Lost airmen remembered 80 years on

RAAF Edinburgh aviators joined the Air Force Association (South Australia) in commemorating the 80th anniversary of a crash that resulted in the loss of four young RAAF aviators near Loxton, SA.

CAPTIONWreaths adorn the foot of the Loxton Avro Anson Crash Memorial in Loxton, South Australia. Photos by Sergeant Nicci Freeman.

The service was held at a unique memorial featuring a sculpture of an Avro Anson aircraft unveiled by the Loxton community in 2019.

Howard Hendrick, 99, a local Bomber Command veteran, recited the ode, while RAAF Edinburgh provided a catafalque party and bugler, and Officer Commanding 92 Wing Group Captain Paul Carpenter delivered an address.

“Reflect on the airmen, their sacrifice and their legacy. Use it to help inspire and guide aviators to be more resilient to confront future challenges as previous generations had to during World War 1 and World War 2,” Group Captain Carpenter said.

CAPTIONGroup Captain Paul Carpenter addresses attendees during the Avro Anson Crash 80th Anniversary Commemorative Service.

On the evening of September 24,1943, RAAF Avro Anson W2481 of 2 Air Navigation School based at Nhill, Victoria, crashed into a farm near Loxton while conducting a night navigational training flight.

Four crew members – Flying Officer Lawrence Flynn (pilot), Pilot Officer Albert Rapp (observer/navigator), Sergeant Ronald Obst (wireless operator air gunner) and Sergeant John Bowman (observer) – perished in the crash.

Pilot Officer Rapp had just joined the unit after completing an operational tour with 20 Squadron flying Catalina aircraft in the Southwest Pacific.

Sergeant Obst was a South Australian born in Nuriootpa who grew up in Renmark and Berri, where he attended school. He was posted to 2 Air Navigation School only 20 days before the accident. Tragically, he died in the crash on his eighth wedding anniversary.

Group Captain Carpenter noted that, for a nation that has largely undertaken wars of choice in recent decades, the enormous cost endured by Australia in World War 2 may be anathema to some but would be familiar to the four aviators and their families.

CAPTIONFlying Officer Howard Hendrik (retd) recites the Ode during the Avro Anson Crash 80th Anniversary Commemorative Service.


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