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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 27170
Last updated: 11 October 2019
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Date:02-MAY-1939
Time:
Type:Silhouette image of generic ANSN model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Avro Anson Mk I
Owner/operator:21 Sqn RAAF
Registration: A4-11
C/n / msn: 977
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Hobsons Bay, Port Phillip Bay, near Point Ormond, Elwood, Victoria -   Australia
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAAF Laverton
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Ex RAF Anson Mk I K6222. TOC by RAAF at 1 Aircraft Depot 5.1.37 and re-serialled A4-11. To 21 Squadron 29.4.37. Damaged by gales at Whitemark, Flinders 14.3.38.

Crashed into Hobsons Bay, Port Phillip Bay near Point Ormond, Elwood, Victoria, in bad visibility during a training flight on 2.5.39. All three on board - P/O Ronald Davies, Cpl Gordon Peake and AC1 John Quinn - killed. Aircraft struck off charge and approved to be scrapped 26.7.39

Per contemporary newspaper report (Melbourne Argus 14 July 1939):

"CAUSE OF BAY CRASH

Reference to "Scapegoat"

Counsel for the relatives of the dead pilot of the Avro Anson bomber, A4-11 which crashed into the bay on May 2 withdrew a protest at the Air Force Court of Inquiry yesterday that the pilot was being made the scapegoat for the accident.

Piloted by Pilot Officer Ronald John Irwin Davis aged 24 years of Nedlands (W A ) the bomber crashed into the bay during a fog with the loss of three lives. The Court, which is also investigating
the crash of another Avro Anson A4-32 at Riverston (NSW) on April 28 when four men were killed, has returned to Melbourne from Sydney to complete both investigations. Final addresses on the bay
crash were heard yesterday and this morning the Court will begin the hearing of addresses on the New South Wales crash. Judge Piper chairman of the Court is assisted by two assessors Group Captain H. N. Wrigley and Squadron Leader A. L Walters

When Mr. L. P. Goode (for Davis's relatives) suggested that the dead pilot was being made the scapegoat. Judge Piper said that he could not understand the purpose of the remark. Mr. Goode : "It appears to me that all the blame for the accident is being attached to Davis. I think it most unfair
that, even if it were due to a mistake in judgment on his part, he should be blamed when it was through his inexperience or the weaknesses in the system."

Judge Piper pointed out that Mr. H. A. Winneke (counsel assisting the commission) had made it clear that in his opinion Davis had not been to blame for taking his machine Into the fog cloud.

Mr. Goode.-"In those circumstances I withdraw my remark." Mr. Winneke, opening his final address,
eliminated the possibility of a defect having developed in A4-11. "The evidence seems to Indicate that the R.A.A.F. has the most efficient maintenance system," said Mr. Winneke. "The
Court could only come to the conclusion that the machine was in a serviceable condition when it left Laverton."

Mr. Winneke submitted that it was doubtful whether the fog in which Davis found himself was so thick as to Justify him in breaking formation with the leading plane. Mr. Winneke described as "somewhat dubious" the statement of Flying-Officer Marshall, leader of the formation, that he
did not become aware of the presence of the fog until he had flown into it. Whether Davis' should have been led into the fog was a question for the Court to consider.

The Court should find. Mr. Winneke said, that there was no defect in the plane, and that the cause of the accident was that the pilot lost his bearings in a fog and descended lower than he should
have done, with the result that the tip of the right wing struck the water.

Mr. Goode suggested that the real cause of the accident was that, through no fault of his own, Davis was placed in circumstances which were highly dangerous. It had been sworn by officers who had flown in the direction of Melbourne on the day of the crash that conditions for flying were
highly dangerous, and that if those conditions had been known the flight would not have been authorised.

"We cannot condemn Davis for breaking away from the formation," said Mr. Goode. "He may have had ample grounds for considering it highly dangerous to continue."

The greater part of the blame for the crash, Mr. Goode contended, was attributable to the system which sent Davis out with a machine that was not adequately equipped, in his opinion, and resulted in his being placed in a predicament.

Sources:

http://www.adf-gallery.com.au//2a4.shtml
https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/11233307


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
06-Feb-2012 14:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Source, Narrative]
15-Feb-2012 23:54 Nepa Updated [Operator]
14-Apr-2012 01:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
25-Jun-2012 08:16 Nepa Updated [Operator]
19-Oct-2017 13:52 A.J. Scholten Updated [Cn, Narrative]
11-Oct-2019 22:52 angels one five Updated [Narrative]

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