Skip to main content

Brian Winspear, the gunner and radio operator

You are here

Brian Winspear was a gunner, firing machine guns, and with a secondary role as radio operator, in Hudson light bombers in World War II. The Hudson was a twin-engined aircraft, not particularly useful or safe, but used widely in the war. 

Brian was in Kupang, in what is now Indonesia, on 18 February 1942 when it was decided to evacuate RAAF personnel in the face of the Japanese onslaught.

He recalled in his book, Tasmanians at War in the Air 1939-1945:

"Next day with two other repaired Hudsons, overloaded with 23 men each, we evacuated most of our ground staff from Kupang to Darwin, leaving at 3am to dodge the Jap air raids. The aircraft was so heavy it took over half an hour to reach cruising height and five hours to reach Darwin. Shortly after we left the Penfui drome, it was attacked by a dozen Jap bombers and dive bombers".

In an interview with The Territory Remembers historian Dr Tom Lewis OAM in August 2012, Brian recalls he was in a slit trench about 150m from the Darwin RAAF based hangars when the raid took place.

Dr Lewis: What alerted you to the fact a raid was arriving?
Brian: The air raid alarm went. Then there was the appearance of dozens and dozens of enemy aircraft wheeling and dealing and popping around.
Dr Lewis: So when did you hear a siren?
Brian: It went off at the same time as the aircraft arrived.
Dr Lewis: Were you within sight of any of the anti-aircraft gun defences, for example machine guns in fixed positions.
Brian: No, I think they were across the airfield; I couldn't see any of them. 
Dr Lewis: What sort of enemy aircraft did you see?
Brian: I only saw dive bombers and Zeroes.
Dr Lewis: From the start of the raid until the disappearance of the last enemy aircraft, how long did you think the entire raid lasted?
Brian: Ten, maybe 15 minutes.
Dr Lewis: Did you see any of our fighters, say a Kittyhawk, engaged by a Zero.
Brian: No, but I was in a trench near the hangars, so I didn't look out much.

​A16-236 a Hudson from No.2 Squadron. (RAAF)