Dudley Percy Davidson


Dudley Percy Davidson
, the son of Alexander Percy and Ella Jessie Campbell (née Andrews) Davidson was born in Beaumont House, Melcombe Regis (Weymouth), a coastal town in West Dorset, England, on 30 September 1898. At that time Alexander was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Dudley’s mother was the daughter of George (a solicitor) and Jessie (née Campbell) Andrews.

After his arrival in Australia in 1923, Dudley Percy Davidson divided his time as a pilot between New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. A quite detailed report of the ‘appalling accident’ which claimed his life may be read in the Brisbane Courier.

He had taken off from the Maryborough aerodrome in a three-engined Avro monoplane, Star of Cairns, at about 5.45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 1930. It appears that the engines stalled soon after take-off. Accompanying the pilot on this flight to Brisbane were Ian Henry Higgens (aged 24) of the Townsville Bulletin, who died shortly after admission to the Maryborough hospital, and the mechanic William Hedland who ‘had a miraculous escape … suffering from severe shock and abrasions’.

The following obituary was published in the Brisbane Courier:

Pilot B. [sic] P. Davidson, who met with almost instant death when the aeroplane crashed, was about 35 years of age, and a son of Vice-Admiral Alexander Percy Davidson, D.S.O., who was in command of H.M.S. Cornwallis throughout the Gallipoli campaign, and retired in 1921, two years before his son came to Australia. The late pilot was a member of the Royal Naval Air Service during the war, most of his fighting being done in the Blimps that patrolled the English Channel. He was mentioned in despatches for his work during one raid on German submarines. He had evidently had but little experience with aeroplanes then, for when he came to Australia in 1923 he underwent a full course of flying at the Point Cook aerodrome, Victoria. He joined the R.A.A.F. in that State shortly afterwards, and was a flying member of the force until he came to Brisbane last March to join the ranks of pilots in the service of the newly-formed Queensland Air Navigation Ltd. He was one of the crew that flew the first ’plane north for the company, and he had been piloting its machines over the route since then. Members of the company in Brisbane were shocked by the news of his death last night. He was most popular with his co-pilots, all of whom regarded him as a most efficient flyer.

Deceased was married about 18 months ago to a daughter of the late Sir William McMillan, who was member of the first Federal Parliament for Wentworth, N.S.W. Word of her husband’s death was conveyed to Mrs. Davidson by Mr. A. C. Winning, Brisbane agent for the company, who escorted her to Maryborough last night by the 9.15 p.m. train from Central Station.

Two funeral notices appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

Davidson:¾Friends of Mrs. D. P. Davidson are invited to attend the funeral of her deceased Husband (Mr. Dudley Percy Davidson) to move from All Saints’ Church of England, Wickham-terrace, after service commencing This (Friday) Afternoon, at 3 o’clock to the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery.

CANNON & CRIPPS

Davidson.¾Queensland Air Navigation Ltd., invite the friends of the late Mr. D. P. Davidson to attend his Funeral, to move from All Saints’ Church of England, Wickham-terrace, after service commencing This (Friday) Afternoon, at 3 o’clock to the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery.

CANNON & CRIPPS.

A lengthy account of Dudley Percy Davidson’s funeral may be read in the Brisbane Courier of the following day. The service at the graveside at God’s Acre, Cooper’s Plains, was conducted by the Reverend D Morgan Jones MA of All Saint’s Church, Wickham Terrace, in the presence of Mrs Davidson, friends of the deceased and mourners representing various aviation bodies. The official witnesses to the burial, which was certified by HW McDowell, were A Thompson and T Dibble.

On the casket rested a miniature aeroplane, made of flowers, from the pilots and staff at the aerodrome, Eagle Farm, and, as the cemetery was approached, five machines in the formation of a cross followed, and then, flying over the cortege as it arrived at its destination, they dipped twice in salute as the coffin was lowered unto the grave..

The chief mourner, Florence Elizabeth McMillan, the daughter of (Sir) William McMillan, an Irish merchant, and Victorian-born Ada Charlotte Graham, was born on 21 January 1882 in Burwood, Sydney. She married Dudley Percy Davidson, 15 years her junior, in St Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral, Sydney, on 8 November 1929. They then settled in Brisbane.

Florence, ‘a small, serious woman with large brown eyes and dark hair’, served as a nursing sister on Lemnos during the Gallipoli Peninsula campaign and later in Australian hospitals on the Western Front. After the war, having added an obstetrics certificate to her qualifications, she specialised in mothercraft and became the first director of the Australian Mothercraft Society. Described as a person of an ‘affectionate, idealistic and devout disposition’, she died on 9 February 1943 in her apartment in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra and was buried in the Waverley Cemetery.