MY FIRST VISIT TO A WW2 CRASH SITE
Four Crash Sites in 3.5 hours
By Wednesday 3 March 2000 I had researched and placed on my home page 1,085 military aircraft crashes in Australia during World War 2. But until then I had never been to one of these sites!!
Thanks to an internet mate in Melbourne called Les Lewis, I was able to visit 4 different crash sites on the afternoon of 3 March 2000. Three of these sites involved aircraft that crashed during World War 2.
Les Lewis in a Cessna 182
at Cow Bay airfield in north Queensland
I travelled to Melbourne on the afternoon of 3 March 2000 for two days of business meetings on Thursday and Friday. At about 4.45pm on the Wednesday, Les Lewis and two of his friends, Rob Pocock and Ken "Roach" Brookes, took me to the top of Mount Disappointment, just north of Whittlesea.
We drove along the forestry tracks at the top of the mountain and after passing over the track taken by the famous explorers Hume and Hovel in the 19th century, we pulled up at the side of the narrow forestry road. We headed north into the forest and within only 20 metres, Les had managed to acquire a few leeches on his leg under his jeans. At this stage I tucked my jeans into my socks to avoid these unwanted visitors.
Les Lewis, Rob Pocock, and Ken "Roach" Brookes
We arrived at the crash site of Beaufighter A19-12 after a short walk. The site is only about 50 metres in from the road. There was no real evidence of the aircraft itself but it was clear that something was different about this particular area in the thickly wooded forest. In the area of the crash, there was a large air space under the canopy of the forest where no trees had grown since the crash on 5 August 1942. The large fire and the presence of fuel and oil etc has obviously effected the ecosystem in this area preventing normal regrowth.
You could clearly see the same large rock where one of the crew's belongings had been laid out after the crash as seen in a photograph taken in 1942. Two young men died in this tragic crash.
After a short while at this crash site we hopped back into Rob's ute and headed off along some more forestry tracks. We pulled up again and headed into the bush. This was much harder going than the previous site and it was much further in from the road. After a while we came across the remains of CA9 Wirraway A20-573 which crashed on 21 July 1953. There was certainly plenty of evidence of the remains of this aircraft. The 19 year old pilot of this Wirraway was also tragically killed. The remains of this crash were not found until over a year later when a Forestry Commission worker discovered it on 16 August 1954.
We trekked back to the ute and headed off to the southern side of the mountain peak where Les and myself trekked off down the 802 metre mountain towards the crash site of two Vultee Vengeances (A27-49 and A27-92). As we went down the mountain we could clearly see the high rise buildings in the central business district of Melbourne.
The two Vultee Vengeances both slammed into the mountain in low cloud on 25 May 1944. Five RAAF personnel lost their lives at about 11:50 am on that tragic day. There was plenty of evidence of the remains of both these aircraft including a large radial engine. There were many large lumps of molten aluminium lying around the crash sites.
Climbing back out of the gully, after looking at the radial engine, I discovered how unfit I am. I was starting to hyperventilate. After a while we got back to the top of the ridge to recover our water bottles and then headed back to the bottom of Mount Disappointment where Rob and Ken picked us up in Rob's Commodore. By the time we walked out of the bush at about 8pm, the sun was just starting to disappear over the hills to the west.
Many thanks to Les Lewis and his mates Rob Pocock and Ken "Roach" Brookes for a fantastic visit to Mount Disappointment.
Wow! Four crash sites in three and a half hours.
NOTE:- there was at least one other crash in the Mount Disappointment area. Cessna 172 VH-DQI (c/n 56106) crashed there in July 1968. The wings from this crash were stored at Tocumwal up until at least 1998.
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 4 March 2000
This page last updated 14 September 2018