War Memorials in Australia
Air Disaster Memorial
Majura, Australian Capital Territory, 2609
District: Southern Tablelands (ACT)
Orientation: District of Canberra
Location: In Fairbairn Pine Plantation, 1.5 km off Pialligo Avenue. Signposted
Position: 35 19 21 S 149 13 77 E
The memorial is a granite boulder set in a circular bed of loose gravel bounded by a low concrete wall.
It commemorates ten people, including three Cabinet Ministers and the Chief of the General Staff, who were killed when an R.A.A.F. Lockheed Hudson bomber crashed on 13 August 1940. The aircraft, which was flying from Melbourne to Canberra, had circled the runway and then flown towards Queanbeyan to make another approach. Coming in to land it stalled and crashed on to a hillside about 2.5 kilometres from the aerodrome.
The Court of Inquiry into the accident found that it was most likely due to the aircraft stalling on its landing approach, resulting in loss of control at a height too low to recover. The aircraft crashed with considerable force, killing all occupants instantly, then burning fiercely. Its proximity to the aerodrome and RAAF base saw emergency crews at the scene within minutes, but nothing could be done to save the occupants.
The Canberra RAAF base was later renamed RAAF Fairbairn in honour of one of
the victims. James Fairbairn was an accomplished pilot who served with the Royal
Flying Corps during WW I. On becoming a Member of Parliament he frequently flew
himself to Canberra and landed at the aerodrome which was then a leased paddock
near Duntroon. This eventually became the RAAF base.
Plaque on west face
THIS MEMORIAL CAIRN HAS BEEN ERECTED
TO HONOUR THE MEMORY OF
BRIGADIER THE HONOURABLE GEOFFREY AUSTIN STREET, M.C., E.D.
MINISTER OF STATE FOR THE ARMY : MINISTER OF STATE FOR REPATRIATION
THE HONOURABLE SIR HENRY SOMER GULLETT. K.C.M.G.
VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL
THE HONOURABLE JAMES VALENTINE FAIRBAIRN
MINISTER OF STATE FOR AIR : MINISTER OF STATE FOR CIVIL AVIATION
GENERAL SIR CYRIL BRUDENELL BINGHAM WHITE, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.,
CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL FRANCIS THORNTHWAITE, D.S.O., M.C.
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT ROBERT EDWARD HITCHCOCK, R.A.A.F.
PILOT OFFICER RICHARD FREDERICK WIESENER, R.A.A.F.
CORPORAL JOHN FREDERICK PALMER, R.A.A.F.
AIRCRAFTMAN CLASS I CHARLES JOSEPH CROSDALE, R.A.A.F.
MR. RICHARD EDWIN ELFORD
PRIVATE SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR AIR
WHO WHILE SERVING THEIR COUNTRY
LOST THEIR LIVES ON THIS SPOT
IN AN AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT ON 13TH AUGUST 1940.
Note: If gate is closed, vehicle access may be achieved by contacting ACT Forests on (02) 6207 2486 and obtaining a key.
Information current to March 2000
Sources: Soutar, Gavin , Acts of Parliament, Melbourne University
Press, Carlton, 1988
Canberra Air Disaster, 1940, Fact Sheet 142, National Archives of Australia
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