Sunday History Photo / WA

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 03:30
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Cunderdin is a central wheatbelt town on the Great Eastern Highway between Meckering and Tammin, 156 km east of Perth. Land was set aside for a townsite here in 1904, and the townsite was gazetted in 1906. Cunderdin is the Aboriginal name of a nearby hill, first recorded by the explorer C C Hunt in 1864. The meaning of the name is not known, but one source states "Cunder" is derived from "Quenda", meaning "place of the bandicoot", and another source gives it as meaning "big turkey".
On 9 February, 1959 the Education Department opened the WA College of Agriculturewith an enrolment of 20 students. The original area, of some 384 hectares, was increased when the “Warrigal” property of 358 hectares, situated close to the Cunderdin Township was purchased. Most of the existing buildings were constructed in the 1970’s. That included the three main dormitory blocks, Dining Room and Library/Classroom block. An administration block and staffroom was completed in July 1981.

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Cunderdin Airfield lies to the north of the town and was constructed early in World War 2 as an elementary training school for pilots for the Empire Air Training Scheme The facility comprised a large airfield, hangars and technical huts together with a main base camp further to the east. Towards the end of the war, after sufficient pilots had been trained for both EATS and RAAF requirements in the South West Pacific, the airfield was used as an operational base for heavy bombers in connection with the campaign against the Japanese occupied Netherlands East Indies.
Following the war the base was used as a migrant camp and in 1957 the Commonwealth began disposing of some assets at the base and ownership of some of the buildings passed into private hands including the Gliding Club of WA which purchased Building 109. The original airfield comprised three main areas - the Movement Area, the Hangar Area and the Camp Area. The Camp Area is no longer a part of the airfield and now houses the Agricultural College. In 1992 the remaining land at the airfield (but excluding land for the Junior Agricultural High School and some other adjustments) was transferred to the Shire of Cunderdin under a special agreement with the Commonwealth.

B-24L Liberator, A72-124, of 25 Squadron RAAF, piloted by Flying Officer F.L. Hannah, was setting out on a third search for survivors, when it crashed during takeoff into the south west from Cunderdin airfield in Western Australia at 0604 hours on 14 February 1945. As the aircraft reached only 30 feet it started to drop back to the ground. It hit the ground 3 times and skidded through a fence about 800 feet from the end of the strip and exploded.
Five crew members were killed in the subsequent fire which burnt furiously when the full fuel load ignited. The topped-up bomb bay tanks (600 gallons) also fed the fire.
Those killed were:-
Sgt. Francis Joseph Naughton (449767), Air Gunner
Sgt. Roy Higginbottom (8503), Air Gunner
Sgt. Kenneth William Uhr (433831), WOAG
Sgt. Charles Ronald Taylor (41804), WOA/E
F/Sgt. Brian John Troy Johnson (444015), Bombardier
The pilot, F/O Francis Leo Hannah (405177), suffered shock as a result of the accident. The other injured crew members were as follows:-
F/Sgt Francis Gregory Coman (426953), Co-pilot
Sgt. K.G. Leroy, Air Gunner (possibly George Keith Leroy (440793)
F/O Claremont Logie Taylor (405237), Navigator (nickname "Clarrie")
F/Sgt. Campbell Edward Earle Verey (424238), WOAG
Sgt. Bernard McTernan (426144), Flight Engineer
The cause of the crash was unknown although one private theory was that the squadron had an absolute minimum of training flights.
The funeral for the 5 crew members killed took place at Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth, Western Australia on 15 February 1945.
A72-124 had been delivered to the RAAF on 3 December 1944.

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Bruce Weber, Co-ordinator, No.25 (City of Perth) Squadron, RAAF Association, who is a past serving member of No.25 Squadron Reserve (1973-1983) attended the dedication ceremony at Cunderdin W.A. which remembered the fatal crash of B-24 Liberator, A72-124 on 14th February, 1945. The plaque was unveiled by former F/O Clarrie (Claremont) Taylor DFC, who was one of the survivors.
The unveiling ceremony took place on 20th April, 2003.

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The pumping stations of the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme were purposedesigned and thus are a building type unique to Western Australia. Of the eight pumping stations built as minor variations to a standard plan, No. 3
Pumping Station is one of the few surviving pumping stations which remains
sufficiently intact to provide information about the type of place and its
original design and function. It is one of the minority which survive with any
form of chimney and also one of only two with brick chimneys (the other
being No. 1 Pumping Station, Mundaring).
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Reply By: Member - John L (WA) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 09:27

Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 09:27
Thanks Doug, Very close to home - family went to Cunderdin Ag School & the Goldfields Water supply pumping houses kept up the water to us in summer - even if we then did have to cart it 9 miles to our farm! Cheers Heather
AnswerID: 464166

Reply By: get outmore - Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 09:36

Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 09:36
Cunderdin pump station juseum is well worth a stop as is the meckering earthqualke museum
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Reply By: equinox - Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 10:54

Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 10:54
A copy of CC Hunt's original exploration map available: HERE

Looking for adventure.
In whatever comes our way.

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AnswerID: 464172

Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 11:40

Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 11:40
Great post Doug.

I used to work with Clarrie in ATC at Perth Airport.

Truly one of nature's gentlemen.

Clarrie Taylor

G for George

I'm glad I ain't too scared to be lazy
- Augustus McCrae (Lonesome Dove)

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AnswerID: 464174

Reply By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 14:06

Sunday, Sep 04, 2011 at 14:06

Just another vote for the museum at Cunderdin. I am sure many people are like me and their travels are often linked to the history of the areas they visit . So if you dont know much about the goldfields water supply other than it was built by C Y O'Connor this museum is a must.

It gives real insight into just how much vision the people who were responsible for the development of this country had and the "can do" attitude that prevailed, from the top down. In an age when no level of government seems capable of turning on a light without holding some sort of inquiry and filling in dozens of forms you find yourself looking at what O'Connor did and asking "how did he pull that off?"

Remember this was in the days before modern construction machinery and easy communication and if something wasnt quite going to plan you couldn't just get on the phone or duck down to Bunnings!

I know the project wasn't all plain sailing and he took his life before it was finished but you really do have to take your hat off to him and the people who made it happen.

So get along to Cunderdin ... and last time I stayed there the caravan park was OK too.



AnswerID: 464178

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