On the 30th October, 2012 a small party of Australians set out to pinpoint the location where a USAAF (United States Army Air Force) B-24 Liberator operated by the 43rd Bombardment Group crashed upon take off from Jackson’s Drome (then also known as 7 Mile, now Jackson’s Airport, Port Moresby). The aircraft was B-24D named “Pride Of The Cornhuskers” (Serial number 42-40682) and this tragic accident saw the loss of the 11 man crew and 62 Australians. This incident is reported in the excellent records of “Pacific Wrecks” administered by Mr Justin TYNAN. Please CLICK HERE to view Pacific Wrecks.
IMAGE RIGHT: A B-24 Liberator aircraft, similar to that which was “Pride Of The Cornhuskers”. This aircraft was fully laden with 2800 gallons of fuel and a report from Colonel Harry J. HAWTHORNE, Commanding Officer 43rd Bombardment Group indicates that only 4 x 500lb bombs were on board.
The Australians who lost their lives were primarily from the 2/33rd Infantry Battalion. At this time, they were em bussed upon motor lorries and awaiting transport to Durrand’s Strip for air transport for the campaign near Lae. Included amongst the 62 killed were two drivers from the 158 Australian General Transport Company.
The following two photographs detail the area at Durrand’s Marshalling Area where the five trucks, containing men of the 2/33rd Infantry Battalion were parked. For a full analysis of the search for Durrand’s Marshalling Area, please CLICK HERE.
IMAGE LEFT: A photograph taken during September 1943, showing Durrand’s Marshalling Area. As indicated by the photographer’s remarks on this original image, the photograph is taken from nearby Jackson & Ward’s Marshalling Area. These “marshalling areas” essentially were forming up points, so that convoys containing troops could be mustered and dispatched to the correct aerodrome.
IMAGE RIGHT: Photograph taken on the 30th October, 2012 of Durrand’s Marshalling Area. In terms of accuracy, the modern photographer needed to be standing approximately 40 metres further to his left, in order to accurately reproduce the above black & white image. Regardless, it is definitely the same area. The “red spot” marks the approximate location of Truck No. 2 in the above black & white photograph.
Organisers of the 2/33rd Battalion “Pride Of The Cornhuskers” Commemoration would formally like to thank author and historian Mr Michael CLARINGBOULD for his generous assistance in this project. Michael grew up in Port Moresby and as a boy, he spent extensive time walking around Jackson’s Airport investigating pieces of aircraft wreckage and other points of interest that capture the imagination of youth. Along with Luca RUFFATO, Michael has written a book titled “Eagles Of The Southern Sky” which detail the New Guinea campaign of the Japanese Tainan Naval Air Group. Please CLICK HERE to view this outstanding work.
IMAGE LEFT: Cover of Michael CLARINGBOULD’s new book “Eagles Of The Southern Sky”. This book is now available. Please check the Tainan Books website for further details.