THE LOSS OF ANSON W2262 

Compiled by Grahame Higgs


Clackline is a quiet village in the country east of Perth at the start of the Wheat Belt.   Famous for... well ... being the location of the Clackline NDB (CKL 200kHz 31 41S 116 33.7E) and, for accident historians, for being close to the crash site of RAAF Anson W2262 lost at 12:42 pm on the 9th October 1942 with all four crew.



They were:
Flying Officer Lynton Vennel Howard BIRT (406823) Air Observer, 
Sergeant Geoffrey Lancaster DEBENHAM (415295) Pilot age 25, Sergeant Kenneth Colin HUGO (415255) Wireless Air Gunner age 21, Sergeant Noel Louis NIXON (414073) Air Observer age 28.
Crew and aircraft were from No 68 Reserve Squadron which, at the time, was based at Geraldton, West Australia.

A memorial built on the site, was first dedicated on the 13th December 1942.

Clackline is a quiet village in the country east of Perth at the start of the Wheat Belt. Famous for... well ... being the location of the Clackline NDB (CKL 200kHz 31 41S 116 33.7E) and, for accident historians, for being close to the crash site of RAAF Anson W2262 lost at 12:42 pm on the 9th October 1942 with all four crew.



They were:
Flying Officer Lynton Vennel Howard BIRT (406823) Air Observer,
Sergeant Geoffrey Lancaster DEBENHAM (415295) Pilot age 25, Sergeant Kenneth Colin HUGO (415255) Wireless Air Gunner age 21, Sergeant Noel Louis NIXON (414073) Air Observer age 28.
Crew and aircraft were from No 68 Reserve Squadron which, at the time, was based at Geraldton, West Australia.

A memorial built on the site, was first dedicated on the 13th December 1942.


Refurbished in 1984 by the City of Perth Branch of the Air Force Association (AFA), and rededicated on the 25th November that year by Bishop Denis Bryant DFC, a great character and an ex RAF Lancaster pilot, the AFA have done an excellent job of maintaining the memorial.   They hold a service at the site each year on the anniversary of the accident.

The site is located in a small park on the low side of Avro Anson Road.  The GPS position is 3145.2S 11633.6E, south of the township, in a rural locality set back off the Clackline - York road via several side streets.  There is very little in the way of wreckage, I noticed only a few tiny pieces of shattered aluminium.   Greg Shea sent me a passage from The Way it Was a book by Joyce Shiner.   Her anecdotal account would suggest that the aircraft was suffering engine trouble and that only three of the crew were killed.   This appears not to be entirely correct however, as the official Confirmatory Report dated 27th November 1942 and signed by Group Captain Norman Brearley, (later Sir Norman Brearley) lists the four crewmen reflected on the memorial cross.  

This graphic statement is a direct quote from the report:

   The aircraft first struck the ground with the port wing, making a furrow 10 yards long.   The port wing was completely broken up.   The port engine hit the ground further on, making a hole 2 feet deep and 12 yards long, and then broke up.   The rest of the aircraft was disintegrated by the force of the crash and was violently scattered over an area of three quarters of an acre.   The main part of the fuselage was broken up against a rocky ridge 50 yards from the point of impact.   All inflammable portions were destroyed by fire, which completely gutted the fuselage.   The aircraft was in a steep side slipping turn at the time of impact.   After taking off from PEARCE the aircraft flew along a course of 111 degrees True, approximately for 20 minutes, and on receipt of that bearing from No. 1 D/F Station, PEARCE, and after receiving permission to make a ZZ approach, commenced a left hand turn, whilst in this turn the aircraft went into a steep dive with engines racing.   As the dive continued the aircraft banked steeply to port, momentarily flattened out and eventually side slipped into the ground with terrific force.

Refurbished in 1984 by the City of Perth Branch of the Air Force Association (AFA), and rededicated on the 25th November that year by Bishop Denis Bryant DFC, a great character and an ex RAF Lancaster pilot, the AFA have done an excellent job of maintaining the memorial. They hold a service at the site each year on the anniversary of the accident.

The site is located in a small park on the low side of Avro Anson Road. The GPS position is 3145.2S 11633.6E, south of the township, in a rural locality set back off the Clackline - York road via several side streets. There is very little in the way of wreckage, I noticed only a few tiny pieces of shattered aluminium. Greg Shea sent me a passage from The Way it Was a book by Joyce Shiner. Her anecdotal account would suggest that the aircraft was suffering engine trouble and that only three of the crew were killed. This appears not to be entirely correct however, as the official Confirmatory Report dated 27th November 1942 and signed by Group Captain Norman Brearley, (later Sir Norman Brearley) lists the four crewmen reflected on the memorial cross.

This graphic statement is a direct quote from the report:

The aircraft first struck the ground with the port wing, making a furrow 10 yards long. The port wing was completely broken up. The port engine hit the ground further on, making a hole 2 feet deep and 12 yards long, and then broke up. The rest of the aircraft was disintegrated by the force of the crash and was violently scattered over an area of three quarters of an acre. The main part of the fuselage was broken up against a rocky ridge 50 yards from the point of impact. All inflammable portions were destroyed by fire, which completely gutted the fuselage. The aircraft was in a steep side slipping turn at the time of impact. After taking off from PEARCE the aircraft flew along a course of 111 degrees True, approximately for 20 minutes, and on receipt of that bearing from No. 1 D/F Station, PEARCE, and after receiving permission to make a ZZ approach, commenced a left hand turn, whilst in this turn the aircraft went into a steep dive with engines racing. As the dive continued the aircraft banked steeply to port, momentarily flattened out and eventually side slipped into the ground with terrific force.


Evidence of fire can still be seen on these rocks behind the memorial, quite possibly the rocky ridge referred to in the accident report.

Due to illness, a fifth member of this crew did not fly in W2262 on the 9th of October, he was, P/O E.T. Sedunary (408850) Wireless Air Gunner.

Evidence of fire can still be seen on these rocks behind the memorial, quite possibly the rocky ridge referred to in the accident report.

Due to illness, a fifth member of this crew did not fly in W2262 on the 9th of October, he was, P/O E.T. Sedunary (408850) Wireless Air Gunner.


Interestingly, a Lynton Vennell Howard-Burt is buried in the Northam Cemetry and ...

Interestingly, a Lynton Vennell Howard-Burt is buried in the Northam Cemetry and ...


a L V H Birt is buried in the Karakatta War Cemetry in Perth.   Despite the difference in spelling, the age and date of death would indicate that this is one and the same individual.

a L V H Birt is buried in the Karakatta War Cemetry in Perth. Despite the difference in spelling, the age and date of death would indicate that this is one and the same individual.


SGT Hugo (WA) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave Site C008.

SGT Hugo (WA) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave Site C008.


SGT Debenham (NSW) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave site B006.

SGT Debenham (NSW) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave site B006.


SGT Nixon (QLD) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave Site B007.



I am grateful to Mr Harry Howard (who swears he has never actually been to Clackline), and to Mr Chris Ware for their assistance while visiting this crash site.

SGT Nixon (QLD) is buried in the Karrakatta War Cemetery West Australia Section O Grave Site B007.



I am grateful to Mr Harry Howard (who swears he has never actually been to Clackline), and to Mr Chris Ware for their assistance while visiting this crash site.

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