The following report by Hannah Ross appeared in
"The Northern Star" newspaper (Lismore, NSW)
of 16th June 1999.
It refers to the crash of Hudson A16-198 and is reproduced verbatim.

Bomber Puzzle

Are the waters off
Broken Head crew's
final resting place?

Mystery surrounds an old piece of aircraft wreckage recently raised from the seabed by a trawler off Broken Head, but one man believes he knows its history.

Royal Australian Air Force veteran Bill Shrubb believes it comes from an RAAF Lockheed Hudson twin-engine bomber that a Lennox Head resident saw crash on a stormy night in 1942. The plane went down with 10 men aboard.

A spokesman from the RAAF Museum in Victoria yesterday confirmed the wreckage was part of a spar section from the wing of a Hudson bomber.

Mr Shrubb's case seems pretty cut and dried, given that Lennox Head resident Sid Gibbon saw the aircraft go down at 10pm on July 7, 1942, in the very spot where the wreckage was recently raised.

An airman's overcoat, with one of the lost crew member's name on it, was also found at the crash site in 1942 by Norman Todd, of Lismore, who at the time was stationed at the RAAF base at Evans Head and carried out an aerial search of the accident scene.

Mr Shrubb's research has also unearthed some of the events surrounding the crash.

According to Mr Shrubb, the bomber became lost on a flight from Horne Island in Torres Strait to the Amberley RAAF base near Ipswich, in southern Queensland.

He believes that due to low-lying cloud the crew was unable to find its destination and so continued south, possibly trying to reach the Evans Head RAAF base to land.

Approaching Broken Head with the plane's landing lights on, the crew must have realised that the fuel tanks were empty.

The plane carried on south then circled back. It is almost certain the crew was planning a forced landing on Tallow Beach, using Byron Bay lighthouse as the only guide on the dark night.

However, the plane crashed into the sea about 3km off Broken Head in 57 metres of water, with no bodies recovered. A semi-inflated life raft and the overcoat with the name Lovejoy on it was the only evidence of the tragedy.

Now, 57 years later, Mr Shrubb is lobbying for a commemorative plaque to be erected at Broken Head.

Mr Shrubb is hoping to gain support from the ex-services community and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which manages Broken Head reserve, to install a plaque to honour the men who died.

They were

Flt Lt R T Trigg
Sgt D J Lovejoy
Sgt G A L McLaren
Sgt G W G Ridge
Sgt D L Bradley
LAC E G Kimmins
LAC W E Evans
LAC F A Woods
LAC H W Johnstone
AC1 E G Merefield.

They were all members of 32 Squadron, which at the time was based at Horn Island.


Issue Date
1 12SEP99

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