Tuesday, June 21, 2011

FINDING ANDERSON - Eric Douglas' Statement - With permission Sally Douglas

Photo of Douglas and Eaton Returning to Point Cook after their Journey to Tanami.

I, Sergeant Douglas, of the R.A.A.F. of Melbourne state:-
On 24th, April, 1929, in company with Flight Lieutenant Eaton and Mr Moray, I left Wave Hill station en route to the bodies of Lieut. Anderson and Mechanic Hitchcock, in the vicinity of their Westland G-AUKA aeroplane.
I arrived there at one (1) o’clock P.M. on the 29th April,1929.
The bodies were situate about eighty (80) miles, direct air line, East South East of Wave Hill.
The body of the mechanic Hitchcock was lying under the right wing of the aeroplane. The body was lying on its right side, with the head resting in the palm of the hand.
Through being decomposed, the features of the man were unrecognisable, but deceased had brown hair, round features, and was about 5 feet 7 inches, or 5 feet 8 inches in height - stout built. There was also a bandage on the left leg of the body: this, and the fact that he left Alice Springs with Anderson after treatment at the hospital there led me to the conclusion that it was Hitchcock's body.
The deceased was not personally known to me.
The registration marks and name on the aeroplane corresponded with the one for which Lieut. Eaton and myself were searching.
After a further search round we found the body of Anderson about four hundred and forty (440) yards from the machine.
Papers close to the body showed him to be Lieutenant Keith Anderson.
Deceased was unknown to me personally.
In company with Lieutenant Eaton and Mr Moray I buried the bodies.
(by E Douglas)
The RAAF used Wave Hill Cattle Station as a base and a team went into the Tanami to the "Kookaburra" -
Flight Lieutenant Charles Eaton - Officer in Charge of the RAAF search, Sergeant Pilot Eric Douglas, Mr Moray (Lawrence) of Vestys and based at Wave Hill, Mr Moray's 1928 single seater Buick car, 3 Aboriginal trackers and 26 horses. The RAAF aeroplanes (DH9A's) flew overhead at times indicating the way to the "Kookaburra"

"Two of our aeroplanes then appeared overhead and by dipping, they indicated the direction which we should take; they then flew over to our left and made landings on the nearby clay pan which we could partly see through the scrub, several miles away. Flight Lt. Eaton went across to them on horseback accompanied by the station hand "Sambo" as a guide, and met F/O. Ryan and F/O. Gerrand. Later they returned with a supply of salt beef and Flight Lt. Eaton informed us that he told F/O. Ryan we intended shortly to abandon the car and take to the horses..."
Eric said that the trackers were Daylight, Sambo and Jimmy (likely the Jamama that Charles mentioned)
The trek into the Tanami and back took 8 days - many of the horses perished through thirst


...Distances traversed by land party
(a) By Flight Lt. Eaton, Sgt Douglas & Mr Moray - by car 84 miles and by horses 140 miles.
(b) By natives and horses - 265 miles.
(by C Eaton (snr)
The DH9A that Pilot Officer M. Allen  was flying was destroyed after permission was sought by Flight Lt Eaton from the Air Board - Eric had made a local test flight and reported that it was using excessive oil - the test was to check the oil consumption

Flight Lt Eaton's DH9A crashed and soon after instruments were removed from the cockpit
That is two.

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