Aircraftman Class II Kenneth James BARNWELL

Service No: 20161
Born: Tamworth NSW, 30 August 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 July 1940
Unit: No. 3 Initial Training School, Kingaroy QLD
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 23 Squadron Wirraway aircraft A20-183), near Kingaroy QLD, 6 April 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Taabinga Cemetery Queensland
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James George and Florence Jane Barnwell; husband of Hazel Beatrice Barnwell, of Croydon, New South Wales
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 115, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 6 April 1943, Wirraway A20-183 together with Wirraway A20-207 were authorised to carry out a bombing exercise 28 miles north east of Kingaroy, Queensland. The aircraft were instructed to fly in formation, bomb the target individually and return to base in formation. The bombing exercise was satisfactorily completed and the aircraft reformed in formation. Sergeant Lawrence in A20-183 was leading, and Flying Officer Cory in A20-207 was on the starboard side.

About 10 miles north east of Kingaroy, a formation of two No. 5 Squadron aircraft was sighted to the right apparently by Sergeant Lawrence. A practice attack was commenced in formation by the two Wirraways. The two No. 5 Squadron aircraft turned in towards the two Wirraways causing them to tighten their turn to make the attack. At this juncture A20-183 came out of view of A20-207 and was not seen again until the two aircraft collided a few minutes later. The starboard wing tip of A20-183 hit the port wing tip of A20-207. A20-183 then pulled away approximately 30 feet and immediately slid back towards A20-207, and A20-207’s propeller contacted the leading edge of A20-183’s starboard main plane. A20-183 then commenced a slow spin but the damage did not appear excessive. The spin was righted but the aircraft then spun the opposite way striking the ground in a flat position and burst into flames. The two crew members in A20-183 were killed and A20-207 managed to return to base.

The crew members of A20-183 were:

Aircraftman Class II Kenneth James Barnwell (20161) (Trainee Aircrew) (No 3 Initial Training School, Kingaroy)
Sergeant John Campbell Lawrence (411150) (Pilot)

The pilot of A20-207 was:

Flying Officer Gilbert Richard Isler Cory DFC (404387) (Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 17 October 1945


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, 166/5/112; A9845, 107

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