MICHAEL NELMES
AUTHOR OF BOOK ON "G" FOR GEORGE

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visits since 5 December 1999

 

Subject:    "G" for George
Date:             Sat, 24 Oct 1998
From:           "Michael Nelmes"

Hello Peter

A very comprehensive home page, congratulations.

I work at the War Memorial and am in the final stages of writing a book on "G for George". I'll be submitting it to the RAAF Heritage Awards Scheme in January; if they don't publish it, I'll try elsewhere.

The main body of the book is an operations log for the aircraft which includes anecdotes from about 20 ex-crewmembers I've contacted. I was wondering if you would mind if I include some notes on John Goulevitch, based on your information.

In case you weren't aware, the aircraft is coming out of the Memorial building in February for conservation, then eventually going on display in Anzac Hall, a new building to be completed behind the Memorial in 2001.

Regards
Michael Nelmes

 

 flash.gif (24101 bytes)Upcoming book on "G" for George

 


 

Subject:    A few more updates
Date:            Sun, 02 Apr 2000 17:26:45 -0700
From:           Michael Nelmes

Hi again Peter

You were after the names of the WW2 airfields in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).

The five strips on Espiritu Santo were:

- Pekoa (also the present-day strip)

- Turtle Bay

- Peleula Bay (in the south-east, now overgrown with jungle)

- Bomber III

- Ob Ratard Plantation (in the south) - for light a/c

The US Marine Corps used Santo as rear base in the war around the Solomons, flying Wildcats and then Corsairs (eg. VMF-214 "Black Sheep" formed there but moved to the Russell Islands in Sept 1943. The USAAF used Santo as a bomber base for the 11th and 5th Bombardment Groups from August 1942.

Efate had three airstrips:-

- Bauerfield (west side)

- Havannah Harbour (west side)

- Quoin Hill (south east) - USMC fighter strip

In addition, Port Vila had a RAAF Catalina flying boat base at the site of the ex-French Government wharf, as well as a RAAF communications station. A RAAF Advanced Operational Base aerodrome was planned for construction 5km north of Vila (I have not confirmed that it was actually built).

Efate and particularly Santo are fascinating places to look for wrecks, airfields etc. I saw two Corsairs in the water off Quoin Hill (dived on one), and on Santo the fragmented remains of a B-17E Fortress in the jungle which probably crashed on 24 August 1942 on landing approach, as well as an Avenger near Matavulu Agricultural College. For divers there's also "Million Dollar Point" on the coast of Santo where the Americans bulldozed equipment into the sea (didn't see any aircraft there), and the sunken US troopship President Coolidge.

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

"The Lady and the President"
"The Life and Loss of the President Coolidge"

by Peter Stone

 


 

Subject:     460 Sqn
Date:             Mon, 03 Apr 2000 18:35:39 -0700
From:            Michael Nelmes

Roger - Gordon Stooke has included a list of the fates of 460's Lancasters in his website:

http://www.netlink.com.au/%7Egstooke/460squadron/aircraft_record.htm

He also matches serial numbers with a/c ID letters - but there are some discrepancies with the details in "Lancaster - the definitive record". If you have a few particular aircraft you'd like confirmed I could check the 460 Squadron Operations Record Book

Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:    460 Sqn
Date:            Tue, 04 Apr 2000 19:59:42 -0700
From:           Michael Nelmes

Roger

The Operations Record Book (the official record of unit activities made at the time) for 460 Squadron is available for viewing on microfilm in the AWM Research Centre (just ask at the enquiries desk). Opening hours are Mon-Fri 10 til 5, Sat. 1 til 5.

Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:     Another update
Date:             Thu, 06 Apr 2000 17:42:46 -0700
From:            Michael Nelmes

Rob Staughton and Peter -

Thanks for posting the P-47 photos. I see shots of these wrecks every few years, and it's interesting to see less and less each time.

For part of the story on these 'razorbacks', see my email of around 5 February. Basically it says that the serial numbers were 42-23249 and 42-75921 and that they force-landed through lack of fuel a day or two before 30 October 1944 (when a RAAF Ventura went in search and spotted them).

Their status cards give their loss date as 7 December. In fact they were destroyed by a US demolition team, probably in case they fell into Japanese hands.

The Australian War Memorial has the empennage (tail unit) of 42-75921. I saw the other empennage, with one wing and the engine (from the southern wreck) at the Weipa bus depot in 1991 - the Army had moved them there. Are they still there? One propeller is at the RAAF Museum at Townsville (the slightly bent one), and I understand the ot other is at Weipa airport?

I have a copy of a letter from a Mrs M. Little (courtesy of Geoff Wharton, ex-Comalco) detailing the story of the rescue of the two US pilots, let me know your address if you'd like me to mail a copy to you. I've never been able to identify the pilots, as the USAF archives doesn't have crash reports for them and they apparently didn't yet belong to an operational unit, being on a ferry flight to New Guinea.

I'd be really interested to hear of anything more that turns up in Weipa about them - any chance of seeing the 1959 aerial photo? One thing I've been trying to establish that's not clear from any of the photos I've seen because of weathering: I'm assuming the aircraft were painted (olive drab & grey) rather than bare metal, are you able to confirm this?

Incidentally, have you been to the B-17 wreck near Pennefather River?

Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:     One update
Date:             Sun, 16 Apr 2000 17:18:53 -0700
From:            Michael Nelmes

Peter

I can highly recommend a few hours at the Powerhouse Museum (Darling Harbour) - only a few aircraft and none military I don't think (although there's a civilian Catalina) but a fascinating place. See www.phm.gov.au

Military bookshops I know of:-

Napoleon's (336 Pitt St, City)

Battlebridge Military Books
Shop 1/ 333 Church St, Parramatta

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:    Cherry Carter's crew
Date:            Sun, 30 Apr 2000 16:41:57 -0700
From:           Michael Nelmes

Roger / Peter

Bob Coveny lived at least into the early 1980s. Here's an extract from my 'G for George' manuscript that might interest you:

By October 1944, 460 Squadron was conducting daylight as well as night operations. At two o'clock on a sunny Saturday afternoon that month, the Lancaster of former G for George crewmen Keith Harris and Bob Coveny (now six flights into their second operational tour) was struck by incendiary bombs falling from a bomber above and the port outer engine caught fire.

All the crew were able to bail out. Harris, descending under his parachute, was fired on by light flak from a German Army camp before landing in the top of 'a bloody great pine tree', and surrounded by frontline troops. He was interrogated at Frankfurt by a junior German section officer with a revolver, who demanded to know about the British H2S radar; and for the rest of the war he joined several other G for George crewmen at Stalag Luft III, a large prisoner of war camp isolated among pine forests near the town of Sagan, Poland. The camp, founded in April 1943, housed some 10,000 of the ever increasing number of aircrew prisoners. Some months before Harris' arrival, just after G for George's last operation in April 1944, the boards under the prisoners' beds had been used to line underground tunnels for what became known as 'the Great Escape'. Of eighty allied prisoners who escaped, fifty including three Australians were shot on Hitler's order, and only three made it back to England. Escape attempts were normally dealt with less harshly than in this case, with two or three weeks in the 'cooler' (prison).

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:    Cherry Carter's crew
Date:            Sun, 30 Apr 2000 17:17:00 -0700
From:           Michael Nelmes

Forgot to mention - there is a Carter crew photo including Bob Coveny and Keith Harris in the War Memorial photo collection -

www.awm.gov.au - click on databases, photographs, and enter negative number 069823.

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


 

Subject:    B-26s
Date:            Mon, 1 May 2000 12:24:07 +1100
From:           Michael Nelmes

Peter

Your story about Lyndon Johnson and his B-26 made it into the newsletter The Marauder Thunder, in case you didn't know. The Marauder Historical Society archive homepage has a link to it.

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

 


Subject:    B-26s
Date:            Mon, 1 May 2000 16:34:19 +1100
From:           Michael Nelmes

Peter

The website is:  http://b-26marauderarchive.org/MS/MS1709/MS1709.htm

The item, headed 'LBJ's Silver Star', is in the March 2000 issue of the Marauder Thunder. I believe the above address should take you to the newsletter.

Regards
Mike Nelmes
AWM

 

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