Sergeant Bernard Bradley CONNELL

Service No: 403041
Born: Burwood NSW, 17 August 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 December 1940
Unit: No. 23 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Station Pershore
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 23 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft T2953), Pershore, 3 January 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Pershore Cemetery, Worcestershire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Dunstan Connell and Florence May Connell, of Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Ashfield NSW
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 3 January 1942, Wellington T2953 took off from Pershore with a screened Pilot, two Pilots under instruction and two Wireless Operators to practice circuits and landings. During the exercise the weather deteriorated and at about 1900 hours while turning at a very low altitude and probably trying to line up with the runway, control was lost and the aircraft crashed into a thickly wooded area. All five on board were killed.

The crew members of T2953 were:

Sergeant Bernard Bradley Connell (403014) (Pilot Under Instruction)
Pilot Officer Robert Petrie Hay (45428) (RAF) (Instructor (Screened Pilot))
Sergeant Hubert Kilwa Jones (1186654) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Harold Marshall (1310853) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Rodger Bede Murphy (403143) (Pilot Under Instruction)

A report into the flying accident stated: “On the night of 3 January 1942, Pilot Officer Hay with
a crew of four was authorised to carry out circuits and landings in Wellington T2953. The aircraft took off from RAF Pershore at 1745 hours, in rather poor weather conditions, visibility 3 miles, cloud base 1500 feet. Owing to a possible deterioration in the weather, the ACP was instructed to have a full Goose Neck flare path lit. Pilot Officer Hay carried out circuits and landings until approximately 1900 hours, when he was given permission to land. He acknowledged this, but the aircraft did not re-appear. It was subsequently found that the aircraft had crashed in thickly wooded ground approx 200 feet above and two miles east north east of the aerodrome boundary. The weather at the time of the crash was deteriorating with 10/10ths low cloud and decreasing visibility.” The Investigation Officer into the crash stated: “the accident was due to the Pilot inaccuracy at a low altitude, in an attempt to line up with the runway, with insufficient evidence to prove why the aircraft was so low and off course.”


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, 163/98/412

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