9 September 1942

Bundaberg in south-eastern Queensland was a center for flying training during the Second World War. As a consequence, the surrounding Burnett Region is peppered with wartime crash sites.

Drury’s Anson being dismantled in Lutz’s cane field. Official records indicate it was never repaired, being struck off charge the following year. Military activities at that time were commonly photographed by civilian and military personnel (Bundaberg Library bun06577, Clifford Potter Collection).

A brick maker prior to enlisting, Flight Sergeant Thomas Peel Drury was one of many pilots who came to grief while undergoing advanced training at the RAAF’s No.8 Secondary Flying Training School (SFTS) in Bundaberg. Shortly after midday on September 9th, 1942 his twin engine Avro Anson trainer suffered engine failure causing him to crash (wheels retracted) in Albert Lutz’s cane farm near Clayton (south-east of the airfield). Also on board at the time was Leading Aircraftmen R. J. Langdon.

(National Archives of Australia: Series A9186, Control symbol 476, Item ID 1360155).

Barely two months earlier Drury, then twenty-five years old, had survived another crash landing in South Australia, his Avro Anson (A4-21) having also been forced down by mechanical failure on that occasion.

Aged 25 Drury was older than most other student pilots on his course. His wife and one year old son were also living in Bundaberg at that time (NAA: A9300, DRURY T P
Item ID 5375845).

Flying training accidents were commonplace then, another Anson (DJ188) having also crashed into a cane field that same month at Meadowvale north-west of Bundaberg. On that occasion it wasn’t mechanical failure that caused the crash – the pilot having struck a wireless pole while dive-bombing a farmhouse. Another two Ansons sustained extensive damage after colliding that same month. Such incidents were never reported by the local press, possibly because they were so commonplace.

Granted a commission the following year, Drury served initially as a flying instructor before receiving his first operational posting – with No.33 Squadron – in 1944. By war’s end he had logged more than 1,660 flying hours, almost half that time in Avro Ansons (the balance in C-47s, Catalinas, Walruses, Beauforts, Oxfords, as well as DH and CAC trainers).

Drury remained in the Air Force Reserve after the war until September 1960 when, having reached retirement age, he was compelled to resign.

This collection of unofficial images (below) from the Bundaberg Library collection, remarkable for their comprehensiveness and candour, reveal both the resourcefulness and challenges confronting air force salvage crews even when, as with Drury’s Anson seen here, they were barely a few miles from a major regional center.

4 Replies to “9 September 1942”

  1. Thanks re the Anson prang. My dad Fergus Yeates was an MO in the RAAF from late 1939 or early 1940 and spent some time at Bundaberg before heading to Townsville (check out the RAAF Hospital he helped restore) and then New Guinea.
    I recall him saying one of the navigation tests involved flying around Fraser Island then returning to base visually. Quite a few pilots got bushed …
    As an MO he would have attended many of the prangs hopefully to find the aircrew ok …
    It would be interesting to know if the stories have been verified by the pilots … now it is safe to do so ..!
    I had a feeling he was also near Maryborough … another RAAF base? Also Lowood before that. He ended up in 1945 as an MO at RAAF Sandgate aka Eventide with repat plus local emergencies as local medical services were very poor. Thes included several trips flat out in RAAF ‘blitz’ ambulance trucks across the Hornibrook Highway to attend to drownings etc at Redcliffe.
    I sometimes wonder if the stories of the roles of the RAAF MOs have been well enough told or documented?

    1. Thanks Michael for your interest, and comments. I am personally unaware of any published research concerning RAAF medical officer…There’s an opportunity.

  2. I’m interested in honouring the 8 airmen killed at Sth Kolan where 2 Beauforts collided and crashed in April of 44 with a plaque and a picture storyboard within the Sth Kolan Cemetery
    Not having a lot of luck with raising money at the moment as the cemetery trust hasn’t had any funds for ages and badly need water and other infrastructure

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