MEMORIAL DEDICATION
IN TOWNSVILLE 14 AUGUST 2005
TO REMEMBER THE TRAGIC CRASH OF
A C-47 DAKOTA INTO CLEVELAND BAY,
TOWNSVILLE, QLD, ON 7 AUGUST 1943

 

An RAAF C-47 Dakota

 

The photographs below record the ceremony on 14 August 2005 in Townsville to commemorate the loss of lives in the WW2 USAAF C-47 crash off Townsville Australia on 7th Aug 1943.

The unveiling of the C-47 Memorial on 14 August 2005 was part of Townsville's four day VP60 Commemorations (60th Anniversary of the end of WW2 in the Pacific region).

We had the great pleasure of hosting Mrs Prudy Drew from Wenatchee, Washington State. Prudy is the niece of the C-47 pilot H Gene Wilson. Peter Murray's friend Charles Gailey (CK) located the Wilson Family only some 2 weeks prior to the ceremony. On hearing of the upcoming ceremony Trudy made some very hurried plans and arrived in Townsville on Thursday 11 August 2005 just in time for the Commemorations to begin on Friday 12 August 2005.

On Saturday morning 13 August 2005 family members motored out to the C-47 crash site on Cleveland Bay in a large speed boat called "Cheetah" and held a simple Memorial Service for the 27 casualties of this disaster. The Service was fittingly conducted by a Salvation Army Chaplin (Sgt Major Bob Down) and as each name was read out, we cast 27 roses into the water in remembrance of each victim. Also on board the boat was another group who were commemoration the crash of a RAAF Catalina that happened exactly one month after the C-47 incident. 

Saturday afternoon in Townsville saw a large street parade and sky show/fireworks event, held along The Strand - waterfront. An estimated 70,000 turned out for this special occasion which included a spectacular RAAF F-111 - 'dump and burn', just after sun set.

The dedication ceremony for the Memorial commenced at 10.30am on Sunday 14 August 2005. An estimated 200 local, national, and international visitors and Veterans assembled on top of Kissing Point. The Service was conducted by a RAAF Chaplin and supported by the Townsville based 1 RAR Army Band & the US 5th Air Force Band and Colour Party contingent.

The assembled were addressed by the CO of the Townsville Army, Brig Michael Fairweather  (Commanding Officer 11 Brigade), Lt Col Bruce Wright (CO US 5th Air force Japan), Mayor of Townsville City, Tony Mooney and Lt Col Dan De Young.

It was a combined Ceremony - firstly commemorating the WW2 (and onwards) Aust/US Alliance and its relationship to Townsville past and present, followed by the unveiling of the C-47 Memorial Plaque. The Plaque is also two fold - with one side remembering those who gave their lives in the C-47 disaster and the other side - a pictorial collage representing/remembering the local WW2 US Military Association with Townsville. Play and Work are captured in the image selection - taken from Mr Arch Farley's WW2 photographic collection. Arch came to Townsville with the US Air Force in 1942 and remained stationed in Townsville as their official Military Photographer. He married a Townsville lady and after a short return to the US - came back and settled in Townsville where he carried on in private business as a professional photographer.

Prudy was invited to assist Mayor Tony Mooney and Lt Col Wright in the unveiling - as a representative of all the families of those taken in the C-47 crash. She also laid a wreath at the base of the adjacent official US 5th Air Force Memorial - again on behalf of those families. Prudy was assisted in this by two high school students.

Mr Col Benson from Mackay attended to represent the 317th Troop Carrier Group, and Mr Scott Roby represented the 500th Bomb Squadron of the 345th Bomb Group, along with Peter Murray deputising for the 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force - jointly laid wreaths in memory of the three Squadrons involved in the crash. 

On Sunday night Prudy Drew was able to attend a private dinner hosted by Mayor Tony Mooney to farewell the US 5th Air Force Contingent. At this function she was able to read and present a letter prepared by Vince Korbath - on behalf of the 317th TCG Association, a very nice letter commending the local City Fathers for their roll in finally and  formally commemorating their men taken in the C-47 crash all those years past.

On Monday 15 August 2005 (60th Anniversary of VP Day) as part of a re-enactment of Victory being announced in Townsville in 1945, all the visiting Veterans gathered to receive a Certificate from the City - to acknowledge their attendance - and to those who came to represent departed love ones. Prudy Drew was presented with one such Certificate - in memory of her late Uncle Gene.

 

qld146-01.jpg (82821 bytes) 5th Air Force Band
qld146-02.jpg (66044 bytes) 1 RAR Army Band
qld146-03.jpg (66654 bytes) Mayor of Townsville, Tony Mooney with Prudy Drew
qld146-11.jpg (48379 bytes) Townsville Mayor Tony Mooney, Prudy Drew and Lt Col Bruce Wright
qld146-15.jpg (71612 bytes)  
qld146-16.jpg (61223 bytes) Peter Murray (left) and Scott Roby, who is Tal Epps great nephew. Peter and Scott are both Honorary Life Members of the 500th Bomb Squadron Association.
qld146-04.jpg (75646 bytes) Left to right:- Lt Col Dan De Young (Ret), Prudy Drew, Col Benson and Peter Murray
qld146-05.jpg (63266 bytes) The ceremony on Kissing Point
qld146-07.jpg (64554 bytes) Cheetah
qld146-08.jpg (45100 bytes) Throwing a rose into Cleveland Bay
qld146-06.jpg (55555 bytes)  27 roses were thrown into the waters of Cleveland Bay in remembrance of each victim.
qld146-12.jpg (27344 bytes)  
qld146-13.jpg (36738 bytes) Col Benson (blue cap) and Scott Roby
qld146-14.jpg (49785 bytes)  
qld146-17.jpg (66559 bytes) Scott Roby wearing his Air Apache's leather jacket
qld146-09.jpg (78628 bytes) Street Parade
qld146-10.jpg (82681 bytes)  

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Peter Murray for his assistance with this web page. Peter was the driving force behind this ceremony happening.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 5 September 2005

This page last updated 31 August 2015