DOUGLAS DC-3 VH-ANR
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 14 February 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn 13 Feb 2005

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

VH-ANR in the process of being refurbished and painted for display in the new hangar

This aircraft was for first flown at Santa Monica U.S.A. on 24 April 1937. It had been fitted with a right hand door. It was delivered to KLM and registered as PH-ALW "Wielewaal" (Golden Oriole) on 25 April 1937.

The aircraft flew out of Santa Monica at 3.30pm on 25 April 1937 and arrived at New York on the morning of 28 April 1937. It was disassembled and loaded aboard the S.S. Pennland and sailed from New York on 15 May 1937.

The aircraft was re-assembled at Waalhaven, Rotterdam in May 1937 by a team of KLM engineers including John Gyzemyter. After a test flight, the aircraft was ferried to Schiphol. 

PH-ALW "Wielewaal" started flying the Amtersdam-Batavia route on 3 June 1937. Whilst the normal DC-3 would was fitted with 21 seats, PH-ALW was fitted with only 11 seats to provide above average comfort for its passengers.

On 1 June 1940, the aircraft was re-registered as PK-ALW and although still owned by KLM it was operated by KNILM. The aircraft operated on the Lydda, Palestine to Batavia flights. Captain Evert Van Dijk on the last service to Batavia on 8 February 1942. He was unable to land in Singapore due to Japanese hostilities so waited in Calcutta. The aircraft left Calcutta on 14 Feb 1942 for Akyab and Medan. In Medan aircraft seats were removed to accommodate a group of 36 women and children who were evacuated to Batavia. The aircraft arrived in Batavia on 15 February 1942, the day that Singapore surrendered.

On 3 March 1942, Captain Eddy Dunlop, landed the aircraft on Boeabatoe Road, an unfinished highway, near Bandoeng, to evacuate His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor General, Dr. H. Van Mook to Australia. Several KNILM ground staff were also evacuated. The aircraft took off from Boeabatoe Road on 7 March 1942 at 1.00am. It was the last civil aircraft to escape the East Indies. There was Japanese action occurring at Lembang, less than 15 km away from Bandoeng when they left the area. PK-ALW arrived at Port Hedland in Western Australia 7 hours and 32 minutes later.

Some records indicate that PK-ALW was sold to the Australian Government on 19 March 1942 for £5.00 as VH-ALW.

KNILM signed a contract to hand over ten aircraft to the USAAF between 15 - 18 May 1942. Eleven (11) KNILM aircraft had been evacuated to Australia when N.E.I. fell to Japan.

2 DC-2’s,

4 Lockheed 14’s

2 DC-3’s

3 DC-5’s

Initially the KNILM aircraft operated under charter to the USAAF. General MacArthur ordered that the Dutch aircraft be acquired by the USAAF. 

To display their unhappiness with the forced sale of these aircraft, the KNILM staff decided to have all ten aircraft ready for a spectacular test flight over Sydney Harbour on 14 May 1942. They had over 50 passengers on board comprising ground staff, waiters and waitresses and kitchen staff from the restaurant at the airport.

Several aircraft buzzed the Dutch destroyer Tromp at Woolloomooloo. Then a DC-2, a DC-3 and a DC-5 lined up another target - the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Approaching the bridge from Sydney Heads they flew in line astern under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, pulled up, made a wide turn and then flew in single line again under the bridge, and then returned to Kingsford Smith Airport. The Dutch aircraft that flew under the Sydney Harbour bridge were as follows:-

On 15 May 1942, the aircraft was handed over to United States Army Air Force as C-49H "11944". This was not an official serial number. It was apparently contrived from the c/n. The aircraft was operated by 21st Transport Squadron USAAF which had been activated at Archerfield, Brisbane on 3 April 1942. It was assigned the radio call-sign VH-CXE. Used mainly on troop flights to and from New Guinea under control of the Directorate of Air Transport (DAT).

On 17 May 1942 a request was made to the Chief-of-Staff for VHCXE to be assigned to GHQ, SWPA. VHCXE was assigned to the 21st Transport Squadron on 20 May 1942. Air Vice Marshal Bostock, Chief of Staff, Allied Air Forces SWPA wrote to the Commander-in-Chief SWPA on 14 June 1942 and offered an unidentified "DC-3 with two new engines, fitted with seven regular passenger seats, new radio equipment and heating apparatus and a 1000 mile safe range".

VHCXE was positioned at Essendon airfield in Melbourne on 18 June 1942 for an inspection.

Colonel Henry Godman indicated that he had flown General Douglas MacArthur from Melbourne to Canberra and return on 17 July 1942 on board VHCXE. MacArthur went to Canberra to attend the Prime Ministers War Conference. 

21st Troop Carrier Squadron records show that VHCXE was transferred to GHQ, SWPA on 27 September 1942.  One of its regular flights is as follows:-

24th April 1943

Flight Report (AAF Form No 12-2-42) records a local flight from Archerfield by DC-3 serial number #1944. Crew shown as follows:-

 

Maj H.C. Godman GHQ (Pilot)

Maj Gen R. Sutherland GHQ (Co-pilot)

S/Sgt V1. Gumm (Engineer)

S/Sgt S.P. Bone (Radio Operator)

 

Flight departed 14:10

Flight returned 15:55

Flight time 1:07 Landings 2

VHCXE arrived at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Fisherman's Bend, Melbourne as USAAF #41-1944 on 14 May 1943 for modifications. The aircraft was allocated the sequence number CAC 17 during its 89 days at CAC.

C-49H-DO #41-1944 changed its radio call sign from VHCXE to VH-CXL (with a hyphen) while it was at Fisherman's Bend. This aircraft had been General Douglas MacArthur's aircraft until the arrival and modification of C-47A-20-DL #41-23421 c/n 9283 which assumed the radio call sign VH-CXE (with hyphen) and the name "Shiny Shiela". There is photographic evidence that the name was spelt as "Shiela" and not "Sheila".

 

THE OTHER VH-CXE

 

The new VH-CXE, "Shiny Shiela" was assigned the sequence number CAC 16 when it arrived at Fisherman's Bend on 13 May 1943. It left CAC 5 June 1943. It is believed that some internal fittings were removed from c/n 1944 for fitment to c/n 9283. DC-3 c/n 1944 was then fitted with side-saddle seats although it apparently retained its small fight hand door.

 

The new VH-CXE became the private aircraft of General Richard Sutherland, the Chief of Staff for General Douglas MacArthurGeneral Sutherland was a skilled pilot and would often spend many early mornings in Brisbane flying with Major Godman or Weldon E. "Dusty" Rhoades.

 


 

The Village Green column of the Courier Mail dated 22-23 September 2007 shows a story titled "MacArthur to the Max". Max Else of Melbourne, who was an inspector at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) tells of his memories of General Douglas MacArthur's aircraft arriving for a service. Bits and pieces were being thrown out of the aircraft and Max ended up with the cigarette and cigar holder off MacArthur's seat from VHCXE. The column states that Max also remembered the aircraft bore the name "Shiny Shiela". As indicated above "Shiny Shiela" was actually not General MacArthur's aircraft but became General Dick Sutherland's aircraft. "Shiny Shiela" had arrived at CAC at around the same time that MacArthur's aircraft did. So perhaps Max did get the cigarette and cigar holder out of MacArthur's aircraft as it was being "stripped" to fit out Sutherland's new "Shiny Shiela".

 

 

VH-CXL (formerly VHCXE) left CAC on 12 August 1943 and was returned to the USAAF. VH-CXL was then taken on charge by the RAAF (on loan from the USAAF) on 15 August 1943 and was operated on courier flights by 36 Squadron RAAF based in Townsville. It carried out its first flight with 36 Squadron from Townsville to Port Moresby and return on 21 August 1943 under the control of F/O McConachie and P/O Garde. 

While allocated to 36 Squadron, VH-CXL maintained its natural metal finish with USAAF stars. It was apparently the only aircraft in 36 Squadron that was not camouflaged. This is probably why all subsequent flights were only as far north as Horn Island.

P/O Ball and SGT Varney flew VH-CXL on its last flight with 36 Squadron from Townsville to Essendon on 13 January 1944. It was returned to the Allied Directorate of Air Transport (ADAT) on 23 March 1944.

On 31 March 1944, Australian National Airways applied to the Department of Civil Aviation (D.C.A.) for a Certificate of Airworthiness for VH-CXL. It was described as c/n 1944, with USAAF serial #41-1944.

On 1 April 1944, Australian Certificate of Airworthiness No. X-16 was issued to Australian National Airways for VH-CXL. It was registered as having 22 passenger seats. VH-CXL did not appear on the Australian Register. The special "X" series of Certificates of Airworthiness permitted civilian passengers to be carried on military aircraft. 

On 23 April 1944, VH-CX was struck off charge by the RAAF and returned to the USAAF. It was delivered to ANA on 25 April 1944, and was used on their "Pacific Islands Courier" service out of Melbourne.

On 14 June 1944, VH-CXE was allocated USAAF serial #44-83229 as a C-49H-DO. It has been assumed that this was a book-keeping exercise in preparation for the aircraft's disposal.

In November 1944, VH-CXE was offered for sale by the U.S. Foreign Economic Administration as PK-ALW), with an estimated Flying Time 3500 hours.

In December 1944, ANA was operating a daily service from Archerfield to Finschhafen and a Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne return service every Sunday.

The aircraft was struck off by the USAAF on 17 March 1945. The aircraft was registered as VH-ANR by Australian National Airways on 2 May 1946.

In April 1958 the aircraft was leased by Ansett Transport Industries to Butler Air Transport Pty Ltd, Sydney as VH-ANR. The aircraft was modified to "Viewmaster" configuration by Fairey Aviation at Bankstown on 17 July 1958. It was registered to Airlines of New South Wales as VH-ANR on 17 February 1958 but continued to be operated by Butler Air Transport in Butler colours. 

The aircraft arrived at Essendon in Melbourne from Sydney on 23 July 1968. Several days later it was fitted with wings from DC-3 VH-ANQ which was retired to the graveyard with the original wings from VH-ANR. 

The aircraft was ferried from Sydney to Melbourne for overhaul and modifications on 23 September 1969. It returned to Sydney on 28 October 1969. On 24 July 1972, VH-ANR was ferried from Sydney to Schofields airfield for storage. VH-ANR was leased for a token price to two ANSW pilots, Capt Alex Grarriock and F/O John Wilson of Sydney. They had plans to operate VH-ANR as a flying museum.

VH-ANR was Struck off Register on 14 August 1972. It was ferried to Camden on 14 December 1974 and placed in storage. It was purchased by George Markey of Sydney on 24 January 1981. Restoration work commenced on VH-ANR on 24 January 1987.

Greg Mallitt can remember working on VH-ANR at Camden airfield after George Markey purchased the aircraft.  Greg told me they spent approximately one week removing birds nests, wasp nests and other rubbish from the engines. They removed all the plugs and flushed the oil systems freeing up the controls and doing compression tests on all cylinders. It was about 10:00 am one morning that they decided it was time to fire her up and a small fuel pressure problem meant they had to use the hand pump in the cock pit. After quite a few coughs and splutters the engines roared into life causing so much smoke you could not see the airfield and the tower nearly called the fire brigade. After about 5 minutes both engines we running smooth not missing a beat. Greg is very happy to see VH-ANR is being cared for and undercover as he had lost contact with every body after leaving the aircraft industry.

VH-ANR was donated to Queensland Air Museum by George Markey on 18 February 1994. It arrived at Caloundra on two semi-trailers on 15 September 1994. The aircraft was reassembled at Caloundra on 19 October 1994.

 


 

The following is an extract from a document titled "Col  H. Godman Remembers: Hawaii, Clark Field, Java, Australia; MacArthur & Kenney". This was extracted from information prepared by Henry Godman for his family and provided for inclusion in the 19th Bomb Group Association History.

After flying out of the Philippines with the General, I started to work for him as his Air Officer. My job, I guess, was to educated him and his staff as to the status of the Air Corps and act as liaison with Air Corps Headquarters. My main job was to be the general's pilot.

          Our first plane was a Dutch KLM airline DC-3 with over eight thousand hour on it. It was strictly fixed up for air line work, so we took out half the seats to make it more roomy.

I had never flown a DC-3 before, but somehow I learned where all the emergency controls were, and felt at home in it after a few circuits of the field. My first flight with MacArthur was to fly him to Canberra, the capital of Australia, to meet the Prime Minister. Other flights came in rapid succession to fly his staff to various parts of Australia to set up supply points and communications facilities. This was real fun and a lot better than flying combat missions; however, there were times in weather situations that I had to use all my skill and judgment to complete a safe flight because there were no navigational aids in the country. We used to call it the "Cold Sweat Factor" and other names I can't mention here.

Soon General MacArthur moved his head quarters to Brisbane, Australia and I moved with him. I soon gave up the Dutch airliner as the Australians had converted one of their new C-47's into a plush command plane with a Pullman bed, stove, and refrigerator. It was very nice, The Australian registration was VH-CXE, so it was natural to refer to the plane as Sexy. An Artist painted a beautiful oil painting of a nude woman flying in the wind on the right side of the nose where the embarking passengers could ;not see it, but some nut called Major General Sutherland's attention to it and he ordered me to have it removed. My pleading did no good. It was not dignified enough for MacArthur's plane and that was that.

Later in 1942, I was sent back to the United States to pick up a B-17 command plane for the General that had been extensively modified. The results of that mission is described in my book "Supreme Commander".

 


 

 

The following is an extract from "Australian National Airways and the War Years" by Gil White

VHCXL       C/n 1944

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Santa Monica in California and rolled off the production line during 1937. Its first flight was flown on 24/4/1937. Aircraft was designated as a DC-3-194B. Purchased new by Koninklijke Lutchvaart Maatschappij NV trading as K.L.M.. Delivered to company and registered as PH-ALW on 12/4/1937. Shipped to Fokker on board SS ‘Pennland’ on 15/5/1937. Arrived at Rotterdam later the same month and transported to Waalhaven where it was reassembled by a team of K.L.M. engineers. After a test flight aircraft was ferried to Schiphol.

On 3/6/1937 entered revenue-earning service with the company when it flew the Amsterdam to Batavia route. Whilst in service with company aircraft was named ‘Wielewaal’ which means Golden Oriole. Ownership of aircraft also transferred to their subsidiary K.N.I.L.M. and reregistered PK-ALW on 1/6/1940. At this stage aircraft remained the property of K.L.M. and also retained the livery of K.L.M. even though it came under the operational control of K.N.I.L.M..  

On 8/2/1942 this aircraft made the last flight from Lydda in Palestine to Batavia under the command of Captain E Van Dijk. By mid February the situation in Singapore was becoming serious and he was advised that landing at Singapore was no longer an option so he waited at Calcutta until further clearance was obtained. On 14/2/1942 Captain Van Dijk was given clearance to fly to Akyab and Medan.

On arrival at Medan Airport on 14/2/1942 he was confronted with 36 women and children needing to be evacuated to Batavia. To undertake this humanitarian gesture of extra passengers the seats were removed and abandoned at Medan. Aircraft arrived at Batavia on 15/2/1942.

On 3/3/1942 this aircraft was flown to Boeabatoe Road, which is on the outskirts of Bandoeng to await the arrival of His Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor General Dr H Van Mook who was to be evacuated to Australia. This stretch of road had been used as a secret landing strip for many days. Also evacuated on this flight were several K.N.I.L.M. ground staff. This evacuation flight was under the command of Captain E Dunlop.

On 7/3/1942 after the arrival of its most important passenger this aircraft had the distinction of being the last civil aircraft to leave the East Indies. At time of takeoff heavy fighting was in progress less than 20 kilometres away. Arrived at Port Hedland on the same day after a non-stop flight lasting over 7½ hours. 

In 1942 after the fall of Java to the Japanese invasion it too, was flown to Australia and sold to the Australian Government for £5/0/0 on 19/3/1942 and reportedly allocated the registration of VH-ALN. Initially after arrival in Australia aircraft was operated by K.N.I.L.M. crews on charter to the U.S.A.A.F. but the top brass were reluctant to leave the major part of a small transport system in private control. After General MacArthur arrived in Australia the edict was issued on 18/3/1942 that the Dutch aircraft would be acquired by the U.S.A.A.F..

On 28/3/1942 K.N.I.L.M. signed a contract to hand over 10 aircraft to the U.S.A.A.F. between the dates of 15/5/1942 and 28/5/1942. Under the terms of the contract signed between K.N.I.L.M. and the U.S.A.A.F. all aircraft had to be airworthy and test flown before delivery. On 14/5/1942 all K.N.I.L.M. aircraft were ready for the test flights and were all airborne over Sydney Harbour. This aircraft flew under Sydney Harbour Bridge once in each direction and for this occasion was under the command of Captain P Deenik. 

For a short period of time flown by 21st Transport Squadron of the United States Army Air Force as ‘11944’ using the radio call sign VHCXE whilst in Australia. Whilst in service aircraft operated mainly out of Archerfield on flights to New Guinea and was affectionately known by the crews that flew it as ‘Shiny Shiela’.

Reported to have been used by General Douglas MacArthur on his regular courier run from Brisbane through New Guinea to the Philippines and often returned to Australia with bullet holes as souvenirs of these trips and also served as his personal transport for many flights between 1942 and 1943. It was not specifically assigned to General MacArthur.

During May 1943 aircraft was flown to Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermen’s Bend in Melbourne for modifications, which would take 89 days to complete. At this stage of its wartime career aircraft was allocated a new radio callsign. 

Next saw service with the Royal Australian Air Force's No 36 Squadron from 15/8/1943 and reallocated the radio call sign VHCXL. Whilst in service with the R.A.A.F. aircraft was based at Townsville operating courier flights. Aircraft was reportedly the only aircraft in 36 Squadrons inventory that was not camouflaged as it was finished in bare metal with the U.S.A.A.F stars and reportedly only operated as far north as Horn Island. 

On 1/4/1944 issued a Certificate of Airworthiness to Australian National Airways still under the radio call sign of VHCXL (1st) but not handed over to the company until 25/4/1944. In March 1945 in a book keeping exercise belatedly given the designation C-49H and the serial number 44-83229 prior to disposal. Aircraft purchased by Australian National Airways P/L and registered VH-ANR to the company on 22/5/1946.

 

REFERENCES

The Official Web Page for VH-ANR

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Greg Mallitt, Ron Cuskelly and Gil White for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information
about the WW2 history for VH-ANR?

 

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This page first produced 14 February 2005

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