LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer James William MORTON

Service No: 410690
Born: Richmond VIC, 6 October 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 January 1942
Unit: No. 547 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 547 Squadron Wellington aircraft HZ408), Davidstow Moor, 8 October 1943, Aged 31 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James William and Mary Louisa Morton; husband of Thelma Jean Morton, of Thornbury, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Preston VIC
Remembered: Panel 127, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 8 October 1943, Wellington HZ408 was detailed to carry out a non-operational ferry flight from Davidston Moor to Dunkerwell, Devonshire, and return, and in accordance with Coastal Command signal T172, the aircraft was to be used for straight and level flying only. On taking off, First Lieutenant Reville then proceeded to do a “mild shoot up” over Flying Control. He put the aircraft into a power dive and on pulling out at about 100 feet and a speed approximately 200 mph, the starboard wing broke off at the wing root, the aircraft rolled twice, crashed on the aerodrome and caught fire. All on board were killed.

The crew members of HZ408 were:

Squadron Leader Trevor John Rayner Lawman (39668) (RAF) (Supernumerary)
Flying Officer James William Morton (410690) (Navigator)
Sergeant Thomas Bernard Nugent (1426342) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
First Lieutenant C H Reville (886085) (USAAF) (Pilot) *
Sergeant John Laverton Silver (1341800) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Philip John Walsh (1527483) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

* Details uanble to be confirmed by CWGC records.

A report into the flying accident found that: “the Primary cause of the accident was the failure of the bottom rear boom of the inner plane spar in the vicinity of Station 41. Contributory causes were:
Lieutenant Reville disobeyed verbal instructions to fly the aircraft straight and level only; Culpable negligence on the part of Sergeant Mattewman who had signed the F700 stating he had carried out the special inspection in accordance with RDA 792 and found it correct; Flying Officer Staples guilty of culpable negligence, who had also signed the F700; and four others were also guilty of culpable negligence.” The Commanding Officer of RAF Davidsow Moor stated: “the primary cause of the accident was the fact that the inspection of the spar boom in the aircraft in accordance with RDA 792, had never is fact been carried out, although the form had been signed on nine separate occasions as having been carried out. There is also criminal negligence on the part of those NCO’s and aircraftsmen required to carry out the inspection, and lack of supervision on the part of Engineer Officers.” The C-in-C of Coastal Command stated: “I take a most serious view of the causes of the accident, and summaries of evidence are to be taken in order that those concerned may be brought to trial by Court Martial.”

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, 166/28/156