Flying Officer Beresford Clayton RODERICK

Service No: 437292
Born: Melbourne VIC, 21 February 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 December 1942 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 1661 Conversion Unit (RAF), RAF Winthorpe, Nottinghamshire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 1661 Conversion Unit Stirling aircraft LK591), Warwickshire, 25 July 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Oxford (Botley) Cemetery, Oxfordshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Beresford Roderick and Hattie Roderick, of North Adelaide, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Hawthorn SA
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

On the night of 24/25th July 1944, Stirling LK591 took off from RAF Winthorpe at 2342 hours, detailed to carry out a Command Bullseye (a diversion exercise). The aircraft crashed at 0256 hours at Gaydon airfield. Three of the crew were killed and five were injured.

The crew members of Stirling LK591 were:

Flying Officer Harold Edwin Aubrey Brown (422927) (Air Bomber) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 3 May 1945
Pilot Officer Allan Ernest Bullock DFC (418614) (Pilot) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 March 1946
Sergeant John Alun Edwards (1816413) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) 
Flight Sergeant John Justin Ferguson (434781) (Rear Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 20 February 1946
Sergeant Kenneth Gibson Judd (429196) (Mid Upper Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Charles Robert Neilson (410558) (Wireless Air Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 13 December 1945
Flying Officer Beresford Clayton Roderick (437292) (Navigator)
Sergeant Frederick Cyril White (1806890) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

The Pilot in a later statement said “We were returning from a diversion exercise and had crossed the coast at Orfordness at approximately 15,500 feet. I noticed difficulty in keeping the aircraft straight and level and on two occasions closed my eyes. Suddenly I thought of oxygen supply, and on checking found the supply at nil, so descended immediately to about 9,000 feet. The Air Bomber had dozed off beside me, and the navigator said he had been affected. Soon after we descended below the oxygen height, the port outer engine exhaust went black, and the engine was not giving enough power, so I feathered the engine. A few seconds later the port inner caught fire, so I feathered that, and used the graviner to extinguish the fire. After the fire went out, the Engineer told me we had been running on no 5 tanks at the time, and as we had been on these tanks for some time, I told the engineer to change to no 2’s and 4’s which he did. I then decided to re-start the port outer as I was certain the only reason for its failure was lack of fuel in No 5 tanks. Just then I saw a lighted aerodrome to port and decided to land there. I turned on to Stud D to call them up, but could not hear myself speak into my mike, although I could hear the rest of the crew. I continued flying round the outer circle losing height to about 1,500 feet on the altimeter, which seemed to me about our height above the aerodrome. I turned into the funnel and could see the sodium lights, but no flare path or guide indicators. I realized I was too low and obtained full power from the port engine, as a few seconds later we crashed.”

In his remarks on the accident, the Commanding Officer Wing Commander of the Unit stated: “Oxygen failure made the crew partially “pass out” and petrol shortage caused engines to fail. The Pilot did not carry out a very good forced landing and crashed on the three engined approach. There are a number of incidents in this accident which will come out in the investigation, but the Captain realizes he has been foolish and that his foolishness caused three deaths.”


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, 166/36/326

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