Road’s new name could honour hero’s sacrifice
CLIFTON CORNALL was the only airman killed when between 20 and 30 Wackett aircraft came down in crashes or forced landings around the Maryborough airport in World War II.
His name might now be commemorated by renaming Airport Dr – the airport entry from Saltwater Creek Rd – Clifton Cornall Dr after the pilot who survived a North African crash and a prisoner of war camp before plunging to his death soon after he arrived in Maryborough.
Secretary David Geck said the Maryborough Military Aviation Museum had asked the Fraser Coast Regional Council to consider renaming the unofficially titled Airport Dr.
About 40 Wacketts were stationed at Maryborough for wireless air gunner training.
Painted yellow and later daubed with camouflage, the sturdy little planes buzzed around the area, many crashing or abruptly landing on fields and beaches around the district.
English-born Clifton Cornall enlisted as a pilot in the RAAF in World War II and at the start of the African campaign was sent to Kumalo in Bulawayo.
In October 1941, a bomb exploded under the cockpit of the P40 Kittyhawk Aircraft he was flying.
It crashed, leaving him with extensive leg injuries.
He was captured by Italian soldiers, spent 18 months in an Italian hospital, was swapped for other prisoners and repatriated to Egypt in 1943.
Mr Geck said it had been decided that Cornall had done his part for the war effort, so he had been sent home to Australia to recover, placed on general flying duties in Parkes and then sent to Maryborough.
Two days after arriving on January 11, 1944, he died when engine failure brought down the plane he was piloting.
Wireless operator Clive Wood was badly injured.
“Clifton Cornall was only 25 years old, married with no children, and is buried here in our cemetery,” Mr Geck said.
“He has a great-nephew now living in Hervey Bay and we believe this would be a fitting tribute to a young man who lost his life during World War II in Maryborough.”