ON 19 JULY 1945


C-87 Liberator Express C.VII EW631 of 145 Staging Post RAF Mascot, crashed immediately after take-off at 2009 hours approximately 1 mile west of Mascot Airfield on 19 July 1945. The aircraft had taken off on a flight to Momote on Manus Island. EW631 had initially taxied on to Runway 16 by mistake and was then redirected to Runway 22. After approximately 15 minutes of engine checks it proceed to takeoff but did not climb above 30 to 40 feet. The pilot apparently banked the aircraft to avoid hitting some high voltage power lines and its starboard wing clipped a pine tree 18 feet above the ground on the edge of the Kyeemagh Polo Ground and then crashed about 2,100 feet from the upwind threshold.

It crashed into the viaduct of the Southern and Western Suburbs sewer outfall over Muddy Creek near where it joins the Cook's River at North Brighton. The force of the explosion shook houses within a mile of the crash site and the explosion was heard 4 miles away. Flames from the crash site were 60 feet high. Six fire brigades attended the crash site. More than 5,000 people attended the crash site within a short time. Six of the victims were trapped in the burning wreckage. The bodies of the other six were thrown clear of the crash site into the creek.


Photo Collection of Bob Livingstone

C-87 Liberator Express EW634 at Tocumwal. The C-87 was a transport derivative of the B-24 Liberator.


12 personnel were killed in this tragic crash including 5 Royal Air Force, 1 Royal New Zealand Air Force and 6 Royal Navy personnel as follows:-

Squadron Leader Ivan St. John Rayner (pilot -  RAFVR 41531)
Flying Officer Frank Fordon Hildreth (NZ416117)
Pilot Officer Duncan McNee (RAFVR 187280)
Flight Sergeant Alexander Finlay Stevenson (RAFVR 1570436)
Flying Officer John Leonard Till (RAFVR 161364)
Commander James Edward Bass (RNVR)
Lieutenant Commander Henry Peter Byrne (RN)
Leading Steward Eric Morris (RN P/LX 22687)
Commander Leonard Evelyn Romaine Govett (RNVR)
Surgeon Lieutenant Colm Nolan (RNVR)
Captain John Dwight Harvey (RN)
Captain James Gregson Roper (RN)

They were all buried at the Sydney War Cemetery at Rookwood.

Arthur Redwin was a fifteen year old boy living in Arncliffe at the time of this event in 1945 and he was one of the many people who visited the site adjacent to the sewer viaduct and Muddy Creek. The area was commonly known as the Sewer Farm in those days.


Note:- 145 Staging Post RAF was formed at Mascot Airfield in November 1944 and was disbanded at Mascot in March 1946.



Under the Southern Cross: The B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific
by Bob Livingstone



I'd like to thank Arthur Redwin, Dave Barlow and Bob Livingstone for their assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 23 July 2012

This page last updated 27 January 2020