Flying Officer Arthur Fox & Sergeant Pilot Colin O`DonnellPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Sandra Brown / John MacRitchie, Local Studies Librarian, Manly Library

A plaque commemorates Flying Officer Arthur Fox & Sergeant Pilot Colin O`Donnell,  Council staff who were killed in World War Two.   It was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1947 in the Engineer’s section of the Manly Council Chambers, and was later displayed in the old Manly Library in Wentworth Street, before being installed in the current Library building.

Arthur Fox was the son of Cecil Fox of Fairlight Street, Manly.  Born in Strathfield in 1919, he worked for Manly Council for four years in the accounts section.  He served as a pilot and flew a total of 83 sorties with 611 and 249 Squadrons over Italy, Yugoslavia and North Africa.   He lost his life in a crash while on a meteorological flight over Palestine on 11 May 1945. 

"On Friday last a wide circle of friends and business associates were stricken with the extremely sad news of the passing to the Great Beyond in his 25th year and under most tragic circumstances, of Sergeant Pilot Colin O’Donnell, RAAF. Colin, as he was familiarly known to his friends and office associates in the Manly Municipal Council and elsewhere, had progressed meteorically and with commendable merit in the attaining of his rank.  He was a valued member of the Accounts Staff of the General Department of the Council for four years prior to his enlistment with the RAAF in March 1940.  After relinquishing his position in the council on 14th June 1940, he entered the Bradfield Air School and graduated to the rank of Leading Aircraftsman.  Subsequent to a course of instruction at Mascot in solo flying he went to Canada with an Australian contingent of the Empire Training Scheme and there, after intensive and specialised study over a period of seven months, qualified as a sergeant pilot, and was posted to Britain for active service.  On 16th July last, according to official advices, Sgt Pilot O’Donnell was involved in an aircraft accident, and admitted to the Carlisle City General Hospital, suffering from multiple burns.  It is apparent that he made a brave fight to retain his life, but, unfortunately, was forced to surrender to the Greatest Commander of All on Monday 11th inst.

Colin was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs H O’Donnell, highly respected residents of Swansea, NSW, where Mr O’Donnell has been the Public School headmaster for several years.  To his parents, brothers and sisters the citizens of Manly extend sincere condolence, and, with gratitude, pay their respects to a noble young Australia, who, as a civic servant as well as a soldier of the King, played his part nobly and well.”  
 [ Manly Daily : 19 August 1941 ]

“Forced to bail out when his guns exploded a hidden ammunition dump, an RAAF pilot landed in the middle of a battle between partisans and Germans in Yugoslavia.  Flying-Officer Arthur Fox, of Manly, NSW, a Mustang pilot with the Balkan Air Force, strafed an insignificant line of huts.  One of the huts was an ammunition dump, which exploded all around Fox, setting fire to his fighter.   Fox bailed out and landed in a forest.  As soon as he removed his parachute harness he felt a gun in his ribs.

“I immediately shouted ‘Inglese’,” said Fox.  “My captor promptly dropped his rifle and seemed pleased to meet me.  He was one of Tito’s partisans.  I had landed bang in the centre of a fierce action between Tito’s forces and the Germans.  It was just a fluke I hadn’t landed in the centre of the enemy.”

Fox spent five days with the partisans and marched with them until they encountered a British Military Mission headed by an English major.  Later, Fox’s group found a crashed Spitfire pilot, whose back had been badly injured.  They carried him on a donkey over rough hilly country for five weeks before they reached the coast.  Medical supplies for the injured pilot were dropped from a plane.  On reaching the coast it was discovered that the vessel which was to have taken the two airmen off had broken down.  A British Commando raid later gave them the opportunity to get away and the Spitfire pilot was taken to Britain, where he recovered.”
[ The Sun, 11 January 1945 ]




Address:Market Place, Manly Library, Local Studies Room, Manly, 2095
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.797568
Long: 151.285981
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:03-September-1939
Actual Event End Date:15-August-1945


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 25th April, 1947
Front Inscription

     Erected To The Memory Of  
Members Of The Staff Of This Council
Who Paid The Supreme Sacrifice
In The World War 1939 - 45

Source: MA,H
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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