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RAAF April 1942
Stan Gajda Sept 1979
|Pilot Ivan Smirnoff (survived)
Passenger Mrs. Van Thuyne and her baby (died of wounds)
Force Landed March 3, 1942
Built by Douglas. Purchased by Koninklijk Luchtvaart Mishapping (KLM) Royal Dutch Airlines and registered as PK-AFV. Prewar, this aircraft operated in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).
On March 3, 1942 took off from Java with civilian passengers being evacuated and cargo including a box of diamonds. When this DC-3 arrived in the vicinity of Broome during the Japanese air raid and was intercepted by A6M2 Zeros from 3rd Kokutai (3rd Air Group). Hit by gunfire, the left engine was set on fire. During the attack two of the passengers, Mrs. Van Thuyne and her baby were hit in the chest by a bullet and died. Damaged, the DC-3 made an emergency landing on the beach at the north side of Carnot Bay approximately sixty miles north of Broome. When it landed, the plane sank into the wet sand and swung into the surf which was at high tide that extinguished the left engine fire.
Fates of the Crew
After the crash, the surviving crew and passengers remained with the aircraft to await rescue. On March 4, 1942 a H6K2 Mavis on a reconnaissance mission spotted the crash site and dropped at least two 65kg bombs. On March 7, 1942 or March 8, 1942 the survivors were rescued. A box of diamonds was accidentally left at the crash site.
After the rescue, Australian Jack Palmer found the plane before a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) salvage team arrived in April 1942. Inside the fuselage, he found the box of diamonds and gave many away to Aboriginal women he befriended. He kept quite a few and only surrendered some to the authorities later.
During April 1942, a RAAF salvage crew arrived at the DC-3. They dismantled the wreckage and removed the wings and salvaged any usable parts. Their work completed, they attempted to set the wreck on fire, but it failed to burn.
In the postwar years, this aircraft has become known as the "Diamond DC-3" or Diamond Dakota". Until 1970, the stripped fuselage remained on the beach until when some survey people blew it up with dynamite. Pieces remain, including the wing center section and leading edge of a wing remain to this day.
Two unexploded 60kg bombs dropped on March 4, 1942 by the H6K2 Mavis remained in the sand nearby. The first was found during 1975 and removed by the Australian Army, defused and put on display at the SAS Barracks in Perth. The second was found in 1979 by Stan Gajda in front of the wreckage and detonated on site in August 1979 and later a fragment was returned to the crew of the Mavis.
Stan Gajda adds:
"I have been to the Diamond DC-3 twice and we found the wreckage easily the first time out in 1977. The second time we found an unexploded 65kg Japanese bomb that was dropped on them by a Mavis. A friend of mine [ Bob Piper ] somehow located two of the Mavis crew in Japan off this plane and gave them a piece of the bomb which was blown up after I reported it.
I must say that the remaining wreckage has many bullet holes in it, all 7.7mm size. The zeros must have run out of 20mm ammo over Broome. At a farm near Broome. are the horizontal stabilizers and elevators, the rudder and a wing tip from this plane, all are covered in bullet holes. When I saw this in 1982 the green and brown camouflage paint was still on the wing tip.
At the site the biggest part is the center wing section still with tires on the wheels. Other bits are scattered about along the beach. There have been many cyclones since the war and I believe that a seismic survey team used up their left-over dynamite when they got to Carnot Bay in 1970 to blow up the fuselage.
I knew an old guy in Derby who had seen some of the diamonds and he told me where they were thrown away. I still have not given away this info and the old guy died years ago now. Treasure hunters under the guise of writing a book about this story contacted me many times to give them leads about the plane wreck and missing diamonds, but I did not help them much."
YouTube - The Diamond Dakota Mystery video by Nick
Thanks to Stan Gajda for additional information and photographs
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