Service Number: V159753
Enlisted: 16 August 1914
Last Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Last Unit: Australian Headquarters
Born: Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, 3 February 1890
Home Town: Lismore, Corangamite, Victoria
Schooling: Launceston High School, Tasmania, Australia
Occupation: Grazier
Died: Accidental (plane crash), Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia , 13 August 1940, aged 50 years
Cemetery: Lismore Civil Cemetery, Victoria
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

16 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant
18 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
18 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, HMAT Argyllshire, Sydney
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Field Artillery Brigade, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
31 May 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 1st Field Artillery Brigade
24 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Captain, Divisional Artillery HQ
26 May 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Major, Divisional Artillery HQ
3 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel

World War 2 Service

1 Nov 1939: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant Colonel, SN V159753, South Melbourne, Victoria
13 Aug 1940: Involvement Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Lieutenant Colonel, SN V159753, Australian Headquarters

Help us honour Francis Thornthwaite's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Francis THORNTHWAITE was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 3rd February, 1890

His parents were William Wright THORNTHWAITE and Frances Mary STACKHOUSE

Francis married Lorna Maud Inez CURRIE in 1918 in Chelsea, England

Biography contributed by David Barlow


Lieutenant Colonel Francis Thornthwaite was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross for his service during World War I. He was serving as Army Liaison Officer on the General Staff at the time of his death. 


He was killed in the loss of RAAF Lockheed Hudson aircraft A16-97 of Number 2 Squadron which was on a VIP Flight when it crashed 2 miles east of Canberra Aerodrome, ACT


Passengers killed:


Brigadier G.A. Street (Minister for the Army)

General Sir Brudenell White (Chief of the General Staff)

Lieutenant Colonel F. Thornthwaite (Army Liaison Officer)

Mr J.V. Fairbairn (Minister for Air)

Sir Henry Gullett (Vice President Executive Council)

Mr R.E. Elford (Secretary to Air Minister)



Four RAAF crew members were killed in the crash:


Flight Lieutenant Robert Edward Hitchcock 115 (Aircraft Captain)

Pilot Officer Richard Frederick Wiesener 607 (Second Pilot)

Corporal John Frederick Palmer 2130

Aircraftman Charles Joseph Crosdale 6673



Pilot Officer Wiesener was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium and Aircraftsman Crosdale was buried in a private service at Cessnock.  The other 8 fatalities were accorded a State Funeral in Melbourne.