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B-24 (A72-88) Found In Northern Territory

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2006 2:23 am
by Daniel Leahy
An article was recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald about the 'discovery' of 24 Squadron Liberator A72-88.
Bush gives up secrets of the war

By Lindsay Murdoch in Hayes Creek
December 30, 2005

THE bush has kept the crash site of Flight-Lieutenant Arthur Cambridge's B-24 bomber a secret from all but a handful of people for 60 years.

"I'm very selective who I bring here," said war historian Raymond "Doc" Doherty.

"If this place was accessible to the souvenir collectors, there would be nothing left."

Most of the remains of the RAAF bomber that crashed in the Northern Territory near the end of World War II are scattered over a few hundred metres of isolated bush about 160 kilometres south of Darwin. A section of the fuselage is still intact.

"Nine of the air crew survived but two died in the crash," said Mr Doherty, who runs tours of a largely unknown complex of paved airstrips and abandoned military bases near the Stuart Highway town of Hayes Creek.

Mr Doherty, a former Royal Australian Navy serviceman, said there was renewed interest in the mostly overgrown sites that were built initially to accommodate the US Army Air Corps 380th Bombardment Group B-24 Liberator Squadron. Later RAAF bombers also used them.

"I'm getting relatives of ex-Second World War servicemen and women coming up saying their father or brother or whoever served at these bases, and they want to have a look," Mr Doherty said. "But most people don't realise how massive these bases were, from which US and Australian planes flew off to bomb the Japanese.

"What is also not widely known is that Japanese bombers and fighter planes attacked the bases after being struck hard by the bombers that flew from them."

Mr Doherty's late father, James, worked as a mechanic at Fenton Field, one of the areas biggest airstrips of the time, prompting his interest in the history of the bases.

Mr Doherty relives the crash of Flight-Lieutenant Cambridge's bomber as he drives visitors along deep rutted tracks to the crash site "somewhere near Fenton Field".

The crew encountered fierce storms while flying to and from waters near the Indonesian island of Flores, where they bombed and sank a Japanese warship on February 2, 1945.

Mr Doherty said the storms apparently increased the fuel consumption of the four engines.

As the plane returned to Fenton just before midnight, the air control tower advised that the plane was too far west. As the pilots brought the plane around again, its engines spluttered out.

Mr Doherty said Flight-Lieutenant Cambridge skilfully kept the bomber on a even keel as it crashed through nine-metre trees at 145kmh. "Sadly, Flight-Lieutenant Parkinson and Flight Officer Pitt perished in the nose.

"I visit this site regularly, especially on Anzac Day.

"It's very special."
The article can be found online at: ... 94087.html

A profile of the loss can also be found at the Oz@War website:

Posted: Sat Mar 25, 2006 7:25 am
by Colin C Tigwell
When I was based in Darwin in 1961, I visited the site, however the centre wreckage was guarded by two rather large snakes.

Pays to get all the good oil when one goes visiting.


Col Tigwell