LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Horace Palmer GORDON

Service No: 22930
Born: Brisbane QLD, 3 August 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 July 1940
Unit: No. 283 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 283 Squadron Warwick aircraft BC300), Dorset, 8 September 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Christchurch Cemetery, Hampshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edwin and Elizabeth Gordon, of Duranbah, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Brisbane QLD
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 0135 hours on the 8 September 1943, Warwick BC300 crashed after take-off at RAF Station Hurn when the aircraft went into a very flat turn that resulted in a stall and the aircraft spun in from about 500 feet, killing all five crew members.

The crew members of BC300 were:

Flight Sergeant Ronald Charles Bellingham (421033) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Horace Palmer Gordon (22930) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Frank David Holdsworth (409548) (Observer)
Corporal James Bruce Kieran (969821) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant George Wilson Murtagh (413133) (Wireless Air Gunner)

A Court of Inquiry into the accident stated: “the aircraft had arrived at 30 ADU Hurn at about 1200 hours on the 7 September from RAF Station Bircham Newton. It was en route to North Africa, and it took off from RAF Station Hurn airfield at 0131 hours on 8 September, loaded approximately 600 lbs under the maximum take-off load and about 200 lbs below the maximum landing load. The weather and visibility was good. Evidence shows that the aircraft took off in the normal manner and immediately turned to starboard and flew for a short distance in an erratic manner. Upon reaching a height of 6/800 feet it fell out of control and burst into flames from impact with the ground. Pilot Officer Gordon was a very steady pilot, and for the last nine months had flown Hudson, Wellington and Warwick aircraft. It must have been impressed on him throughout his
training that to attempt turns in a heavy aircraft immediately after take-off was highly dangerous especially at night from a strange airfield. In view of the evidence that a turn starboard was made immediately after take-off it is considered that the turn was not intended by the Pilot. The manoeuvres of the aircraft during the short flight seemed to indicate that the Pilot was unable to control it properly.” In was the opinion of the Court that “the accident was not caused as a result of airmanship or by carelessness on the part of Pilot Officer Gordon. The damage to the aircraft was total and complete and from a careful examination of the wreckage no conclusion could be known as to why the aircraft fell out of control.”

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, 166/16/181