LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Alan Rutherford GALE

Service No: 410479
Born: Richmond VIC, 31 December 1919
Enlisted in the RAAF: 30 January 1942
Unit: No. 524 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident: Supporting the Lodgement (No. 524 Squadron Wellington aircraft MF616), Cornwall, 8 June 1944, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Samuel Edward and Alexandrina Gale, of Balwyn, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Balwyn VIC
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 8 June 1944, Wellington MF616 was detailed to carry out an anti E-Boat patrol at dawn. The aircraft returned from the mission and crashed near Davidstow Moor airfield, Cornwall, about 12 miles west north-west of Launceston. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of MF616 were:

Warrant Officer Graham Davies (964498) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Edward Davies (158117) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Alan Rutherford Gale (410479) (Observer)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Frederick Gardner (1318412) (Second Pilot)
Warrant Officer Edric Albert Hutton (1281666) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Thomas David Young (148182) (RAFVR) (Pilot)

In a Court of Inquiry into the accident, the report stated: “the aircraft approached to land at Davidson Moor airfield, on the SE/NW runway, in conditions of bad visibility, and struck a bank in a field some 500 yards from touch down point. The aircraft immediately fire and all the crew were killed. The crash tender was sent to the scene and began to fight the fire. A Reserve tender had then arrived and began to run out the hoses. An explosion occurred in the aircraft 14 minutes after the fire started, and the crash tender was still at the scene fighting the fire. As a result of the explosion, eight persons on the ground were injured.” The report concluded that “the cause of the accident resulted from the Captain’s decision to land in unfit conditions, and against the instructions of Flying Control. Flying Officer Young was completely to blame for the accident. Corporal Lambert was over zealous in fighting the fire longer than four minutes, and Sergeant Phillips on arrival should have ordered everyone to safety. Both did not comply with Station Fire Orders, and because of their disobedience, are held responsible for the injuries to those on the ground.”

References:

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, 166/15/124