CRASH OF AN AVRO ANSON
BETWEEN COFFS HARBOUR
 AND
CRESCENT HEADS, NSW
ON 7 APRIL 1945

 

Avro Anson

 

Avro Anson W2244 of the General Reconnaissance School, Bairnsdale took off from Bairnsdale at 2209Z hours on 5 April 1945 on a reconnaissance exercise along the coast to Lowood via Richmond and Evans Head in New South Wales.

Whilst proceeding to Evans Head from Richmond on 7 April 1945, the aircraft landed at Williamtown at 0043Z hours due to bad weather. The aircraft took off from Williamtown at 0352Z hours with Avro Anson R898 for a direct flight to Lowood. Both aircraft were in direct W/T communication with Bairnsdale and the first message received from W2244 was that the aircraft was airborne from Williamtown at 0355Z hours. W/T communications were maintained satisfactorily until 0541Z hours when the aircraft came up on schedule and stated that it was changing frequency to index 920 (5050 Kcs.) D/F frequency. Bairnsdale gave a receipt and passed schedule time of 0518Z hours.

At 0620Z base called on the scheduled time but received no reply. They continued to call the aircraft and all other D/F stations were asked to listen for a reply. Once the aircraft was overdue for its arrival at Lowood, procedures were put in place to search for the aircraft. All landing grounds were checked by Eastern Area Headquarters and the Volunteer Air Observers Corps (VAOC) without any luck.

Eastern Area Headquarters had reported that there was a sighting of two aircraft, one heading north over Coff's Harbour and the other flying north east of Coffs Harbour over the sea. It was reported to have turned south east. This may have been W2244.

On 8 April 1945 searches by Avro Ansons and Catalina's from Rathmines were begun under the control of Eastern Area Headquarters. These searches continued through to Thursday 12 April 1945. It was not clear why the aircraft took off from Williamtown as the weather along the coast on 7 April 1945 was unfavourable.

Anson W2244  crashed at approximately 1530 hours during a day navigation recco exercise flight to seaward from Bairnsdale in Victoria to Lowood in Queensland on 7 April 1945.

On 22 April 1945 verbal advice was received from Eastern Area Headquarters that some wreckage had been washed up on a beach between Coffs Harbour and Crescent Head (these locations are approx. 62 miles apart). Items were located as follows:-

17 April 1945 10 miles north of Crescent Head

One maewest marked GR91

21 April 1945 10 miles north of Crescent Head

Aluminum container cylindrical, 2 ft 6 ins by 7 ins, locking top marked on lid 5 inch tank MK VI med Ans 1940 204263/1 with semi-circular iron handle contained sea water.

22 April 1945 7 miles north Crescent Head One maewest marked GR81 with small shellfish adhering to it. This shellfish usually only found in deep waters.
24 April 1945 At approx. position 3058 15304 One piece thin 3 ply 12 in square broken edges painted green one side, yellow other side. Resident reported several similar pieces along the beach.

 

A further report on 28 April 1945 from AOR Eastern Area Headquarters indicated further wreckage comprising small pieces of wood and fabric painted yellow and green being picked up on the beach south of Coffs Harbour. One piece was approximately 15 in by 12 in marked "bat.Ter appt 14/3/4(1?)".

Maewest GR81 belonged to F.Sgt Kay who left the aircraft at Williamtown en route and whose place was taken by F/Lt.  D.H. Byerley. Maewest GR91 belonged to F/Lt. T.A. Meiklejohn.

The whole crew and one passenger were killed as follows:-

Flt/Lt. Thomas Archibald Meiklejohn (405635)
A/Sqn Ldr Alex Allan Buck- No 2592 (Pilot)
Flt/Lt.Francis John Butcher (253245)
Flt/Lt. Douglas Hardy Byerley (405439)

A.C.W. Margaret Jones Carey (nee Traynor), (105088) (WAAAF)

Passenger A.C.W. Carey was an authorised passenger and was only allowed to travel on the aircraft on the condition that the Captain of the aircraft was agreeable. She was proceeding to Brisbane on Leave and was permitted to travel on the aircraft for compassionate reasons only.

 


Photo:- via Rick Hanning and Bob Piper

A.C.W. Margaret Jones Carey (nee Traynor), (105088) (WAAAF)

 

Flight Lieutenant Thomas Meiklejohn

 

Prior to joining the RAAF, Thomas Meiklejohn had been a school teacher in Mitchell in Queensland. After he received his commission as an officer in December 1941, he was posted to various stations throughout Australia both for instruction and as an instructor. He and the other crew members were based at a Navigational school at the time of their fateful flight.

Nola Sheppard's father was the older brother of Thomas Meiklejohn. Their parents were Robert Sinclair Meiklejohn and Lily Elizabeth nee Knowles. Thomas's wife was Blanche Elizabeth Meiklejohn - Nee Hadland.

There is a Memorial to the 5 persons killed in the Sydney Memorial, New South Wales which stands in Sydney War Cemetery, situated about 17 kilometers west of Sydney. By road the route is along the Great Western Highway (Parramatta Road), turning south into Marlborough Road which continues direct to the cemetery. The War Cemetery itself is in the grounds of Rookwood Necropolis, and the main entrance is at the western side, on the necropolis roadway.

 


Photo:- Dave Jones

Memorial at Bairnsdale Airfield lists the
crew and passenger of W2244 plus
many others crews who lost their lives

 

Avro Anson W2244 had been involved in an earlier accident when it taxied into Avro Anson DG842 at Bundaberg, in Queensland on 8 December 1942.

 

Source AWM Roll of Honour Database
AWM 148 Roll of Honour cards, 1939-1945 War, Air Force

and

Commonwealth War Graves Site

Name: Buck, Alex Allan Meiklejohn, Thomas Archibald Carey, Margaret Jones Butcher, Francis John Byerley, Douglas Hardy
Number: 2592 405635 105088 253245 405439
Rank: Flight Lieutentant Flight Lieutenant Aircraftswoman 4th Class (ACW) Flight Lieutenant Flight Lieutenant
Age: 25 yrs 22 yrs 39 yrs 28 yrs
Unit: General Reconnaisance Sqn Bairnsdale General Reconnaissance Sqn Bairnsdale General Reconnaissance Sqn., WAAAF General Reconnaissance Sqn Bairnsdale General Reconnaissance Sqn Bairnsdale

Service: RAAF

RAAF WAAAF RAAF RAAF

Date of Death:   07/04/1945

07/04/1945 07/04/1945 07/04/1945 07/04/1945

Place of Death: Off NSW Coast

Off NSW Coast Off NSW Coast Off NSW Coast Off NSW Coast

Cause of Death:   Accidental

Accidental Accidental Accidental Accidental

AWM Memorial Panel: 115

116 117 115 115
Sydney Memorial: Panel No. 5 Panel No. 7 Panel No. 5 Panel No. 5
Son/Dau of: Robert Sinclair Meiklejohn & Lily Elizabeth Meiklejohn:  John Hulton Traynor & Alice Gordon Traynor John & Margaret Butcher Mr. & Mrs. A. C. Byerley, of Hamilton, QLD
Spouse of: Blanch Elizabeth Meiklejohn of Toowoomba QLD Patrick Howard Carey, of East Fremantle, WA Ena Vivien Butcher, of Sandringham, VIC -

 

REFERENCES

"Untold & Told Stories of the Air Force - RAAF & WAAAF"
By Mrs Eve Scott
(Ex- WAAAF Sgt. 93984)

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Nola Sheppard (nee Meiklejohn), Dave Jones, Rick Hanning and Bob Piper for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 21 November 1999

This page last updated 31 August 2015