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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Anson agonies

By 1938 King Islanders had grown accustomed to the sight and sound of scheduled weekly airline services arriving and departing Bowling Aerodrome near the southern township of Currie. This reassuring routine was interrupted in September that year by a succession of dramatic arrivals and departures involving RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) training aircraft. 

The charred wreckage of A4-15 which was one of four RAAF Ansons forced to land on J G Haines’ property at Koreen on 11th September 1938. Having fallen into a ditch and broken a wing, it was later destroyed – that same evening – by a ‘mysterious’ fire (Gael Wilson collection).

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King Island’s war

In mid-1943 a RAAF Beaufort bomber inexplicably crashed on Bass Strait’s King Island killing all four crew members. Unreported then by the media – presumably because of wartime censorship – a cluster of white-marble CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) headstones in the Currie cemetery appear to be the Island’s only clues to this wartime tragedy.

King Island’s Currie cemetery, with Pilot Officer Harold Snell’s (Pilot) headstone closest.

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Southern highlands Corsair

Moving from Far North Queensland to Canberra in 1980 was something of a mixed blessing. Loved my job, but the weather was cripplingly cold. I soon became acquainted however with Bob Piper (RAAF Historical Section) who, bit-by-bit, opened my eyes to the fact that there was a wealth of aviation history to be found in the region (outdoors). You just needed to enjoy the cold and know where to look, and there was no one more studied in this subject than R. K. Piper.

An uncharacteristically nice day. The impact site was found just east of the Mulwaree River, close to the Springfield homestead.

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