In the early hours of the morning of 27 November 1942, a flight of heavy Japanese bombers dropped a large number of bombs on Coomalie Creek airfield in the Northern Territory. Most of them landed in the bush adjacent to the airfield. Only two or three bombs hit the runway, but the holes were easily filled in after the raid.

31 Squadron RAAF had only arrived at the newly completed Coomalie Creek airfield on 12 November 1942. The camp was blacked out during the air raid. During the air raid, Squadron Leader Gordon Savage, the Officer Commanding of "A" Flight hopped on his Indian motor bike to inspect the damage to the runway. He had his headlight on and he was dutifully pulled up by the Ack Ack battery crew and told to turn off his headlight or they would shoot it out for him. He proceeded to the airfield and as he was driving along looking for damage he fell into a bomb crater. The motor bike landed on top of him in the bottom of the crater, pinning him down.

After the "All Clear" was given, the Commanding Officer of 31 Squadron RAAF, drove along the strip in his staff car with his headlights on to inspect the damage. He pulled up at a crater and after hearing a noise discovered Squadron Leader Savage pinned under his motor bike in the bottom of the crater. Fortunately Savage only received a few cuts and bruises. After the rescue was complete the CO discovered that he had parked his car over the top of an unexploded Japanese bomb.



"Coomalie Charlie's Commandos - 31 Squadron RAAF"
"Beaufighters at Darwin 1942-43"
by Kenneth Neal McDonald, DFC


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This page first produced 11 October 1999

This page last updated 14 September 2018