Flying Officer Sydney Charles Bertram ABBOTT DFC

Service No: 400404
Born: Melbourne VIC, 25 February 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 August 1940
Unit: No. 13 Operational Training Unit (RAF)
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 15 June 1943 (Citation Title: For devotion to duty during bombing attacks at Diepe and Eindhoven with 464 Squadron RAAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 487 Squadron Ventura II aircraft AJ454), Norfolk, 9 August 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Marham Cemetery, Norfolk
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Sydney Bertram and Isabel Beryl Abbott, of Balwyn, Victoria, Australia. Dip. Agr. (Dookie).
Roll of Honour: Camberwell VIC
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On a non-operational flight on 9 August 1943, Ventura AJ454, crashed at 1330 hours at Larchwood, Norfolk. The three on board were killed.

On board AJ454 were:

Flying Officer Sydney Charles Bertram Abbott DFC (400404) (Pilot)
Squadron Leader Edgar Alfred Costello-Bowen (46332) (RAF)
Corporal Frank Richard Magson (1165126) (RAFVR)

In a Report into the Flying Accident, the Court found that: “Flying Officer Abbott had recently completed an operational tour on Venturas, and he wished to fly one again. He obtained verbally what he considered to be permission to do so. The following day without further permission or written authority, he flew AJ454 with Squadron Leader Costello-Brown as a passenger. After doing two wide circuits at normal height, the aircraft was seen to slow up with the engines or at least one engine not under power. The aircraft lost height and one wing dropped, then the other. The aircraft completely stalled, and out of control hit the ground. The aircraft was completely destroyed.”

The Court found that the Primary cause of the accident was either “(a) mishandling of one or more of the controls or (b) technical failure in that the aircraft did not complete a normal circuit and landing. No evidence is sufficiently strong to prove (a) and the wreck was burnt out and (b) cannot be conclusively proved.” The Secondary cause was “an error of judgement on the part of the Pilot while executing a forced landing. If blame is to be apportioned it must be attached to Flying Officer Abbott for flying the Ventura without authority from those in a position to give it and to see it was correctly carried out.”

The Group Captain stated “While he agreed with the findings of the Court he considered the circumstances under which the flight was made, made it unlikely the Pilot would confine it to two low circuits before coming in to land. The possibility of a technical failure as opposed to mishandling of controls is given greater weight because of this.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/3/89