Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:04
ThreadID: 109719 Views:8026 Replies:6 FollowUps:4
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On 26 February 1960 the railway bridge over Medway Creek near Bogantungan (100 km from Emerald) collapsed after an uprooted gum tree (estimated to weigh 12 tonnes) struck and dislodged one of the pylons as it was swept downstream by floodwaters. The bridge then collapsed as the Rockhampton-bound Midlander passed over it, resulting in 7 dead and 43 injured. The leading engine made it across the bridge and derailed on the other side, however, the C class second engine, the power van, and three passenger sleeping cars fell 7.6 meters into the Creek. The four passenegers who died were in these cars, with the other fatalities being three train crewmen.



Dr. Whitchurch was one of the first on the scene of the accident. The railway asked him to go out to Medway Creek because the Midlander had crashed and there was no way of getting out there by road because of floods. And they made up a special steam engine train, there was no disaster plans in place in those days so they hit the ground running.
It took them just 30 minutes to travel from Emerald to Bogantungan, well under the scheduled time of the journey. When they pulled up at the railway station at Bogantungan there were quite a few injured people on stretches. Then they went out to the actual crash scene where they were still extracting people.
Dr. Whitchurch said a railway driver took the large engined Garratt, against railway policy, to the scene of the crash, it was the only way of getting light on the thing.
The rule was that the senior driver took the lead engine. But the senior driver had only just been transferred to Alpha and had only been over the track once and asked the driver of the second engine if he wouldn't mind taking the first engine," he said " which put the man who should have been on the first engine in the second engine, and he was the one who was killed.



It was a long day for Dr. Whitchurch who worked from 2am till 9pm that night. Looking back he believes they were fortunate in some ways.
"We were very very lucky that it happened where it did and with the delay in getting the train we were able to organise things," he said.
"Going out on the train Dr. Whitchurch was talking to the ambulance and the fire people and organising what they would do when they got out there. .



It was pitch black and all Mervyn McMurdo could hear was pained screams and cries for help. He went to move but was trapped – his leg impaled by debris. With only about 10cm of room to move he started punching the ceiling to make more space before realising he couldn’t hear his mate in the bunk bed below. Mr McMurdo reached his hand down only to realise his friend had been killed – his skull crushed by the weight of everything above.
Another passenger, Sydney Moore, was pinned by the shoulders and up to his waist in water, sung out and the pair spent the next seven hours keeping each other awake before rescuers got to them.
They were just two of the survivors of the Bogantungan train crash disaster. Mr McMurdo said the government classed the crash as an “act from God” and therefore he could not claim compensations for his injuries.
It was 50 years ago in 2010 that the areas around Bogantungan, 360km west of Rockhampton, experienced heavy rainfalls, so much so the rivers and creeks flooded. Medway Creek,
Mr McMurdo and other passengers were rescued by doctors and nurses from the Royal Flying Doctors Service and Emerald doctor Charles Whitchurch.
Dr Whitchurch, who has since passed away, worked at the crash scene from 2.30am to 9pm , he played a pivotal role in many people’s survivors and has been honour for his dedication and service. When Dr Charles Whitchurch passed away the Royal Flying Doctor Service held a memorial dinner to commemorate his life.


TRAGICALLY TAKEN
George Albert Krause, 35, married train driver from Alpha
Neville Eric Helmuth, 24, married fireman from Alpha
Samuel George Hedges, 63, married conductor from Rockhampton
George Sundergold, 11, from Ilfracombe
Allen George Martin, 10, from Longreach
Darryl Edward Large, 64, from Barcaldine
Alexander Fraser, 65, from Cork Station, Winton.



Another train accident on this line occurred on 8 April 1941 at Alpha on the Central Railway, inland from Rockhampton. The bridge across Alpha Creek collapsed as a goods train was crossing with the locomotive dropping and killing the driver and the fireman who were crushed between the firebox and the tender.
The locomotive was no. 147 of the C16 class and its weight was 80.5 tons. Before salvage work could be undertaken the creek flooded and the locomotive collapsed into the water, being later recovered and taken to Rockhampton where it was repaired and put back into operation.





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Reply By: gidgea jack - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:31

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:31
Another good yarn Doug,I have some photos somewhere of a derailment on the range also..was about 1982 from memory.I was carting bitumen to Alpha at the time. will try and find photos..hooroo
AnswerID: 539939

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:44

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 09:44
Thanks Doug

Vaguely remember the incident.

Alan
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:08

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:08
Which one Alan, ............the 1941 Incident...lol


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Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:21

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:21
Good one Doug

I was school in 1960 learning about the names of the trains etc on the Queensland lines (inlander, westlander, sunlander, etc ) when we heard about an accident with the Inlander.

I wasn't born in 1941 LOL

I might be grey haired old bastard but not quite that old. LOL

Alan
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:26

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 10:26
Haaaaaa OK thanks for the come back Alan... I wasn't born then either.. fish are bitin' .

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:14

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:14
Thanks Doug, interesting read. Never knew about these accidents/tragedies before. Was still at high school back then. :-)

Not overly superstitious either, but always feel a bit "hawking" driving over the Drummond, and down through Bogantugan. Certainly glad to get past there without incident anyway!

Interesting little cemetery there too, just to the east of town.

In the early '80's, drove west along that "highway", in a Datsun Skyline. Quite an experience, with creek crossings and little else to match its highway status. On relating this yarn to an acquaintance, he replied that he'd taken a float up through there, about the same time, and had had to unload the tractor at each creek crossing, drive float across, then reload the tractor. Took him hours to get over the range, he reckoned.

Bob
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:55

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:55
Bob - Heh, that brings back old float memories. A bulldozing contractor I used to work in with occasionally on clearing jobs, had a 1947 AEC Mammoth Major for the prime mover on his Martin Nixon side-loading low-loader.
He'd salvaged it from being wrecked, from the local truck wreckers, Soltoggio Bros!

I drove that old AEC quite a few times! What a treat! Wooden cab, 120HP, 5 cogs, no joey box, huge ratchet handbrake, flat out at 55kmh - and when you came to a jump-up or breakway, the old girl just ran out of puff! - and gears!!

You had to unload the dozer and walk it to the top of the rise, walk back and get the float, drive it to the top of the hill, load up again - then off you'd go - until you came across another jump-up!

I never ceased to be amazed at that old AEC though, for cold starting ability.
You could have a frost with ice an inch thick on everything at sunrise, and you'd hit the button on the big old CAV starter - it would go 'CAH-LUNK!' into mesh, and the engine would wind a couple or three revolutions - 'RRR-RR-RRRR' - and she'd fire straight up!

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Ron N - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:38

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 12:38
Another interesting story, Douug, thanks for your effort. I never knew anything about the Midlander disaster.

I'd hazard a guess the Alpha Creek bridge collapse happened due to a lack of regular bridge inspections, due to a shortage of men during WW2.

Proper maintenance of civilian plant, equipment, and assets, was one of the things that really suffered during WW2.

Here in the West, the main East Perth powerhouse was operated with inadequate maintenance during WW2.
A shortage of spares also exacerbated the lack of maintenance problems.

As a result, during early June 1947, one of the 6 East Perth powerhouse turbines exploded, throwing huge chunks of debris all through the powerhouse building, and hurling large chunks of steel and cast iron many hundreds of metres.

A huge chunk of metal from the powerhouse, weighing several hundred kilos, damaged the Bunbury rail bridge over the Swan River.
It had been hurled about 800 metres, through the roof of the powerhouse, travelling in an arc halfway across the Swan River.

The turbine that exploded was the oldest in the powerhouse, it had been running non-stop since its installation in 1917.

Despite the explosion happening at 11:00AM - there were no injuries - due more to pure good luck, than anything else.
There was no-one around the turbine that exploded, and most of the debris went upwards and out of the building, and to the South and East of the powerhouse.

East Perth powerhouse turbine explodes - 1947

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 539947

Reply By: Member - Silverchrome - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 17:13

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 17:13
An interesting (but tragic) part of Queensland Rail history.
Up until the Midlander crash the worst rail disaster in Queensland was the Westlander crash in 1956?
On Dec1, 1956 at Wallumbilla station the Westlander crashed into the Roma Mail train (steam) which was stopped at the station.
5 people lost their lives including 2 from the one family (a grandmother and her granddaughter).
In this case it was driver error.



AnswerID: 539959

Reply By: Member - Nutta - Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 18:19

Sunday, Oct 05, 2014 at 18:19
You can see how those last 2 poor buggers died in that last photo!

Poor families we seem to forget about in these tragic pics, I feel sorry for them, they'd still be aching one way or another now.
AnswerID: 539962

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