1940 Brocklesby mid-air collision
On 29 September 1940, a mid-air collision occurred over Brocklesby , New South Wales, Australia. The accident was unusual in that the aircraft involved, two Avro Ansons of the RAAF Flying Training School , remained locked together after colliding, and then managed to land safely. Both navigators bailed out after the aircraft struck, followed shortly afterwards by the injured pilot of the lower Anson. The pilot of the upper Anson, however, found that he was able to control the interlocked aircraft using his ailerons and flaps, coupled with the still-functioning engines on the machine underneath. He was then able to make a successful emergency landing in a paddock near Brocklesby. All four crewmen survived the incident, and the Ansons were repaired and remained in service with the Air Force.
One aircraft was piloted by Leading Aircraftman Leonard Graham Fuller, 22, from Cootamundra, with Leading Aircraftman Ian Menzies Sinclair, 27, from Glen Innes, as navigator. The other aircraft was piloted by Leading Aircraftman Jack Inglis Hewson, 19, from Newcastle , with Leading Aircraftman Hugh Gavin Fraser, 27, from Melbourne , as navigator. The Ansons were at an altitude of 300 metres over the township of Brocklesby, near Albury, when they made a banking turn. Fuller lost sight of Hewson's aircraft beneath him and the two Ansons collided amid a "grinding crunch of metal and tearing of fabric". They remained jammed together, Fuller's Anson "piggybacking" Hewson's. Both of the upper aircraft's engines had been knocked out in the collision but those of the one below continued to turn at full power as the interlocked Ansons began to slowly circle. Fuller found that he was able to control the "crazily coupled" aircraft with his ailerons and flaps, and began searching for a place to land.The two navigators, Sinclair and Fraser, bailed out, followed soon after by the lower Anson's pilot, Hewson, whose back had been injured when the propeller of the other plane sliced through his fuselage.
Gavin Fraser was later posted to Britain and flew as a pilot officer with No. 206 Squadron RAF, based in Aldergrove, Northern Ireland. He and his crew of three died on 1 February 1942 during a routine training flight, when their Lockheed Hudson collided with a tree.
Death in Ireland
Aircraft Type: Hudson Serial number: AM 604 Radio call sign: Unit: ATTD 206 SQN RAF
Hudson AM604 took off from RAF Aldergrove, Headquarters Coastal Command, on 1st February 1942, on a non-operational aerodrome defence exercise. The aircraft struck some trees with its starboard wing, landed upside down and was set on fire by the impact. All the crew were killed.
Crew: RAAF 402051 PO Fraser, H G Captain (Pilot) RAAF 400858 Sgt A D Campbell; (Observer) RAF Sgt P A Fry, (Air Gunner) RAF Sgt G T Kettle, (Air Gunner)
PO Fraser and Sgt’s Campbell & Fry are buried in the Killead (St Catherine) Church of Ireland, UK. Sgt Kettle is buried in the Cowes (Northwood) Cemetery, UK.
At a later Court of Inquiry, the Station Commander RAF Aldergrove stated : “The Pilots in Sqn Ldr Hennock’s Flight, were ordered to follow the Flight Leader in echelon starboard. He gave all the necessary orders required by any reasonable pilot. The aircraft hit trees as a result of an error of judgement by Fraser in flying too low or diving too close to the ground.”
The AVM Commanding No 15 Group RAF stated : “ Had Fraser conformed normally to the manoeuvres of the Flight Commander as was done by the second aircraft in the formation, the accident would not have occurred.”
Pilot OfficerHUGH GAVIN FRASER 402051 Royal Australian Air Force who died age 28 on 1 February 1942 Son of Andrew Currie Fraser and Beatrice Irene Fraser of Camberwell, Victoria, Australia.
Remembered with honourKILLEAD (ST. CATHERINE) CHURCH OF IRELAND CHURCHYARD
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