CRASH OF A BEAUFORT
NEAR THE GAILES GUNNERY RANGE, QLD
ON 10 APRIL 1945

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visits since 15 September 2001


Profile by Gordon Birkett

GAF Beaufort Mk VIII A9-670 "Q for Queenie", 32 Squadron RAAF based at Lowood April 1945

At 1720 hours on 10 April 1945, Beaufort bomber A9-670 of 32 Squadron RAAF, crashed at Greenbank, SSW of Brisbane, killing the crew of four. It crashed after completing an air to ground  gunnery practice exercise at the nearby Gailes Gunnery Range (also known as the Gailes Armament Range or Gailes Bombing Range) which is now part of the Greenbank Military Camp. 

The aircraft was based at Lowood airfield at the time of the accident. They were undertaking High and Low Level Bombing practice and Beam and Front Gunnery Practice. A9-670 and two other Beauforts, A9-492 and A9-638, were taking part in the training. 

The crew, who were all killed were as follows:-

F/O Eric David Stephenson, Pilot
Flt. Sgt. Neville James Barron, Wireless Operator Air Gunner
P/O John George Harvey, Observer
LAC Raymond Patrick McGuigan, passenger


Photo:- via Sandra Knight

Normal crew of A9-670
Rear L to R:- Flt Sgt Neville James Barron and Eric John Cottrell (435716
)
Front L to R:- Sgt John George Harvey and F/O Eric David Stephenson (Pilot)

 

Family members of those killed at the Beaufort Bomber Memorial Unveiling Ceremony
on 27 May 2009 at Grande Park, Grande Avenue, Springfield Lakes

Click here for more photographs from the Unveiling Ceremony

Eric Cottrell gave up his seat so that LAC Raymond McGuigan could have a flight in the Beaufort bomber that day. Eric was still alive and well in mid 2007.

The Court of inquiry visited the scene of the accident and reported as follows:-

"The aircraft was almost completely destroyed by impact and fire and the wreckage so scattered that no indication was given either by the wreckage or by any person as to the probable cause of the accident."

The following Witnesses appeared at the Court of Inquiry:-

Civilian     Richard James Gardner  New Berth (sic, should be Newbeith), via Kingston, Q
Police         Sergeant James Nichol,  Marooka (sic, should read Moorooka) Police Station
Squadron Leader John Richard Fountayne England No. 32 Squadron
Flying Officer Richard Cuthbert Nutt No. 32 Squadron
Warrant Officer John Johnson No. 32 Squadron
Flying Officer Ronald Patrick Wilson No. 32 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant Joseph William Wakefield Smyth No. 32 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant John Arthur Pickup No. 32 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant  Lester Vincent Dickson No. 32 Squadron
Flying Officer William Irwin Leabeter No. 32 Squadron
LAC William Jack Blake No. 32 Squadron

Richard Gardner was working with John Crump on Mrs M. Tully's property in the vicinity of the RAAF Bombing Range New-Berth via Kingston. He heard the roar of aircraft engines and then silence which drew his attention to the direction from where he had initially heard the engines. He saw a column of smoke about a mile away in a northerly direction. He then saw a plane circling around the smoke for about 10 minutes. Richard had assumed they were involved in bombing practice. They continued on their way home and John Crump said he would report the incident to the police just in case an aircraft had crashed..

That evening Sergeant James Nichol, went to the crash site with some other police officers, Wing Commander Campbell from Lowood airfield and about 20 others RAAF personnel. They met up with John Crump and Richard Gardener at Newbeith and proceeded to the crash site where they found the wreckage still burning. Sgt. Nichol returned to the crash site the following day with Squadron Leader England, the Medical Officer from 32 Squadron, and some other RAAF personnel. They recovered the four badly burnt bodies from the wreckage. Sgt Nichol determined that the Beaufort Bomber had caught the top limb of a tree about 70 feet from the ground. It had crashed 47 yards away from this tree.

Flying Officer Stephenson's identity disc was the only one located. 

 

Photographs of the crash site

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Headstone for Flight Sergeant Neville James Barron, Wireless Operator Air Gunner

Photo:- Grahame Higgs

qld91-06.jpg (49624 bytes) Headstone for P/O John George Harvey, Observer at Lutwyche Cemetery

Photo:- Grahame Higgs

qld91-07.jpg (55186 bytes) Headstone for LAC Raymond Patrick McGuigan at Lutwyche Cemetery

Photo:- Grahame Higgs

F/O Eric David Stephenson, Pilot was cremated at the Mount Thompson Crematorium

 

Grave 74-17 in 1945

 

Lutwyche War Graves

 

Lutwyche War Graves

 

LAC Raymond Patrick McGuigan

I visited the crash site on 22 September 2001 with Chris Jamesson. The site is located near Eland Court at Greenbank (UBD Map 257, G13). There is very little left to see of the aircraft. Just a few very small piles of twisted metal and a few pieces of molten aluminium.

Chris Jamesson visited the site again at a later date and managed to get bitten by a snake and ended up in Ipswich Hospital. Graham Higgs also visited the area in January 2004 and encountered a red bellied black snake (see photo below). 

This site is well protected by snakes. Here's a red bellied black snake that Graham
Higgs encountered while looking for the crash site. So be careful if you plan to visit it.

 

Steering control and other parts from Beaufort A9-670

 

Various pieces of the crashed Beaufort

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I visited the crash site again on 25 November 2006, with Sandra Knight and her husband Andrew Knight and son Samuel Knight. Sandra Knight is the niece of LAC Raymond Patrick McGuigan, the passenger killed in this tragic crash. Sandra's mother, Ellen Margaret Kerr (nee McGuigan) is LAC McGuigan's sister. His younger sister, Mavis, lives in Port Macquarie, NSW. A regular crew member, Eric Cotterill, gave up his seat so that Raymond McGuigan could have a flight in the Beaufort bomber.


Photo:- Peter Dunn 25 Nov 2006

Andrew Knight, Sandra Knight and their son Samuel Knight standing in front of tree where
I have previously attached a small laminated sheet marking the position of the crash.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 25 Nov 2006

Sandra Knight, niece of LAC Raymond Patrick McGuigan, standing
beside the burnt out stump of the tree that the Beaufort may have hit.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 25 Nov 2006

Sandra Knight and Samuel Knight inspecting some of the wreckage
that others have dug up from the crash site and left in a pile.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 25 Nov 2006

Sandra Knight and Samuel Knight viewing the area of the crash site

 


Certificate:- via Sandra Knight

Certificate of Sacrifice for LAC R.P. McGuigan

 


 

Subject:   Crash of aircraft A9-670 Beaufort 10 April 1945
Date:            Fri, 31 Aug 2001 22:57:30 +1000
From:           "Stephen Szczurek" <stanfish@bigpond.com>

Dear,

I'm a recent convert to the internet and am so pleased that there are a lot of people interested in aircraft crashes mainly during the WW2 period that have occurred in Australia. I have had a great interest in crashed aircraft after spending 6 months on a Army survey operation within Cape York in mid 1975. A great number of aircraft wreckages were seen in the area from Horn Island to the north and Mornington Island to the West and Cooktown to the south. 

In early 1993, I served within the Army within the Brisbane Area and worked at Victoria Barracks attached next to the Army EOD team. A friend of mine told of a recent location of a crashed aircraft south of Brisbane in the Gailes area where they had recovered an incendiary bomb and some wreckage within the area. After finding the map reference and making a number of attempts to  locate the site, I eventually found some wreckage in a creek bed. After fossicking around, I located the steering control for the aircraft, parts of the manifold pressure gauges, various damaged parts of the instrument panels, damaged wrist watch,1x Australian penny, RAAF Insignia wings, 1x ID Discs of Flight Sergeant Neville Barron 435656. After writing away to the RAAF Historical Society in Canberra, I received details from Mr. R.K. Piper that the aircraft was A9-670 Beaufort that had crashed in the area shortly after gunnery practise at the nearby Gailes range with a copy of Preliminary Accident was attached with details of the other crew and where some of them have been buried 

 


 

The following is from the Commonwealth War Graves home page:-

In Memory of 

NEVILLE JAMES BARRON 

Flight Sergeant (435656) RAAF
who died on Tuesday, 10th April 1945. Age 19. 

Son of James Robert and Vera May Barron, of Maclagan. 

Cemetery: BRISBANE (LUTWYCHE) CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia 
Grave Reference/ Panel Number: Sec. 74. Grave 16. 

 


 

The AWM Roll of honour database shows the following:- 

Barron, Neville James 
Number: 435656 
Rank: Flight Sergeant [Flt Sgt] 
Unit: 32 Sqn 
Service: RAAF 
Conflict: 1939-1945 
Date of Death: 10/04/1945 
Place of Death: Lowood, Qld  (Note is say Lowood, not Gailes. They were probably based at Lowood)
Cause of Death: Accidental 
Memorial Panel: 102 

Harvey, John George 
Number: 422179 
Rank: Pilot Officer [PO] 
Unit:  32 Sqn 
Service:  RAAF 
Conflict:  1939-1945 
Date of Death: 10/04/1945 
Place of Death: Lowood, Qld 
Cause of Death: Accidental 
Memorial Panel: 103 

Stephenson, Eric David 
Number: 426262 
Rank: Flying Officer [FO] 
Unit: 32 Sqn 
Service: RAAF 
Conflict: 1939-1945 
Date of Death: 10/04/1945 
Place of Death: Queensland 
Cause of Death: Accidental 
Memorial Panel: 103 

McGuigan, Raymond Patrick 
Number: 170062 
Rank: Leading Aircraftman [LAC] 
Unit: RAAF Survey Flight 
Service: RAAF 
Conflict: 1939-1945 
Date of Death: 10/04/1945 
Place of Death: Lowood, Qld 
Cause of Death: Accidental 
Memorial Panel: 111 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett, Brad Cooke, Stephen Szczurek, Chris Jamesson and Graham Higgs for their assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I would like to locate family members
of those killed in this tragic crash.

Plans are underway to unveil a
plaque commemorating this crash.

Click here to E-Mail me

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 15 September 2001

This page last updated 27 May 2009