LEST WE FORGET

Squadron Leader John Clive SANGSTER

Commanding Officer, No. 4 Medical Receiving Station, Corunna Downs WA

Service No: 281103
Born: 18 December 1903, location unavailable
Enlisted in RAAF: date unavailable
Commanding Officer, No. 4 Medical Receiving Station, Corunna Downs WA, 20 May – 25 August 1944
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit Gannet aircraft A14-4) Exmouth Gulf WA, 25 August 1944, Aged 40 years
Buried: Geraldton War Cemetery WA
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Ikin Sangster and Ruby Kathleen Sangster; husband of Marjorie Morris Sangster, of North Adelaide, South Australia. M.B., B.S.
Roll of Honour: Clare SA
Remembered: Panel 114, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

A14-4 F/O. DIX. An urgent call was received from Doctor ROBERTS, Resident Medical Officer, DERBY, requesting the aircraft to proceed to ARGYLE DOWNS Station. The aircraft crashed on take-off at approximately 242125 hours GMT (Greenwich Mean Time – 0525 hours WST 25 August) and the cause is quite unknown and a Court of Inquiry is being convened by WESTERN AREA Headquarters. All personnel on the aircraft were killed, namely F/O/ G.E. DIX (401423) Pilot, 21710 Sergeant CATTON N., and S/L. J.C. SANGSTER, Medical Branch, Commanding Officer of No. 4 M.R.S. the aircraft is a total loss and salvaged parts are being despatched to No. 4 Central Recovery Depot.

No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit (Detachment Corunna Downs) Operations Record Book A50 Entry dated 25 August 1944

The remains of S/L SANGSTER, F/O DIX and Sgt. CATTON were interred in the local War Cemetery EXMOUTH GULF at 260700 hours GMT.

No. 2 Air Ambulance Unit (Detachment Corunna Downs) Operations Record Book A50 Entry dated 27 August 1944

At 0519 the Gannet ambulance aircraft departed for Corunna (73 O.B.). However, the Gannet aircraft crashed apparently soon after takeoff. A report from an early riser in the camp that he had heard an aircraft in the darkness, then what sounded like an explosion, and then the sound of the aircraft ceased. He concluded that the noise was in a northerly direction from the camp. Anson aircraft subsequently left on a search patrol, and wreckage was noted in the sea not far from the shore, in an easterly direction from the strip. When the wreckage was reached its was identified as the Gannet, and operations for the recovery of the casualties commenced. These were successful some time later, and the bodies of Squadron leader SANGSTER, Flying Officer DIX and Sergeant CATTON were recovered and identified.

No. 76 Operational Base Unit Operations Record Book A50 Entry dated 25 August 1944

Some time after we left Potshot, another aircraft accident occurred there during an early morning take-off on the 24th of August 1944. An RAAF Tugan Gannet, high-wing monoplane, A14-4, fitted with two Gipsy six engines each of 200 horsepower, crashed into to the Gulf about 120 yards from the shore, shortly after take-off. The crew of three were killed instantly. Those killed were the doctor, Sqdn. Ldr. J C. Sangster, the pilot, F/O Gordon Dix, and the wireless operator, Sgt N. Catton. Engine failure was considered possible, as some work had been done on a magneto. However, the take-off from the airstrip was in the early morning, perhaps before first light. Another plane had taken off shortly before and the pilot had reported fog after leaving the ground. The severity of the crash into the water, probably due to a spiral dive, led the court of inquiry to blame the accident on the pilot’s lack of instrument flying experience which amounted to only a few hours and a long time before. As a matter of interest, the Tugan Gannet, which crashed at Exmouth, was one formerly based at Laverton in 1939. I saw it frequently while in the Citizen Air Force.

Extract from Mitchell, A. (Alan) The Flying Inventor: the autobiography of an RAAF ground engineer, inventor and later pilot, Alan Mitchell, Woodlands WA, 2000 – page 94

References:

Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 204