Under the bed as bombs rain down
GERARD ST, CURRAJONG Private Henry Courtney Gerard, 22, of the Australian Army Ordnance Corps in Rabaul, New Britain, died in the sinking of the Japanese prison ship Montevideo Maru in the South China Sea on July 1, 1942. He had enlisted in the 2nd AIF in Townsville in August, 1941, having previously worked as clerk with New Zealand Loan. The Montevideo Maru was carrying more than 1000 prisoners of war when torpedoed by a US submarine, off Luzon, Philippines. BALDWIN ST, AITKENVALE Alfred Joseph Baldwin joined the 2nd AIF in Townsville in June, 1943, just before his 30th birthday. The Townsville Daily Bulletin reported in February, 1945 that Private Baldwin had helped in the rescue of a badly wounded soldier, Pte Les Smith, while serving in Bougainville with the 26th Battalion. Corporal Louis Mann, a South Australian, was awarded a Military Medal for courage in this rescue. Pte Baldwin was discharged from the army in 1946. CAHILL ST, AITKENVALE Edward Augustine Cahill, a clerk with Thomas Brown and Sons enlisted in the AIF in August, 1914, giving his age as 29. He left Brisbane for Egypt with the 9th Battalion in Brisbane a month later and was killed in action at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, on April 25, 1915. survived by two sisters and three brothers. His brother, Clarence Cahill, 23, enlisted in December, 1915 and served in France with the 41st Battalion before discharge in 1919.
Between 1am and 3am the same day, the boys had sheltered under beds in the Smedley family’s fishing hut at the mouth of the Bohle River as a Japanese flying boat jettisoned eight bombs while being chased by US Airacobra fighters.
“We could hear the bombs whistling down,’’ Mr Smedley, a retired plumber, recalled last week.
“We knew that seven of the eight went off – we were in the house, counting them.’’
At daylight, soldiers had retrieved the unexploded bomb from a hillside and carried it by truck around the range to the Common, where they blew it up, leaving a crater 3m wide.
“We watched it from the hillside, they would not let us too close,’’ Mr Smedley said.
Later they saw US soldiers collecting bomb fragments from the crater.
The raid early on July 28 was the second of three by Rabaul- based Japanese flying boats.
The first attack, close to midnight on July 25, was directed at the port but failed to cause any damage.
The third raid, late on July 28, was successfully repulsed with the sole casualty reportedly a palm tree at Oonoonba.
The Townsville Daily Bulletin commented on August 3: “The lesson of the Japanese bombing last week was that people must remain in their shelters while enemy aircraft are in the neighbourhood.
“The only ‘ casualty’ to be seen in the Townsville area, after three raids, is a coconut tree, which was struck by a flying bomb splinter.’’
On August 26, 1942, the newspaper carried the following report, heard on Berlin Radio:
“The whole town of Townsville, on Tuesday ... was still enveloped in a gigantic cloud of smoke, resulting from a raid two days before. The city had been without water for two days, as the reservoir south of the city was destroyed on Sunday.’’
“So much for Axis reports of war developments,’’ the Bulletin observed. Mr and Mrs S H Doorey, Railway Estate, South Townsville, received word last Monday that their only son was killed in action on July 14, 1918, `` somewhere in France’’. Private Doorey was a well- known motor car driver in Townsville. A preliminary trial in Sydney by Wing- Commander Wackett of his new all- Australian speedboat suggests Australia may shortly claim to have the world’s fastest speedboat. The former Townsville schoolboy skippered his craft to a speed of 40 knots in a short burst over a mile on Rose Bay, with the throttle only half open. With the throttle wide open the craft, it is claimed, will exceed 100 miles an hour. This will beat all world’s records. Wing- Commander Wackett’s boat is cigarshaped, with pointed bow and stern, and is built of Australian blackwood and beech. It is equipped with a 300hp Maybach engine, identical with six Maybachs used on the Graf Zeppelin, which flew from Germany to America and back.
Army personnel dig for fragments from a Japanese bomb dropped in 1942 while an interested crowd of soldiers and civilians looks on.
July 25, 1918
Townsville Daily Bulletin
July 25, 1929