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    Drysdale (Kalumburu) Western Australia Australia
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Stan Gajda 1982

Drysdale is the northernmost settlement in Western Australia in Australia. Inhabited by mostly Aboriginals. Previously known as Drysdale River Mission and today renamed Kalumburu.

Wartime History
During 1943, a small Australian Army base unit and No. 317 Radar Station was established at this location.

In 1951, Drysdale River Mission was officially renamed "Kalumburu". Management of the community was later taken over by Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation, on behalf of the Kalumburu Community Council. The community retains strong links with the OSB, including a priest and several Benedictine nuns Kalumburu is remote from any main roads — the nearest is the Gibb River Road, 270 km to the south via the Kalumburu Road.

Japanese missions against Kalumburu
September 27, 1943 (JAAF / IJN) Twenty one Ki-48-II Lilys from the 75th Sentai took off from Koepang Airfield and were escorted by A6M Zeros from the 202 Kokutai taking off from Penfui Airfield. Detected by radar, Darwin was notified and Spitfires from 452 Squadron took off to intercept, but failed to reach the area in time. Over the target, the Ki-48 made a 40° dive bombing attack against the Drysdale Airfield and Drysdale Mission, each dropping six 50 kg bombs and afterwards strafed the area. The Australians fired ineffective anti-aircraft fire at the attackers. The runway was hit and an ammunition storage hut was set on fire and destroyed. Five were killed on the Drysdale Mission. All of the Japanese planes returned safely, the last Japanese daylight bombing raid over Australia and last flight of Zeros over Australia. After the raid, eighty-six bomb craters were found in the area. Today, there area still a lot of bomb craters about and bomb fragments from this mission.

Stan Gajda adds:
"The Lilys first worked over the airfield and then wheeled around and bombed and straffed the mission. Blew one end out of the church. They were dropping 65kg daisy-cutters and there are still many bomb craters all over the place. At the mission you can still see .303 bullet holes all over the church walls, timbers and gouges in the concrete floor. The organ stall has a projectile stuck in it. The Monastery has bits taken out of the stone walls from flying bomb fragments. I Spent quite a while there looking over these wondrous relics of the Japanese attack on this far-flung outpost way out in the bush in far NW WA. I slept there several nights and even did a bit of work for the people there."

Drysdale Airfield (Drysdale Mission Airfield, Thorold Strip)
RAAF wartime airfield, disused since the war. Located one mile from the mission.

Spitfire Mark Vc Serial Number A58-51
Force landed near Drysdale Airfield, recovered in 1987, displayed at RAAF Museum

Pago Pago Airfield
Single runway built during the war, disused since the war

Air Group 202's Final Escort Mission over Australia by Richard Dunn
Mainichi "Nippon air units carry out first raid on airfield at Drysdale, Australia". Sept 28, 1943

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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