CRASH OF AN AVRON ANSON
3 MILES NORTH OF GREENOUGH, WA
ON 1 NOVEMBER 1943

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At 11:30 hours A.E.S.T. on 1 November 1943, Avro Anson W2072 of 4 Service Flying Training School 4 SFTS at Geraldton Airfield, crashed 3 miles north of Greenough, in Western Australia.

Apparently, the pilot lost control of the Avro Anson whilst flying in cloud and the starboard mainplane disintegrated in a steep dive. The probable cause was the "inability of the pilot to fly on instruments".

Sergeant Wilson, Staff pilot, was authorised by the Flight Commander to give dual instruction in the Avro Anson on the correct procedure for bombing the camera obscura, to LAC Morley and LA Milstead with F/Sgt. Cross as as Wireless Operator. The exercise was to be carried out at a height of 3,500 feet and the runs were to be north and south over the camera obscura. The weather at the time consisted of a higher layer of strato-cumulous cloud as approximately 4,000 feet and a lower layer of broken strato-cumulous, with the base at times down as low as 2,000 feet, in very occasional showers.

Another aircraft was also performing this same exercise at 4,500 feet, making east and west runs over the camera obscura. That aircraft advised the ground station by radio that it was impossible to complete their exercises due to the cloud layer being too overcast and it was instructed to abandon the exercise and carry out general instrument flying practice in a clearer region.

Whilst efforts were being made to contact W2072 to ensure it had received the same advice to abandon the planned exercise, the aircraft was heard by members of a Survey Company in the vicinity of Greenough, with its engines revving very hard. At 0808 hours, approximately 38 minutes after take off, the aircraft was seen by members of the Survey Company to emerge from the cloud base, estimated at 1,000 feet, in a steep dive, travelling in a northwesterly direction.

Eye witness accounts vary, as to whether the aircraft then performed a steep turn to the left or right to avoid a low range of sand hills, but are unanimous that the aircraft had almost flattened out to a horizontal position when they observed the starboard wing disintegrate from near the starboard engine, The aircraft was then at an estimated height of about 50 feet above the ground and as the starboard wing came off, the aircraft dropped immediately into a wheat field approximately three miles north of Greenough.

All four crew members were killed on impact in this tragic crash:-

Sergeant Robert John Wilson (417287) - Pilot
Flight Sergeant Stanley William Cross (415122)
Leading Aircraftman William Robert Morley (437091)
Leading Aircraftman Edward John Milstead (436204)

The wreckage of the aircraft, which was completely destroyed, was scattered over a wide area. Pieces of the starboard wing were found several hundred yards away from the main crash site. It could not be determined who was in the left hand pilot's seat at the time of the crash, but it was likely that it was Sgt Wilson.

All four crew members were buried in the Geraldton War Cemetery at 1500 hours on 2 November 1943.

 

Funeral Card for Sergeant Robert John Wilson

 

Funeral Card for Sergeant Robert John Wilson

 

Funeral Card for Sergeant Robert John Wilson

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Michael Musumeci 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 19 December 2017

This page last updated 19 December 2017