© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons


459 RAAF Squadron


 RAF Flight Sergeant John David Jones

Wireless Operator/Air Gunner – with RAAF 459

Service Number 1266748




Crew –

Pilot Officer William Lupton, RAAF 409159 of Fairfield, Victoria, Australia;

Flying Officer Philip Geoffrey Lee, RAF 129482– Navigator - of Sheffield, England;

Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Windibank Fretwell, RAF 1358319 – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner;

Leading Aircraftman George Campbell (Radar Mechanic), RCAF R168048, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Fatal Accident – Ventura ‘S’ FP543

 

On the 3rd February, Pilot Officer William Lupton and crew lost their lives on a radar training flight in the newly arrived Ventura ‘S’ FP 543. To assist in the use of the ASD radar, Lupton had taken with him, as well as his standard crew, one of the Squadron radar technicians, Leading Aircraftman George Campbell.  They took off from Gambut at 8.40 am, but when they had not returned after the aircraft’s limit of endurance, two other Squadron Venturas and a B-25 from the nearby USAAF unit began a search.  Wreckage of the missing aircraft was eventually sighted by one of the Venturas piloted by Flying Officer Lindsay Caldow.  The broken remains were strewn on a beach near a wrecked ship at Cape Azzaz, some 30 miles north-east of Gambut. (See picture below)



The CO, Wing Commander Peter Henderson, immediately took off in another Ventura to inspect the crash scene.  A search party, including the Medical Officer, Flight Lieutenant Duncan Henderson, set out the same night but could not locate the wreck.  The following morning, the search party set out again and reached the crash site at midday.  All five members of the crew were found to be dead, with multiple fractures and the aircraft was a total wreck.


Flight Lieutenant Stephen Blumenthal, the Engineering Officer of No 235 Wing, who was also with the search party, found part of the mast of the wrecked ship near the aircraft whose port mainplane had been cut off just outboard of the port engine nacelle. As he details in the subsequent Court of Enquiry:


“From the evidence, it is my opinion that the aircraft approached the wreck from an easterly direction, struck the mast with its port mainplane at high speed and carried on in a straight line before striking the ground and breaking up at a point approximately 250 years from the wreck.  I am satisfied thee was no technical fault contributing to the accident.”


That view was corroborated by a member of No 47 Squadron RAF who had witnessed the crash from a distance while mounting guard on a crashed aircraft from his own squadron:


“I heard an aircraft to the east and watched it through a pair of binoculars.  It was flying low and disappeared behind sand hills between me and the sea.  It reappeared and continued along the horizon towards a wreck which is on the beach and about 10 miles from where I was.  After passing over the wreck I saw what appeared to be a white shape coming from the tail of the aircraft and immediately afterwards the aircraft disappeared from view.  I did not see it again and came to the conclusion that it had crashed.”


The crew had been briefed on the previous evening at No 235 Wing, Gambut.  No part of their brief involved flying below 2,000 feet.  It seems that they were apparently attempting to practice a low-level attack on the wreck.  Prior to the accident, Pilot Office Lupton had only flown three and a half hours solo on Ventura aircraft with the Squadron.  The remains of the crew were brought back to Gambut and buried with full military honours at Acroma on 6 February 1944.


The report of accidental death - F/Sgt. Jones


The personal kit - F/Sgt. Jones


The funeral F/Sgt. John David Jones



John David JONES