The RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster

Take time today to remember those killed in the RAAF’s worst peacetime air disaster, the crash of a 38 Squadron Caribou transport aircraft in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea on 28 August 1972.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Carrying three crew and 26 passengers, the aircraft went missing whilst flying between Lae and Port Moresby. Most of the passengers were high school cadets; there was also an Australian army officer (my father) and a cadet officer (a high school teacher) on board.

Despite a massive search, the Caribou was not found for several days due to the remote location and tall trees. Only four of the passengers survived, all cadets.

A remembrance service is held each year at De la Salle High School at Bomana, near Port Moresby, as most of those on board the aircraft had been students of the school. The laying of wreaths at a small memorial at the high school (see photo) follows the service.

 

 

On this day in 1916 O’Meara goes into action…

Today is the centenary of the actions near Pozières in France that saw Western Australian Irish-born infantryman Martin O’Meara receive a Victoria Cross. His actions are often associated with the 16th Battalion’s advance between Pozières and Mouquet Farm from 9-12 August 1916, but O’Meara was involved from 8 August onwards when parts of the 16th Battalion were under the operational control of the 15th Battalion.

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On 8 August 1916, at 6.00pm, the 16th Battalion’s A Company under Captain Ross Harwood moved off to support the 15th Battalion. The 15th Battalion was to mount an attack the line from the Brind’s Road (or Ovillers-Courcellete Road) trench line towards the 5th Avenue/Ration Trench/Park Lane trench system to the northwest of Pozières in the direction of Mouquet Farm, a distance of around 200 metres) that evening following an artillery barrage.

At 10.40pm on 8 August, the battalion headquarters received a message from the 4th Brigade headquarters asking about the position of A Company, and the battalion replied that A Company was under the control of the 15th Battalion in K Trench (which ran north-south to the west of Pozières) and that D Company was ready to move at short notice if required.

Martin O’Meara was working alongside the 16th Battalion’s A Company in support of the 15th Battalion overnight, as Captain Ross Harwood, commanding the 16th Battalion’s A Company, observed that:

On the night of the 8/9th I saw No.3970 Pte. O’Meara, M., out into “No Man’s Land” where it was being severely shelled and remove wounded men to places of safety where he rendered first aid and thence subsequently he assisted to carry them down to the Dressing Station. I personally saw him remove not less than 6 men mostly of the 15th Battalion A.I.F. and the Suffolk Battalion. One of the wounded whom I saw him remove in this is Lieut Fogarty of the 15th Battalion A.I.F.

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My new biography of Martin O’Meara VC is now available for purchase. It provides a comprehensive account of his life, from a lad in County Tipperary, through his time in Australia, his wartime service, his time in Perth after the war, to his sad death in a mental hospital in Perth, Western Australia, in 1935.

Click here for more information on the book.

Biography of Martin O’Meara VC now available

I am pleased to advise that my biography of Martin O’Meara VC, Australia’s only Irish-born Victoria Cross recipient of the First World War, has now been published and is available to purchase.

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An enlistee from Collie in Western Australia, Martin is also notable as the second Western Australian to get a VC during the War, the first Western Australian to get a VC on the Western Front, and the first 16th Battalion soldier to get a VC during the war.

Sadly, Martin is also remembered for his severe mental breakdown shortly after returning to Australia in November 1918. He spent the rest of his life in mental hospitals and is buried at Karrakatta here in Perth.

The book can be purchased through several channels.

If you’re in Perth email me (ianloftus@gmail.com) or call me 0417 674 974 and we can organise something. It’s also available at the Army Museum of Western Australia’s bookshop at Fremantle.

If you’re overseas or not in Perth, it can be ordered via my print-on-demand supplier via the following link:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/ian-loftus/the-most-fearless-and-gallant-soldier-i-have-ever-seen/paperback/product-22784825.html

If you’re after multiple copies feel free to contact me and we can negotiate a bulk order discount.

In closing, exactly one hundred years ago Martin O’Meara’s 16th Battalion moved from a training camp near the French village of Warloy to positions near the town of Albert ready to move forward to front line positions. Next week marks the centenary of the 16th Battalion’s actions near the village Pozieres that saw Martin awarded the VC. Take time over the coming week to reflect on the sacrifices made by Martin’s fellow servicemen from Western Australia and South Australia near Pozieres