E-MAILS FROM LES LEWIS

Subject:   VENGEANCE CRASH VICTORIA.
Date:             Wed, 8 Sep 1999 20:10:50 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Do you have any interest or information related to a in a crash of two Vultee Vengeance A27's at Mt Disappointment. Vic. on 25 5 1944.?

Aircraft were A27-49 and A27-92.

They were en route to Bowen from Laverton, on a non operational ferry flight.

Flying in close formation both crashed into the mountain at 11: 50 EST.

I have a copy of the PT81.

The wreckage was recently re discovered, and I will be visiting the site tomorrow.

From the description of one of the engines, I am fairly certain that it is the crash site of these aircraft, and can forward you more detail after I have visited this site and another that is known to the Forest Commission.

I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to offer, and of course shall respond with any Information that I get tomorrow.

My interest in this started back in 1983 when I was doing some research into the sawmilling history in the area. I was told of a Beaufighter that had crashed. but subsequent investigation showed the story of the A27s. The other site may be the Beaufighter. But I am unaware of any RAAF record of this incident.

Best Regards,
L.M.Lewis.
Les

 

 

Subject:    VENGEANCE CRASH VICTORIA.
Date:             Thu, 9 Sep 1999 08:37:01 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter,

Thanks for your prompt response.

Just a quick check of the mail this morning and there you are.

As I mentioned, I have the PT 81 and not much more.

I will be meeting with the Forestry Commission guys, and hopefully will visit Two sites today.

I expect that I will have the Beaufighter at the second site.

I know there is at least one engine up there. and whether it is a Wright Cyclone or a Bristol Hercules should give me a clue as to what I am looking at. Problem is they are both 14 cyl twin rows, and I don't know at this stage what condition.

I will write to you later today, when I know more.

p.s. Do you have any thing on the Beau??

Best Regards,

Les.

 

 

Subject:    Vultee Vengeance crash site Mt Disappointment.
Date:             Thu, 9 Sep 1999 21:10:41 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter.

I visited the site today and can confirm that it was indeed the Vengeance site.

I shall write up my details and send them to you in the next week.

There is not much left. as The RAAF removed most of the material that could be carried out.

There is one engine remaining and it is a Wright Cyclone.

Took lots of photographs which I will send when processed.

We spent some time also searching for the Beaufighter, believed to be some 2 miles further north on a similar flight path.

No luck. and abandoned the search due to poor light.

We are told that there is a complete hull there and should turn up something soon. (must have walked past it in the dense forest.

I notice on your Victoria notes that you mention a Wirraway in the area.

Is this an error? as I notice the Beaufighter is not mentioned.

Also note that the Vultee site is North of Whittlesea, Not south.

A very satisfying day.. But not over yet.

I will be in touch soon.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:   Vultee Vengeance crash site Mt Dissapointment.
Date:           Fri, 10 Sep 1999 07:35:51 +1000
From:          "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

P. Dunn> Where is Whittlesea?

Around 18 DME NNE of Melbourne 145.10' 37.30' is close.

Mt Disappointment is part of the Great Dividing Range north of there.

I shall write more tonight.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

ll01.jpg (37842 bytes)

Les Lewis in a Cessna 182

 

 

Subject:   Info on Dad.
Date:    Tue, 14 Sep 1999 21:14:57 +1000
From:   "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Hi Peter,

I have some pictures digitised, but will edit and add descriptions and send them tomorrow.

Assume JPEG is OK ?

I am not sure which units Dad served with.

He was Involved with the Cinematograph side and served around most of the Australian air bases.

His details are:-

153156 Lewis. Joseph Walter.
Born 28th March 1911
Enlisted 24th June 1944.
Retired 1965.
Rank Flt Sgt, ( May have made warrant in the last years. )
Passed away 18th October 1996 at Geraldton WA.

Interesting notes are that he was raised as a ward of E.W.Holden, following the death of his father at the Holden Plant.

He also worked there and built Beaufighters at the Holden works before enlisting.

He was in Darwin when peace was declared, and at the time was a passenger in a Vengeance when the news broke.

It is said that the pilot did several barrel rolls along the runway, and then topped the act by running the wheels along the roof of the Officers Mess. (I am told this )

His ashes (and those of my Mother who passed away two weeks later) were cast into the water at the mouth of the Murchison river at Kalbarri W.A. where they had spent their final years.

Dad was one of the " Terrible Ten" who were instrumental in forming the Kalbarri Sub Branch of the Northampton RSL, and the subsequent building of a war memorial Near Chinamans Beach Kalbarri.

The surrounding area of the memorial was constructed by the children from the local school.

They also raised most of the funds for the construction.

The words on the rear court read " And they died for you and me".

The main section of this simple monument is topped by a round light, and I wrote this poem.

Its' on no chart, this lonely mark
Yet it stands to light the dark
Near "Chinamans' Beach" and in the night
You will find the lone Kalbarri light.

Before the sunlight wakes the sky
As helmsmen in their boats go by
On Murchisons' water winding right
May steer by the Kalbarri light.

And few may know, And few may care
That a handfull of diggers living there
Remembered their mates from each valiant fight.
... And children built the Kalbarri light.

I will be in touch.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

 

Subject:     Vengeance Site pictures.
Date:              Wed, 15 Sep 1999 21:05:15 +1000
From:            "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter,

Thank you for your kind remarks.

Unfortunately I do not have photographs here. Most are with my sister in Bunbury WA.

I will attempt to get some.

I am attaching the pictures that I have, and trust they will be of use to you.

I am sure you will have some questions.

The first are three shots of the remaining Wright Cyclone Engine. The other engine was probably salvaged.

It lies in a gully a small creek bed, and would be very difficult to move.

 

vic19a.jpg (49251 bytes) vic19b.jpg (47417 bytes) vic19c.jpg (47838 bytes)

 

There are two photographs of different but identical Firewalls. They are of 302 stainless steel.

Note the Armour plate.

 

vic19d.jpg (46261 bytes)

Site 1 - Firewall

vic19e.jpg (58235 bytes)

Site 2 - Firewall

 

Sites 1 and 2 show the remaining engine support tubular frames and rudder bars.

 

vic19g.jpg (57333 bytes)

Site 1 - Pit

vic19f.jpg (66867 bytes)

Site 1 - Rudder Bar

vic19i.jpg (64102 bytes)

Site 2 - Rudder Bar

vic19h.jpg (54105 bytes)

Site 2

 

Similar equipment at both sites. Note at site 1 some holly grows from the burn area.

Site 1 shows part of the burn site and to the centre left is the edge of a pit which was dug to bury non recoverable items. Due to the mass of molten metal (a piece is in the foreground) I suspect that non recoverable remains of the men may also be buried there.

Site 2 shows also the Impact and burn area. And in the closer shots you will note oil soaked into the ground, and still quite evident after 55 years.

There were five men who lost their lives that day. They were:-

P/O. R.L.Erskine.
F/O. K.A.Wood.
426002 F/Sgt. Hall R.J.
41360 Sgt. West P.
51407 Cpl. Fallahey W.J.

There is no information on any other person.

They will be remembered.

I expect to be talking to a local guy who was reputed to be first to the site on the day of the crash, next Friday.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    New Find.
Date:             Mon, 20 Sep 1999 21:28:22 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Hi Peter,

Visited the second crash site today, and actually took the credit for finding it !!

The guys with us had not been there since 1983, and then with only passing interest.

We had been told that we had the Beaufighter there, however I strongly suspect that we are actually looking at A20-573, a C9 Wiraway.

It is part buried, and to date no engine is found.

It has a welded steel tube fuselage, I understand that the Beau is a Stressed Skin.

Also I found the rear wheel is in a Half-Stirrup configuration supported by a cast aluminum wedge shaped support that would appear to act as a skid in the event af the tail wheel failing.

It is steered by a cable yoke either side, and is aligned almost directly below the rudder hinge.

The Beaufighter tail wheel appears to be at least semi retractable, and is more toward the centre of the fuselage.

The rudder support beam is there, but only around 120 mm of material behind it, It is controlled by external yokes protruding about 150 mm either side. On the top end of the rudder is a cover plate reading " TRIM TAB INSP" .

There is a tubular seat which pivots on a bearing, looks like the rear seat again Wirraway equipment ?

Also found a small piece of fabric of the type used to cover aircraft surfaces.

A compass bearing ring, and the top end of what I believe is the carburettor.

Two stainless steel canisters approx. 700mm long. One end measures approx 150mm diameter, the other end is approx.165mm diameter. ( Badly bent ) Number stamped on it is 01 65031 . 5..B. (Rocket cannister ?)

A section of cast aluminium lever Possibly for a control surface carries the numbers 19-52422-3. stamped below that are the numbers Bare readable A1 291 then two or three unreadable numbers.

I shall be back at the site tomorrow.

Peter I understand that you may not be able to assist on this, however if you have any contacts that may have any knowledge, It would be appreciated.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Wirraway A20-573.
Date:             Tue, 21 Sep 1999 21:09:50 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

G'day Peter,

I can now confirm that we have A20-573 located.

I shall have the photographs processed tomorrow, and will be in touch.

Chasing historical records through RAAF.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:     A20-573 Pictures.
Date:              Wed, 22 Sep 1999 21:15:31 +1000
From:            "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

G'day Peter.

Ref. A20-573, here are the pictures as promised.

Included is a picture of Mt Disappointment.

dis01.jpg (29955 bytes)

Mount Disappointment (802 metres) - view from the south

The peak is the small cleft slightly to the right of centre.

The Vengeance site is to the right of the small cone shaped hill faintly visible on the left of centre.

The Wirraway site is about 10 deg. to the right of the peak, and around 1mile beyond.

The Beaufighter site lies somewhere to the extreme left of this frame.

Best Regards Les

vic20a.jpg (64992 bytes)

Top and starboard side showing top of RAAF roundel and yellow colours

vic20b.jpg (64584 bytes)

Base of tail on starboard side showing colours

vic20c.jpg (81016 bytes)

Wreckage site

vic20d.jpg (90336 bytes)

View from the front of the aircraft. Note the airframe is partly buried

vic20e.jpg (83752 bytes)

Aft swivel seat and flare canister

vic20f.jpg (80042 bytes)

Tail section showing tail wheel stirrup and gear

vic20g.jpg (75817 bytes)

Triangular framework

 

 

Subject:    Oops..
Date:             Wed, 22 Sep 1999 23:07:42 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter,

I took the number A20-573 from your notes.

Could not confirm an actual number from the wreckage, but as it appeared to be the only one in that area.

I will be in touch with the RAAF museum tomorrow and see if I can check it through them.

I am not sure of the production dates of the model types. A20-573 would have been a CA9, and the date of July 1943 may have been too early for a CA9 . Don't know...

Don't know what your sources are, but if you turn something up, please let me know.

Will be in touch.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Wirraway A20-573
Date:             Thu, 23 Sep 1999 16:48:49 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

G'day Peter.

After bopping around the records office at Point Cook, and with the kind assistance of the staff there, I think we may have it sorted out.

I have attached a set of notes which I am sure that you will find interesting.

I would appear that there is an error in transcribing the records, or the original computer sheets (which were badly faded, and replaced with the hand written notes) may have had the incorrect detail.

I say this because there does not appear to be a record of any other Wirraway mishaps on Mt. Disappointment.

Certainly A20-573 existed up to 21st July 1953.

The aircraft cards show its record to that date.

The form A180 also shows the 1953 date several times.

The hand written report shows the date 21st July 1943, However it also records the aircraft as A20-573, and shows the exact location the wreckage that we found.

I am trying to contact Canberra to obtain a final report and will advise.

I have also obtained some detail on the Beaufighter A19-12 as attached.

Best Regards, Les.

 

This record written 23/9/99. L. M. Lewis.

Ref: Wirraway CA9. A20-573

Extracted notes from A180. Date: 22 july 1953 File # 32/16/1603.

Aircraft: Wirraway A20-573. Squadron: No1 AFTS Point Cook.

Locality: Unknown.

Date: 21 July 1953 Time: Night.

Pilot: A14167 Hallinan J.P. Rank: Trainee Pilot.

Crew: None.

Details: The Aircraft was airborne at 210923Z at Point Cook, for a night cross country Exercise (The authorised route -: Point Cook, Cressy, Ballarat, Baccus Marsh, Point Cook.)

Last radio contact was made at about 211020Z. At that time the aircraft reported its position as "Abeam Baccus Marsh."

Probable cause: Unknown.

Comment: Search aircraft are endeavouring to locate.

Date: 22 July 1953.

Extracted from aircraft card. (dates in this order)

Note: Records from three previous cards indicate a history leading up to 1953.

22/7/53. Missing in vicinity Baccus Marsh.

27/7/53. Intensive air search failed to locate aircraft.

24/7/53. Failed to return from night exe. A/c not recovered.

4/9/53. Approval granted for write off.

 

Extract from Missing Aircraft Book.

Note: This book is a handwritten transcription of old computer prints.

Record # 87. 21st July 1943. A20-573. Whittlesea Vic. Wreckage located at this point.

Longitude 37’23"

Latitude 145’09"

This is the precise location of the wreckage that we found . 

 

This report written 23/9/99 L.M.Lewis.

Aircraft: Beaufighter A19-12.

Unit: No 30 Squadron.

Locality: Nth. of Whittlesea. ( approx. 35 miles north of Melbourne.)

Date: 5/8/1942

Time: No time.

Pilot: P/O. L.D. Langusch

Condition: Killed.

Crew: 205761 Sgt. Greasley.

Condition: Killed.

Nature of accident: Not Stated.

Cause of accident: Not Stated.

Damage: Aircraft burnt out.

 

 

Subject:    A20-573 Pictures.
Date:           Thu, 23 Sep 1999 22:30:19 +1000
From:          "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter.

I am certain that the date is incorrect. 21 July 1945 IPO 21 July 1955.

Did not find a serial.

Read your other mail.. I may have to return to the site.

Will contact Canberra tomorrow.

Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Boomerang Report.
Date:             Sun, 26 Sep 1999 22:31:29 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

G'day Peter,

P. Dunn>  see from my new book that a Boomerang also crashed in the Whiitlesea area in May 1944.

It was A46-173.

I will follow this one up.

Thanks for the info.

I will attempt to find the location info before I make any conclusions, but the similarity with the Wirraway airframe could now cause some confusion.

Any way I will keep in touch.

Best regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Boomerang A46-173
Date:             Sun, 26 Sep 1999 23:25:30 +1000
From:          "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter,

Just had a look at ANGAM (I think you are familiar with it) A46-173 comes up as crashed near Cape Shield NT on 22-5-1944.

Can you confirm the number ?

Best Regards, Les

 

 

Subject:     Re: Boomerang A46-173
Date:             Tue, 28 Sep 1999 15:56:24 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <l
mlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Gidday Peter,

Les> Just had a look at ANGAM ( I think you are familiar with it )

Peter> Is it available on the Internet? I've seen it at Australian Archives but never used it.

Yes. Best way to find it is via search engine ( initially ) type ANGAM.

Go to " Defence" Air Force, and follow the steps.

Les> A46-173 comes up as crashed near Cape Shield NT on 22-5-1944.

Les> Um. My book says Whittlesea in May 44. See other e-mail for other details.

Peter> The only other Boomerang crash in NT in May 44 is one at Millingimbi in May 1944 by A46-146.

There are two reports on A46-173. Both refer to " Near Cape Shield NT"

... Have they done it again ??

Regards Les

 

 

Subject:    Re. ANGAM
Date:             Tue, 28 Sep 1999 17:10:11 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

G,Day Peter,

A quick way to ANGAM on the web, This record series is by no means complete, but its not bad.

You will find a query box, and simply type in for example, an aircraft number, and you should get a result below the page.

As I said it is not complete nor conclusive. but if the records are in ANGAM, they will show up.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    New find.
Date:             Tue, 5 Oct 1999 20:10:27 +1000
From:            "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Gidday Peter,

Do you have anything on a CAC. CA-4 (experimental) aircraft that crashed at Bylands Vic. on January 15th 1943? ( turned this up while looking for the Beaufighter )

I have a newspaper report, and spent some time with a witness ( Mr Don Comans ) who was only 30 feet away from the impact.

He and a brother and sister survived as they were on the other side of a shearing shed when the plane came overhead, clipped the roof, and plunged into the ground.

Sqdn Ldr. Jim Harper bailed out and survived.

Two CAC employees died in the incident.

Test pilot Jim Carter jumped too late and was killed.

Power plant engineer Lionel Dudgeon died in the aircraft which was completely destroyed.

I will be meeting with Mr Paul Straney, a retired aeronautical engineer, later this week.

He may have some original pictures, If not I can scan the newsprint photographs for you.

Also planning to talk to the wife of the late Harry Ross, the forester that found the remains of A20-573.

I understand that she may have pics, etc.

Awaiting archive files on this as well.

.... Still looking for the Beau..

Will be in touch.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Re: New find.
Date:            Sat, 9 Oct 1999 09:29:16 +1000
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

I have a newspaper report, and spent some time with a witness ( Mr Don Comans ) who was only 30 feet away from the impact. He and a brother and sister survived as they were on the other side of a shearing shed when the plane came overhead, clipped the roof, and plunged into the ground. Sqdn Ldr. Jim Harper bailed out and survived. Two CAC employees died in the incident. Test pilot Jim Carter jumped too late and was killed. Power plant engineer Lionel Dudgeon died in the aircraft which was completely destroyed.

Peter> I'd love a copy of the newspaper article if that's OK please. Also love a story from the witness (your recollections of hwta he said would be fine) to add to my site on that crash.. what ??

Ok, will send newspaper article.

Les> I will be meeting with Mr Paul Straney, a retired aeronautical engineer, later this week. He may have some original pictures, If not I can scan the newsprint photographs for you.

Met Paul, a veritable encyclopaedia on aircraft.. but not able to help in locating the Beaufighter..

Peter> That would be great. So is this site near Mt. Disappointment at all?

Yes, but around 10 NM west in what is known to pilots as the "Kilmore Gap"

Les> Also planning to talk to the wife of the late Harry Ross. the forester that found the remains of A20-573.

Doing this tomorrow.

Peter> One of these days you'll find it. That's if its still there.

Remains are probably not there.. Just want to find the location.. A real challenge..

Might have yet another one !! Have a 'phone contact ( local ) Have not got through yet.

but this one is closer to home... Keep you posted.

Regards Les

 

 

Subject:   "The Beau" located ( well almost )
Date:           Tue, 2 Nov 1999 14:57:56 +1100
From:          "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Gidday Peter,

Re: A19-12.

Here is a lesson.. Never take aerial sightings seriously..

These clowns had us tramping the mountains for three days without finding a thing !!

Turns out they were a little out in their bearings, and I finally got onto the right records and we have the location pinpointed to within a couple of hundred yards.

Seems the original search party had the same problem, as the wreck was located on the second day of the search.

The scrub is very dense in parts, and we cannot find any remnants in the bracken.

I suspect there would be very little anyway.

Checked the possible DR track and found nothing.

Now looking at the possibility that he was flying to a radio station ( 3LO) Near the current Plenty NDB. That would be a different track and widens the area to search.

Will be in touch.
Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:    Beau Located.
Date:             Sat, 4 Dec 1999 20:34:51 +1100
From:           "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Peter,

We located the crash site of A19-12 today.

Site is confirmed and although nothing was found on the surface, sufficient small pieces of wreckage were found buried beneath the ground surface.

Had to resort to using a metal detector, but proved worthwhile.

Two weeks ago I was able to contact a gentleman who had some photographs that he had taken at the site back in 1943. From the photographs we were able to identify the terrain and some broken trees which are still standing.

I will forward copies of the original photographs plus current photos when I have the current shots.

Location was precisely where I had pinpointed it, but due to the fact that it had been picked clean, we would never have been able to tell.

Usually there is oil and a barren area. In this case however the fire must have taken care of it all.

None the less we have it at 37deg.25' 43"South !45 deg 08' 11" East.

Best Regards, Les.

 

 

Subject:   Mount Disappointment
Date:           Mon, 6 Mar 2000 20:03:20 +1000
From:          "LESLIE Lewis" <lmlewis@ozemail.com.au>

Gidday Peter, ( This is the original that I attempted to send earlier. )

My apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

Had some problems with file sizes that I was attempting to send to you .. not quite sure exactly what may have been received by you, and will attempt to feed the stuff in the next few days.

Checked out the site and it's looking good !!

In response to your questions;

The guys have no problem with using their names.

They are; Rob Pocock, and Ken Brookes. Ken answers to "Roach" and wont mind if the name is used.

I must say also that I could not wish for better company in the bush than these two, and I think you would appreciate that.

I have no problem with using the emails that you have on file.. ( Do they make sense ?? )

The following is all that I know of the Whittlesea aerodrome.

The strip is on private land, and belonged to an ex WWII bomber pilot named John Cox. He passed away a few years ago.

I don't think that it was ever commissioned, and I believe that there was a bit of drama with the council etc. over the thing.

The Wallan strip, which was the one that we saw on our way up the highway, picked up the trade and is not exactly booming.

As for the Cessna, it may be the one that reportedly crashed in the watershed area, although it is allegedly complete and still there.

I will see what BASI have got on it. I have heard of quite a few general aviation mishaps in the area, but only one with the mountain.

There is one yarn about some bloke, a local of the area who got himself three parts whacked and pinched a plane from the Whittlesea strip.

He got it up, and did a few orbits of Melbourne CBD and topped it off with a low level run up Swanson St. (One could imagine the state of the controller at Essendon tower.)

Anyway, the story has it that he returned, could not find the strip and set the thing down in a paddock and finally stopped with the nose up against the back door of his mates homestead....

Nice story... Nothing like aviation to fire up the imagination.. On the other hand, there are some strange cattle up there.

Did you get the Beau site scans ? please let me know.

Best Regards Les.

 

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