1 NOV 1942
CRASH OF A P-39 AIRACOBRA

 

The above crash is described in Rod Cardell's book about the Stock Route airstrip which was located where Dalrymple Road now runs:-

 

"Wings Around Us" Page122
Shortly after making the Colonel's acquaintance, I was sitting in my kitchen when I heard a flight of P.39s approaching low and fast, and quite obviously heading directly over our house.  I hesitated, then instead of rushing out as usual, I gave it a miss.  What a pity.  Directly overhead I heard the screech of tearing metal and knew they had collided.

By the time I made it outside, there was a pall of black smoke rising from a point on the other side of the Strip, beyond the old road to Aitkenvale, a measured 1,100 yards from my home.  I took off bare-footed, crossed the middle of the Strip, and just kept running in a straight line towards that smoke.  As I crossed the old Aitkenvale road I was running in company withe several hundred Americans, who had dropped tools and were heading in that same direction.  I took pride in the fact that on this occasion I was amongst the leaders, although I had started with a 300 yards handicap.

The wreck was on fire, as we closed the distance, machine gun shells and cannon shells started exploding, and with each staccato of explosions, with one accord we "hit the deck".  The lucky ones fell behind ant beds or trees, the rest just fell.  When the explosions ceased we would advance a bit further before being forced down again.  We were all laughing rather nervously every time we dived for cover, not knowing for sure if the exploding shells constituted any danger, but compelled by a basic sense of self preservation to take no chances.

There we stood surveying the crash, the explosions had abated, when up drove Colonel Kirkpatrick.  He was furious, and bawled everyone out for being absent from their posts in time of war, and ordered them back to work.  The crowd immediately began to disperse, but I continued to gaze at the wreck, prepared to stay until the embers turned cold.  I was considerably taken aback when the Colonel said, '... and you hop in my car Rod, and I'll drive you home.'  That sounded like an order to me; for one fleeting moment I considered we might have a confrontation, but he was my friend, I admired him immensely, and I wasn't going to embarrass him or his troops by whingeing and arguing like a spoilt brat.  I got in his car and was driven home.   It was this gentleman Colonel's kind way of telling me that I shouldn't be there, that the appropriate authorities could handle the investigation quite well without my assistance, but he was not excessive about it like the guard at the Oxford crash.

I have always been under the strong impression that the pilot baled out of this doomed aircraft and was O.K>, and that the other pilot landed safely back at Garbutt.  I began to question this when I failed to recall seeing any parachute.  I have recently had others confirm that the pilot baled out and was O.K., but they also never saw the parachute.

Did I resent being ordered away by the C.O. of the 4th Air Depot Group?  No.  It conferred on me a certain tacit acceptance.  Besides, I went in style!

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 35 (I've assumed that this is the crash as described by Rod Cardell above)

Position:     19.15 - 146.46

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

NOTE:-  The list of "Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia" describes Crash No. 35 as "In the Townsville area, either a P-39 or a P-40, Aircraft No. Unknown, USAAC, believed missing from Townsville."

 

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This page first produced 14 June 1998

This page last updated 19 December 1998