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Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells Memorial Seat


Place Details
Place ID 600338
Registration Type State Heritage
Place Name Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells Memorial Seat
Place Classification Built
Place Category Monuments and Memorials
Place Type Memorial/Monument
Themes 8 Creating social and cultural institutions / 8.6 Commemorating significant events
1 Peopling places / 1.4 Family and marking the phases of life
Register Entry Date 21/10/1992

Location
Address 103 Stanley Terrace
Town / Suburb TARINGA
Post Code 4068
LGA BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL

Cultural Heritage Significance
Principal Period
of Significance
Post-WWII recovery (1940s-1960s) (historical, fabric)
Criterion A It is illustrative of the sustained tradition of memorialising the war dead, which had been established in Queensland at the turn of the 20th century with the South African War of 1899-1902, and popularised during and immediately following the First World War [1914-18].
Criterion B The Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells Memorial Seat at Toowong is a rare private memorial erected for public benefit.
Criterion D It is illustrative of the sustained tradition of memorialising the war dead, which had been established in Queensland at the turn of the 20th century with the South African War of 1899-1902, and popularised during and immediately following the First World War [1914-18].
Criterion E It makes an original and attractive contribution to the streetscape, and is significant as an unusual form of war memorial.

History
History The Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells Memorial Seat is a stone bench with a timber seat, set into a stone wall at 103 Stanley Terrace, Taringa. Constructed c.1941, it is dedicated to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells, who was shot down over The Netherlands on 17 August 1941, age 26, during active service with the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Bomber Command. The seat was erected by his family in the corner of their property, near Mossman Street, as a memorial and for public use. It is a rare form of private memorial, and makes an original and attractive contribution to the streetscape. Geoffrey Lloyd Wells was born 26 June 1915, at a house called ‘Wallingford’, Taringa, Brisbane, the son of Henry Leslie Wells and Elise Irene Wells, nee Lloyd (married 1913).[1] The Wells family was living at ‘Wallingford’, Stanley Terrace, Taringa, by 1914,[2] although when Geoffrey was born, the land on which the memorial seat is located was owned by Frederick Robert Lloyd. It was purchased by Henry Wells in 1918.[3] At the time of his enlistment in early 1940 Geoffrey Wells was a clerk, and his usual place of residence was Auchenflower, Queensland.[4] He trained at Archerfield (No.2 Elementary Flying Training School) from May 1940, followed by Wagga, NSW (No.2 Service Flying Training School), and Evans Head, NSW (No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School).[5] Although Wells was a member of the RAAF, he served in Britain’s RAF. During World War II Britain was short of aircrew so reached an agreement, called the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS), with Australia, New Zealand and Canada. These countries would train aircrew who would then serve in the RAF, or in their own national squadrons (400 series) under RAF control, with many flying with Bomber Command. Almost 40,000 Australians were trained under the EATS scheme during the war, and about 5000 died serving in the RAF.[6] The first Australian contingent of EATS graduates, including Geoffrey, left for Canada in November 1940.[7] At the time of his death the following year, Geoffrey was the pilot of a Vickers Wellington (Wimpy) Mk1C twin-engine medium bomber (serial number X9700, call sign LN-B, nick-named ‘Celon’[8]) in 99 Squadron, RAF.[9] On a night mission to bomb Duisburg (a river port and industrial city in the Ruhr area of Germany) from RAF Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire, his aircraft was caught in searchlights before being shot down by a German night fighter early on 17 August 1941. The latter aircraft was piloted by Leutnant Hans-Dieter Frank of Stab 1, Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG1), flying from Venlo airbase (Limberg province, The Netherlands).[10] Frank, piloting a twin engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter, claimed two British bombers that night.[11] After jettisoning its bomb load, Well’s aircraft hit the ground near Roggel in the province of Limberg, the Netherlands, about 2.15am, and five of the six man crew were killed. Part of one wing destroyed the roof of the Pijls family’s farmhouse. One of the gunners, Sergeant Robert Williams, managed to bail out and he landed on the roof of another family’s farm building, breaking two ribs and his sternum. He was given first aid by the locals in a bar before being captured by the Germans. Williams recalled later in his life that ‘our pilot [Wells] was pretty seriously ill. He had the flu. The crew had problems with that but Flight Command told us to go anyway. When we had left the Belgian Coastline behind us, we noticed searchlights all over the place. There was no flak to be seen, so there had to be night fighters around. Suddenly we ended up in the middle of the searchlights. Under normal conditions the pilot would most probably have been able to shake them off, but as I mentioned before, he wasn’t top fit that night. We were then attacked by a night fighter and that became the beginning of the end…I saw the navigator standing up from his chair and the next moment I noticed that the plane was spinning over on its wing and that we were on fire.’[12] Wells and four other crew members were buried at Venlo,[13] and after the war they were reburied in Jonkerbos war cemetery in Nijmegen, (Gelderland province, The Netherlands).[14] Geoffrey Wells is listed as a Flying Officer on his headstone, and on some official records.[15] This is one rank above that of Pilot Officer. Several days after the crash, Pilot Officer GL Wells was listed as ‘missing’ in The Courier Mail. At the time his mother Elsie lived in Milton Road, Auchenflower.[16] Within a month, Geoffrey’s status was changed from missing to ‘believed killed’. In September 1941, Geoffrey’s father Henry, reported as a manufacturer’s agent, of ‘Wallingford’, Stanley Terrace, Taringa, won the Lord Mayor’s (then John B Chandler) Cup for the ‘most creditable work’ in the Courier Mail footpath garden competition.[17] He also won the section for allotments with more than 100 feet frontage (worked without the assistance of outside labour). The Courier Mail stated that Henry’s son, Pilot Officer GL Wells, had been reported ‘believed killed’ just the previous week. Henry said that his gardening, as well as being a hobby, was a source of consolation to him. The winning garden, along two street frontages, included plantings of 80 trees and shrubs, numerous flower plots, and a ‘rustic seat’, installed for the use of people waiting for buses. Henry Wells gave half of his £5 prize money to the Red Cross, and the other half to his returned soldier gardener.[18] The current memorial seat post-dates the September 1941 article. A photograph accompanying the article shows a planed timber log, located in front of the first bay of the stone wall, to the east of the current memorial seat. Henry Wells owned the land at 103 Stanley Street until 1951, and he probably built the stone memorial seat between 1941 and 1951 to replace the timber seat with a permanent memorial to his son. The stone pillars of the wall, which once had round bars running through their centres, have been increased in height since 1941. However, the residence ‘Wallingford’ still exists to the northeast of the seat in 2014. References [1] Queensland Birth Register Index; ‘Births’, The Queenslander, 17 July 1915, p.9; Queensland Marriages Register Index, 1913 C3295. [2] ‘Social’, The Brisbane Courier, 24 October 1914, p.15. [3] Certificate of Title, 10749102, Department of Natural Resources and Mines. The house was probably named after the market town of Wallingford, Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire) in the United Kingdom. The existing ‘Wallingford’ residence may not be the ‘Wallingford’ mentioned in 1914-15, as Henry Wells took out a mortgage in 1931. [4] Roll of Honour Circular, Geoffrey Lloyd Wells. (Service Number 404077) http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/items/ACCNUM_LARGE/RCDIG1069318%5CRCDIG1069318--682-.JPG (accessed 13 May 2014) [5] ‘State fast bowler now war pilot’, The Courier Mail, 19 November 1940, p.5. [6] Storr, Alan, 2006. ‘Second World War overview: Royal Australian Air Force’, http://www.awm.gov.au/catalogue/research_centre/pdf/rc09125z004_1.pdf, (accessed 13 May 2014) [7] ‘Empire Air Training Scheme’, http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/raaf/eats/?query=Empire+Air+training+scheme (accessed 13.5.2014) [8] ‘99 Squadron Wellington IC X9700 LN-B F/O. Wells’, http://aircrewremembered.com/wells-geoffrey.html, (Accessed 9.5.2014). Celon may refer to Celon, Indre, a commune of the Indre departement in France; or a parish in Allande, a municipality within the province of Asturias, in northern Spain; or Celon (Middle-earth), a river in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celon (accessed 9.05.2014). Celon is Sindarin (Elvish) for ‘stream flowing down the heights’ http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Celon (accessed 9.05.2014). [9] Storr, Alan, 2006. ‘RAAF fatalities in Second World War among RAAF personnel serving on attachment in Royal Air Force Squadrons and support units’, http://www.awm.gov.au/catalogue/research_centre/pdf/rc09125z004_1.pdf, p.477 (accessed 13 May 2014) [10] ‘99 Squadron Wellington IC X9700 LN-B F/O. Wells’. No. 99 Squadron was based at RAF Waterbeach from March 1941 to March 1942. http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/unit-info/770/ (Accessed 13 May 2014). [11] ‘Known victory Claims – Hans-Dieter Frank’, http://www.worldnavalships.com/aces.php?PilotID=383 (Accessed 13 May 2015). Frank was killed in a mid-air collision with another night fighter in September 1943, after 55 claimed aerial victories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans-Dieter_Frank (accessed 13 May 2014). [12] ‘99 Squadron Wellington IC X9700 LN-B F/O. Wells’. [13] Roll of Honour Circular, Geoffrey Lloyd Wells; ‘99 Squadron Wellington IC X9700 LN-B F/O. Wells’. [14] Storr, Alan, 2006. ‘RAAF fatalities in Second World War among RAAF personnel serving on attachment in Royal Air Force Squadrons and support units’. [15] Storr, Alan, 2006. ‘RAAF fatalities in Second World War among RAAF personnel serving on attachment in Royal Air Force Squadrons and support units’; ‘Roll of Honour – Geoffrey Lloyd Wells’, http://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1714903/ (Accessed 13 May 2014). [16] ‘Brisbane pilot missing’, The Courier Mail, 20 August 1941, p.3. [17] ‘Footpaths contest awards…cup winner to give prize money to Red Cross & gardener’, The Courier Mail, 15 September 1941, p.4. [18] ‘Footpaths contest awards’, The Courier Mail, 15 September 1941, p.4.

Description
Description The seat is of rustic design, constructed of slabs of Brisbane tuff. It is set into the front garden wall, also of tuff, fronting Stanley Terrace. The back of the seat is butterfly-shaped and has a centrally placed metal plaque. In addition to the details of Wells' death, the plaque bears the quote from Winston Churchill 'never has so much been owed by so many to so few'. Timber slats forming the seat have been reconstructed. The style of the fence above the surrounding wall has changed since the seat's construction. However, together with the adjacent shady jacaranda tree, the fence and seat combine to create a picturesque resting spot for passing pedestrians.

Element
Element Name Pilot Officer Geoffrey Lloyd Wells Memorial Seat
Designer Name Wells Family
Design Period 1940s - 1960s Post-WWII
Builder Name Wells Family
Construction Period post August 1941 - post August 1941
Construction Method Coursed stone - rubble
Fabric (Exterior Structure) Stone - porphyry
Place Components Seating

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Last updated: 15 March 2013

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