Fairey Battle TT1 L5640


Fairey Battle TT1 L5640

Author: RSL (Port Pirie Sub Branch) Inc.

Posted on

At 0940 hours on the 20th May 1943, a Fairey Battle aircraft from No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School towing a drogue was initially observed flying low over the western end of the town. It was then seen to turn on its back and commence a spin from that position failing to recover and crashing into the ground near the western end of Federation Road in the north of the Port Pirie township. The official probable cause was ‘obscure’.

421805 Sergeant Lessel John Hampstead, 19, of Grafton, New South Wales was the pilot of the machine. Also on board were 116103 Leading Aircraftman Aloysius Patrick Gilmore, 19, of Jamestown, South Australia, as the drogue operator and 46528 Leading Aircraftman Gordon Leslie Dore, 22, of Kirup, Western Australia, a trainee drogue operator. They were all killed on impact.

The bodies of Sergeant Hampstead and Leading Aircraftman Dore were placed in St. Paul's Church of England, and Leading Aircraftman Gilmore in St Mark's Catholic Church. A large number of airmen and airwomen attended the funerals and the memorial services held in the two churches. Officiating chaplains were Flight-Lieut. PJ Lyndon (Church of England) and Flight-Lieut. P Coffey (Catholic).

Officers present were Wing Commander EC Harding (representing the Air Board), Flying Officer RW McDonald (commanding officer), and Flying Officer CA Phillips (officer in charge).

The coffins were draped with Union Jacks. That of Sergeant Hampstead was borne by Sergeant-Pilots KA Martin, R Thompson, R Shepherd, FD Piggott, C Veryard, and ID McLaughlin. Leading Aircraftmen D Selby, R Ryan, ES Pearce, JD Richardson, and Aircraftmen MH Grice and WC McNamara were pallbearers for Leading Aircraftman Dore.

An hour later the remains of Leading Aircraftman Gilmore were laid to rest. The casket was borne to the graveside by Leading Aircraftmen Selby, Ryan, Pearce, Richardson, Aircraftmen Grice and McNamara. "Last Post" and "Reveille" were beautifully sounded by Corporal H Bone. The coffins, carried on an air force tender, were covered with flowers.

All bodies were buried with full air force honours in the Port Pirie War Cemetery.


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