World Champion kidnapping


Juan Manuel Fangio (1911-1995) is considered one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all-time, winning five World Championship titles (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957).  As well as driving in Formula 1, Moss also competed in sports car racing, which was not unusual amongst drivers of that era, compared to modern Formula 1 drivers. This interest in sports car racing lead to the most unusual incident of Fangio’s career – his kidnapping prior to the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix.

The Cuban Grand Prix was created by Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1957 – the aim of the event was to increase tourism to the island, especially for visitors from the United States. Cuba had no purpose built racing circuits, so a street circuit was constructed in the Malecón district of the capital, Havana. The main straight was the esplanade near the sea, with the return section a block further inland.

Map of the circuit used for the Cuban Grand Prix in 1957 and 1958.

The race was held on the 25th of February 1957. Fangio was contracted to drive a Maserati 250F in the upcoming Formula 1 season, so he naturally drove a Maserati in the Grand Prix. His 300S finished first, ahead of Carroll Shelby driving a Ferrari 410S and Alfonso de Portago in a Ferrari 860 Monza.

Fangio prior to the start of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix.

Having won the inaugural Grand Prix, Fangio accepted an invitation to return for the 1958 race, to be held on the 28th of February. Sparing no expense, Batista arranged for all of the international drivers to stay in the prestigious Hotel Lincoln in central Havana. On the eve of the grand prix, Fangio walked into the lobby of the hotel on his way to dinner, only to be confronted by a young man in a leather jacket brandishing a pistol. According to reports from the time, the slightly nervous assailant barked: “Fangio, you must come with me. I am a member of the 26th of July revolutionary movement.”

The 26th of July Movement was a revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro. The name commemorates an attack on the  Santiago de Cuba army barracks on July 26, 1953. The movement began formally in 1955, and its aim was the overthrow of the Batista regime.

One of Fangio’s companions picked up a paperweight and moved to throw it at the intruder, but the pistol jerked round. “Stay still,” the kidnapper said. “If you move, I shoot.” And with that Fangio accompanied the young man to a waiting car. The 26th of July Movement’s aim was simple – by capturing the biggest name in motorsport the revolutionaries would show up the government and attract worldwide publicity to their cause. Yet despite the news of the kidnapping spreading across the globe, Batista refused to be outdone and ordered the race to continue as usual while a team of police hunted down the kidnappers. Now under arrest and in an unknown location Fangio was taking it all in his stride and was being treated to a meal of steak and potatoes before getting a good nights’ sleep.



The front page of the French newspaper “France-soir”, with the kidnapping of Fangio being the top story.

As per Batista’s orders, the race started as planned, with Maurice Trintignant taking the place of the absent Fangio. A huge crowd attended due to a public holiday, and with no designated spectator stands, they stood on the side of the road, or watched from the balconies of adjacent units and apartments. From the start, Ferrari drivers Stirling Moss and Masten Gregory battled for the lead. After only a few laps, spectators started to notice that all drivers were having trouble controlling their cars on a track that had become very slippery. The cause was soon discovered – Robert Mieres had retired from the race on lap 5 due to a broken oil line in his Porsche, but not before he had laid down a greasy strip of oil all around the circuit.

Disaster then struck – local driver Armando Garcia Cifuentes lost control of his yellow and black Ferrari and went head on into a bunch of spectators lining the circuit. Over 30 people were injured and seven killed as the car took out a makeshift bridge and flew over the crash barriers.  The race was then immediately red-flagged after just 6 laps, with Moss declared the winner, ahead of Gregory and Caroll Shelby in 3rd place. Cifuentes, seriously injured in the crash, was taken to hospital lying on the bonnet of one of the competing cars. He was charged with manslaughter, but was cleared after a government enquiry.

British Pathe newsreel footage of the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix – including Fangio before his kidnapping and the Cifuentes accident.

Fangio was delivered to the Argentinian embassy after the race, which had turned into a disaster for the Batista regime. The 26th of July movement had received worldwide publicity, while the recriminations started regarding the lack of safety protection for spectators.

Fangio would go to compete in the 1958 Formula One World Championship – his final race French Grand Prix, where he finished 4th. Batista would be overthrown by Castro in December 1958. No Cuban Grand Prix was held in 1959, with the final race being held in February 1960, with Stirling Moss winning again.

The following sources were used in the creation of this blog post.

https://www.whichcar.com.au/features/classic-wheels/archive-the-man-who-kidnapped-fangio

https://www.espn.com.au/f1/story/_/id/28999493/when-f1-legend-fangio-was-kidnapped-cuba

Bordering on the ridiculous


In mid-December of 1959, the Border team hosted Natal in the Currie Cup, South Africa’s premier domestic first-class cricket competition. The previous year Border had the better of a drawn game, so playing Natal at their home ground, the Jan Smuts Ground in East London gave them cause for confidence.

The match commenced on Saturday, the 19th of December, and the pitch had been affected by rain, so it was important to win the toss. Border did so, and had no hesitation in putting Natal into bat on the treacherous pitch. The Natal batsman struggled immediately – the first four in the batting order had represented South Africa in international Test cricket, but could only manage 15 runs between them. Natal were at one stage 50 for eight wickets, but wicketkeeper Malcolm Smith flung his bat for 33, which took the innings total to 90. It could have been worse, as the Border fielders dropped five catches.

However, Natal’s 90 looked like Mt Everest when it was Border’s turn to bat. Only four batsmen scored in the innings. The main destroyer of the innings was all-rounder Trevor Goddard, who returned the incredible bowling analysis of 11 overs, 9 maidens, 3 runs and 6 wickets. Goddard had only two scoring shots of his bowling – a two in the sixth over and a single in the seventh over, and he finished the innings off with a hat-trick – Griffith, Knott and During. During top scored with 9, more than half of the Border total of 16.

Trevor Goddard – Natal all-rounder who recorded incredible bowling figures in the Border 1st innings



Natal went into bat again, and by the close of play had scored 39 for the loss of three wickets. 23 wickets had fallen for 145 runs in four play – Natal had scored 90 in 110 minutes, Border 16 in 80 minutes and Natal 39 for 3 in 55 minutes.

There was no play on Sunday, and when the match resumed on Monday, the pitch had become perfect for batting. Kim Elgie made 162*, and when Goddard declared the innings closed at 294 for 8 wickets, Border were left the daunting task of scoring 369 runs to win, or to bat out the rest of the game to earn a draw.

While the poor wicket played a major part in their abysmal first innings score, there was no excuse for their second innings effort on a pitch that was playing normally. They improved on their first effort, but only just – scoring just 20 runs, losing the match by 350 runs. This time is was fast bowler Geoff Griffin doing the damage, recording an analysis of 13 overs, 6 maidens, 11 runs and 7 wickets.

Natal fast bowler Geogg Griffin ran through the 2nd Border innings.

At one point Border were 11 runs scored for the loss of 7 wickets, and there was a real chance that the lowest ever innings score in a first-class match (12) would be beaten. However Peter Tainton batted sensibly for 57 minutes, and was 7* when the final wicket fell, showing that there was nothing wrong with the pitch. Three Border batsman (Commins, Muzzell and Knott) failed to score a run in either innings, and During’s first innings boundary was the only four that they hit in the entire game. Border’s aggregate score of 34, made in less than three hours, is still the record lowest aggregate by one team in a first-class match. In their next match, against Western Province, Border showed what an aberration this match was by scoring 163 and 116.

The full scorecard of the match can be seen here.

Since 1959-60, there has been only one lower first-class total – 14 by Surrey against Essex at Chelmsford in 1983.

Lowest first-class match aggregates by one team:

34        (16 & 18)         Border v Natal                                     East London    1959-60

42        (27 & 15)         Northamptonshire v Yorkshire           Northampton  1908

47        (12 & 35)         Oxford University v MCC                    Oxford             1877

The following books were used for the creation of this blog post:

Andrew Ward, “Cricket’s Strangest Matches”, Robson Books, London 2000, p. 186-187.

Patrick Murphy, Fifty Incredible Cricket Matches”, Stanley Paul Books, London 1987, p. 212-215.

Bill Frindall, “The Wisden Book of Cricket Records”, Headline Publishing, London, 1998, p. 19.

The HMAS Sydney survivor


On the 6th of February 1942, a Carley float containing a body was seen drifting off Flying Fish Cove, an inlet on Christmas Island, an Australian dependency located 1,550 kms northwest of the Australian mainland. The island has a population of approximately 2,000, and phosphate mining has been the main industry since the turn of the 20th century.

christmas_island_thumbnail

An inquest was held to determine the possible injuries of the body, as well as how the body could have ended up in the Carley float. The harbour master, medical officer and radio station manager each contributed to the report. It is unknown if the doctor performed an autopsy; if he did, that report has never been found. The body was interred in the Old European Cemetery with full military honours in an unmarked grave.

grave

The body was partly decomposed, and the eyes, nose and flesh from the right arm was missing, probably eaten by birds. It was clothed in a faded boilersuit, and had no dog-tags or other personal effects. A couple of shoes were found in the life raft. The float had been damaged by shellfire, with shrapnel in the outer covering. The underside was covered in barnacles, suggesting that it had been in the water for a long time.

When WW2 broke out, the island was a possible Japanese target due to the phosphate deposits, so a naval gun was installed on the island. Japanese submarines started patrols around the island, followed by bombing raids. The Japanese landed unopposed on the 31st of March 1942, partly due to a mutiny by Indian troops, who shot their British NCOs. The Japanese stayed for a few days, loaded some phosphate and then returned to the Dutch East Indies, except for a 20 man garrison, who stayed until the Japanese surrender in 1945. Many records, including the inquest on the body, appear to have been lost during the occupation.

So the obvious question was where did the body come from?

The Carley float was named after its inventor Horace Carley, and was standard issue on RN and RAN ships during the Second World War. So it is logical to believe that the float came from an Allied ship that had been sunk, and that the body was a survivor of that sinking. The officials on Christmas Island believed that the body on the float was from the HMAS Sydney, which had sunk off the Western Australian coast on the 18th of November 1941 after a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. The crew of the Sydney numbered 645 – there were no survivors, except for the possibility that the body was a member of the Sydney who had managed to get off the ship before it sank. Giving creedence to this possibility was the wording on the float – “LYSAGHT DUA-ANNEAL ZINC. MADE IN AUSTRALIA”. Boilersuits were available to ships officers, commissioned warrant officers and warrant officers in the RAN, and were a popular working dress at the time. The Sydney was the only RAN ship to be involved in an engagement which would result in a Carley float being damaged.

carleyfloat
Carley float.

The 1998 Joint Standing Committee inquiry into the loss of the Sydney stated that on the balance of probabilities, the float and the body came from the Sydney. The Committee made recommendations that the grave should be found, the body exhumed and DNA testing done with living relatives of the Sydney’s crew, to determine if the body was the lone survivor of the Sydney. The body was located in October 2006. Following an autopsy and taking of body samples, the body was reburied with full military honours in the Geraldton Cemetery in November 2008.

HMAS Sydney II Memorial Service - Reburial of the Unknown Sailor
The headstone of the unknown survivor from HMAS Sydney after reinterment at Geraldton.

 

The Cole Inquiry in 2009 officially confirmed that the body was in fact a survivor of the Sydney. Interestingly enough, the RAN from the time of when the float was located until the Cole Enquiry steadfastly stated that the float was not from the Sydney, and that the body was not a Sydney crew member. The recovered body had the legs doubled up under the knee, which matches the recollections of witnesses who saw the body when it was discovered back in 1942.

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Drawing showing the location of the skeleton in the unmarked grave on Christmas Island.

 

The Cole Inquiry determined that the cause of death of the body was brain trauma, with shrapnel found embedded in the skull. The unknown sailor was believed to be aged somewhere between 22 and 31, had size 11 feet, was right-handed and was unusually tall for his generation – between 168 and 187 centimetres in height. The ankle joints had squatting facets, which suggested that the body has spent a lot of time squatting than sitting. This suggests a person who was involved in physical work, possibly in the country. DNA testing suggested that the body had red hair, blue eyes and pale skin. The body also had unique dental work – two missing teeth, wisdom teeth intact and nine gold fillings. Using contemporary enlistment and medical records, 330 members of the Sydney’s crew were eliminated as a possible match. By January 2014 the number of possible matches had been narrowed down to 50. The major stumbling block is to identify and track down a female descendant of the maternal line, so that their DNA and the DNA of the body can be compared. The sailors direct descendants do not share the same DNA. When the RAN has located a suitable relative they have no idea that they were related to a sailor from the Sydney. Hopefully the mystery of the lone surviving sailor will be solved in the near future.

Apart from the identity of the sailor, there are still some other unanswered questions:

1. Was the sailor the only crew member of the Sydney who managed to get onto a Carley float before the ship sank?

2.If there were other survivors who managed to get on the same Carley float, what happened to them? Could they have died and been thrown overboard by the remaining survivors, until only one was left?

3. Was the sailor injured before getting on the float, or did the explosions that occurred when the Sydney sank gave the fatal injuries to the sailor, as well as damaging the float?

4. Could the body have been machine-gunned by either a Japanese aircraft or a submarine while it drifted north from the Western Australian coast to Christmas Island?

The Carley float with the lone survivor was not the only Carley float from the HMAS Sydney that has survived. One other float was washed on the Western Australian coast, but it had no bodies or survivors in it when it was found, as seen in the following contemporary newspaper account.

carley-life-floatnewspaper

The HMAS Sydney memorial website and the Department of Defence Christmas Island survivor report pages were the primary sources for this blog post.

 

 

 

 

Christmas wishes


I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the followers of my blog a safe and peaceful Christmas, and hope that 2017 will be a good year for all of you.

I am humbled that there are 271 people who follow my blog – I had no idea that what I publish would be of interest to so many people. I also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to post a comment about the stories that I have posted.

I look forward to your contributions in 2017!

 

 

aussie-christmas

A bizarre place to “park” a car…….


I have come across some unusual accidents and incidents through my reading of and watching motor racing events over many years, but one of the most unusual that I have ever come across was Major Peter Braid’s accident at the Blandford Army Camp in 1949.

Due to the rarity of purpose-built motor racing circuits in the UK in the late 1940’s, any venue that had sealed roads was pressed into service for racing, even if this was just a single airfield runway. The Blandford Army Camp in south-western Dorset was one of the better venues available, as its perimeter access road around the camp of just over 3 miles in length meant that a layout which was similar to purpose-built circuits could be used. The layout was fast and challenging, with competitors reaching over 100 mph on the two straights.

blandfordlayout
The Blandford circuit layout.

 

After several motorcycle events were held from mid-1948 to April 1949, approval was granted by the Royal Automobile Club for the first car racing meeting to be held on the 27th of August. The meeting featured several sportscar races, as well as the new 500cc Formula 3, which were small rear-engined cars powered by motorcycle engines.

The events leading up to Braid’s accident occurred during the morning session of racing. During the third race for sportscars, Gordon Woods lost control of his Frazer Nash – BMW between Engineers Corner and Hood Corner. The car demolished a bus shelter, and Woods was thrown out of the cockpit, receiving critical head injuries from which he died in hospital later. In the current environment, the meeting would have been immediately stopped, but back then, the racing continued on. The demolished bus shelter was left in situ, and this would have a major impact on Braid’s accident.

Braid had only started racing in Formula 3 a couple of months previously, and had already achieved a win at Silverstone and a second place at Great Auclum. While leading the Formula 3 race in his Cooper Mk III powered by a J.A.P engine, Braid slid into the outer bank on the left side of the road. The car bounced back across the road to the other side, hitting the ruins of the bus shelter, previously destroyed in the Woods accident earlier in the day. This acted like a ramp, launching the Cooper over a fir tree and onto the roof of the Battalion Headquarters, located on the inside of the track.

bairdfront
Baird’s Cooper on the roof of the Battalion Headquarters – other drivers said that it was disconcerting to see the car on the roof as they raced past!

 

The car appeared to be neatly parked the correct way up and facing the right direction, and remained there for the duration of the race. Braid survived with only some bruises to show for what must have been a terrifying ride.

braidsideview
A closer view of the Cooper on the roof.

 

 

braidrearview
A rear view of the Cooper, showing the relatively minor damage that the car suffered in what was a very spectacular accident.

The photos show what an amazing accident this was, and how lucky Braid was not to be killed. The Cooper could have so easily struck the pole located next to the Battalion Headquarters, or worse still, actually crashed into the side of the building. What is particularly intriguing is the relatively small amount of damage suffered by the Cooper – a dent on the front nose, a buckled wheel and a dislodged engine fairing. As well as the lack of damage, the way that the Cooper is sitting on top of the roof is unusual – it almost looks like the car has been gently placed on its wheels. I can only assume that the car had just enough speed to reach the roof after becoming airborne, and that the corrugated iron acted like a brake, immediately bringing the car to a stop.

Braid continued racing in Formula 3 until the end of 1952, when he retired. He died in the Barnes rail crash in London on the 2nd of December 1955.

Racing continued at Blandford, but their were several motorcycle facilities and one further car driver – Joe Fry, who lost control of his car when practising for a hillclimb on the 29th of July 1950.

freikaiserwagen-1
Joe Fry – the 2nd and last car racing fatality at Blandford.

 

This the final car event at Blandford, although motorcycle racing continued until the early 1960’s. The track still exists, although it is now impossible to drive a full lap, due to the installation of several steel fences across some of the corners.

cuckoocorner
Cuckoo Corner as it appears now – far away from the sound of roaring engines and racing cars.

 

 

 

 

 

The last Le Mans start at Le Mans


The Le Mans 24 hour race for high performance sports cars is one of the most famous motor races in the world. The Le Mans Grand Prix d’Endurance, to give it is full name, was first run in 1923 on a circuit around the roads near the French village of Le Mans. The race lasted 24 hours and the format became a favourite with motor racing enthusiasts. Apart from the duration of the race, which required more than one driver for each car, swapping over at regular pit stops, the Le Mans race was famous for its start.

The cars were lined up in front of the pits on the main straight, while the drivers were lined up on the other side of the main straight. At the starting signal, which was a dropped flag, the drivers ran across the road, jumped into their cars and raced off to start the 24 hours. It was a spectacular if dangerous way to began the most competitive 24 hour race in the world.

As cars became faster with every tear, safety became an increasingly important consideration. It became obvious that many drivers were trying to save a few seconds at the start by driving off without fastening their harnesses. The organisers of the race decreed that 1969 would be the last year of the Le Mans start. In 1970 all drivers would be securely fastened in their cars before the starting flag was dropped.

So, on the 14th of June 1969, 45 drivers made the final dash across the track to start the race, whose starting time had been brought forward to 2 pm instead of the usual 4 pm, because of voting in the final round of the French presidential election the following day.

Of the 45 drivers, Belgian Jacky Ickx decided to show his opposition to the Le Mans start by slowly walking across to his car and slowly fastening his belts, which meant that he was in 45th and last place after the start, a seen in this footage of the start:

Ickx’s protest to the danger of the start was demonstrated immediately when the Porsche 917 of John Woolfe and Herbert Linge crashed on the first lap. Woolfe had not fastened his belts properly in order to get a good start, and it is believed that this action had a major role in his death.

The two factory Porsche 917s of Rolf Stommelen/Kurt Ahrens Jnr and Vic Elford/Richard Attwood led for much of the race, but by early on Monday morning both cars had retired. The battle for victory was now between the Porsche 908 of Hans Hermann and Gerard Larrousse, and the Ford GT40 of Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver, which had made up all of the ground lost due to Ickx’s safety-first start to the race.

Both cars shared the lead in the final stages, with Ickx managing to pass the Porsche on the Mulsanne Straight on the last lap before the 24 hours expired, and holding on to win by a margin of approximately 120 metres (393 feet), the closest finish in the history of the race (excluding the staged finishes where team cars cross the line side-by-side). Both leading cars covered 372 laps in the 24 hours, with the 3rd placed Ford GT40 of David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood covering 368 laps. Only 14 of the original 45 starters were still running at the end of the 24 hours.

Ickx’s victory was the first of six wins for him in the race (1969, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981 and 1982), and the last of four consecutive victories in the 24 hours race by the Ford GT40, which is still considered one of the greatest sports cars of all time.

The other victor on the day was Georges Pompidou, who was elected as French President over an ageing Charles de Gaulle.

 

 

The NRL is terrible


I well thought out article. In light of the Ray Rice incident, you wonder if there is a relationship between violence on the field and violence off it?

Mike or The Don

That a Melburnian doesn’t like the NRL is not overly surprising.

Ugh. Gross.

After all, I grew up being force-fed a steady diet of AFL, and being told that Rugby League is a rubbish sport. To be honest, I still believe Rugby League is a rubbish sport.

But I will take it a step further: The NRL head office, clubs, players, and fans are all awful too. Yes, based on recent evidence, even the fans are awful.

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Lobethal – the Australian Nurburgring


One of my interests has been motor racing history. For the last dozen or so years, I have been researching the history of the Windsor RSL Speedway, which ran between 1949 and 1968 just a couple of blocks away from where I live.

I also have an interest in road racing history, and especially the pre World War 2 era. I enjoy reading about the cars, drivers, races and circuits. One of the great circuits used not only in Australia, but in the whole world during this era was the road circuit which ran on public roads in Lobethal, east of the South Australian capital of Adelaide.

I was recently sent a link to a fantastic 2008 documentary, which incorporates footage of the 2008 Revival meeting, plus contemporary footage of the meetings held between 1937 and 1939. It is almost impossible to make any meaningful comparison between racing of this era and current racing. Qualifying for the 2014 Australian Grand Prix is currently underway as I type this post. I wonder how Sebastien Vettel would go driving around the Lobethal circuit?

Anyway, sit back, enjoy and be amazed at the bravery of the drivers who took on the Australian version of the Nurburgring.

The Kentish Affair


One of the most extraordinary events of World War 2 was the forced abduction of a Australian clergyman at gunpoint, and his subsequent flight and execution at a Japanese base in 1943.

This was the “Kentish Affair”.  Reverend Leonard Neol Kentish was the Chairman of the Chairman of the Methodist Northern Australian Mission District in Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory. The Mission had several buildings on islands in the Arafura Sea, and at regular intervals boats would leave Darwin for these outposts, loaded with supplies and personnel. One such boat was the HMAS Patricia Cam, which has started life as a tuna fishing boat in Sydney.

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HMAS Patricia Cam

The minelaying activities of German Surface raiders in 1940-41 highlighted the shortage of suitable vessels to keep Australian sea lanes clear of this threat and Patricia Cam was requisitioned as an auxiliary minesweeper. She commissioned on 3 March 1942 under the command of Lieutenant John A. Grant, RANR(S).

On 8 March 1942 Patricia Cam sailed from Sydney and headed north. Arriving in Darwin on 5 April, she was employed as a general purpose vessel, which included store carrying and in May salvage on the wreck of the American ship Don Isidoro. The transportation of personnel and supplies around the north and north-western coastline continued throughout 1942.

On the 13th of January 1943, HMAS Patricia Cam left Darwin carrying stores and personnel headed for several outlying stations. Along with the crew, The passengers on board were Reverend Kentish and five natives. She departed Millingimbi on 22 January headed for Elcho Island.

At 1.30pm on 22 January, when HMAS Patricia Cam was heading towards Wessel Island, a plane was seen and heard by several of the ship’s company when just on the point of releasing a bomb. The aircraft, an Aichi E13A (“Jake”) three seater twin-floatplane from the Japanese Naval Air Arm’s 734th Kokatai, had dived from out of the sun with its engine shut down, passing over HMAS Patricia Cam from stern to stem at no more than 100 feet above the mast.

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Aichi E13A floatplane

The bomb landed amidships in the centre of the cargo hatch and exploded in the bottom planking. HMAS Patricia Cam sank within a minute. Several members of the ship’s company were sitting on the forward hatch when the explosion occurred and were thrown down the hold but were almost immediately washed out again by the inrush of water. Both ship’s boats were destroyed but the life-raft remained intact. One sailor, Ordinary Seaman Neil G. Penglase, went down with the ship.

While the survivors were bunched in a small area the plane returned and dropped its second bomb, killing AB Edward D. Nobes and two of the aboriginal passengers. The plane then continued to circle for about half an hour, the rear machine gunner regularly firing into the scattering survivors, but without scoring any hits. The plane then flew away to the northward, but returned five minutes later and alighted on the water. One of the crew climbed out and beckoned for someone to swim over. No one accepted the invitation and the plane taxied in a circle closer to where Mr Kentish and a rating were resting on some floating hatch covers. Threatened with a revolver, Mr Kentish was ordered to swim over to the aircraft and after a brief conversation he was taken on board. The plane thereupon took off and finally disappeared to the north. Eighteen survivors of the attack managed to reach a rocky outcrop near Cumberland Island, and stayed there until being picked up by HMAS Kuru on the 29th of January.

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Survivors of the HMAS Patricia Cam after returning to Darwin

Reverend Kentish’s fate remained unknown until after the war. Investigations by the Allied Occupation Force in Japan revealed that he had been held prisoner at Dobe until 4 May 1943 and then beheaded. Interrogations of former Japanese naval personnel eventually revealed that Sub-Lieutenant Sagejima Maugan had carried out the execution. Following his arrest and trial this officer was hanged at Stanley Gaol, Hong Kong on August 23 1948. Kentish’s body was finally buried at a cemetery in Ambon.

The following webpages were used in the creation of this blog entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aichi_E13A

http://www.ozatwar.com/japsbomb/kentishaffair.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Patricia_Cam

http://www.ww2australia.gov.au/vevp/warcrimes.html

http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-patricia-cam

UPDATE

The “Good Weekend” magazine of the Sydney Morning Herald dated Saturday March 14, 2014 featured an article on the sinking of the HMAS Patricia Cam called “I want him home” by Lisa Clausen. The article interviews Jan Braund, the daughter of crew member Percy Cameron. According to official RAN records, Cameron was lost at sea after the ship was bombed, and has no known grave. But archaeologists from the group Past Masters found on remote Marchinbar Island an L-shaped piece of wood, two metres in length with bolt holes and three intact bolts. Marchinbar Island is part of the Wessel Islands group, the place where the HMAS Patricia Cam was heading when it was attacked.

Giving credence to the possibility that survivors of the sinking made it to shore was the book “Trying to Be Sailors”, written by John Leggoe, one of the survivors who was picked up in late January. According to Leggoe, Percy Cameron and one of the Yplngu passengers had made it to the shore, but died and were buried there.

The Past Masters are trying to raise money to not only travel to Marchinbar Island to see if the graves are still visible, but to examine the wreck of the HMAS Patricia Cam, and see if the remnant found on the island match the wood of the sunken ship.