LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Eric Clement HOBBINS

Service No: 420196
Born: Newcastle NSW, 29 January 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1941
Unit: No. 204 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 204 Squadron Sunderland aircraft JM710), off the Gambian Coast, 22 September 1943, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Eugene Martin and Clare Frances Hobbins, of Enfield, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 11, Column 2, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 124, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 22 September 1943 Sunderland JM710 crashed at Bathurst while turning on its circuit prior to landing. In a Court of Inquiry into the accident, a witness Corporal White, RAF Marine Coxswain stated: “I was coxswain of Pinnace engaged on flare path duty on 22 September 1943. At approximately 2100 hours on the same night I was stationed at No 2 flare and the aircraft was proceeding on a course of 030 degrees to the flare path downwind, and going from the taxying side of the flare path towards the alighting side of the flare path. I then also observed the aircraft to commence a turn to port. While completing this turn the aircraft seemed to fall very quickly, struck the water and burst into flames. Whilst the aircraft was flying overhead it appeared to be flying normal circuit height.” In its findings the Court of Inquiry stated: “the cause of the accident is obscure. The aircraft crashed whilst turning on its circuit prior to landing. A possible cause was that the Pilot with not much night flying experience returned to RAF Bathurst whilst the weather conditions were not ideal, and the aircraft stalled in its turn. It was thought that the pilot was about to make his run up the flare path to set the gyro, as is normal practice, and stalled in the turn.”

The crew members of JM710 were:

Warrant Officer Ralph Bernard Beresford Billows (744968) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ronald David Britton (1078394) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Robert Grainger Craig (1073044) (RAFVR) (Fitter 2B/Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Sidney Bertram Cuthbert (133608) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Bruce Sydney Evans (413751) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Geoffrey Finney MID (48741) (RAF) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Eric Clement Hobbins (420196) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Harry Revell (1512034) (RAFVR) (Fitter Mechanic/Air Gunner)
Sergeant Gordon Weston (1438509) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

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, 166/18/189