LEST WE FORGET
Flying Officer George Douglas Rutherford AVERY
Service No: 404083
Born: Longreach QLD, 24 July 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 24 May 1940
Unit: No. 100 Squadron
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 100 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-26), off Magnetic Island QLD, 22 October 1942, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Townsville War Cemetery QLD
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Nicholas Canning Avery and Mary Elizabeth Avery; husband of Kathleen Hewetson Avery, of Warwick. B.A. (Queensland)
Roll of Honour: Warwick QLD
Remembered: Panel 104, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
At about 1130 hours on 22 October 1942 A9-26 crashed in Picnic Bay. The aircraft hit the mast of a hulk during a training exercise resulting in the loss of control of the aircraft and it dived into the sea. It had been arranged that 6 Beauforts of No. 100 Squadron led by Flight Lieutenant Bonython would carry out a practice torpedo attack on shipping in the Townville harbour at approximately 1100 hours after which a bombing attack would be carried out on a hulk lying close inshore on the south side of Magnetic Island. The Operational order explained the procedure with the last attack to be carried out by flights in echelon right. Flight Lieutenant Hugh Reskymer Bonython DFC AFC (280778) (Discharged: 13 July 1945) briefed the crews an hour before take-off except for Flying Officer Avery whom he contacted and briefed before taking off from Garbutt. The full instructions given to the crews were explained to Avery. At about 1100 hours the attack was made, fighter interception as was arranged with fighter Sector was first encountered at this time until after the exercise.
After the torpedo attack, 2 flights in V formation climbed to 1,000 feet, Flight Lieutenant Bonython’s flight being 200 feet higher than Flight Lieutenant Mercer’s with the latter flight being directly behind and below Red Flight (Bonython’s). This was to practice fire control, control being from Red Flight leader’s aircraft. Lieutenant Glueck flew as a supernumerary to gain experience of RAAF method of torpedo attack. At 1120 hours the order was given by Flight Lieutenant Bonython to all aircraft to increase power to 35 inches and prepare to attack ship with bombs. Blue flight dropped back and formed echelon right. Sergeant Forrest flying in No. 3 position in Red Flight also went into echelon right in his flight. Flying Officer Avery was already in echelon right and did not have to change position at all.
After about 3 to 4 minutes Flight Lieutenant Bonython increased power to 40 inches to draw away from the other aircraft and dived on the target releasing his bombs and climbed away turning left to observe results. Land Observers saw Avery diving to attack beneath the leading aircraft and shortly before reaching the target he started a normal controlled turn to starboard and according to them appeared to strike the top of the rear mast with the belly of the aircraft (Flying Officer Billing thought it was the port engine) and the aircraft crashed into shallow water finishing some 700/800 yards past the target. All on board A9-26 were killed.
The crew members of A9-26 were:
Flying Officer George Douglas Rutherford Avery (404083) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Douglas Crawford Bell (404031) (Observer)
Lieutenant Glueck (US Navy) (Supernumerary) (Mobile Torpedo Section)
Flying Officer Leslie Joseph Schwartz (405455) (Wireless Air Gunner)
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, 163/22/159
Ilbery, P.L.T. (Peter Leslie Thomas) (422957) Hatching an Air Force: 2SFTS, 5SFTS, 1BFTS Uranquinty and Wagga Wagga, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4650, 2002