COLLISION OF TWO HUDSON BOMBERS
AT BARRAMUNDI CREEK, NEAR GIRU, QLD
ON 24 MAY 1942

 

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Lockheed Hudson

 

RAAF Lockheed Hudson bomber Mark IIIA, A16-191 BW677 collided with Hudson A16-194 BW680, and crashed into thick mangroves at Barramundi Creek near Giru on 24th May 1942. Both aircraft were from 32 Squadron RAAF. Apparently one of the aircraft had suddenly lost altitude in an air pocket and hit the other aircraft below it. They were apparently both very new aircraft and were on their way from Brisbane to Port Moresby. They were both laden with a full load of bombs at the time of the crash.

One aircraft slammed into the ground near the mouth of Morris (or is it Morrisey?) Creek leaving a deep crater and killing the crew of four. Their bodies were not recovered. Their remains were apparently buried in a makeshift grave at the site under one of the wings. The whole front of the aircraft right to the rear gun turret had been totally demolished. Parts of bodies were strewn around the crash site. Ron Cernusco, a student at the Giru State School, at the time of the crash, remembers the very large explosion when this aircraft crashed. He remembers the bottles on the shelves at the school containing preserved snakes all shaking at the time of the explosion.

The other aircraft was able to make a forced landing in the mangroves a few kilometres further south near what is now known as "Bomber Creek" between the Barrattas and Barramundi Creek. The aircraft cut a 100m long path through the mangroves before coming to rest on a saltpan. The wings and other parts of the aircraft were torn from the fuselage as it cut a path through the mangroves. The crew of this aircraft survived the forced landing. Giru resident Cecil Burry (about 20yrs old in 1942) rode his pushbike to the site of this crash. 

Those killed were:-

The following information is from the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour database. The following information is from the Commonwealth War Graves home page
Cooper, Maurice Wilfred
Number: 416146
Rank: Sergeant [Sgt]
Unit: 32 Sqn
Place of Death: Giru, Qld
Cause of Death: Accidental
Memorial Panel: 102
In Memory of MAURICE WILFRED COOPER

Sergeant (416146), Royal Australian Air Force, who died on Sunday, 24th May 1942. Age 20.

Son of Edgar Wilfred and Hilda Patricia Cooper, of Albert Park, South Australia.

Memorial: SYDNEY MEMORIAL, New South Wales, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Panel 6.

Herman, James Alexander
Number: 407713
Rank: Sergeant [Sgt]
Unit: 32 Sqn
Place of Death: Giru, Qld
Cause of Death: Accidental
Memorial Panel: 103
In Memory of JAMES ALEXANDER HERMAN

Sergeant (407713), Royal Australian Air Force, who died on Sunday, 24th May 1942. Age 28.

Son of Thomas Ernest and Jessie Perry Herman, of Woodville, South Australia.

Memorial: SYDNEY MEMORIAL, New South Wales, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Panel 6.

Gillam, Herbert Thomas
Number: 401689
Rank: Sergeant [Sgt]
Unit: 32 Sqn
Place of Death: Off QLD Coast
Cause of Death: Accidental
Memorial Panel: 103
In Memory of HERBERT THOMAS GILLAM

Sergeant (401689), Royal Australian Air Force, who died on Sunday, 24th May 1942. Age 27.

Son of James Herbert and Florence Esther Phoebe Gillam, of Hampton, Victoria.

Memorial: SYDNEY MEMORIAL, New South Wales, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Panel 6.

Jewell, John Leslie Manton
Number: 406656
Rank: Pilot Officer [PO]
Unit: 32 Sqn
Place of Death: Queensland coast
Cause of Death: Accidental
Memorial Panel: 103
In Memory of JOHN LESLIE MANTON JEWELL

Pilot Officer (406656), Royal Australian Air Force, who died on Sunday, 24th May 1942. Age 25.

Son of John and Florence May Jewell.

Memorial: SYDNEY MEMORIAL, New South Wales, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Panel 5.

 

Can anyone please advise which aircraft crashed at which location?

 

The Burdekin Shire Council approved the funding of a memorial for the men who died in this tragic accident. It was erected in Giru's Lions Brolga Park, just across the road from CSR's Invicta Mill. The memorial was dedicated on 24 May 2003. 

 

Memorial in Brolga Park, Giru

 

Plaque on the Memorial in Brolga Park, Giru

 

There is already another memorial in the park remembering the crash of another aircraft on nearby Saddle Mountain. It was the crash of a Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft on 25 March 1947. Those killed were F/Lt Frank Langford of Sydney, and F/Lt. Batzloff of Toowoomba.

A work colleague of mine, Andrew Owen, shared the following information with me:-

"This reminded of an incident in the early 1980s. Whilst doing mapping control work for the Survey office in 1981, about 12 surveyors and offsiders were camped at Alva Beach near Ayr."

"The work area extended across Bowling Green Bay between Cape Cleveland and the Cape B.G. Most of the access in this area was by boat, however to access one control point, we attempted to reach it by vehicle. This proved unsuccessful and I have several photos of two vehicles bogged to the gunwales in the centre of a mud flat. It took us two days to dig and winch the vehicles out. When describing to the locals where this had happened, one of them indicated that this was near the bomber crash. At a later date, two of the fellows in the group swam across a mangrove creek and located the remains of the plane. This was fairly close to the bog site. Other than one engine (# number recorded but since lost), nothing was recognisable. There was a lot of aluminium lying around, but no large pieces. He is going to see if he can find where he recorded the number."

"I have plotted the location of the incident 24th May 1942, and it would appear to fall approximately 3km to the east of where I estimate we got bogged and the wreck was located. I have the positions plotted on an early 1 : 250,000 map of the area."

"A Lockheed Hudson web site indicates that the I.D. numbers for A16-190 and 194 were issued for: A29 Mk 111A (Bomber), or A-29A-LO (troop transport). "

Both A16-191 and A16-194 were originally delivered to the RAAF on 5 April 1942. They were both written off the books in July 1942.

 


 

A group from the RAAF Townsville Museum at Garbutt, made an expedition to the crash sites in September 2003. They recovered a section of one of the aircraft which is now located in the RAAF Townsville Museum. Rod Burgess provided me with the following photos from the crash site of one of the Hudsons. (which one?). This aircraft was apparently blown up by the RAAF. 

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A recovered section of the front of the fuselage in Rod Burgess's front yard, which is now on display at the RAAF Townsville Museum.

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In June 2002, Col Williams from Townsville told me that he had been to the crash site of the aircraft in which all the crew died near the mouth of Morrisey's Creek. The other aircraft managed to crash land on Bomber creek a few kilometres further south. Col went there a few years ago with a local T.A.F.E group, with Pat Kenny from the R.A.A.F and couple of Giru cane farmers. They  went by boat from Morrisey's Creek boat ramp near Giru down to just before the mouth of Morrisey's Creek and then turned south up a small creek for about a kilometre until they saw a piece of wreckage in a tree as a marker.

A short 100 metre walk took them into a large open area about 2 kms long and a couple of hundred metres wide. At the northern end of this was the upturned section of fuselage from just in front of the tail to under the turret (missing). About 50metres inland hidden in the mangrove was the complete tail section in fairly well preserved condition. 

A further 50metres north was a wing tip also in good condition (from the engine out board) close by was the section of wing around one engine, and an oleo strut, tyre and wheel all badly corroded.

Nearby to the south west was the rest of the badly crumpled fuselage and other wing. There were two piles resembling ant hills which had bits of shiny stainless fittings and rubber bits sticking out and as the badly crumbled exhaust headers and pipes were beside them we think they were the remains of the engines.

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Subject:  Crash of Hudson Bombers
Date:   Fri, 28 Sep 2001 15:23:14 +1000
From:  "Bulgarelli Rob" <Rob.BULGARELLI@dnr.qld.gov.au>

Peter

Andrew Owen visited me this morning and we got to talk about the remains of the Bomber I came across on 20 October 1981. The message below is what I drafted to send to you earlier in the year, but held off hoping I could find my diary from that year and the piece of paper where I recorded the serial number of one of the plane's engines. I have since found the diary but not the serial number. Hopefully one day I will come across it because I am sure I would not have thrown it out.

I refer to your article titled "Collision of Two Hudson Bombers Near Giru, Qld on 24 May 1942". I worked with Andrew Owen at the time and was one of the two people who came across the wreck at a place known locally as Bomber Creek. (I was also with Andrew and two others when we got two vehicles bogged and had to walk out late one afternoon.) From memory, the other person with me was Tony Madden. I can't locate my diary at this stage to confirm it. Tony was unfortunately killed in a car accident about 6 months later.

Andrew's recollection is particularly good. Tony and I swam across the creek to locate a feature which could be identified on aerial photographs. (We were told later that there were crocodiles in the creek!) The feature would be accurately located and used for mapping purposes. While looking for a suitable point, we came across the wreckage. The first signs were a few sheets of mangled aluminium(?) which I initially thought had been left there by a cyclone. More wreckage appeared the closer we got to the crash site. It soon became obvious that it was the remains of an aeroplane. We spent about half an hour looking over the wreckage. I wrote down the serial number of one of the engines which was pretty much in tact with the intention of researching the names of the aircrew, the origin of the bomber etc.

Unfortunately I never did follow it up. Hopefully I will find the piece of paper which would confirm whether the bombers in your article were the ones we actually came across.

A couple of points differ in your article however from what I knew at the time. Firstly, locals referred to only one bomber and secondly, they thought that the bodies of the airmen had been recovered at the time of the crash. The serial number would possibly confirm this. 

Regrettably I did not have a camera with me nor did I ever revisit the site. I also did not take any "souvenirs" out of respect for the brave young airmen who lost their lives in the crash.

Hopefully one day I will come across the serial number."

Rob Bulgarelli

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 106 (A16-191) and No. 193 (A16-194)

Position:     19.27 - 147.15

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Rod Burgess, Andrew Owen and Peter Blatchford for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone

 

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 18 July 1998

This page last updated 31 August 2015