Canefield pitstop for ‘Kurana’

ANA’s ‘Kurana’ made a forced landing at Holbrook (Victoria) on 14th February 1944. Eight months later it made another forced landing, this time into a north Queensland canefield. Although the incident was reported (inaccurately) at that time in the local press it’s the attending policeman’s report (QSA Series 16865 Item 2177771), written in that unmistakable law-enforcement-officer style, that is more nuanced, and revealing.

Cairns District,
Babinda Station,
2nd November 1944

Relative to:- Australian National Airways DC3.R.M.A. VH-UZK Douglas transport plane “Kurana” making a forced landing at Cantarella Bros. cane paddock, 6 miles North of Babinda, at about 7-15am on the 31st of October,44. No persons injured, no suspicious circumstances.

I have to report that at about 7-30am on the 31st October, 1944, acting on instructions from Sergeant 2/c Pincott, I proceeded to Bellenden Ker, 6 miles north of Babinda, to Cantarella Bros. cane paddock, where I saw Australian National Airways DC3. R.M. A. VH-UZK Douglas transport plane “Karana” had made forced landing.

I interviewed Captain William F. Hill, Pilot of the plane, who informed me that he had departed from Cairns at 6-35am on the morning of 31/10/44 enroute for Townsville, with 19 passengers aboard. When passing over Innisfail the starboard engine commenced to develop engine trouble, so he decided to return to Cairns, but on the return journey it cut out completely and he then decided to make a forced landing which was skillfully made in Cantarella Bros. plant cane paddock, without injury to any of the passengers on board or to Pilot and 1st Officer Harold W fieldhouse, or damage to the machine.

I have made  exhaustive enquiries in the Babinda Police Division with a view of ascertaining whether any person noticed any irregularities with the plane when it passed South and again when it returned, but have been unable to obtain any information that would assist in this respect, as it is quite a common sight to see a plane sweep, low over the fields in this area, and not much notice is taken of them. However in this instance the Cantarella’s states they didn’t know the plane was going to land until it actually touched down in their cane paddock. 

I remained on duty continually at the plane, and early in the morning Mr. Trenchard-Smith, Manager of A.N.A. Cairns arrived on the scene, and supervised the transhipping of the mails back to Cairns. Captain Len Taylor, Senior route officer from Archerfield and Inspr. Shaw arrived at about 3p.m. in the afternoon, and after adjustments to the Starboard engine, the plane was flown off the cane paddock under the expert handling of Captain Taylor and returned to Cairns. Inspr. Shaw gave his address as O/c Department Civil Aviation, Government Aerodrome, Archerfeild via Cooper’s Plains, and requested that the Police report be sent to that address.

As a result enquiries I have been unable to obtain any independent witnesses that could give any useful information regarding the flight of the plane when travelling South and prior to it’s force landing at Bellenden Ker, that would assist in establishing whether the Starboard engine was faulting or otherwise.

J Starkey

Constable No.3518

Kurana images are uncommon, this one is thought to have been taken in Launceston, Tasmania in June 1938 (Eric Douglas )

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