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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cities of the Underworld - History Channel

For those of you in Australia who have Foxtel or Austar or similar, there is a
special Australian session of "Cities of the Underworld" on the History Channel on Monday 9 March at 8:30pm titled "Alcatraz Down Under". There is an encore screening on Saturday 15 March at 6:30pm.

You need to check the times as I am not aware if they are Eastern Standard Time or Daylight Saving Time. Probably the latter.

In addition to covering a 19th century prison that once housed Sydney's most threatening criminals, Host Don Wildman heads underground with surviving witnesses to uncover the location of a secret WWII chemical weapons stash and gets access to a sordid subterranean fort in Sydney where soldiers en route to the battlefields of Vietnam were trained to resist torture.

Presenter Don Wildman filmed segments for the episode in early November 2008, providing an interesting diversion for Sunday morning shoppers in Glenbrook village before interviewing two former RAAF armourers at the old Glenbrook railway tunnel.

The History Channel’s small Los Angeles crew also filmed segments at Cockatoo Island, Middle Head and the Abercrombie Caves during their Australian visit.

"Cities of the Underworld" is always a very interesting show to watch at any time.

Please click on the link above to see a History Channel web page about "Cities of the Underworld - Alcatraz Down Under".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

WWII Bomb in Classroom

Two Japanese boys have brought a World War II bomb to class, flustering teachers on the island of Okinawa, which was the scene of the Pacific conflict's bloodiest battle.

Please click on the link above to see an ABC News web page about a WWII bomb in a Japanese classroom.

Gould Airfield

The Northern Territory's World War II Gould Airfield and Camp near Batchelor could soon become heritage listed.

Please click on the link above to see an ABC News web page about the Gould Airfield.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

DVD - "Black Jack's Last Mission"

The chance discovery of a World War II bomber
off New Guinea leads to an amazing true adventure story ....

Explore the complete history of Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress #41-24521 known as "Black Jack" and "The Joker's Wild".

This fantastic DVD "Black Jack's Last Mission" was produced by acclaimed author Steve Birdsall. If you have an interest in adventure, aircraft wrecks, SCUBA diving or B-17's, you will enjoy this DVD.

Rod Pearce found #41-24521 lying deep in the waters off New Guinea in December 1986.

Please click on the link above to see a new web page about the DVD "Black Jack's Last Mission".

Crash of a B-17 in sea near Cairns 16 August 1942

I have just carried out an update on my web page on the above crash.

Using snippets of information already available, I have done some detective work on the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) web site, the Townsville US Cemetery records that I have and the Ipswich Cemetery records that I have, to determine who may have been on board this B-17 when it crashed killing all its occupants.

Please click on the links above to see my updated web page on the the crash of B-17 Flying Fortress #41-2434 and web pages on the Townsville US Cemetery and the Ipswich US Cemetery.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Vist to B-17 crash site by the son of a crash survivor

In January 1943 United States Air Force B-17E Flying Fortress #41-9234 was skilfully crash landed by pilot Lieutenant Ray Dau just out of Wau in New Guinea.

The wreckage of this B-17 has acquired the unofficial name of "The Ghost of Black Cat Pass".

Click here for an article on "Adventure Tourism in Papua New Guinea" which describes an emotional journey by the son of crewman Ted Fulton back to the crash site of this B-17.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crash of an Avro Anson near Parham in South Australia

Avro Anson W-2556 of 6 Service Flying Training School (6 SFTS) at Mallala, SA crashed near Parham on the east coast of St. Vincent's Gulf, in South Australia on 14 July 1943.

Five RAAF Personnel were initially listed as missing and eventually as presumed dead.

Please click on the link above to see an new web page on the the crash of Avro Anson W-2556.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crash of a Beaufort at Cockle Bay, Magnetic Island

I have just done some more research on the crash of Beaufort A9-26 at Cockle Bay, Magnetic Island just off Townsville on 22 October 1942.

It crashed during a practice bombing run on the rusting hulk of an old ship in Cockle Bay. It struck one of the ships masts.

The RAAF accident report only shows three RAAF members being killed in this tragic accident. I have since found that an American officer was a passenger on the aircraft and was also killed.

Please click on the link above to see an updated web page on the the crash of Beaufort A9-26.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Navy League

A Branch of Britain's Navy League was established in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia on 26 November 1901. It was called the North Tasmanian Branch. Branches were also started in Sydney and Melbourne. These organisations were designed to encourage young men to take an interest in the sea and nautical affairs. These small branches of the United Kingdom Navy League were the forerunner of the Navy League of Australia.

Please click on the link above to see a new web page on the Navy League.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

WESC and the WRANS

The Women's Emergency Signalling Corps (WESC) was established by Mrs Florence Violet McKenzie ("Mrs. Mac") in 1939. The WESC was a civilian voluntary organisation which offered free training in telegraphic and visual signalling for recruits wishing to enter the defence forces and the Merchant Navy.

"Mrs Mac" and 14 ladies from the WESC were the nucleus for the formation of the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) in April 1941.

Please click on the links above to see a new web page on the WESC and the WRANS.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Australian Air League

I have just uploaded a new web page on the Australian Air League.

This was a voluntary organisation formed in 1934 to assist the Australian government with the training of pilots for the peaceful development or defence of Australia.

Its motto was "To Foster a Spirit of Air-mindedness in the Youth of Australia".

The Australian Air League was just one of many civilian volunteer organisations that contributed to the war effort in Australia during WWII.

Please click on the links above to see a new web page on the Australian Air League and a web page listing some of the other civilian organisations which contributed to the war effort in Australia during WWII.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Australian Women's Flying Club during WWII

I have just uploaded a new web page on the Australian Women's Flying Club (AWFC).

Australian Aviatrix, Nancy-Bird Walton, was a founding member of the Australian Women's Flying Club (AWFC) which was formed in Sydney on 6 July 1938.

The late Nancy-Bird Walton was also the New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Commandant, of the Women's Air Training Corps (WATC) from 25 July 1942 to 1 November 1944.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nancy Bird Walton died two days ago

Amongst all of her other accomplishments in her life, Nancy-Bird Walton was the New South Wales (NSW) and Australian Commandant of the Women's Air Training Corps (WATC) from 25 July 1942 to 1 November 1944.

Nancy Bird Walton
16 October 1915 - 13 January 2009

Please click on the links above to see my new web page on Nancy Bird Walton and an updated web page on the WATC.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WWII Ammo dug up near Hendra during Roadworks

I have just uploaded a new web page about some WWII Ammunition being exposed during roadworks in 2003 near the Airport Roundabout on the Gateway Motorway in the suburb of Hendra in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. This area was surrounded by WWII Military camps and was very close to the WWII Eagle Farm Airfield.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Web Page on Sinking of Montevideo Maru

A new website has been created by a group of dedicated individuals with a mission to ensure those brave men who lived and served on the Islands of New Britain, New Ireland and the surrounding Islands of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea will never be forgotten.

This dedicated group is in the process of forming the Montevideo Maru Foundation which will be used to increase public awareness of Australia’s Greatest Maritime Disaster and garner support for a search to locate the wreck where so many Australian men lay forgotten.

It was on the 1 July 1942 that the American submarine USS Sturgeon sighted the Japanese transport ship "Montevideo Maru" of some 7,267 ton which she sent to the bottom at 0240 hours. The skipper Lt. Comdr.William L Wright, did not know, that the transport was at that time carrying some 1,035 passengers, made up of Australian Army Personal, from the 2/22 Battalion of the 8th Division, Australian Army and also some Army Nurses and other civilian's personal that were being transferred to Japan.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

You can Subscribe to my "Australia @ War" Blog by e-mail now

Just a short note to let you know that you can also now subscribe to new entries in my Blog via e-mail.

Go to my Australia @ War web site and use the Subscribe box near the top of the screen.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pilots Briefing by Jack Heyn for today's 13th Bomb Squadron

Jack Heyn, a veteran of the WWII 13th Bomb Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group, of the Fifth Air Force was invited to the reactivation of the 13th Bomb Squadron on 23 September 2005 at Whiteman Air Base, MO.

Their mascot "Oscar", once again, reactivated. The new 13th Bomb Squadron fly the
B-2 Stealth Bomber!

Some time after that reactivation ceremony, Colonel Eldridge, the Squadron Commander, asked Jack if he could provide some WW II Squadron incidents/stories that he could use at the Friday morning Pilot's meetings. Over a period of a couple of months Jack Heyn sent 29 such "Pilot Briefings" to Colonel Eldridge.

Melanie Holmes, at the National WW II Museum in New Orleans has just recently produced a home for Jack's "Pilot Briefings".

Go to the this link at National WW II Museum web page and read one of Jack's "Pilot Briefings". A link at the top of that web page will take you to all of the other "Pilot Briefings".

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Test Blog from my Ipod

Sent from my Ipod Touch using a new Application called iBlogger which I have just downloaded from the Apps Store. I'm lying on the couch in the lounge room at the moment with my iPod Touch connected to the Internet via my wireless modem.

Seems to work OK so far.

Australia @ War

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coastal Radio Service under RAN control in WWII

During my exploratory visits in the Townsville area looking for new WWII sites, I stumbled across this rather strange concrete structure in Victoria Park at South Townsville a few years ago.

I had no idea what it was until recently. I believe it was the base for a large steel radio mast for the Townsville Radio Station which was located in the reinforced concrete building which is now Souths Football Club House in Victoria Park. The
Townsville Radio Station was established by the Coastal Radio Service in 1913.

During WWII it came under the control of the Royal Australian Navy.

The US Army also established what they called Camp Victoria Park near this Radio Station during WWII.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Army Command and Administrative Network (ACAN)

Have just published a new web page on ACAN.

The US Army Signal Corps established a radio network in Australia known as Army Command and Administrative Network (ACAN) with radio stations located in Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, Sydney and Darwin.

This network was also used to provide a telephone voice scrambling circuit at General MacArthur's GHQ SWPA known as SIGSALY (Green Hornet). This highly classified voice circuit was not declassified until around 1976.

Stuart Highway North "The Track"

Here's a new web page on "The Track", the 1500 kms of road built between Alice Springs and Darwin during WWII

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Volunteers sought by Catalina Flying Memorial

The Catalina Flying Memorial is now looking for volunteers to help maintain and fly their PBY 6A (VH-CAT) Catalina while it is resident at Bankstown.

If you are interested in helping out, please go to

And for the latest newsletter go to:-

Catalina Flying Memorial Ltd
ACN 103 492 440
Building 2, Ground Floor
35-41 Waterloo Rd
Macquarie Park NSW 2113
Ph: 02 9870 7277
Fax: 02 9870 7299

Memorial Ceremony for Wing Commander Charles Learmonth DFC and Bar

On 8th December 2008, a memorial ceremony for Wing Commander Charles Learmonth DFC and Bar was held at RAAF Base Learmonth. Relatives attending included John Learmonth from UK, and Charles Learmonth’s niece Kathy Baulch, and nephew John Baulch, both from Victoria. The gathering included an RAAF contingent, Army, RSL, the Shire President, CEO, Councillors, and people from the Shire. Guests arrived to the strains of Andre Rieu’s emotive recording of Waltzing Matilda.

The ceremony was held at the Memorial Cairn at the north end of the runway, and was ably supported by the base caretaker, Flight Sergeant Les Johnston, who also acted as MC. The memorial was first dedicated in 1972, by Charles Learmonth’s widow, Marjorie Le Souef. The couple met in 1940, while Charles was based at RAAF Pearce. Marjorie joined up as a VAD nurse, and was due to be posted overseas, but Pearl Harbor changed all that, and the couple married in March 1942. A few months later, Charles was posted to New Guinea.

In a moving and emotional ceremony, retired airline pilot Charles Page said, “It’s now forty one years since I landed an MMA DC3 at Learmonth. Since then I have flown overhead many times in 707s or 747s, but only recently, did I learn why the airfield was so named. Charles Learmonth flew in the air search for HMAS Sydney, fought in the New Guinea air war, the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, and was killed in a tragic Beaufort accident near Rottnest Island in 1944. He inspired great loyalty, and it has been a privilege to write his story.” Charles Page is the author of Wings of Destiny, a biography of the famous WWII flyer.

In his address to the gathering, Wing Commander Murray described Charles Learmonth as a true hero. His views were echoed by Exmouth Shire President, Veronica Fleay, who made a gracious speech, and quoted from a eulogy by Air Marshal Sir Valston Hancock, and a letter by Korean War ace, Group Captain Les Reading. John Learmonth spoke eloquently of Charles Learmonth, and gave some readings from Wings of Destiny, while John Baulch told the gathering of his family’s pride in the memory of Charles Learmonth. The Reverend Alan McMahon then gave a moving recital of the aviator’s poem “High Flight”, after which the ‘Evening Hymn’, ‘Last Post’, and ‘Sunset’ were played. The ceremony concluded with wreath laying and a stirring flypast by Norwest Air Work.

The Learmonth relatives then made a memorial flight over the airfield, and around the North-West Cape. After returning to Perth, they visited the Aviation Heritage Museum at Bull Creek, which has a display and memorial to Charles Learmonth. The Learmonth relatives wish to thank the RAAF, Flight Sergeant Johnston, and the Shire of Exmouth for making their visit so special.