Flying Officer Roy Anderson HARPER

Service No: 400087
Born: Auburn VIC, 2 October 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 May 1940
Unit: No. 267 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 267 Squadron Lodestar aircraft EW984), Egypt, 22 October 1942, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Helioplis War Cemetery, Cairo, Egypt
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Andrew and Bella Grace Harper, of Mosman, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Kew VIC
Remembered: Panel 123, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 22 October 1942, Lodestar EW984 took off from Bilbeis Camp, detailed to carry out a non-operational day flight and transport passengers to Lydda. Soon after take-off the aircraft struck the top of a tent, crashed on its back and burst into flames. Everyone on board was killed.

The crew members of EW984 were:

Pilot Officer Corliss St Leger Hawkes (128712) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Wing Commander John Patrick Stracey Smyth DFC (37430) (RAF) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer John Cecil Oliver Trench (118479 (RAFVR) (Third Pilot)

The passengers who were all from and travelling back to No. 267 Squadron following leave in Palestine were:

Corporal Reginald Benson (572958) (RAF) (Fitter II Airframe)
Flight Lieutenant Ernest Francis Victor Copsey (42334) (RAF) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Roy Anderson Harper (400087) (Pilot)
Corporal Gerald Alexander Grant (521986) (RAF) (Fitter II Airframe)
Warrant Officer II Vern Selby Irwin (R/77313 (Observer)
Sergeant George Rollinson MacBryde (1162806) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Arthur William Mills (1189309) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Brian Joseph O’Çonnor (404933) (RNZAF) (Observer)
Warrant Officer I Walter H Plant (R/68178) (Observer)
Pilot Officer David Maxwell Walker (110563) (RAFVR) (Pilot)

A witness at a Court of Inquiry into the accident stated: “At approximately 1530 hours on 22 October, I saw a Lodestar become airborne and climb to about 600 feet in a steep right hand climbing turn, that is, against the circuit. The aircraft then dived across the Camp over the Tents at approximately 15 feet. The aircraft then did a climbing turn to the left through approximately 270 degrees and it then did another diving turn across the Camp from about 200 feet. It approached the Mess Tent at approximately eight feet above the ground and failed to clear it. It struck the Tent with its left wing and I think, but am not sure, that a piece of the left wing came off. The aircraft then climbed slightly, rolled on its back and struck the ground inverted, bursting into flames.” In its Findings the Court stated: “in the Courts opinion, Wing Commander J P S Smyth was directly to blame for the accident by flying at a dangerously low height over the camp, and was guilty of culpable negligence resulting in the loss of 12 lives in addition to his own, the loss of an aircraft and injuries to one civilian and six native workmen.”


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, 163/35/225

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