Un­der the bed as bombs rain down

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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

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