Lockheed Hudson


Lockheed Hudson A16-173,  #41-23609, BW747, of 32 Squadron RAAF left Camden airfield in New South Wales at approximately 6:45 pm on 4 November 1942 to carry out a search for a Japanese submarine approximately 300 miles east of Sydney. At 9:25 pm a message was received at the Operations Room, Camden from No. 1 Fighter Sector Headquarters at Bankstown that an aircraft had crashed at 9:10 pm in the Port Kembla district. The Lockheed Hudson had flown into the side of Bong Bong Mountain whilst flying in bad weather and darkness 3 miles west of Dapto in New South Wales.

The crew of four were all killed:-

Sgt. Norman Baxter Clark (406112) Captain
F/Sgt. Bernard James Hubbard (401037) Observer
Geoffrey Alfred Rich  (412187) Wireless Operator Air Gunner
Sgt. Joseph Hall Iredell (408580) Wireless Operator Air Gunner

The wreck was converted to components.




November 4 1942 .. About 9 pm...Me, 14, Home alone.. in the family house at Wongawilli, almost in the daytime shadow of Mount Bong Bong on the Illawarra Range near Dapto.

Doing my school homework, concentration destroyed by an insistent and growing buzzing sound, soon identified as an approaching aircraft. This was an unheard-of thing at night-time in Wongawilli, unusual enough to get me out of the house and standing in the backyard.

Pitch dark, rain, low cloud. The plane, close overhead, loud, shape unseen, faint flicker of exhaust flames, right above me, heading for the mountain.
I stood there, watching, watching, engine sound fading, fading.

Suddenly, near the top of the mountain, a brilliant flashing flare of light, silent at first then followed heartbeats later by the WHOOMPH! of a huge and terrible explosion.

I stood transfixed as the flames and booms, the rattle of exploding ammunition, slowly faded to a memorable pulsating scar on the flanks of Bong Bong mountain.

What I was seeing, though it didn't dawn on me till later, was the fiery and tragic deaths of four young men, the dedicated crew of a Lockheed Hudson Bomber.

Kevin Jeffcoat
Sydney 2011


POSTSCRIPT:- "Hello Peter....Here's the story (attached). There's a twist to the tale......A Sydney friend of my dad rang sometime about 1945 with the news that his young son had been run over by a train and lost a leg. The family wanted to have a lightweight leg made for the boy, but couldn't find any aluminium (wartime shortage).

"Well" said my dad "It so happens I know exactly where there's a bunch of it". So, armed with cutters and bags we climbed up to the Bong Bong wreckage and gathered enough Al to make a successful lightweight leg for a relieved family and a very happy boy. All for now......Regards ... Kevin Jeffcoat"



Subject:    plane crash at Dapto, Wollongong, November 1942
Date:             Tue, 6 Jun 2000 21:27:31 +1000
From:           "robert cummins" <>

I discovered your site by accident (not an aircraft buff) and decided to look up any information you might have had about a plane that crashed on the Illawarra escarpment 56 years ago. I did not find a record of it and wondered if you would like to investigate it some more, perhaps add it to your records.

A local resident recalled the event in 1988 for a Bicentennial publication. To sum up, a Lockeed Hudson bomber on a routine anti-submarine patrol along the south coast suffered instrument failure. The crew lost their bearings due to the bad storm that night - plenty of low cloud and heavy rain. The searchlight batterry mounted on Mt Brown, west of Lake Illawarra, attempted to alert the plane which continued to circle low over Dapto. But at about 8pm farmers in West Dapto heard a low-flying aircraft pass over their farms, followed by a loud crash.

A search party found the wreck later that night near the site of the Avon Colliery. The four crewmen were dead. The plane was carrying four depth-charges which had not exploded. The area was cleared, and a few days later, before they could be defused, the bombs exploded spontaneously, scattering the wreckage over a wide area. As far as I know, at least one of the crewmen is buried at West Dapto.

Regards Glynis



Subject:    plane crash at Dapto, Wollongong, November 1942
Date:             Thu, 8 Jun 2000 16:01:48 +1000
From:           "robert cummins" <>

Dear Peter

I had a look in the Illawarra Mercury 13 November 1942 today and found a tiny paragraph -

Aeroplane Crash
Recently an aeroplane crashed in southern New South Wales and as a result four members of the crew were killed:-

Pilot - Norman Baxter Clerk, 21, single, from W.A.
Observer - Bernard James Hubbard, 26, married, Bentley, Victoria
Air Gunner - Geoffrey Alfred Rich, 25, married,Rockdale, NSW
Air Gunner - Joseph Hall Iredell, 26, married, Hamilton, Victoria

I expected to find more info but perhaps it was all a bit hush hush.

Hope this helps

Regards Glynis



In Memory of


Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 4th November 1942. Age 26.

Son of David William and Mary Cathrine Hubbard, of Sandringham; husband of Iris Marcella Hubbard, of Bentleigh.

Cemetery:  CHELTENHAM NEW GENERAL CEMETERY, Victoria, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: R.C. Plot. Row 139. Grave 17.


In Memory of


Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 4th November 1942. Age 25.

Son of Leslie Alfred and Ruby Pearl Rich; husband of Helen Mary Rich, of Rockdale. C. of

Cemetery: WORONORA GENERAL CEMETERY, New South Wales, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: E. Plot. Sec. 6. Grave 131 .


In Memory of


Royal Australian Air Force
who died on
Wednesday, 4th November 1942. Age 26.

Son of Joseph Hall Iredell and Muriel Maud Iredell; husband of Gladys D. Iredell, of Hamilton. C. of

Cemetery:  HAMILTON PUBLIC CEMETERY, Victoria, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: E. Plot. Sec. 33. Grave 30.



Subject:     Plane Crash Dapto.
Date:              Fri, 9 Jun 2000 13:11:25 +1000
From:            "Carol" <>

My name is John Herben and I am the editor of the Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin.

In the coming issue is an article which details the plane crash on Bong Bong Mountain.

A copy can be obtained from the Society at a cost of $2-50 which includes P&H.

The address is Illawarra Historical Society Inc., PO Box 241,. Wollongong East 2520 NSW.

John Herben



"Dapto History in Photos" - Video of a trek to the crash site

When the War came to Bong Bong Mountain - video by Dapto History in Photos

Air League Squadrons visit WW2 crash site



I'd like to thank Kevin Jeffcoat and Michael Schurr for their assistance with this web page.


Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick


This page first produced 8 June 2000

This page last updated 27 February 2020