CRASH OF A WIRRAWAY
AT SWIMASHORE BAY, WILSON'S PROMONTORY
ON 6 OCTOBER 1941

 

On 6 October 1941 at 1100 hours, Wirraway A20-189 of 5 Squadron RAAF based at Laverton, crashed into Swimashore Bay, near Wilson's Promontory. The wreckage of the aircraft was located and buoyed on 7 October 1941. A salvage party accompanied by Naval divers with equipment, arrived at Port Welshpool on 7 October 9141. They proceeded to the crash scene at 6:00 am on 8 October 1941 in a launch chartered locally. Two minesweepers, including HMAS Orara, were standing by at the crash scene.

The pilot of Wirraway A20-189 was P/O Frederick Arthur Watchorn and his Air Observer was Sgt John Stuart Padman (8835). The aircraft flew into the sea whilst carrying out Army Co-operation exercises with No. 7 Infantry Training Centre and sank. It was one of two aircraft sent to Yanakie for the exercises. It would appear that the aircraft had been involved as part of the exercises in low level flying attacks on troops.

The pilot P/O Frederick Arthur Watchorn received facial injuries and shock and the effects of immersion. The Air Observer Sgt John Stuart Padman was killed in the crash.

 

The wreckage of Wirraway A20-189 floating just below the surface of the water

 

Small boat from HMAS Orara recovers the body of the pilot of Wirraway A20-189

 

Crew of HMAS Orara involved in the recovery

 

The main fuselage of the wrecked Wirraway being lifted on board HMAS Orara

 

The main fuselage of the wrecked Wirraway being laid on the deck of HMAS Orara

 

Wing of Wirraway A20-189 being lifted aboard

 

The engine from Wirraway A20-189 being lifted on board HMAS Orara

 

The engine from Wirraway A20-189 being lifted on board HMAS Orara

 

AUSTRALIAN ARCHIVES RECORDS
Title: Accident to Wirraway A20-189 Squadron at Swimashore Bay, Wilson's Promontory on 6/10/1941 - P/O F A Watchorn
Series number A705
Control symbol 32/16/205
Contents date range 1941 - 1941
Access status Open
Location National Office
Barcode no 165769

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 I'd like to thank Noel Johnson for his assistance with this web page. Noel forwarded me the photographs of the Wirraway being recovered by HMAS Orara. These photos were taken by a friend of his who was on board HMAS Orara.

I'd also like to thank David Barnes for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 23 April 2000

This page last updated 04 March 2018