Tag Archives: World War Two
Meet the woman preserving Horn Island’s most significant Word War II sites – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
My first official duty with ABC Kimberley in Broome was to MC the unveiling of a memorial to an RAAF crew lost 70 years ago to the day.
Flight Sergeants Ronald Smith and Ronald Kerrigan took off from Broome early one morning in September 1944 – their RAAF Beaufighter crashed into the sea off Cable Beach just minutes into the flight. The wreckage – and their bodies – were not found.
In 2012, helicopter pilot and experienced wreck hunter Jim Miles teamed up with local historian Dion Marinis and they began looking for the downed aircraft. After months of searching, they found what’s left of the plane just two kilometres offshore. It’s still not clear what caused it to crash, but an engine failure is the most probable explanation. Now, 70 years after the event, relatives and friends of the two airmen were able to gather at Cable Beach for the dedication of a memorial in their honour.
It was a very moving event – and a special moment for Jim and Dion – listen to them talk about the search for RAAF Beaufighter A19-163, and about what else might be found along the Kimberley coast.[audio https://rdontheroad.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/breakfast-beauf.mp3|bg=0x0000ff|righticon=0xff0000]
Anzac Day services and commemorations will be held across far north Queensland tomorrow. Regular Anzac services have been held at Aurukun, on western Cape York Peninsula, for some time now – but this year they’re unveiling a memorial to indigenous men from the community who served in Australia’s defence during World War Two.
On September 13 1943, eleven men from the remote inidgenous community enlisted and joined the Torres Strait Light Infantry. An Australian Water Transport Group vessel had visited Aurukun, Weipa and Mapoon, specifically to recruit Aboriginal men. Many of those men had worked in the pearling lugger fleets that plied Torres Strait in those days. The military placed a high value on their knowledge of the remote Cape country & the challenging seas around Cape York.
Exact details of their military service are not known, but the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion played a vital role in protecting the maritime borders of far north Queensland and supporting the effort against Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea. It’s not well known that after Darwin, Horn Island, in the Torres Strait, was the second most attacked piece of Australian territory during WW2. In all, 870 men from Cape York & Torres Strait served with the Light Infantry.
The plaque lists the 11 men from Aurukun who joined up. They were:
Charlie Bob Ngakyunkwokka
Billy Buttons Woolla
Johnnie Lac Lac Ampeybegan
Billy Panjee Peinkyekka
The threat posed by Japanese forces to northern Australia back then was very real. The Royal Australian Air Force established a radar station at Wutan, at the Archer River mouth, in 1943. There were many stories told about a Japanese submarine attempting to get into the Archer River from the Gulf of Carpentaria. The western Cape then, as now, is sparsely populated, and military historians say Japan had considered the area as a place to get into Australia.
LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Linda Sivyer talk about the military service of the Aurukun men during World War 2.
Linda Sivyer works at Aurukun Shire Council and co-ordinates the Anzac Day ceremony at Aurukun. She’s lived there for 20 years and has extensively researched the history of the region.
Anzac Day 2013 at Aurukun – photos by Melanie Shaddock – teacher at Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy – Aurukun Campus