Photo:- Peter Dunn 2001

Lockheed Hudson


Lockheed Hudson A16-68 of 2 Aircraft Depot (2 A.D.) crashed after a test flight on its landing approach to Richmond airfield at 1635 hours on 20 December 1944. Whilst making a normal landing approach with wheels and flaps down, when it was approximately a 1/4 of a mile for the airfield boundary at about 200 - 300 feet it was seen to make a flat turn to port slowly, and then drop the port wing, strike overhead wires in falling, then spin into the ground on a vacant block in Dight Street and burst into flames. The following eight personnel on board were all killed as a result of this tragic crash:-

Flight Lieutenant Ronald William Shore, 411199, pilot, Grave No. CD 7
Flying Officer John James Broderick, 409022, Wireless Air Gunner, Grave, CD 11
Leading Aircraftman Francis Fletcher Smith, 64697, Fitter 2A, Grave CD 14
Aircraftwoman Nancy Margaret Ralph, 109913, F/Rigger, Grave CD 10
Corporal Robert Henry McIlroy, 35228, Instrument Maker, Grave CD 8
Leading Aircraftman Joseph Michael Gleeson, 62705, Fitter 2E, Grave CD 13
Corporal John McLennon Allen, 36531, Fitter 2A, Grave CD 12
Leading Aircraftman Noel Austin Chamberlain, 15786, Fitter 2E, Grave CD 9


National Archives Australia

The wreckage of Lockheed Hudson A16-68 near Dight Street, Richmond


National Archives Australia

A burnt-out engine of Lockheed Hudson A16-68


National Archives Australia

The wreckage of Lockheed Hudson A16-68


National Archives Australia

The wreckage of Lockheed Hudson A16-68


Apparently a number of the ground crew of 2 Aircraft Depot had gone on the test flight as a joy flight prior to Christmas. The take off had been delayed for technical reasons. Aircraftwoman Iris Pfitzner (176819) of 2 Aircraft Depot had to cancel her spot on the flight as she had been called at short notice to go on duty. Iris asked her friend Aircraftwoman Nancy Margaret Ralph (109913) to take her spot.

The court of inquiry found that the cause of the accident was the complete or partial failure of the port engine due to causes unknown, coupled with an error of judgment in as much as the pilot was making too slow an approach and on the failure of the engine the pilot was either too slow in taking corrective action or he deliberately made an attempt to turn the aircraft towards the dead engine in an endeavour to make a crash landing on flat land available in that direction, rather than risk a crash in a thickly inhabited area.

The above eight personnel were buried in the Richmond War Cemetery on Friday 22 December 1944 at 3:15pm. The three RAAF Padres of RAAF Station Richmond, Padres Tattle (R.C.), Crossley (Methodist) and Baker (Church of England) officiated at the ceremony.

Tomas Hamilton of Richmond organised an anniversary service at RAAF Richmond in 1994.

Another ceremony organised by the Richmond RSL Sub-Branch was held on 20 December 2004 only 500 metres from the crash site to mark the 60th anniversary of this tragic crash. An RAAF Hercules flew over the ceremony at at the Richmond War Cemetery where 20 people gathered to remember the 60th anniversary.

One of those who attended, John Allen Jnr., was a witness to the tragic accident. He is the son of Corporal John McLennon Allen who was killed in this crash. John Allen Jr. was only three years old when he witnessed the crash. He clearly remembers the funeral procession for his father and crew. He laid a wreath on his father's headstone at the 60th anniversary ceremony.


Lee Dell, who was 15 years old at the time of the accident remembers the crash and she said that "you can see it as clear as it happened yesterday". Mrs Dell remembers that 16 year old John Alcroft was the first to arrive at the crash site and made several attempts to pull survivors from the wreckage, but he was forced back by the fierce fire.


Aircraftwoman Iris Pfitzner (176819)


Note:- Aircraftwoman Iris Pfitzner (176819), married an Army soldier and became Mrs. Iris Terry. In April 2021, Iris was 103 years old and due to turn 104 in May 2021. Her twin sister and her four brothers were also in the Army.



I'd like to thank Fay Poulter, Tomas Hamilton and Graham Clayton for their assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 13 April 2009

This page last updated 16 April 2021