The Mayfield jet crash of November 1963

In November 1963, a Newcastle girl named Anna was soon to be engaged. She planned to marry and move into her beau’s flat in Sunnyside Street in Mayfield.

Then a jet crashed into it.

Anna was 23 at the time. Her boyfriend Brian Adnum owned the flat.

Back in August, the Herald reported on the 50-year anniversary of the Sabre jet crash at The Junction.

Anna said the Mayfield crash, which occurred 53 years ago this month, should not be forgotten either. 

“It was almost like yesterday,” said the 75-year-old, who became Anna Adnum in 1964, after marrying Brian.

The aircraft was one of eight Sabre jet fighters from the Williamtown RAAF Base, which were taking part in a daytime training exercise off the coast of Newcastle.

The pilot, Officer Ronald Slater, was told to eject after his jet began to spin out of control at 11,000 feet.

Anna was working as a secretary at ELMA (Electric Lamp Manufacturers) at Hamilton.

When the crash happened, Brian called her at work.

“He said ‘can you come to Sunnyside Street – there’s a jet in our backyard’,” Anna recalled.

She thought he was joking because he was “a bit of a larrikin and he always had a great sense of humour”.

“I said ‘oh yeah, oh yeah’. He got a bit huffy and hung up on me,” she said.

A rumour soon went around the office about a jet crash in Mayfield.

My goodness, she thought, he was telling the truth.

A female colleague drove her to the scene.

“We could only go so far because it was cordoned off,” she said.

Brian and Anna had to list what was damaged and destroyed in the crash.

“As far as I know, we never got compensated,” she said.

“The RAAF more or less said it was our fault because our house was in the flight zone for the jets.”

Months later, Brian and Anna were at a cocktail party.

“We could hear these people talking about the jet crash,” she said.

“Brian said to them, ‘that was my house’.”

Among those discussing the crash was the pilot, Ronald Slater.

Slater was 22 at the time of the crash.

After he ejected, he landed in Crescent Road, Waratah, about a mile from the crash. 

His ejector seat landed on the railway line, just west of Waratah railway station and about 200 yards from the crash site.

His parachute became tangled in electric wires as he landed. Two electricians cut the cords from his chute and used a ladder to get him down.

Edythe Tillitzki lived in a house next door to the flat, in which Anna and Brian planned to live. 

The jet destroyed most of Mrs Tillitzki’s house. 

“I came home from town, changed and then had a cup of tea,” she told the Herald at the time.

She was walking to the front door with her cuppa when the jet hit the back of her house.

“I didn't look around. I walked straight out of the house and down the street to a friend's home,” she said.

No one was injured in the crash. But a cockatoo, which Mrs Tillitzki owned, wasn’t so lucky.

“She [Mrs Tillitzki] used to have a cup of tea in the backyard. She decided this particular day to have a cup of tea in the front yard,” Anna said.