Gundaroo’s Ventura

I just remember the biting cold thinking, all the while, that perhaps we shouldn’t have been traipsing – in winter – through bush-land in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, especially while it was sleeting. Thoughts of all that wasted organisational effort might have dissuaded me from postponing, along with the knowledge that any future date – that winter – could have been just as bleak. We were young, and the prospect of visiting a Lockheed Ventura crash site, so close to Canberra where we all lived, must have been incentive enough.

Squadron Diaries (Form A50s) need to be approached with some cicumspection, this 13 Squadron entry showing A59-55 departing for repairs a week after it had been destroyed at Gundaroo. The navigator on that occasion was E G Whitlam, who returned to Canberra years later as the Australian Prime Minister (NAA A9186,35).

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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. Continue reading “Canefield pitstop for ‘Kurana’”

‘purely accidently’

Relative to:- An “Aero Cobra” single engine pursuit aeroplane, the property of the U.S.A. Forces crashing in the bed of the Burdekin River, Home Hill, at about 1-50 p.m. and a similar type aeroplane making a forced landing in the bed of the Burdekin River, Home Hill, at about 3-15 p.m. on the 5th October 1942. Both pilots escaped injury. No suspicious circumstances surrounding either of the occurrences.

So began Constable Mumford’s dispassionate official report to the Townsville Police Commissioner, recounting the extraordinary events that had occurred earlier that same day. Now held in the Queensland State Archives in Brisbane (Item ID2177716), this local policeman’s dog-eared, double-sided, and now fragile manuscript provides us an uncommon insight into the Burdekin region during the early years of the Second World War.

A Bell P-400 Airacobra, similar to the pair of “Aero Cobra” that force-landed in the Burdekin River in October 1942 (Allen Boyer). ‘As a result of inquiries made I am satisfied that both occurrences were purely accidental. The pilot of the aircraft that struck the wires near the Railway Bridge over the Burdekin River stated that up to that time the machine was performing normally. He had the air-craft under proper control up to that time. Immediately this incident occurred, “Air-flash” Townsville, was advised by Mr Hollywood, hence the search by other aircraft.’

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