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Michael Claringbould 1999
Daniel Leahy 2000
Victorian Heritage 2000
Daniel Leahy 2019
|Pilot F/O Donald A. Flavel, 416663 (KIA, BR) Bathurst, NSW
Navigator F/O Robert V. Clayton, 406640 (KIA, BR) Victoria Park, WA
Radio Flt Sgt Lloyd J. Sims, 434749 (KIA, BR) Cairns, QLD
Crew F/O Frederick A. Wallis, 408715 (KIA, BR) Hawthorn East, VIC
Crashed June 4, 1945
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufort Mark VIII serial number A9-228. Assigned to 1 Operational Training Unit (1 OTU). No known nickname or nose art.
On June 4, 1945 at 5:33pm took off from Mount Gambier Airfield piloted by F/O Donald A. Flavel on a night astro navigation (celestial navigation) training flight bound for Eskdale. During the flight, this Beaufort crashed into Mount Tawonga (Mt. Tawonga). The entire crew was killed on impact. When it failed to return, this Beaufort was listed as missing.
A five-day search of the suspected crash area revealed nothing, and incredibly the RAAF convened a court to close the case, even though eyewitnesses had provided with evidence of an aircraft crash on Mount Tawonga.
Upset at such a hurried and forced decision, relatives organized their own ground search led by Lieutenant Richard Hamilton of the Volunteer Defense Corps. On their first day of searching after only two and a half hours the team found the crash site on Mount Tawonga.
Recovery of Remains
After the crash site was located, the remains of all four crew were recovered and individually identified.
The crash site of this Beaufort remains in situ on Mount Tawonga at Larkin Lane Upper Gundowring, Towong Shire near Tawonga roughly 15 miles southwest of Eskdale. Also known as the "Eskdale Spur Plane Crash" or "Eskdale Beaufort".
As of the early 2000s, much of the wreckage remains at the site, and incredibly, pieces of the tail section still retain their green and brown camouflage paint.
This crash site is protected as a heritage site by the Victorian Heritage Register (Hermes Number 125391) under the Heritage Act 2017 with Heritage Inventory (HI) Number H8324-0033.
Michael Claringbould visited this wreck in 1999:
"Instead of taking up an easterly heading it maintained a north-easterly course which took it over the Victorian Alps. Several bearing corrections were transmitted to the aircraft, but they were never acknowledged and Flavel made the fatal mistake of descending in instrument conditions without knowing his position. Radio contact ceased at 2015 hours after the aircraft had flown directly into the side of Mount Tawonga."
Daniel Leahy visited the site on November 28, 2000:
"The wreck of Beaufort A9-228 is spread about 250m down a gully and there are still some very large pieces there. Unfortunately, some stupid idiots have scratched their names etc. into some of the remaining camouflage - some have even let loose with the blue spray cans."
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The four crew were buried at Sale War Cemetery. The four crew are buried in the same row. Flavel at plot B, row D, grave 1. Clayton at plot B, row D, grave 8. Sims at plot B, row D, grave 6. Wallis at plot B, row D, grave 5.
On June 4, 2000 the Tawonga Memorial Plaque attached to a large rock at Tawonga was dedicated by the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) to the crew of Beaufort A9-228. The plaque reads: "This memorial is dedicated to the crew of RAAF Beaufort A-228 who lost their lives on the night of June 4, 1945 when their aircraft crashed near this site. Flying Officer D. A. Flavel, Flying Officer R. V. Clayton, Flying Officer F. A. Wallis, Flight Sergeant L. J. Sims. Australia Remembers 199. Returned & Services League of Australia. City of Wodonga.".
NAA Royal Australian Air Force Service Record - Flavel, D. A. (NAA: A9300, FLAVEL D A)
NAA Royal Australian Air Force Service Record - Sims (NAA: A9301, 434749)
NAA Royal Australian Air Force Service Record - Wallis (NAA: A9300, WALLIS F A)
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-228
WW2 Nominal Roll - Donald A. Flavel, 416663
WW2 Nominal Roll - Robert V. Clayton, 406640
WW2 Nominal Roll - Lloyd J. Sims, 434749
WW2 Nominal Roll - Frederick A. Wallis, 408715
CWGC - Donald Algernon Flavel
CWGC - Robert Victor Clayton
CWGC - Lloyd Joseph Sims
CWGC - Frederick Anthony Wallis
Victorian Heritage Database - Eskdale Spur Plane Crash Site (Hermes Number 125391)
Victorian Heritage Database - Tawonga Memorial Plaque (Hermes Number 127144)
Monument Australia - Eskdale Spur Plane Crash Site
YouTube "Mt Tawonga Beaufort Bomber Crash" November 3, 2014
AWM Beaufort Bomber A 9 228 remembered by Douglas James Hunter (C 355.00994 S118)
Memorial service for the four airmen who lost their lives on 4 June 1945 when their Beaufort bomber crashed just north of Mount Tawonga in NE Victoria.
Oz@War - Crash of a Beaufort on Mount Tawonga 15 miles south west of Eskdale, Victoria on 4 June 1945"
After The Battle Issue No. 93 (1996) Readers' Investigations - Australian Beaufort Crash - David Green tells the story of the last flight of Beaufort A9-228 which crashed in the state of Victoria in Australia in June 1945
Flightpath Magazine Volume 11, No. 4, May July 2000 pages 10- 11
Thanks to Michael Claringbould and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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June 4, 2020
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