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Graeme Steinbeck passed on this intriguing newspaper article to me:-



Newspaper article: 1985
WAS Yondaio the site of a German commando raid in World War II?

Or did a lifeboat from a stricken ship come ashore on the little beach? These are some of the questions raised by a mysterious discovery, shared by a group of young campers at Yondaio in the early 1950s . Recent publicity about the camp prompted a Belmont North man, Mr Bob Saunders, to talk about his strange experience.

In the 1950s Mr Sanders was a member of the Church of England Boys Society, which had bought the property in 1946 for 450. 'I was about 14 or 15, and my friends and I used to go to Yondaio nearly every weekend to camp,' he said.

'One day some of my friends found a black rubber dinghy in the bush just up from the beach. 'We thought that was pretty strange, because most rubber dinghies are coloured, to be seen. 'Later we wondered if perhaps it had not been meant to be seen at all.' Mr Sanders said that when the boat was moved it started to disintegrate.

'It seemed to be pretty old,' he said. The mystery deepened when the boys found a cloth-wrapped parcel in the boat. 'When we opened it up, we found a machine gun.'

'Mr Sanders said the wooden parts of the gun had deteriorated badly, but emblazoned across the gun the name 'Spandau' clearly appeared. Spandau was the Berlin suburb containing arms factories in World War II and was the name given by Allied soldiers to some German machineguns.

It was a tripod-mounted gun, and Mr Sanders said the boys told few friends of their discovery, hiding the gun in the bushes and returning to play with it on weekends. 'Eventually someone else must have found it,' Mr Sanders said.

Yondaio had been home to an Australian military installation during the war, and the boys used to play in the area of what they called the 'radar base', 'It was made up of concrete igloo-shaped buildings with a terrific ocean view. The igloo buildings were surrounded by machinegun pill-boxes,' Mr Sanders said.

The installation is marked as 'the old radar station' on present-day maps of Yondaio's walking trails. But little can be discovered about how a German Spandau machinegun came to be hidden in a decaying rubber dingy in the bush of Yondaio.

Mr Sanders said that as a youth he imagined that because Yondaio provided the nearest beach to the radar station the two were inextricably linked; perhaps a spy or commando unit had come ashore one moonless night.

But now even the scant evidence he found is gone, and the mystery will probably remain unsolved.



Was it German Commandoes or a landing party from a German ship or was it connected to reports of Japanese reserve rations being found on nearby Redhead Beach and the possible presence in vicinity of Redhead of a small party of Japanese. Did the Japanese use German machine guns? Or was it a landing party from the rogue German U Boat, U-862, captained by Korvetten Kapitan Heinrich Timm that operated in Australian waters during WWII?

Another person called Rod told that a friend he had worked with called Eddie (who died in about 2002) said that he found a boat in the bush near Catherine Hill Bay. The boat had deteriorated and was falling apart when they found it. It contained a machine gun. They hid the machine gun. Later on someone stole the machine gun from where they had hidden it. Catherine Hill Bay is about 30km south of Newcastle on the coast. 208 Radar Station, Swansea (RAAF) is located near Catherine Hill Bay.

Redhead Beach and 208 Radar Station are about 10 miles apart. Yandaio is apparently located about half a mile north of Catherine Hill Bay.



I'd like to thank Geoff Russell, Graeme Steinbeck and Dan Mills for their assistance with this web page.


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 8 January 2007

This page last updated 14 January 2020