CRASH OF AN AVRO ANSON
INTO SEA NEAR LADY JULIA PERCY ISLAND
OFF THE SOUTH WEST COAST OF VICTORIA
ON 15 FEBRUARY 1944

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On 15 February 1944, Avro Anson AW-878 of 2 Air Observer's School (2 A.O.S.) took off from Mount Gambier airfield in South Australia at 0800L hours on 15 February 1944 to carry out a radius of action navigation exercise. They were to fly from Mount Gambier to Douglas Point, radius of action to Lady Julia Percy Island, radius of action to Douglas Point and then back to Mount Gambier.

No radio contact was made with the aircraft but it was seen over Douglas Point by the pilot of one of the other aircraft engaged in the formal exercise. Endeavours were made continuously to contact the aircraft from 0830L hours but were unsuccessful. At 1230L hours by which time the aircraft had not returned to base, overdue signals were sent out. At 1300L hours a search was carried out over the route of the exercise and at 1430L hours part of the mainplane of the aircraft was sighted on Lady Julia Percy Island. A fishing boat searched in the vicinity of the island that evening and passed through small pieces of wreckage strewn over about 3 miles.

A further search by boat was carried out the next morning in the same area which resulted in the recovery from the sea and the island of the port and starboard wing tips, the port aileron, the door to the gunner's cockpit, portion of a main spar, the top cover of a fuel tank bay and a Mae West. The top cover of the fuel tank bay had the number AW-878 in pencil on the underneath side and the Mae West was identified as having been drawn and signed for by Flight Sergeant MacLellan on 15 February 1944. The bodies of the 4 crew members were never located.

Those crew members presumed to have lost their lives in this tragic accident were as follows:-

Flight Sergeant James Henry MacLellan (410684) Pilot
Flight Sergeant Dennis Leslie Baulderstone (416712)
LAC Norman Thomas Kruck (433368)
LAC Brian Carter Ladyman (436921)

A Court of Inquiry into this tragic accident was held on 18 February 1944.

A memorial stone and bronze plaque remembering this tragic accident was unveiled at The Crags Car Park overlooking Lady Julia Percy Island on 14 February 2015. The memorial stone, made from local bluestone, was donated by Michael and Cheryl Steele. It was sculptured by stone mason Ian Knowles and placed into its position by Barnstone of Port Fairy. Air Force bereavement pins were presented to family members of the missing crew members. Crags Road was closed for the ceremony and attendees were ferried to the site by bus from Yambuk.

The initial idea for this memorial was triggered when Warrnambool resident Andrew Coffey spotted some of the wreckage of the aircraft whilst working as an abalone diver. He had been a member of the Warrnambool East Rotary Club for many years and suggested that efforts should be made to research the crash and erect a memorial to ensure that the men who lost their lives in this tragic accident are never forgotten. Andrew Coffey and Roger Cussen, both Rotary members, managed to locate a number of family members of the deceased crew members, who were able to attend the ceremony. Amongst them were LAC Brian Ladyman's sister, Elizabeth Hastings and Flight Sergeant MacLellan's daughter, Ann Sorensen.

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Memorial stone and bronze plaque draped with the Australian Flag

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Side view of Memorial stone and bronze plaque

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Guard of Honour formed by Warrnambool Air Force Cadets

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Group Captains Terence Deeth (left) and Bernie Farley unveiling the memorial

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Plaque noting the role of Michael & Cheryl Steel, Bamstone and Ian Knowles.

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

The main memorial plaque

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

The unveiled Memorial and Plaque

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

Poppies in a small raised dish and a floral wreath

 


Photo:- Graeme Saunders

The unveiled Memorial and Plaque at The Crags

 

"Lest We Forget"

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Graeme Saunders for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 18 February 2015

This page last updated 18 February 2015