LEST WE FORGET

Sergeant William Wilson KIRBY

Service No: 416768
Born: Crow’s Nest NSW, 9 December 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 September 1941 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 1 Operational Training Unit (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 1 Operational Training Unit Beaufort aircraft DX134), Northern Ireland, 15 May 1943, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Belfast City Cemetery, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Raymond George and Winifred May Kirby, of Willoughby, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Willoughby NSW
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Beaufort DX134 was detailed on 15th May 1943 to carry out a non operational training flight – map reading and air-sea rescue exercise. At 1800 hours the aircraft crashed at Church Island, near Bellaghy, Londonderry, and all the crew members were killed.

In a unit report on the accident it stated “it seems fairly apparent that the pilot was making a forced landing on open ground, but his approach took him over a church. It seems that to avoid hitting the church spire, he stalled the aircraft at about 100 feet and crashed in a very steep angle just beyond the church building.” It also stated the “port engine was suspect. The pilot had trimmed the aircraft to fly on starboard engine. Traces of white metal in the oil. Engine being inspected.”

The crew members of DX134 were:

Sergeant Richard Kevin Holmes (R/122539) (RCAF) (Pilot) (an American citizen)
Sergeant William Wilson Kirby (416768) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant James Richard Parkes (1231901) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant George Taylor (1030620) (RAF) (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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/22/65