ON 22 JULY 1944


Vultee Vengeance


RAAF Vultee Vengeance A27-535, #41-31443, of 4 Communications Unit RAAF at Archerfield Airfield was taking part in a Naval Co-operation Exercise when it struck the mast of a ship in the Brisbane River, moored at Berth #2 at Hamilton Wharf near the Hamilton Flying Boat Base in Brisbane, Queensland and nose dived into the bank of the Brisbane River at 1100 hrs  E.S.T. on 22 July 1944. The pilot Sgt D. Mc Oswin (432860) and 2nd pilot F/Sgt J.F. Pettit (427925) were both killed.

The Hamilton Fire Station Officer, Mr. F. C. Vyse, said that he and his men were watching the aircraft for some time before it crashed. The Vultee Vengeance was going low over the river, when the direction was suddenly changed. The aircraft was actually below the level of the ship's mast, and had to climb to get over it. One of the wings struck the mast and the aircraft appeared to go out of control. Part of the engine fell on the roof of the Hamilton Cold Stores, then the aircraft crashed to the ground. One of the crew was thrown from the aircraft by the impact and landed some 350 feet away, where he was later found dead. The Hamilton Fire crew raced to the scene arriving there within two minutes of the crash. The aircraft was burning furiously and they used foamite to quell the blaze. The body of the other crew member was recovered from the wreckage before the fire was extinguished.


Photo:- NARA via Norman Love

Smouldering remains of Vultee Vengeance A27-535


The reason given for the crash was "error of judgement".

Dennis Burchill describes the crash of this Vultee Vengeance at Hamilton as follows in his April 2004 "Wartime Memories of Bulimba":-

I remember a couple of incidents involving aircraft during the war. The first occurred in late 1942 (Actually on 22 July 1944). We were in our back yard in Cowper Street when a single engined aircraft passed over our house at a height of about 100 feet. The next minute there was a loud explosion with thick black smoke. We rushed down to the Apollo Ferry and raced across to Hamilton just in time to see the rescue crew place the bodies of the two crew onto the footpath. Their clothes were still smouldering. It turns out that the aircraft was a Vultee Vengeance dive bomber from the R.A.A.F and the crew were practising an attack on a Dutch ship (It was actually the US Navy's USS Oyster Bay) moored at the Hamilton Cold Stores. This ship had two very tall masts and the plane clipped one of them and crashed into swampland behind the cold stores.


July 1944 War Diary for US Navy Motor Torpedo
Boat Tender, USS Oyster Bay (AGP-6)
Source:- FOLD3 via Leendert Holleman


The War Diary for US Navy Motor Torpedo Boat Tender USS Oyster Bay (AGP-6) show that the boat arrived off the New Pile Light House several hours after midnight on 22 July 1944. Shortly after sunrise the USS Oyster Bay started to head for Hamilton Wharf where it docked several hours later. Just prior to Noon an RAAF Vultee Vengeance struck the top of their mast demolishing the SL and ABK radar antennas, carrying away all radio antennas, damaging the navigational lights and the liferail of the crow's nest. No crew members on board USS Oyster Bay were injured. USS Oyster Bay was undergoing repairs at Hamilton Wharf by the Navy Repair Unit.



"Plane Hits Ship's Mast; 2 Men Killed" Sunday Mail, Sunday 23 July 1944, Page 3

"War Diary USS Oyster Bay - July 1944", FOLD3



I'd like to thank Leendert Holleman, Grahame Higgs, Norman Love and Dennis Burchill for their assistance with this home page.


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This page first produced 6 July 2004

This page last updated 12 March 2023