Monument at the site of a Beaufort DC3 Wreck.
BEAUFORT BOMBER WRECK near Bamaga Airstrip, Cape York, Qld
Two of the many plane wrecks on Cape York, the remains of the DC-3, which crash landed in May 1945, is the most visited. Located close to the main road (GPS 10°55'03"S 142°25'43") the substantial remains are now fenced and a monument erected there.
A little less known and visited war plane, and only a short distance away from the DC-3, is the wreck of a Beaufort Bomber that crash landed here in October 1945. It is located north of the Bamaga airstrip down a narrow 4WD track at GPS 10°56'12"S 142°27'20". The story of its final flight is detailed below.
Wreck remains of Beaufort Plane.
The following info was compiled by Paul Wise and is extracted from: http://xnatmap.org/adnm/docs/1genmap/nthpenstrip.htm
Beaufort A9-190 was made at Mascot New South Wales and served with No 100 Squadron RAAF, No 5 Communication Unit and No 8 Communication Unit. On 10 October 1945 it crashed on landing at Higgins Field and was converted to components in November 1945.
While returning from Madang to Cairns on 10 October 1945 the aircraft suffered an oil pressure problem, which caused the pilot to divert to Port Moresby for repairs. The aircraft left Port Moresby with a crew of three and four passengers. Flying Officer John Noel Caddy, No 100 Squadron RAAF (then 23 years of age) was the pilot of A9-190 at the time of the accident. The squadron operated Beauforts out of New Guinea from 1942 to 1946. The following is Flying Officer Caddy’s recall of the crash:
Old fuel dump.
When we reached the range the Kokoda Trail, which was our intended route, it was covered in cloud so I flew over the range at about 13000 feet. While still climbing up oil pressure on the port motor fell to zero but all the other instruments showed normal so I continued on and throttled back a bit after we crested the range. On arrival in Port Moresby I got the ground staff to check the motor and they finally advised me that the oil pump was okay again.
On a test run-up it reached 87 pounds, normal was 90 pounds so I decided to continue but instead of heading for Cairns I decided to head for Higgins Field at the top of Cape York. About a half of an hour out of Port Moresby the oil pressure fell to zero again but no other signs of trouble so I presumed the gauge was unserviceable and I continued.
Roughly half way across, the boost and revs began to surge and a few minutes later the engine began to vibrate and was shaking the aircraft. I presumed it was about to seize and feathered the prop.
I soon found that we couldn’t maintain height using as much power on the starboard engine as I could hold. Recommended single engine speed was 130 knots but I flew at 115 knots to reduce height loss as much as possible. We then threw out everything moveable from the aircraft with the exception of the radio and parachute because I had to sit on it. We received radio bearings from Higgins and crossed the coast at about 1000 feet. When I saw the strip I was at 300 feet so went straight in-unluckily down-wind and the strip was slightly downhill. I had used all my compressed air trying to jettison fuel, so I had no brakes and no time to manually pump down the flaps.
Floated halfway down the strip and did possibly the best landing of my career and we were still doing 95 knots off the other end–went through one small ditch but the second one stopped us dead. The only injuries were my Navigator hit his head and had a slight concussion, one passenger lying between the main spars, had been struck by a battery and it was discovered next day that I had whip-lash. All in all, we were very bloody lucky. I had a week at Higgins then flew to Townsville in a Dakota and back to Aitape, Papua New Guinea.
Other relics of WW2 can be found around here including the burnt out remnants of a Kittyhawk fighter aircraft (sadly little remains), old fuel dumps and more. You'll find a lot more wrecks and ruins from WW2 around the Top of Cape York if you are prepared to search. One of the best is the ruins of the old radar tower and associated ground works and jetties at Mutee Heads.
A good place to start for finding these things is our guidebook on Cape York, Cape York - Travel & Adventure Guide - see: http://www.guidebooks.com.au/cape.htm.
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