Sergeant Brian PHILLIPS

Service No: 402837
Born: Manly NSW, 3 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 November 1940
Unit: No. 19 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Station Kinloss
Died: Injuries from an Aircraft Accident (No. 19 Operational Training Unit Lysander aircraft R9120), Moray, 16 March 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Kinloss Abbey Burial Ground
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Elias and Mavis Phillips, of South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 128, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 16 March 1942, Lysander R9120 took off from Kinloss detailed to carry out a cooperation training exercise in ground to air firing. While in flight the propeller of the aircraft came off, and although the Pilot successfully put the aircraft down on the beach at Findhorn Bay, Morayshire, he was unable to prevent his aircraft running into some antitank concrete blocks. Tragically a fire started, and although Sergeant Phillips either extracted himself or was dragged from the inferno, he was so severely burnt that he died within a few hours of the crash. Both crew members lost their lives.

The crew members of R9120 were:

Sergeant Thomas Edward Coogan DFM (534642) (RAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant Brian Phillips (402837) (Second Pilot)

A Court of Inquiry in the crash reported as follows: “a Technical Report stated: The Primary cause of the accident was that the reduction gear failed, cutting through the reduction casing thereby allowing the airscrew and part of the casing to fall away. A Secondary cause was the loss of the propeller and the aircraft striking concrete antitank blocks when attempting to force land.
The Wing Commander Commanding Training Wing stated: “I consider the pilot would have been better advised to attempt a forced landing close on to the shore of the Bay of the beach or in shallow water straight ahead rather than the sand dunes which meant that he had to pass over a large village having turned inland.” The Station Commander stated: “The Pilot committed a fatal error of turning back when the engine failed at low altitude. He should have force landed on a flat stretch of sand straight ahead. The Pilot was a very experienced and of above average ability.”


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, 163/150/146