Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A wartime plane crash or crash landing on Mount Ainslie

UPDATE: Please note this is not the 1940 Canberra Air Disaster near Fairbairn.

UPDATE: 8/6/13 New post. The Mystery is solved.

I research several old tales and rumours from Canberra's past, Its a hobby. Recently one old tale was raised by a friend, Dave Wheeler and it is even more interesting when an old report is backed by some physical evidence. We are both interested in discovering the circumstances...

The following is written by Dave Wheeler who can be contacted via his blog http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au/

My maternal uncle, the late Bill Guard the 3rd, was born in September of 1930 at Nurse Johnston’s Private Hospital in Queanbeyan. If a child could survive The Depression 1930 was a good time to be born, as it meant being too young to go to WW2 but old enough to enjoy the post war boom years where we had virtually 100% employment, affordable housing and little or no congestion.

Uncle Bill was the son of a sign writer, the late Bill Guard the 2nd, who was a well-known identity in the Canberra-Queanbeyan region.  The Guard family moved to Canberra to live in a new govie house at 6 O’Connell Street, Ainslie in 1939.

I did not meet Uncle Bill until he was in his thirties and I knew him only as a friendly, good-natured and quiet sort of a bloke who was much loved by his kids and in his later years his grandkids. I was aware however, that as a lad in Canberra he had not been an angel. He continually wagged school when he attended Canberra High, and as a 14 year old he wanted to fight one of the teachers he did not like, confronting him after school, saying to him, “Come on; just you and me!” The teacher would not oblige him.

Uncle Bill stayed in Canberra until the end of the war and then moved to Sydney to do a fitting and turning apprenticeship. Apparently he did some boxing in Sydney and excelled as a young adult in the rugby codes, playing at a representative level. He eventually joined the merchant navy and went to sea as a maritime engineer.

I am writing about my uncle because sometime between 1939 and 1945 he and his cobbers saw on Mt Ainslie the aftermath of a plane crash or crash-landing. The boys ran to the scene as quickly as they could but were turned back on arrival, as the plane had been cordoned off and officials and emergency personnel were going over it.

Bill and his mates hid behind some nearby bushes to watch the proceedings, but they never found out if the pilot and/or passengers had been killed, injured or walked away unscathed. It was wartime and there may have been some secrecy involved, as it may have been an RAAF plane.

When the officials left the scene as night began to fall the boys crawled through the cordon and took “souvenirs” from the plane. It must have been entirely premeditated, as Uncle Bill had a screwdriver with him, and when he saw a nice brass engine plate he unscrewed it and kept it for many years before he passed it on to me.

I wish I’d taken in more information about the plane crash before my uncle died, which was only a few years ago. Unfortunately his accomplices have also “fallen off the perch.” I would like to know more details about the crash or crash-landing and have searched online without success for articles in “The Canberra Times.” It seems at this stage all knowledge of the event has been lost in the mists of time, which may have been a result of it being deliberately kept quiet by the authorities.

I wrote to England on the matter trying to find out what sort of plane the engine plate came from, and was told that they did not have any records which could assist, although they did say it was not from a Gypsy Moth.

If any readers have any knowledge of the event they may be willing to share it with us.

Update 1/6/13 The mystery is solved.