Sunday, June 26, 2011

Map of 73Sqn Action In France - Anderson At War

We know Keith Anderson was borne in Perth Australia and lived in South Africa, working as a clerk in the Education Department for "Whites" when he joined the Royal Air Corps. After his training he joined 73 Sqn and was sent to the front line in France on 24th February 1918 (He would have been 19 years Old).

We know 73 Sqn was sent to France in January 1918 and saw action over Lietres (73Sqn's Base) ; Bethune; Fleurbaix; Menen; Boesinghe. On 1 April 1918 Keith Anderson was made a lietenant in the newly formed Royal Air Force. Keith Anderson returned to England and was posted to the "Home Establishment" (Like the Home Defence Force shooting down Enemy "Blimps" bombing England etc) on 6th April 1918.

Anderson was Posted Back to the "Independent Force France" on 23rd October 1918The Armactice was signed three weeks later on 11 November 1918.

The map also shows "The Somme" lines in 1916 to the South of 73Sqns lines in Northern France.  

From Wikapedia on 73 SQN
The first offensive patrols over enemy lines took place on 18 February 1918. On the 20th, all 18 Camels, divided into three 'Flights' patrolled a line between Roeselare and Menin and the first combat report was completed by Captain Gus Orlebar, submitting that an Albatros D.V may have been damaged. It was the start of a combat record that would show ten aces serving in the squadron, including Owen BaldwinGavin L. GrahamWilliam StephensonWilliam Henry HubbardEmile John LussierRobert ChandlerNorman CooperMaurice Le Blanc-SmithThomas Sharpe, and future Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey Pidcock.

[edit]Aircraft used

As at 1 October 1917, the squadron had the following aircraft:
'A' Flight:
'B' Flight:
'C' Flight:
  • 1 Avro
From November 1917, the squadron began to re-equip entirely with Sopwith Camels powered by 130 hp Clerget engines. By the time it deployed to France in January 1918, the Squadron had 18 Camels, which it retained throughout the rest of the Great War.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Keith Anderson Diary & Photos - Permission Sally Douglas

The Keith Anderson Diary photo is Eric's as is the Aboriginal trackers (I'm fairly sure) - Eric was the only one in the RAAF party with a camera but he had to hand in his negatives to the RAAF. The Hitchcock and Anderson photo was sent by Milton Kent for my father to copy - Eric may have done the print himself - I do remember him developing his own photos
I'm happy for you to use these on the blog


Diary -
"Page 1.
Diary 10/4/29 to  /4/29.
Forced landed here 2.35 p.m. 10th April, 1929, thru push rod loosening No 2 cylinder cutting out x (x as at Algebuckna a.m. 9/4/1929 but temporarily fixed K.V.A. exhaust valve and 25h.p. Cleared bit of a runway here which turned out insufficient or engine coincidentally lost power. Since 12/4/29 all efforts of course next to nil thru having no water to drink except solutions of urine with oil, petrol  methylated from compass.
Directed on obtaining sufficient power from engine to point of successful take off.
No take off able to be attempted since 11/4/29 due to increased debilitation, thirst, heat, dust, flies. Left Stuart (Alice Springs) 7.15 a.m. local time and followed telegraph for 100 miles.
Page 2.
which was intention. Cut off then direct for point between Wave Hill and Ord River Downs. On a/c. cross wind and inaccurate compass and having practically only sun for guidance as large map showed only featureless desert determined to above on norrard of course which am sure have done as was in the air 7 hours. 7 a.m. Pretty confident had duckpond on my starboard. I figure the position to be".

Eric wrote this in long hand and also had it typed and now I've word-processed it . The diary is in the WA Museum and I viewed it a few years ago - they hadn't had it out of storage for about 30 years and when I was there they decided to make a storage box for it - I had to go to their storage depot out of Perth. It was a sobering and mindful moment for me to view the Diary.

Bobby Hitchcock and Keith Anderson in front of the Kookaburra 
(Possibly taken just before leaving at Richmond NSW)

Photo of Kookaburra in Tanami - Permission Sally Douglas

This picture was taken by Eric Douglas. It shows the "Kookaburra" Registration "AUKA" (AU - for Australia; KA for Keith Anderson) with the Grave of Hitchcock under its wing. 

Eric Douglas' Story - Permission from Sally Douglas

Eric Douglas' Story
 Commanding Officer - 3 AD Amberley – July 1942 to November 1948 (possibly to early 1949)
Duties - Formation of No 3 Aircraft Depot RAAF Amberley and it’s build up of Workshops, and ancillary sections to a self contained unit of 1600 (RAAF) personnel. (Eric’s notes)
In 1947 there were 94 Civilian staff associated with Amberley and the ancillary bases mentioned below. Of course there were also many US Servicemen stationed at Amberley during this period and there was also quite a village ‘off’ the Air base at Amberley – were many of the RAAF Airmen lived. It is only in fairly recent times that many of these old wooden houses have been removed. The US Servicemen included many Afro-Americas who were heavily involved in conveys, transporting aeroplanes and parts of aeroplanes to and from Amberley. There were also many top-ranking US Colonels – Reed, Gilchrist and Majors – Millard; to name a few. Of course there were many visits by Chiefs of the RAAF and other dignitaries; including the Duke of Gloucester, and Lord Montgomery (to Archerfield)
RAAF Aircraft at Amberley during that period included – The Anson, Beaufighter, Beaufort, Beechcraft, Boomerang, Dakota, Gipsy Major, Liberator, Mitchell, Mosquito, Mustang, Scout Fighter, Spitfire, Vampire [1948 demo flight – I was lifted into the cockpit by my father], Vengeance, Ventura and Wirraway (Eric’s notes)
Other aircraft in the skies over Amberley included – the Aerocobra, Black Widow, Boston, Catalina, Commando, Corsair, Dauntless, Flying Fortress, Hudson, Kingcobra, Kittyhawk, Lancaster, Lancastrian, Lightening, Lincoln Bomber, Maurader, Percival Gull, Rapide, Skymaster, Superfortress, Tiger Moth, York, Waco Glider and Wapiti.
Other areas under Eric’s command in Queensland were – Archerfield, Lowood, Charleville, and Kingaroy. (Eric’s notes)
While Oakey (Eric made solo return flights from Amberley to Oakey) and Warwick also linked in with Amberley.
Mentioned by Eric are 3AD (Amberley), 82 living and ADHQ in 1946. (Eric’s notes)
Aircraft Storage of ‘Mosquito’ – (likely 1946) – 3AD – Category B - 22, Category A – 10; Lowood – Category B – 21, Category E – 3, Kingaroy – Category E – 7 ie Total of 63.
Total Storage of Aircraft as at 30/9/1946 was 339. (Eric’s notes)
Eric was also instrumental in developing and opening up new runways at Amberley – initially we lived in the (local) Amberley School house and later in a house that was virtually at the end of the main runway and made up of two (pre-fabricated) sections with an outside lobby or landing in between – that is where the kegs of beer were kept. One section contained what we called ‘the ballroom’ (which was often used for entertaining and dancing – by Eric as C/O), the main bedroom and a bathroom – the other section contained the kitchen and a dining/living room and a couple of small bedrooms. It was all very modest and austere in keeping with those war and post-war days.  There was often a RAAF drill that went past the house and I had a perfect view hanging over the fence and could enjoy seeing who was in step and who wasn't and being the ‘boss’s daughter’ could call out and let them know – earning some quick sly looks.
In the latter stages, the road from Rosewood to Ipswich crossed over the main runway at Amberley and there were gates on both sides of the airstrip. So vehicle traffic was often banked up, waiting to drive across the main runway in either direction. A bit like a railway crossing these days - but now of course it is all off limits.
At the back of our house were aircraft hangers and on the other side of the airstrip aeroplanes of seemingly all types lined up – their days of use over. Some were under dark camouflage nets and obviously were secret or had further days of use. At the other end of the main runway was the creek and that was too far and not the place for me to adventure to – although my (older) brother Ian spent many hours there enjoying himself swimming and ‘mucking around’ with his mates and  ‘the troops’.

Eric Douglas' Stetson Hat that he wore - Permission Sally Douglas

Eric Douglas' Log Book - With Permission from Sally Douglas

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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eaton and Douglas information

I am going to contact Charles and Sally for permission to post some of the information they have sent me

Contacting the experts

Over the past few months some interesting people have viewed and commented on my blog. These people include Dr. Charles Eaton (the son of GpCpt Charles "Moth" Eaton) and Mrs Sally Douglas (daughter of GpCpt Eric Douglas) who were the men who found Anderson and Hitchcock in the Tanimi Desert and buried them where they lay beside their aircraft. Dr. Charles Eaton and Sally Douglas have provided a great deal of personal information from their father's diaries and log books. In 1929 "Moth" Eaton was a Flt Lt pilot and Eric Douglas was a Sgt pilot in the RAAF. "Moth" Eaton was incharge of five DH9A bi-planes sent to fly from Laverton RAAF to search for Anderson in the northern parts of Australia.

According to their log books they flew for up to five hours per day in very harsh conditions logging about 50 hrs flying for the whole trip. The aircraft had lots of spare parts and five mechanics to keep them flying. However it is worth noting that of the five aircraft three were destroyed or damaged beyond repair during the mission and only two returned to Point Cook. Even with all that support they lost most of their planes, so what chance did Anderson and Hitchcock have trying to do this on their own... None!!