Explosion takes marksman
THOMAS Patrick Chadwick was one of the many young men who never returned home to his family after leaving to fight in the SecondWorld War.
After being raised in Gatton and working on a farm, the husband and father of three moved to Monto to work in the butter factory after losing a little girl in a dairy accident.
It was here that he enlisted for the RAAF, and nephew Tom Crowley, who still lives at Gatton, was told he was an expert marksman.
“His father was an expert marksman as well and fought in the Boer War in South Africa,” he said.
“He originally wanted to be a pilot, but he was such a good shot they had him be an air gunner instead.”
It was working as an air gunner on board a Lancaster DX-G LM 336 of 57 squadron on September 24, 1943 that Thomas Chadwick, along with the rest of the crew, died when the plane exploded over Paris.
The crew left Lincolnshire late on September 23, on a mission to attack a target at Mannheim, Germany.
But about 1am, above the north-east suburban area of Paris, the plane suddenly came under attack from a battery on the ground at Pre-Saint-Gervais.
At a height of 150m the Lancaster circled Paris for half an hour, heading towards the River Seine.
At 1.30am the plane exploded. An account said that one engine fell through the roof of a house, while another fell onto a Parisian street.
The rear of the aircraft fell in front of a small café, while the fuselage and a wing fell on the roof of the Masagins du Lourve, setting fire to it.
“All the members of the crew were killed outright from the explosion,” the recount stated.
“Not one of them was wearing a parachute, a detail which tends to confirm the opinion expressed by many people at the time: that the crew sacrificed itself in order to save the lives of innocent civilians.”
After the accident Parisians began bringing flowers to the scene, until a German officer reportedly put a stop to it.
In 1973 a plaque commemorating the crew stood outside the Masagins du Lourve.
It is believed Thomas Chadwick flew 29 missions and was the only Australian on board when it crashed.
He was survived by his wife, a son and a daughter who remembered him as a champion marble player and expert marksman.
NEVER RETURNED: RAAF Flight Sergeant Thomas Patrick Chadwick, of Monto.