LEST WE FORGET

Sergeant Jack Clarence SHARPLEY

Service No: 409235
Born: Gardenvale VIC, 24 August 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1941
Unit: No. 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit Hudson aircraft AM832), Wales, 4 February 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Llanbeblig Public Cemetery, Caenarvonshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Percival Alexander Sharpley and Alice Jane Sharpley, of Ararat, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Tatura VIC
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 0030 hours on 4 February 1942 Hudson AM832 crashed during a non-operational night navigation exercise. The aircraft crashed at Bedggelert Ridge when it hit a mountainside at an altitude of 2300 feet. All the crew members were killed. The aircraft set course at 2201 hours on 3 February, and the estimated time of return of 0040 hours. The last contact with the aircraft was at 0010 hours when a QDM of 043 degrees (magnetic heading to base) was passed, together with signal X665.

The crew members of AM832 were:

Sergeant Robert John Bennett (1316629) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Sergeant Jack Clarence Sharpley (409235) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Samuel John Meddings (1270338) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Albert William Peach (1330926) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

A Court of Inquiry into the accident reported that: “in our opinion the cause of the accident was faulty navigation resulting in an aircraft flying to a position approximately 60 miles south of its intended turning point at Kish Light. Wireless Telegraph facilities for checking the position do not appear to have been initiated at all apart from obtaining the one QDM. The aircraft was airborne at 2201 hours and using still air conditions should have turned at Kish Light at 2306 hours. In actual fact it will be seen that it did not make this turn until 2342 hours, 36 minutes late. The aircraft stayed on the leg from South Rock to Kish Light for a period of one hour instead of 31 minutes.
The aircraft after leaving its estimated position at Kish Light lost height and apparently obeyed the QDM which was passed as a weak signal and should have been treated with caution. It crashed on a mountain side at approximately 2300 feet causing the death of the crew and the complete destruction of the aircraft.” The Group Captain Commanding RAF Silloth stated “the cause of the accident remains obscure, but the findings of faulty navigation recorded by the Court is not an unlikely reason for the accident.”

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, 166/37/27

Bibliography:

Lang, Noella The Rest of My Life with No. 50 Squadron: from the diaries and letters of Flying Officer P W Rowling, Access Press, Northbridge WA 6000, 1997