Flying Officer Francis Aloysius Connell (421168) served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War Two. He was attached to RAF No. 5 Operational Training Unit at the time of his death in November 1943. Born on 21st June 1912, he was the son of Charles Connell and Margaret Connell of Paramatta, New South Wales, Australia.
Francis died on 29th November 1943 aged 22 years old. He had flown in the Royal Australian Air Force since joining up on 31st January 1942 at No. 2 Recruiting Centre, Sydney, Australia. He left for Canada on 23rd June 1942, posted to RCAF Mountain View, Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there, he left for England on 16th July 1943. On 22nd July 1943, he joined No. 11 RAAF Personnel Receiving and Despatch Centre. From 5th October 1943, he flew with No. 1 Operational Training Unit. An attachment to the Royal Canadian Air Force from 23rd June 1942 to 16th July 1943 preceded his transfer to the Royal Air Force.
Connell was the navigator on board Lockheed Hudson AM694. The crew took off from RAF Long Kesh, near Lisburn, Co. Antrim at 1520hrs on 29th November 1943. The non-operational flight was a bombing exercise over Lough Neagh. At 1609hrs, the Australian crew completed their task but proceded towards Templepatrick, carrying out a series of steep turns over Loughermore Estate near Dunadry, Co. Antrim. They were due to return to base and this section of the flight was unauthorised.
During one of these turns, the pilot throttled back both engines and the plane lost height rapidly. The engines stalled and the port wing struck the ground. The Hudson burst into flames and all those on board died in the impact.
Remembering the crew of Hudson AM694
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Information|
|Keane||John Russell||Flying Officer||Pilot||RAAF 409839.|
|Connell||Francis Aloysius||Flying Officer||Navigator||RAAF 421168.|
|Mullins||William Murray||Flight Sergeant||Wireless Operator/Air Gunner||RAAF 418542.|
|McCallum||Norman Francis Dougald||Flight Sergeant||Wireless Operator/Air Gunner||RAAF 418001.|
Francis Aloysius Connell’s grave is in Section E, Grave 40A of Eglantine Church of Ireland, Lisburn, Co. Antrim. His name is on Panel 120 of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia. His headstone in Co. Antrim bears the inscription:
He died that others may live. RIP.
John Russell Keane
Australian Flying Officer John Russell Keane was flying with No. 5 Operational Training Unit from RAF Long Kesh, Co. Antrim when he died in November 1943.
William Murray Mullins
Flight Sergeant William Murray Mullins served with RAF No. 5 Operational Training Unit when he died on 29th November 1943 in an air crash over Co. Antrim.