THE SALVAGE IN 1992
Sunken treasure ... World War II historian Terry Kelly (now deceased) is hoping to find some flying relics after the 20 - 30 m of water is dredged out
Mystery over hole
Southern Star - A Quest Community Newspaper
By Celia Feil
Wednesday, September 9, 1992
HUMAN bodies, World War II planes and other historical items may be uncovered from an old quarry site in Acacia Ridge. Decades of intrigue and speculation surround the massive water-filled hole next to Brandon Oval on Mortimer Road.
But World War Il historian Terry Kelly is about to put an end to the speculation.
Having been granted salvage rights from the Brisbane City Council, Mr Kelly is pumping the water from the quarry to find out "what is really down there".
Homicide squad detectives are on hand should any bodies be found.
"I stumbled across this site 12 months ago while studying archive material about the area," Mr Kelly said.
"There are so many rumors as to what's down there. Stories range from the Titanic anchor to UFOs," he said.
But Mr Kelly, who has travelled to 83 countries during the past 30 years in search of World War II planes and other relics, is convinced there is "something down there" and has spent several thousands of dollars to find out.
Since last Wednesday water has been pumped from the massive hole, which is believed to be 20 to 30 metres deep.
By Monday the water level had dropped about five metres and Mr Kelly had salvaged two Rolls Royce Merlin engine mounts and under carriage legs from a Mosquito bomber.
"This area was used by the Americans during World War II," Mr Kelly said.
"Rumor has it they dumped old planes and all sorts of junk down here."
The quarry was operational in the early 1900's when it was mined for blue metal.
Because of its close proximity to the Archerfield Aerodrome, the area surrounding the quarry became a base for American soldiers, called Camp Muckley.
Mr Kelly said he was told by a long-term local resident there was a Dehavilland 89 Dragon in the quarry.
Should any planes be salvaged from the quarry, Mr Kelly plans to restore them to their original condition.
"I've got files on every aircraft that has come out of any ocean or lake since 1972. They have been restored to as good as new," Mr Kelly said.
"There could be millions of dollars worth of planes down there, we just don't know."
Southern Star - A Quest Community Newspaper
EXCLUSIVE By Celia Feil
16 September 1992
HUNDREDS of locals watched in anticipation as historian Terry Kelly salvaged machine guns and parts of World War II planes from the old quarry site in Mortimer Rd, Acacia Ridge last week.
Mr Kelly started pumping water from the huge 30m-deep ex-quarry two weeks ago after getting salvage rights from the Brisbane City Council.
Extensive draining at the weekend lowered the water level to just metres from the bottom as World War II history was resurrected.
Aviation treasures such as a Spitfire Mark 5C blade, 1936 Tiger Moth wings, a 1947 Lincoln bomber cockpit frame, a Mosquito belly and a Dehavilland Dragon wing spar lay embanked on the muddy edges of the quarry.
Other World War II items uncovered from the quarry included six Thomson sub machine guns, a Winchester 12 guage shotgun complete with shells, brass plaques from Tiger Moth aircraft, a Spitfire gun sight, a Verey parachute flare pistol and a 50-year-old oxygen cylinder still full of oxygen.
A 1936 Wolsley lay half submerged in mud as did other abandoned vehicles.
Crowds lined the fence to watch the salvage process, sharing stories of what they believed might yet be found in the hole.
"This is the biggest aeronautical archeological find in the world for many years," Mr Kelly said.
"So far we've just picked the surface."
On Monday a 55 tonne crane was brought in to lift aircraft remains, cars and "whatever else is down there".
"There are boxes of tools down there. I want them for the restoration of World War II aircraft and I plan to give some to museums all around Australia," Mr Kelly said.
Mr Kelly will donate 40 per cent of his findings to the State Museum.
"I want the public to be able to enjoy looking at what we find down here."
Mr Kelly said he was surprised by the amount of public interest and support for the massive salvage project.
The use of pumps was donated by local firms Coates and Hanson Sykes and cranes have been supplied free of charge by Brambles and Lindores.
Donations of food, diesel fuel and more than $600 from local businesses and individuals have assisted Mr Kelly in financing what has been a very expensive project.
"The pumps cost me $15 5 a day in fuel," he said.
"The community support has been fantastic and I really want to thank everyone for their generosity."
Local police provide 24-hour security at the site where Mr Kelly has been living for the past two weeks.
Homicide squad detectives are on hand following rumors that human bodies had been dumped in the water. As yet they have not sighted any bodies.
Quarry memories flood back
Historian Terry Kelly nears the end of his pumping efforts
An abandoned car plays host to mud.
PADDY Boyle of Acacia Ridge well remembers the day in 1936 when three Tiger Moth aircraft collided in mid-air.
"They wound up in the quarry," Paddy, 61, said.
Last week's exclusive Southern Star report on the draining of the quarry at Acacia Ridge prompted much response from local residents, many of whom reported eye-witnesses accounts of World War II planes being dumped into the hole.
Others claim knowledge of corpses, World War II machine guns, tools and cars.
Local police believe at least six stolen safes will be uncovered by historian Terry Kelly, who was granted salvage rights to the former quarry on Mortimer Rd.
Accounts of three moth aircraft crashing in mid-air above Archerfield and later dumped in the quarry were confirmed by three different sources, as was the sighting of a Stinson which crashed after take-off.
Others claim a Liberator and a B-17 bomber will also be found in the quarry.
Lex McFarlane recalled the days when he and his friends swam in the quarry and "dished out all sorts of stuff"'.
"I've lived in Acacia Ridge since 1952," Lex said.
"When we were kids we used to dive into the quarry and find machine guns dumped there by the Americans. We'd take them home and play cowboys with them.
"Every kid who lived in Acacia Ridge had a machine gun from the quarry."
Paddy Boyle remembers the day a pilot was doing a mail run from Sydney to Brisbane in a Stinson and crashed at the end of the airstrip.
"It also got dropped in here," Paddy said.
"We used to swim in here as kids. Once I swam past a boy on a log in the middle of the quarry. He was yelling "help, help, my brother's gone down and I can't swim'. I tried to get him but I couldn't. He drowned in there and they never found his body."
Bill Benson is an American historian with first-hand experience.
Bill served under General Douglas MacArthur with the US Air Force from 1942 to 1944. He later married an Australian girl and settled in Brisbane.
Among his treasure trove of war stories was the sighting of six C46 Curtis Commandos which crash landed but only suffered minor damage. Bill saw the planes being dumped into the hole.
An airport fuel tanker which caught on fire also shared a similar fate, he said.
Calamvale resident Cyril Sims, 85, lived on the property adjoining the quarry in the early 1910s.
"The railway used to run right up to the quarry,"" Cyril recalled.
I remember the Saturday that Forgan Smith was elected as premier, a Stinson loaded with newspapers crashed outside the aero- drome and ended up In the quarry. (Possibly around 29 March 1942 - see e-mails below from Denis Elwood)
It will be interesting to see what they find in there."
Grace Johnston, 75, of Acacia Ridge said her late husband worked on the canteen at the American Air Force Base at Archerfield
"He saw truckloads of stuff taken fro the aerodrome to the quarry. The Americans dumped everything they didn't want in the there - aeroplane parts, trucks, everything."
Subject: Brisbane quarry
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2000 00:40:02 EST
On this fascinating page is one heading "Quarry Memories flood back", and a witness linking the crash of a Stinson loaded with newspapers, to the date that "Forgan Smith" was elected.
This would appear to be William Forgan Smith, who served as premier of Queensland from 1/6/32 to 16/9/42. However these are the start and end of his tenure of office, and do not give the dates of any elections at which he was returned to office during this whole term. This detail may be available from the State Electoral Commission.
Subject: Brisbane Quarry
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 2000 07:34:52 EST
Thanks for your acknowledgement of my earlier information about the quarry with aircraft parts, etc. The date of a Queensland State General Election that could fit the date of the Stinson crash (supplied today by the Electoral Commission of Queensland, contact John Janssen-Groesbeek) was 29 March, 1942.
Machine gun find
HEAVY calibre machine guns valued at more than $I million have been salvaged from the old quarry site at Mortimer Rd, Acacia Ridge.
Historian Terry Kelly has found 52 World War II machine guns, including Hispanos and Browning 50 calibre automatics, valued at between $30,000 and $40,000 each.
"You can't buy these anywhere in the world," he said.
"I could only sell them to bonafide collectors of heavy automatic guns."
He said the oxy-acetylened Hispanos were used on Mosquito fighter bombers during World War II.
The massive salvage project has generated much public interest from World War II buffs and local residents.
On Sunday afternoon more than 200 people gathered as Mr Kelly auctioned the "unwanted items" salvaged from the hole, raising money to buy fuel for the pumps.
"Thanks to the public support we have raised almost $900," Mr Kelly said.
-We have auctioned the stuff that is not suitable for the museum."
Mr Kelly said he had made some " Incredible finds" in the past week, and was hopeful of finding many more valuable pieces and possibly World War II planes.
" We've still just scratched the surface. We could be here for months yet. Maybe even a year."
Mr Kelly started pumping water from the huge 30m-deep former quarry three weeks ago after being granted salvage rights from the Brisbane City Council.
A 55-tonne crane was used to lift a 1937 Wolsley and other heavy items from the hole.
Parts of a Dehavilland Dragon, four armor-plated Mosquito bomber pilot's seats, the front nose of a Lincoln bomber and a P39 Airo Cobra door were also salvaged from the site.
"Your Say" Column
Southern Star - A Quest Community Newspaper
23 September 1992
It will be interesting to learn what Terry Kelly finds in the old quarry hole near Brandon Oval (Star, September 9).
I worked at Archerfield in the late 1940's and early 1950's when United States personnel had gone but, the Camp Muckley huts across Mortimer Road were being used as temporary accommodation in the post-war housing shortage.
Quite a few children from there used to swim in the quarry hole in spit of the danger notice on its bank.
I remember on one occasion seeing police with a small boat trying to recover a man's body with a grapnel.
This was continually getting caught in the junk on the bottom.
As for a De Havilland Dragon, one made a crash landing near the quarry hole while taking off from Archerfield in the early 1950's, but I don't know whether the wreckage finished up in the hole.
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 15 November 1998
This page last updated 14 September 2018