Sunday History Photo / NT

Submitted: Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 06:15
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Part 3 of the Stuart Hwy features between Banka Banka to Daly Waters, those stops were for the thousands of troops brought from the South by rail to Alice Springs and then ferried north by truck convoy to the railway at Larrimah.


Banka Banka Staging Camp site is located on Banka Banka Station and is signposted. This was the second night’s stopping place on the four day run from Alice Springs to Larrimah.
Clem N Govett, a convoy driver with the Army, describes Banka Banka as ”an oasis in the desert. Formalities at this point were similar to those at Barrow Creek and troops lost little time in settling down for the night’s rest...There was little to do except sleep. Pictures were shown once per week but, naturally, it need not necessarily be the same night as your convoy was there. Banka Banka was an important staging camp along 'the track', providing a night’s accommodation to the many convoys heading north. When sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission there were 54 buildings listed, including stores, workshops, sleeping huts and a bakery.



Elliott originally known as No8 Bore Newcastle Waters, this town was named after Army Lieutenant 'Snow' Elliott, who established No 7 Australian Personnel Staging Camp in the
area. In a census carried out on 7 December 1940, three officers and 81 other ranks were recorded on site. Elliott was used as a luncheon point only for Northbound convoys on their third day out of Alice Springs, and travelling between Banka Banka Staging Camp and Larrimah. For Southbound convoys it was the first overnight stop from Larrimah.
The highway virtually ran through the middle of the staging camp, separating the truck parking area from the administrative buildings. The camp had the capacity to shelter 1500 men and, due to the availability of bore water, contained a vegetable garden. A Field Bakery company detachment ensured a ready supply of fresh bread.


A small Signals Section was maintained to report on road traffic, particularly in the Wet Season when holdups were frequent and rescheduling essential.
Due to the heavy traffic experienced through Elliott, a Salvage Sections and Workshops were established to collect and repair broken down vehicles and equipment. Refuelling facilities were also established to service the convoys and it was around this important function that the township grew.

The Daly Waters aerodrome is located west of the Stuart Highway and is accessible Via a signposted track off the road leading to the township. The original hangar, restored by the NT National Trust, contains a display highlighting the aerodrome's history. As a consequence of the worsening situation in the Pacific, the RAAF posted a number of its squadrons to Singapore. Number 1 Squadron, with its Hudson bombers, commenced duty on the island in July 1940,followedby the Wirraways of Nos 8 and 21 Squadrons. Daly Waters provided these squadrons with refuelling and servicing facilities during their flights to Singapore. With the establishment of Brisbane and Townsville as major assembly points for USAAF in November 1941 , DalyWaters later became an important staging point for aircraft transiting to Darwin and onward to the combat zones.

The RAAF arrived at Daly Waters on 8th February 1942 and set up temporary headquarters at the hotel. Numbers 13 and 2 Squadrons had Hudsons at the aerodrome during the Darwin
air raids of 19th February 1942, and in the weeks that followed a number of units arrived in the area. The RAAF medical unit, No 1 Medical Receiving Station (MRS), set up a mobile surgical unit and hospital at the hotel on 11th March 1942. Many evacuees from the Netherlands East Indies passed through Daly Waters on their way south and were thankful for the services of the medical personnel. It was not uncommon to see up to six aircraft land at Daly Waters every 15 minutes.
Other units,including No 1 Repairand Salvage Unit (RSU), No 34 Squadron,No 2 Air Ambulance Unit and the USAAF, arrived and set up at the airfield and nearby Pearce‘s Hotel. The arrival of USAAF's 9th Pursuit Squadron on 16 March 1942 was marred by the death of Lt Albert Spehr who crashed his P-40 Warhawk while attempting a slow roll.

death of Lt Albert Spehr

Two days later the aerodrome became a self-accounting RAAFstation and, during the following months, a stop-over for RAAF and USAAF units and aircraft. DalyWaters became No 56 Operational Base Unit on 15th May 1942. No 1 MRS departed from Daly Waters to Coomalie near the Batchelor t/off on 27 August and No 1 RSU vacated the aerodrome and moved to Manbulloo aerodrome Just West of Katherine on 10th September.



As the war activity contracted Northwards, Daly Waters became predominantly a staging airfield for units heading for Darwin, including the Spitfires of No1 Fighter Wing. Number 56 OBU departed for Gove on 2nd December 1943. Daly Waters eventually reverted to its pre-war status as a civilian aerodrome with only the occasional forced landing or staging flight involving the complex. The Sidney Williams hangar erected by Larkin's LASCO in 1930 was restored during 1991.

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 09:10

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 09:10
Thanks Doug

There is some great war history along the highway.

One of my favourite stop over camps when driving the highway is Longreach Waterhole which is about 10km west of Elliott.

Alan
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Reply By: K&FT - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 12:28

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 12:28
I would love to see this excellent article (all of them in the series) made available as a PDF or similar document for those of us who like to re-read some of this history and also to be able to pass it on to younger members of our family.
My sincere thanks to Doug T for a magnificent effort in compiling this series. I have really enjoyed reading it.

Frank
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 13:06

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 13:06
Needs a bit of tidying up, but you mean like this, Frank? And just the Stuart Hwy series?

Cheers

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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 13:52

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 13:52
I've tidied it up and could post it here, and would be happy to installments 1 and 2 as well, but would prefer Doug's permission before doing so.

Also, I can post as PDF or Word or both.

I'll await Doug's ok.

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 20:26

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 20:26
Permission you have

,
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:25

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:25
Thanks Doug.

These are MS Word files (.doc format) because my PDF writer does not preserve the embedded hyperlinks. The Word document does.

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Reply By: B1B2 - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 17:37

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 17:37
Doug,
My usual 'thumbs up' was not enough. A great job, photos fantastic.

Cheers,

Bill

& a very merry xmas
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Reply By: B1B2 - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 17:47

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 17:47
Doug,
Also the tragic death of an american general at Batchelor.

Late in the afternoon of 29 April 1942, a Lockheed C-40 transport landed at Batchelor airfield with General Hal George and a small Press Corps. "Pursuit Hal" as he was known was General Douglas MacArthur's Air Force Co-ordinator. He was on an inspection tour of bases in the Northern Territory for strategic planning and publicity purposes. They were headed for Livingstone airfield but as they flew over Batchelor airfield, an Australian Major on board commented that this was his eventual destination. General George decided immediately to land at Batchelor airfield, to save the Aussie Major a long trip and to have the opportunity to inspect the base. General George had just been appointed Commander of the Northwest Territories, and this was one of his bases.

It was twilight when Major Joseph "Joe" H. Moore, the pilot of the C-40, landed at Batchelor airfield. Major Moore parked the aircraft half way down the runway in the designated area to disembark. General George and his party had just left the Lockheed C-40 and were about to hop into some vehicles that were to take them to the 49th Fighter Group's headquarters.

Not long after this, two Kittyhawks of the 49th Fighter Group were continuing their dual take-off training session. Lieutenant Jack Dale lead the way, followed by Lt. Bob Hazard. Unfortunately Lt. Hazard lost control of his Kittyhawk due to the engine torque pulling him to the left which then put him in the slip stream turbulence of the lead aircraft.

(NOTE:- The Book "Protect and Avenge" indicates that Lt. Hazard's right tyre may have blown out causing the Kittyhawk to swerve violently to the right across the runway smashing into General George's party.)

The aircraft continued moving to the left and hit the leading edge of the Lockheed C-40 knocking both engines and the cockpit completely off, and then struck the group of people standing at the left wing tip, and crashed into the ground about a hundred yards further on. Lt. Hazard suffered only a minor injury to one of his feet.

General George was killed.

Bill
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 20:32

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 20:32
G'day Bill

Thanks for your input, and believe me it is very interesting because the same happened when 2 Spitfires were taking off from Livingstone , and guess what... it was an SHP , go check out
ThreadID: 78683.

I can't get thread search to work...?????

Doug
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:20

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:20
Doug, I don't understand "SHP"? To me, SHP means Shaft Horse Power.

I can't find any other aviation abbreviation for SHP.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:06

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:06
Ron you silly man....lol it was meant to be and is an SHP about the accident involving the Spitfire S/n BS-300
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Reply By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 21:02

Sunday, Dec 13, 2015 at 21:02
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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:41

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 11:41
Doug - Another interesting WW2 historical read, thank you.

The Larkin Aircraft Supply Company is worth an article on their own. Very few people know about how Larkin built up a sizeable aviation manufacturing operation in Australia in the 1920's, culminating in the superb Larkin-designed Lascondor, a 3 engine, 8 passenger transport aircraft. Only the one Lascondor was built.
Other aircraft designed and built by LASCO were the Lascoter and the Lascowl. The Lascowl was a re-engineered British ANEC-III design.
Larkin operated the Australian Aerial Services, air transport company as well, in the 1930's.

The Great Depression virtually killed LASCO, and the GD saw the end of aircraft design and manufacture by them.

Not a single surviving example of any Larkin aircraft survives today. They were either all destroyed in crashes or scrapped.
That's a crying shame that we have virtually no physical record of this great early aviation industry leader.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:02

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 14:02
Thanks Ron, I have made a note of this.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 23:21

Monday, Dec 14, 2015 at 23:21
Do you replicate these well researched weekly articles on your website Doug?
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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015 at 07:18

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015 at 07:18
No I don't do any on my website, I have clicked the Facebook share about 6 times but SHP is being kept exclusive to EO , my Daughter has suggested to do a book on them...I'm a gunnado , last Sunday was number 393, most of my time is when I'm not doing odd jobs around the farm is preparing songs for my 2 radio programs on FM107.5 each week, researching for SHP , Facebook and my deep love of Andrea in Germany , and who said retirement is boring...Haaaa

Doug
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015 at 09:01

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015 at 09:01
Almost 400 - that is a lot of work Doug :O. Although still on line here, the do become lost unless anyone knows what to search for.


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