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18: Yet another Greeting from the Japs

During the night the baby's mother, Mrs. van Tuyn died. At dawn Hendriks died too.

The morning of 4 March Ivan was sleeping, but he wakened to excitement - a plane's engines could be heard, far away, coming nearer. Their SOS had been received, then!

Yes, the SOS had been received, but not by their friends. The approaching plane was a big Jap four-engined flying-boat. Down he came, leisurely, and after a preliminary inspection flew in, dropping a stick of five bombs across the Douglas. Then he went away.

Survival, they could see, depended on water. Ivan sent two men out in the morning, into the hinterland, to try and locate a brook, a spring, a pool, even. They had tried to suck the dew from the few poor leaves on the scrub but it was brackish, increasing their thirst. Ignoring Ivan's instructions to return to camp before mid-day, the men who had gone on the water search kept on all day and crept back, late at night, in a state of collapse. One man had taken off his shoes because they hurt him, and crawled back, the soles of his feet nearly burned off.

On the third morning it was obvious that something would have to be done quickly. The sparse water supplies were rapidly drying out. Ivan called the men together and said that those who were fit to walk must try to make the desert trek to Broome. He would stay with the injured.

"Go," he said to Joe Muller (the radioman), Pieter Cramerus, Brinkman and van Romondt.
"Don't come back. If you keep going maybe you will be found. Then you can send help to us."
"If you come back here you die - we die too."
Nobody said goodbye - neither party expected to see the other again...

The four men were now heading south for Broome. They followed the beach for a while, but a huge inlet (Carnot Bay) stopped them. Tremendous waves warned them not to swim across. Joe Muller and Pieter Cramerus decided to try it anyway, and fortunately they succeeded. The other two guys had refused to swim and instead walked alongside the inlet, turning east and then north-east.

Joe Muller and Pieter Cramerus luckily survived their dangerous swimming and had now resumed walking. After a while they suddenly noticed an aboriginal watching them from the distance. The aboriginal told them that they were some 40 kilometres from a mission post in northern direction. That evening they shot a kangaroo and had a resting sleep. Next day they arrived at Beagle Bay Mission...

They were saved....

Here comes another interview with Pieter Cramerus, made by Tom Poederbach in 2008, when Pieter was 92 years. The interview describes how they were found:


Back at the crash site, Mr. Blaauw died...

Sacred Heart Church at Beagle Bay
After four days in distress, on 6 March, a plane with the rondels of the Royal Australian Air Force found its way to them. The plane flew in low and parachuted several packages in a neat line along the sands. There were medicines and dressings, everything they had needed for the seriously wounded, and, tragically, it was there too late. There was tinned food, milk - and cigarettes, and wrapped around the cigarette tins were a message:

"Relief party will be with you tonight with food and medical supplies - arriving at sunset from mission" (See picture)..

Beagle Bay Mission is located north-east of Carnot Bay (see map below).

Now the baby died.

The survivors were easily found at 3 am on 7 March 1942. The relief party guided the exhausted men some 35 kilometres back to the mission at Beagle Bay, where they were taken care of by brother Richard and his nuns. In no time they all fell in a deep sleep.

When they all woke up again they saw that both the Pieter Cramerus group, as well as the Romondt group, were there. They were nearly delirious when natives found them and guided them the last couple of miles to the mission. Now they all sat up, congratulating each other.

(The beautifull Sacred Heart Church at the Beagle Bay Mission was completed in 1918. Unfortunately the bell tower collapsed in early September 2000. With the generous support from thousands of individuals and organizations from all around Australia and overseas, the completely restored bell tower was, on 3 November 2002, brought back to its former glory.)

After 117 kilometres of endless truck driving, they finally arrived down at Broome. They were popped straight into the cottage hospital, where the nurses fussed over their exhausted and emaciated condition.

Seals from the box of diamonds

In the meantime, Jack Palmer a well known beachcomber in the Broome area sailed his lugger into the Carnot and Beagle Bays area. He spotted the wrecked DC3. Being a beachcomber he salvaged what he could from the plane. It is presumed that he found the mystery box with the diamonds at low tide. Stories have been told that he shared some of his booty of diamonds with friends and some local aborigines.

In mid April 1942 Jack Palmer made a visit to Army headquarters at Broome and asked to enlist in the Army. During an interview with Major Clifford Gibson he unexpectedly poured a salt shaker full of diamonds over the desk. They were confiscated and sent to Perth. Palmer was taken into custody by Lieutenant Laurie O'Neill who led an investigation into the incident. They took Palmer back to the crash site. They found pieces of torn brown paper wrapping and seals that came off the box. While they were there, the team salvaged some parts of the aircraft.

Smirnoff's DC3 at Carnot Bay

RAAF salvage team at Carnot Bay in April 1942. Jack Palmer is the fellow in the white singlet.

Recent Images: Copyright Dion Marinis, Broome Museum. CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE!

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1. Dakota Port Wing Section 2. Controls??
3. Dakota Engine 4. Plaque digged out

The Plaque in image 4 commemorate those who died in the disaster. The names are D.A. Hendriks 26 yrs. - T. Blaauw 29 yrs. - Maria Van Tuyn 28 yrs. - Baby Johannes Van Tuyn 1 yrs. The plaque was digged out of the sand dunes at Smirnoff Beach by Dion Marinis.

Crash site is just south of the Memorial Cross.

In 2001, the Western Australian Museum had an expedition arranged to the Carnot Bay area, among others to see if there were anything left of the DC3. Here is what was experienced:

"11/06. Up and away to the [Carnot Bay DC3] site crammed into the Budget Rental car finding the wing exposed and no other wreckage near by - a really great disappointment.

0700. Did the inspection and discussed the histories with Corioli, Geoff & Peter providing the history. The wing is the port wing measuring 9 metres from the foot to the top. It lies on an angle to north of roughly east/west (measured at around 250°/80° [recorded by] by Peter. The highest part of the wing is 25 cm high at the engine mount within which is a tyre that is quite twisted and battered and not as written in some accounts still inflated. 40° away from the leading easterly edge of the wing at a distance of 5.4 metres is an unidentified vertical object 40 cm high with a cylindrical base just off the western top of the wing is another jumble resembling elements of the engine bearers visible at the other extremity of the site. The area was probed producing no evidence of the other wing or the fuselage. Advice is that the aircraft was torched in WWII and vandalised after a bomb located by Stan Gadja was exploded in the 70s.
Sparse remains of DC3

After the digital record manual drawing and probing, the team departed ahead of the incoming tide for camp at 0830. Remainder of the day at camp when Peter Bibby came in with two pieces of the aircraft found embedded just below the low mark in rocks at 500m from our camp towards the aircraft. DC3 (1) - 1 560 mm x 180 mm, 4 milled holes pop rivetted fuselage section? DC3 (2) - 1 250 x 370 A/ trag? With some iron and A/ rivets unid.

These are perhaps some clue to the sparseness of the remains at the site it also possibly having broken up in cyclones. Equally these could have been souvenirs abandoned on the walk in.

The presence of a holiday camp in the point not far from our camp attests to visitations here. Flew out with the film crew for an exciting trip home along the coast and over Broome noting the extraordinary clarity until Gantheume Point was reached then viz in the water dropped to zero. John/Corioli and co arrived after dark."

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