Author: Dr Sue Rosen
Research: Liz Gorman
Horse racing at Menangle Park was put on hold when the site was commandeered by the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II for use as an airfield.
At 1400 hours on the 29th March 1944, 6 Beaufort aircraft took off for a training flight. Sadly, only 5 were to return. Trouble for the ill-fated A9-550 had started during taking off; 3rd in line down runway, it was overtaken by the following 3 planes. A9-550 lumbered into the air heading south-east with the formation, but struggled to gain altitude.
After being aloft for only 5 minutes, the pilot reported over the radio that the port engine had cut out. One of the nearby planes watched A9-550 flip onto its back and go down. The aircraft crashed into scrub on the Macarthur-Onslows' Mount Gilead property
Unfortunatley by the time the ambulance arrived 55 minutes later, the aircraft was alight and the crew had perished.
Sue Rosen Associates was commissioned to see if the site of the crash could be determined. We worked with reports and photographs from the National Archives, liaised with the History and Heritage Branch of the RAAF, and examined high-resolution historical aerial photographs obtained from the NSW Department of Finance.
While we believe we have narrowed the search area, a second stage of investigation including oral history and a field survey is required to identify and mark the site.
F/Sgt HB Johnston (420024): Pilot, aged 26
F/O RW Durrant (422555): 2nd Pilot, aged 24
F/O HD Wheller (426409): Navigator, aged 21
F/Sgt RAC Hoscher (412535): W/T Operator, aged 23
AC1 WH Bray (141632): Crew, aged 22