Memorial for WWII Lady Julia Percy air crash victims

FOUR airmen who died when their plane crashed into Lady Julia Percy Island during a World War II surveillance flight will be honoured this month in a nationally-significant ceremony.

They will be given their first official RSL funeral ritual 71 years after the tragedy and bring closure to one of Australia’s forgotten wartime tragedies. Family members and relatives, air force delegates and civic and parliamentary leaders will be among more than 100 invited guests on February 14 at The Crags car park, where a special memorial will be unveiled within clear view of the crash scene.

A bronze plaque on a monumental stone supplied, sculptured and mounted by Bamstone of Port Fairy will be unveiled by a senior RAAF officer representing the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, and dedicated by RAAF chaplain Peter Phillips.

A catafalque party will be mounted by personnel from the Laverton-Point Cook air force unit and an honour guard provided by Warrnambool cadets. Air force bereavement pins will be presented to family members of the crash victims.

The four airmen, Flight Sergeant James Henry MacLellan of Victoria, Flight Sergeant Dennis Baulderstone of South Australia, Leading Aircraftman Norman Kruck of Queensland and Leading Aircraftman Brian Ladyman of Western Australia were flying from Mount Gambier air base when they crashed on the island on February 15, 1944.

Their remains and part of their Avro Anson plane have lain in the ocean at the base of the island since that fateful day. The crew was officially listed as “missing on non-operational navigation exercise”. Some of the wings were recovered and taken away under guard for examination.

Various theories have been speculated on the cause of the crash, ranging from mechanical trouble to being shot at by an enemy vessel. The incident lay largely forgotten until Warrnambool resident Andrew Coffey investigated after noticing the wreckage while working as an abalone diver. As a long-time member of Warrnambool East Rotary Club, he triggered efforts to have the men recognised and contact their families through newspaper articles.

His efforts were supported by details about the crash recorded in the book A’OSIS Airfield by Ron Telford of Mount Gambier, who is unable to attend the ceremony due to ill health.

Mr Ladyman’s sister and Mr MacLellan’s daughter will attend the ceremony.

It is understood the families were unaware of where their loved ones had died until contacted by Mr Coffey and fellow Rotarian Roger Cussen. Public access to The Crags Road will be closed for the ceremony and those attending will be bussed from Yambuk to the venue.

Anyone wishing to attend is asked to register with Rotarian Ray Welsford on 0409 023 854 or

The memorial will be open for public viewing from Sunday, February 15