Flying Officer James Bayly WATCHORN

Service No: 408117
Born: Hobart TAS, 3 March 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 December 1940
Unit: No. 247 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 247 Squadron Typhoon aircraft JP729), Kent, 4 October 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Erskine Clarence and Mary Wylly Watchorn, of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Roll of Honour: Hobart TAS
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 4 October 1943, Typhoon JP729 flown by Flying Officer Watchorn crashed when it was approaching to land near New Romney, about 20 miles south west of Dover and he was killed.

A Court of Inquiry into the accident found that: “Flying Officer Watchorn flying JP729 had been flying solo for about 30 minutes in formation with Flying Officer Calder. As they came into the circuit to land Flying Officer Watchorn cut inside his leader and made an approach to the airfield as though to land cross wind. He was turning left and coming down fairly steeply but was undershooting. Just before reaching the ground the nose of JP729 came up and the aircraft seems to have made a heavy three point landing in a ploughed field about 150 yards short of the airfield boundary. Fire occurred and the pilot was fatally injured. The primary cause for the accident in the Courts opinion was an engine failure. The Pilot attempted to reach the airfield but was unable to do so. The nearest witness was certain that there was a burst of engine just before impact and others saw the nose rise; marks on the ground show a three point landing. It was quite possible therefore that the Pilot by priming or working his throttle did in fact bring his engine to life even supposing that his fuel pump was no longer working. The shaft driving all the pumps was certainly fractured and this was considered the probable cause of the engine failure though expert examination might show this fracture was caused by the crash. Fire occurred the moment the starboard drop tank touched the ground the Pilot would not have had time to jettison those tanks on this occasion. If Technical examination proves that the shaft did not fracture in flight there must be some there cause for the engine failure as no Pilot would carry out these manoeuvres if he had full control of his power unit”.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/43/372

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