beaufort.jpg (13398 bytes)
Bristol Beaufort

 

Six aircraft from 100 Squadron RAAF led by Flight Lieutenant Bonython were ordered to carry out a mock torpedo attack on shipping in Townsville Harbour at approximately 1100 hours local time on 22 October 1942. After this they were to make a bombing attack on the rusted hulk of the "City of Adelaide" in Cockle Bay, Magnetic Island. This attack was to be carried out by flights in echelon right.

Flight Lieutenant Bonython briefed the crew an hour before the take-off with the exception of Flying Officer Avery. F/Lt Bonython contacted Avery before taking off from Garbutt Airfield and briefed him individually. Lieutenant Glueck from the Mobile Torpedo Section, US Navy flew as a passenger with Flying Officer Avery to gain first hand experience of the actual method of torpedo attack as used by the RAAF.

At approximately 1110 hours local time, the attack was made on ships in Townsville Harbour. Fighter Interception that had been arranged with Fighter Sector Headquarters was encountered at this time and continued until after the accident.

After this mock torpedo attack, flights in Vee formation climbed to 1,000 feet with F/Lt Bonython's flight being 200 feet higher than Flying Officer Mercer's flight which was directly behind and below Red flight (F/Lt Bonython). This was to practice fire control, control being from Red flight leader's aircraft.

At approximately 1120 hours the order was given by F/Lt Bonython to all aircraft over the R/T "Increase power to 35 inches and prepare to attack ship with bombs". Blue flight dropped back and formed echelon right. Sergeant Forrest flying in No. 3 position in Red Flight also went into echelon right in his flight. Flying Officer Avery in Beaufort A9-26 was already in echelon right and did not have to change his position.

About 3 to 4 minutes later, F/Lt Bonython, who had increased his power to 40 inches to draw away from the other aircraft, dived on the target, released his bombs, climbed away turning left as he did so to observe results. Nothing was observed except a considerable amount of white smoke which was believed to be bomb smoke.

 


Photo:- Pat Spence

The rusting hulk of the "City of Adelaide" in Cockle Bay in 1977

 


Photo:- via Pat Spence

The hulk of the "City of Adelaide" in Cockle Bay in the 1920's

 

Land observers saw Flying Officer Avery in Beaufort A9-26 diving to attack beneath the leading aircraft. Shortly before reaching the target he started a normal controlled turn to starboard and according to the land observers he appeared to strike the top of the rear mast with the belly. Flying Officer Billing thought it was the port engine. The aircraft then crashed into shallow water finishing some 700 to 800 yards past the target.

All four occupants were killed.

Flying Officer G.D.R. Avery - RAAF - Pilot (Grave No. AC1)
Flying Officer D.C. Bell - RAAF (Grave No. AC2)
Flying Officer L.J. Schwartz - RAAF (Grave No. AC3)
Lieutenant (JG) George Frank Glueck (10246 or 97599), US Navy

F/Lt Bonython inspected the wreckage at about 1400 hours the same day. He found amongst the debris the remains of the two practice bombs which evidently had not been released.

Flying Officer Avery may have forgotten to open the bomb doors, or, just before the point of release he may have encountered slip stream from the first aircraft, which caused him to let go the bomb release in his efforts to control the aircraft. This however does not fit in with land observers' stories that the aircraft was at all times steady in flight, and there was no noticeable waving of wings as would normally be expected if slip-stream was encountered at high speed.

The wreckage of the aircraft was immediately handed over to the Repair Salvage Unit (RSU) for salvage.

The three RAAF personnel were buried at the Townsville War Cemetery at 1600 hours local time on Friday 23 October 1942.

Lieutenant (JG) George Frank Glueck was initially buried in the US Military Cemetery Townsville and then exhumed and reburied at Ipswich US Cemetery on 5 August 1945. His body was exhumed again and taken by ship back to the USA after the war.

 

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"PICTORIAL HISTORY OF MAGNETIC ISLAND, NORTH QUEENSLAND"
By Arch and Lorraine Fraley

Page 139
In 1943 Steve Coleman was in Sydney doing an engineering course, when he met a man named Avery who was also doing the same course.  When Mr. Avery found out that Steve came from Magnetic Island, he asked him if he knew of the aircraft that had hit the mast of the "City of Adelaide" in Cockle Bay during bombing practice.   "Yes" Steve said, "at that time she still had the lower steel masts standing erect, and apparently one of the RAAF aircraft hit, crippling the mast and then went into the water or the hill, killing the pilot" Mr. Avery then told Steve that it was his brother who was killed.

Charlie Olsen, who grew up in Cockle Bay, has this to say of his memories of the tragic incident.  "I was there a couple of days after it crashed, and those Beauforts were made of wood, a lot of wood, and all along the high tide mark were these little pieces of wood.  It had splintered up to nothing. I was amazed, there were no big pieces, all these little bits."

"The masts were hollow steel, and when it hit, the plane must have gone down into the ground, I think. Dad got quite a bit of the ammunition and a little piece of the armour proof steel, and a lot of the little aluminium screws and things like that which were part of the fuselage. The RAAF took away anything that was good. There used to be part of a motor sitting out there in the mangroves, not a big part, but we used to be able to see it."

Steve Melvin recovered a seat from the ill-fated plane from the sea, which seems to establish the fact that it went down into the sea, and not the hills.

NOTE:  Arch Fraley was a photographer with the 5th Air Force during World War 2.

 

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In Memory of

GEORGE DOUGLAS RUTHERFORD AVERY

Flying Officer
404083
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Thursday, 22nd October 1942. Age 24

Son of Charles Nicholas Canning Avery and Mary Elizabeth Avery;
husband of Kathleen Hewetson Avery, of Warwick. B.A. (Queensland).

TOWNSVILLE WAR CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number:  A.C.1.

 

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In Memory of

DOUGLAS CRAWFORD BELL

Flying Officer
404031
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Thursday, 22nd October 1942. Age 34

Son of William and Minnie Morton Bell; husband of Vera Myrtle Bell, of Manly

TOWNSVILLE WAR CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number:  A.C.2.

 

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In Memory of

 LESLIE JOSEPH SCHWARTZ

Flying Officer
405455
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on 22 October 1942. Age 33

Son of John Frederick and Louise Marie Adelgarde Schwartz; husband of Vinnie Schwartz, of Cunnamulla.

TOWNSVILLE WAR CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number:  A.C.3.

 


 

City of Adelaide

One one occasion during WWII two keen local fisherman climbed onto the hulk of the City of Adelaide to do some fishing unaware that she was used for bombing practice. It was not long before they became aware of its new role and evacuated the ship in record time as aircraft started to bomb the hulk.

 


 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 101

Position:     19.12S - 146.48E

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Kaye Matheson for her assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Craig Polkinghorne for his assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

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

"Aircraft and Markings of the RAAF 1939 - 1945"
By Geoffrey Pentland

"Townsville Yesterday"

 

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This page first produced 14 June 1998

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