Memorial rededicated in Glenbrook

A rededication service was held on January 28 in Glenbrook, NSW, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of five RAAF members killed in a plane crash.

CAPTION: Wreaths surround the memorial plaque at the rededication service commemorating the 80th anniversary of the RAAF Anson A4-5 crash at Glenbrook, NSW. Photo by Corporal Kylie Gibson.

On the same day in 1941, a RAAF Avro Anson (serial A4-5) crashed on a suburban street during an aeromedical evacuation.

Residents Pam Thompson and Tim Miers witnessed the crash as children and were present for the memorial service.

Ms Thompson recalled the afternoon when, as a 12-year-old, she was playing in a nearby yard with friends.

“We could hear a plane coming from the west flying very low and looking up we could see the plane with pieces falling from it,” Ms Thompson said.

“It got lower and lower and we all rushed down to the front gate to see and hear the awful crash and great plumes of smoke and flames rising to a great height.

“I will never forget the awful tragedy, the sight and sounds and the after effects we experienced for years.”

The flight started at RAAF Station Parkes at 3.35pm and was transporting Pilot Officer Bailey Middlebrook Sawyer to Sydney to receive treatment for an ear infection.

Also on board was a doctor, Squadron Leader James Rainbow, the aircraft’s pilot, Pilot Officer John Newman, the navigator, Flying Officer Henry Skillman and a wireless operator, Aircraftman Charles Tysoe.

Approaching the Blue Mountains, they encountered overcast conditions and the pilot is believed to have flown at lower altitudes because of the patient’s ear problem.

Residents heard the Anson’s engines at 4.45pm and watched the aircraft emerge from the clouds when a loud crack was heard.

Witnesses saw the left wing shatter and separate and despite the pilot’s attempts to regain control, the Anson dived and crashed onto the corner of Clifton Avenue and Lucasville Road.

An investigation found a structural failure of the wing was caused by either existing structural damage or over speeding in flight.

Aircraft records showed that in 1940, Anson A4-5 sustained damage to its wing when its undercarriage collapsed.

Deputy Air Commander Australia Air Commodore Ben Sleeman said the loss of members was a tragedy.

“They were valued colleagues and trusted mates.”

He thanked the community and the council for keeping the memories alive.

“This year, the Royal Australian Air Force marks the centenary of its establishment with the theme ‘Then. Now. Always’ and will engage with communities in sharing our story,” Air Commodore Sleeman said.

“This commemoration shows that our communities are preserving our memory of what happened then and providing an opportunity for us to come together now to ensure the memory will always continue.”

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