COLLISION OF TWO WIRRAWAYS
AT THORNLANDS NEAR CLEVELAND
ON 13 FEBRUARY 1942

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Wirraway

Two RAAF Wirraways, A20-100 and A20-290 of 23 Squadron RAAF, from Archerfield airfield in Brisbane collided over Ormiston/Thornlands area near Cleveland in the Redlands Shire on 13 February 1942 during a practice of air fighting tactics. Debris from the two aircraft fell over the local school and cemetery and onto the shores of Moreton Bay. One Wirraway ended up near the cemetery and the other in what is now called Ziegenfusz Park near the end of Bay Street. No. 23 Squadron RAAF used to use the lower end of Moreton Bay for tactical exercises.

Four airmen were killed in this tragic incident as follows:-

A20-100
Sergeant Gordon Henry Williams (pilot), 21 years old of Brisbane 
Sergeant Alan Charles Lord (Observer), 26 years old, of Ulladulla, NSW

A20-290
Sergeant George Arthur Ross Hardy (pilot), 24 years old of Toowoomba
Sergeant Frank Stanley Pledge (Observer), 22 years old, of Chelmer, Brisbane

The Operations Record Book for Headquarters Archerfield states:-

14 Feb 1942
Funeral of members killed in air accident 13th. February, 1942. Station provided bearer parties, tenders, and flat tops.

Peter White, a navigator,  was in one of the other four Wirraways taking part in the training exercise. They trained in pairs. Peter's Wirraway and the other Wirraway were in the Jacobs Well area at the time of the accident and the other two Wirraways were out to sea off South Stradbroke Island. Peter White is the Secretary of the Beaufighter and Boston Association.

CA-3 Wirraway A20-100 (Constructor's No. 98), was originally delivered to the RAAF in August 1940. It was converted to components in March 1942. CA-8 Wirraway A20-290 (Constructor's No. 491), was originally delivered to the RAAF in June 1941. It was converted to components in March 1942.

In 1994 Peter began a campaign to have a memorial erected at the site of the crash in honour of those who lost their lives. In 1995, a memorial was installed at the Cleveland Cemetery where some of the debris had landed but the names of those killed was not shown.

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Peter White at the dedication ceremony on 24 March 2000

On Friday 24 March 2000, a plaque was finally unveiled in the grounds of the Cleveland Cemetery showing the names of the 4 men who were killed on that tragic day in February 1942. A Wirraway flew over during the dedication ceremony. Amongst the large crowd that gathered were family members of those who were killed.

Peter White's dreams were finally realised through this moving dedication ceremony on 24 March 2000. The plaque was funded by the Federal Member for Bowman, Mr. Con Sciacca and the Redland Shire Council. Other supporters for Peter White were returned servicemen Bill O'Connor and Redland Mayor Eddie Santagiuliana.

Peter said "I still remember when it happened. There were six of us up in the air all told."

"Alan Lord was the one I knew best. We had been flying together for three years. I still get emotional about it."

Roy Williams, brother of deceased Sgt. Gordon Williams said "We all still sit and think of what might have been."

"It's a bit like the old saying. 'you can forgive, but you can never forget'." he said.

Peter White told me of another two 23 Squadron crashes. James Frederick Unsworth was killed in a crash at Darra in Brisbane on 31 January 1941. Peter White was involved in a ceremony to scatter the ashes of James Unsworth over Archerfield airfield. The other crash was near Toowoomba in which James Alexander Mant was killed on 7 April 1942.

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

 

In Memory of

GORDON HENRY WILLIAMS

Sergeant (405337)
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Friday, 13th February 1942. Age 21.

Son of Charles Henry and Flora Williams, of Windsor.

Cemetery:  BRISBANE GENERAL CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Portion 10. Sec. 58. Allotment 21A.

 

In Memory of

GEORGE ARTHUR ROSS HARDY

Sergeant (404966)
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Friday, 13th February 1942. Age 24.

Son of Thomas Porter Ross Hardy and Elsie Hardy, of Clayfield.
(Cremated Mt. Thompson Crematorium.)

Cemetery: QUEENSLAND CREMATION MEMORIAL, BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia
Location:  Queensland Cremation Memorial is situated in the war graves plot in
Brisbane (Lutwyche) Cemetery, which is in Gympie Road, Kedron, Brisbane.

 

In Memory of

ALLAN CHARLES LORD

Sergeant (2216)
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Friday, 13th February 1942. Age 26.

Son of George Robert and Jessie Jane Lord; husband of Sheila
Charlotte Lord, of North Forest, Tasmania.

Cemetery: BRISBANE GENERAL CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Portion 10. Sec. 57. Allotment LA.

 

In Memory of

FRANK STANLEY PLEDGE

Sergeant
4576
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Friday, 13th February 1942. Age 22.

Son of Frederick William and Jessie Rae Fisher Pledge, of Chelmer. (Cremated Mt. Thompson Crematorium.)

Cemetery:  QUEENSLAND CREMATION MEMORIAL, BRISBANE, Queensland, Australia
Location:       Queensland Cremation Memorial is situated in the war graves plot in Brisbane (Lutwyche) Cemetery, which is in Gympie Road, Kedron, Brisbane.

 

REFERENCE
"The Sunday Mail"
Sunday 26 March 2000
Article on Page 44
"Plaque ceremony revives memories of wartime tragedy"
Farewell from an old mate"

by Sarah Harding

 

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This page first produced 26 March 2000

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