13 NOVEMBER 1945
CRASH OF A BEAUFORT AT GARBUTT, QLD
Beaufort VIII, A9-733 (ex A9-367) of No. 5 Communication Unit RAAF while entering the circuit area, lost height suddenly, and crashed and burnt in a field 1 miles west of Garbutt airfield during a test flight at 4:12 pm on 13 November 1945.
Squadron Leader Francis Henry Wann Robilliard (1973) - Pilot
Pilot Officer Andrew James Turton (414176)
Leading Aircraftman Basil Colin Hely Crocker (453125)
Leading Aircraftman Eric Francis Dunne (441124)
Leading Aircraftman Frederick Robinson Palmer (46793)
Leading Aircraftman Russell Aubrey Ballard (72572)
Leading Aircraftman Leonard Jack Hackett (170901)
The deceased were buried on 15 November 1945 in the War Graves Section of the Townsville Cemetery, Graves E.B. 2 through to E.B. 8.
Sergeant Eric Adrian Nunn (88502) who was based at Garbutt airfield in Townsville at the end of the war, revisited Townsville in 2010 to visit the War Cemetery and in particular to visit the graves of the seven men who all died on the 13 November 1945, in this tragic crash. Eric said that the aircraft they were flying in was a former Beaufort bomber that had been converted into a Beaufreighter. The rear tail gun had been removed and additional seating and storage space was created. Because of the recent modification to the aircraft, it was decided to take it out on a test flight out around the nearby Islands.
LAC Basil Crocker, also known as "Goondi" to his mates, pleaded with Eric Nunn to go aboard and fly on the test flight. Eric said that he should be patient and that his time would come. Before the accident occurred Eric was called away on important work to Cloncurry. A few weeks later when he returned to Townsville, he asked "Where's Goondi?" and was given the response that Goondi had taken Eric's seat on the test flight and that the plane crashed near the end of the runway when coming back to land, killing all 7 personnel on board.
NOTE:- The above information was passed on to me by Ross McNeill (RossMcN@aol.com) of Worcestershire, UK, who is a researcher specialising in sea losses of Allied aircraft 1939-45. His Beaufort data comes from the RAF 800 movement cards held at the RAF Museum, Hendon. Ross spent a few months transcribing the info in about 1997.
I also received information on the above crash from a list of aircraft crashes compiled by Bruce Stewart from a series of books called "Aircraft in Australian Service" by Stewart Wilson.
I'd like to thank Jason Daniels, the Regional Manager, Office of the Australia War Graves, North Queensland for his assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 25 April 1999
This page last updated 02 February 2020