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Photo by Jim Thornton

Hangar at Daly Waters airfield on 17 July 2002


Following photos provided by Jim Thornton

dalywaters02.jpg (29434 bytes) Old panel inside the above hangar on 17 July 2002
dalywaters03.jpg (48347 bytes) Closer view of old panel inside the above hangar
dalywaters04.jpg (49566 bytes) Inside the Daly Water Hotel. A sign from the original Daly Waters Post Office 5760, built in the 1950's on the corner of Forrest St. and Daly Tce. is seen hanging inside the Hotel.


Carson's Field, Katherine Airfield and Daly Waters Airfield were designed to operate heavy B-24 Liberator bombers. However there were never any aircraft squadrons based at Carson's Field and the airfield was never used operationally during WW2.

34 Squadron RAAF drove from Darwin's Parap airfield to Daly Waters airfield in the Northern Territory on 5 March 1942 where they established their Headquarters in a tent. From here they carried out freight flights to Batchelor, Birdum, Darwin and Millingimbi

Fighter aircraft and light bombers, originally destined for the Philippines were diverted to Brisbane and Townsville. Once assembled they would be flown west for the journey to Darwin (Base Section One). From Brisbane they would fly 400 miles due west to Charleville. Then a further 550 miles to Cloncurry, still in Queensland. Aircraft assembled in Townsville would fly 400 miles directly to Cloncurry. The next leg was a 500 mile hop to Daly Waters in the Northern Territory and then finally the leg to Darwin. The following are details of 3 groups of aircraft that travelled to Darwin via Daly Waters.


Brereton Route via Daly Waters


On 8 March 1942, Captain James Selman took off from Williamtown airfield with 25 Kittyhawks of the 9th Pursuit Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group to traverse the Brereton Route headed for Darwin. 

After some mishaps on the way, the remaining 19 of the 25 Kittyhawks continued the hop to Daly Waters on 14 March 1942. During scattered thunderstorms, four Kittyhawks became separated and when low on fuel, they eventually landed on an isolated sheep station way off the Brereton Route. These four aircraft were recovered later. The other 15 Kittyhawks managed to land at Daly Waters in between passing rain storms. They radioed Melbourne again and were reminded that they must reach Darwin as soon as possible. A three day stopover at Daly Waters allowed much needed repairs to their weary aircraft.

On 17 March 1942, Lieutenant Spehr was on a test flight. He attempted an aerobatic barrel roll at low altitude. Unfortunately his engine stalled and his Kittyhawk crashed to the ground and burst into flames not far from Daly Waters airfield. Spehr was killed immediately and was buried in the small local cemetery that evening.

Unfortunately, there was another serious accident at Daly Waters. 2nd Lieutenant Sid Woods made a crash landing on his arrival at Daly Waters. The Kittyhawk was written off and Woods' injuries caused him to be incapacitated for one month.

The 64th Bomb Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group were based at Daly Waters from 16 May 1942 until 2 August 1942.


14 Mar 42 Cloncurry - Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk Lost & out of fuel, forced landing at sheep station
14 Mar 42 Cloncurry - Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk Lost & out of fuel, forced landing at sheep station
14 Mar 42 Cloncurry - Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk Lost & out of fuel, forced landing at sheep station
14 Mar 42 Cloncurry - Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk Lost & out of fuel, forced landing at sheep station
17 Mar 42 Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk Pilot Lt. Spehr killed
aft 18 Mar 42 Daly Waters USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk crash landing, pilot 2nd Lt. Sid Woods
abt Jun 44 near Daly Waters RAAF LF.VIII Spitfire A58-359 (JG355)
abt Aug 44 Daly Waters RAAF F.VC Spitfire A58-5 (AR558)



Subject:    Daly Waters - Cemetery
Date:             Wed, 4 Oct 2000 21:41:54 +1000
From:           "Darryl Price" <theshed@maxspeed.net.au>


Found your contact from an enquiry about Daly Waters. I lived in Daly waters from '86 to 90, then worked in the area on and of until 1996.

During that time myself, the publican (Bruce Caterer), Locky Mckinnon, and I think also Fred Days located the graves near the old telegraph station using a page from a surveyors field book. We know there were 3 people who were speared on the Roper buried there. The area defined by the remains of the head and foot posts located was fenced off by a (I think) steel pipe fence.

There was always always talk of a plane which was put down in the vicinity of the airfield. This was supposedly in substantially original condition. A couple of us looked when we were out and about over the years but found nothing. There was even a plane hunter looking for museum pieces who knew the story and type of plane etc. I heard that one of the blokes found it from the air not too long after I left.

When I worked in the pub there we would always get old fellas in who had been to Daly Waters during the war and wanted to find particular points where they had been camped at the airport. One guy had buried his pistol all wrapped up and was hoping to find it by memory.

I always loved the place, there was a sense that so much more had happened there than was readily apparent. If you know any good info sources for the airstrip history or have any info yourself I'd like to hear of it. No-one I' ve spoken to knows anything of a "town cemetery" so I guess what we located must be it. Still if there is a burial ground anywhere else (such as the airstrip) it'd be a worthwhile thing to locate.

Hope some of this is of interest.


Darryl Price


Can you help me with more information on Daly Waters airfield



I'd like to thank Jim Thornton for providing the above photographs from Daly Waters.


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

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 Peter Dunn OAM 2020


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This page first produced 6 October 2000

This page last updated 22 February 2020