Sergeant John Gordon NICHOLSON

Service No: 17708
Born: Kelmscott WA, 24 March 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 September 1940
Unit: Headquarters RAAF Station Port Moresby
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 33 Squadron Empire Flying Boat A18-12), Townsville QLD, 27 February 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Joseph and Maud Augusta Nicholson, of Fremantle, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 6, Sydney Memorial, Rookwood NSW
Remembered: Panel 97 Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

At 1802 hours on 27 February 1942, No. 33 Squadron Empire Flying Boat A18-12 crashed at Townsville while landing after the test flight following a fifty-hour inspection. Those on board were:

Leading Aircraftman Maurice Clayton (15065) (Fitter II Engines)
Pilot Officer Peter Satterswaite Devonshire (407942) (Second Pilot)
Corporal Ray Silvester Diggles (93900) (Supernumerary)
Pilot Officer Alan Filmer (274159) (Supernumerary) Slightly Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 November 1945
Corporal William James French (10429) (Fitter II Airframe)
Flying Officer Leonard Charles Laurence (264288) (Supernumerary) Seriously Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 December 1943
Flying Officer Robert John Love (400004) (Pilot) Dangerously Injured, Died 27 February 1942
Sergeant John Gordon Nicholson (17708) (Wireless Operator)
Leading Aircraftman Kenneth Macleay Poulton (34542) (Wireless Operator) Seriously Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 24 March 1944
Corporal Ronald Short (15928) (Fitter II Engines) Dangerously Injured, Died: 3 March 1942
Pilot Officer Harold John Wagner (4215) (Supernumerary)

A18-12 was the QANTAS Empire Flying Boat Coogee that was on charter to the RAAF. The accidental loss of Coogee occurred during a disastrous five week period that saw the loss of five of QANTAS’s ten flying boats which resulted in a huge reduction of Australia’s long range airlift capacity.

QANTAS Empire Flying Boats lost in the period 1942-3 were Corio (VH-ADB) on 30 January 1942 (Pilot Officer William George Cruikshank (267534)); Coogee (VH-ABC, A18-12) on 27 February 1942 (Flying Officer Robert John Love (400004)); Circe (G-AETZ) on 28 February 1942 (Flight Lieutenant William Bloxham Purton (296)); Centaurus (G-ADUT) and Corinna (G-AEUC) at Broome on 3 March 1942; Corinthian (G-AEUF) at Darwin on 22 March 1942; Calypso (G-AEUA, A18-11) near Daru PNG on 8 August 1942; and Camilla (VH-ADU) on 22 April 1943 (Pilot Officer Walter Robert Bartley (267521)).


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 203

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