CRASH OF AN AVRO ANSON
1.5 MILES SOUTH EAST OF TARLEE, SA
ON 23 SEPTEMBER 1943
At 2305 hours on Thursday 23 September 1943, Avro Anson W2095 of No. 6 Service Flying Training School (6 SFTS RAAF), at Mallala, South Australia crashed into a field one and a half miles south east of Tarlee in South Australia during a dual night time cross country flight. The aircraft had earlier taken off from Mallala at 2130 hours. It was scheduled to be an approximate 2.5 hours flight from Mallala to Chrystalbrook to Terowie to Eudunda and back to Mallala.
The "Preliminary Report of Flying Accident or Forced Landing" states the condition of the crew as known at that time as follows:-
Sergeant Julian Patrick Rice (29990) Pilot - Missing (later confirmed killed)
Flying Officer Ian Duncan Weston (284999) Navigation Instructor - Missing (later confirmed killed)
LAC Donald Neill McDonald (429980) Trainee - Killed
LAC Cyril Lewis (419836) Trainee - Killed
The Preliminary Report indicated that the aircraft was a "probable write off" and the Probable Cause of the accident as "Unknown". A later official letter from Wing Commander Alexander Arthur Barlow (250159), the Commanding Officer of No. 6 S.F.T.S. at Mallala, stated that "it crashed near Tarlee, S.A. killing all occupants, and was almost completely destroyed by fire." He listed the probable cause of the crash being due to weather deterioration not predicted in the weather forecast.
A service funeral for all four victims was held at the War Graves Cemetery, Mallala at 1400 hours on 25 September 1943.
A later more detailed investigation by the Inspector of Aircraft Accidents, Wing Commander Maxwell Bernard Allen (290120), indicated that the aircraft had struck the ground at high speed at an almost vertical angle, with the mainplane being on a line East and West. The aircraft was about 2 miles north of the track from Eudunda to Mallala. An eyewitness of the crash stated that he heard the aircraft circling in cloud through which it broke at from 300 - 400 feet, went into a dive at a steep angle with the engines "racing and screaming all the way down". He stated that the weather conditions were very bad at that time.
The Inspector of Aircraft Accidents stated that "The cause of the accident was that Sergeant Rice either through lack of skill in night or instrument flying or through panic, lost control of Anson W.2059 in adverse weather conditions while on a night cross country training flight with the result that the aircraft went into a dive from which the pilot failed to recover. The weather conditions developed during the course of the flight, but had adequate arrangements existed for the most up to date meteorological information to be available at Mallala the flight would almost certainly have been abandoned."
The South Australian community of Tarlee dedicated a plaque on 22 February 2015 at Tarlee's War Memorial to honour the four crew members who were tragically killed in this crash. The organisers are keen to make contact with any relatives or descendants of the crew members. Please contact Gavin Dunn at email@example.com.
HISTORICAL NOTE:- Trainee Pilot, LAC Walter B. Campbell (later Sir Walter Campbell and ex-Governor of Queensland) was given his 'Wings Test' by Chief Flying Instructor Sqn Ldr LeGood in Avro Anson W2095, at Amberley airfield on 7 December 1941.
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This page first produced 8 February 2015
This page last updated 02 February 2020