Flight Sergeant Albert John SMITH

Service No: 415879
Born: Dardanup WA, 14 February 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 March 1942
Unit: No. 21 Operational Training Unit (RAF), RAF Station Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 21 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft DV914), UK, 11 December 1943, Aged 20 years
Buried: Oxford (Botley) Cemetery, Oxfordshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas John and Holly Eileen Smith, of Waroona, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Waroona WA
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the 11 December 1943, Wellington DV 914 took off from RAF Station Enstone, Oxfordshire, and crashed at 1538 hours. All the crew were uninjured in the crash except Flight Sergeant Smith who was killed.

A Court of Inquiry into the accident stated that: “the accident occurred just after the Pilot had been dual instruction and had been sent solo by his instructor. As Eassie states he was making his second solo approach when this was obstructed by another aircraft. He opened up and went round again. At approximately 690 feet and when immediately over the runway in use, the port engine failed and flames appeared in the engine cowling. The wheels and flaps were up but full boost and RPM was still being used. The Pilot throttled back the engine placed the pitch control to fully coarse and turned off the fuel supply and switches and ordered the Bomb Aimer to press the Graviner switch. When the engine failed the Bomb Aimer asked whether he should abandon the aircraft, but the pilot was too busy to reply. Having completed his drill of immediate action thepilot discovered that the Bomb Aimer was missing. So he leant across and pressed the Graviner switch. The failure of the port engine and subsequent fire compelled the Pilot to make an emergency landing. He made no attempt to lower his undercarriage but contented himself with an efficient wheels-up landing. When the bomb aimer disappeared he had not gone to take up his crash station as the Pilot believed, but had opened up the front hatch and abandoned the aircraft. The WAG witnessed the incident, but thinking that the altitude was too low and having received no orders to abandon, he took up his crash position with other members of the crew. The Air Bomber chute was fully opened but this did not occur at a height sufficient to save him from fatal injury. “

An examination of the engine by a Technical Officer revealed that “the No 3 cylinder had fractured circumferentially about four inches from the bottom. The top of the cylinder had lifted, the piston broke up and the front of the engine was covered with oil causing the extensive fire. The cause of the engine failure was unknown.”

The Group Captain (Station Commander) RAF Moreton-in-Marsh stated: “Flight Sergeant Eassie was on his first solo and is to be commended for his coolness in making a safe landing under difficult circumstances. It is evident that the Bomb Aimer abandoned his aircraft without orders from the Captain to do so. His death is clearly due to a flagrant breach of crew discipline.”

The crew members of Wellington DV914 were:

Flight Sergeant Bruce Eassie (415894) (Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 29 October 1945
Sergeant Brian Raymond James (408441) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 13 March 1945
Sergeant D W O’Dell (1466783) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant R L Scott (1580370) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Albert John Smith (415879) (Bomber Aimer)


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, 166/38/362

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