|380th Bomb Group
NEWSLETTER #14 -- March 2003
"I am very pleased to report that the ceremony to reopen the site of B-24 "Milady" went ahead as planned on 18 December. The site has had a lot of mitigative work carried out, including clearing of the undergrowth, installation of a pathway throughout the site and a low fence to define the site and prevent vehicles driving into the actual crash site and wreckage. New interpretive signage has been installed at key points throughout the site and I understand Russ Brooks provided drafts of these at the 2002 Reunion of the 380th BG.
There were about 40 people in attendance which is very good for this time of the year and in particular in light of the high temperatures and humidity, the impending Christmas break and the remoteness of the site. I gave a brief introductory speech as the 380th's representative and then introduced the government Minister, The Honourable Kon Vatskalis, who coincidentally is also an officer with No. 13 RAAF Reserve Squadron and who served with the Greek Air Force some years ago.
The Minister gave an excellent presentation, responding to a very appropriate letter from the 380th Bomb. Group President, Tom Hunt, and dedicating the site to the memory of the American airmen who gave such sterling service here during WWII and to all airmen who had paid the supreme sacrifice in protecting our freedoms. I gave some brief tours through the site for the guests and was also involved in being interviewed by the media - the result was very good coverage on all TV channels and in the newspaper. I will send a copy of the newspaper article for your files. In all it was a most fitting ceremony and one that has now raised more awareness of the air war and the role of the 380th BG over northern Australia in WWII. I was very proud to have been involved and particularly as the 380th's representative here."
Bob Alford MPHA
The Minister's Speech Notes and Tom Hunt's letter follow, along with some photographs of the ceremony.
Speech Notes from The Honourable Kon Vatskalis MLA
Minister for Infrastructure and Planning and Environment
Northern Territory, Australia
WWII Crash Site B24 Bomber "Milady" - Cox Peninsula
·Welcome - Ladies and Gentleman, staff from the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment, the media.
·Today is a very important and special occasion, as we re-open this historic WWII crash site that has been dedicated to the memory of the crew who died here so long ago.
·The USAF B24 Bomber you see before you today has been here for nearly 60 years, and as you've heard, was not uncovered until the 1960's. Attempts to care for this site in the early 80's and late 90's were unsuccessful until now.
·The contribution of the Cox Peninsula Community Council to this project - in particular clerk Mr. Graham Watson - deserve special praise as they have undertaken the bulk of works on this site.
·The Americans loved to name their warplanes and "MILADY" as she is fondly known was a US aircraft based at RAAF Base Darwin with the 380th Bombardment Group. Hundreds like her operated from Australian bases attacking Japanese military targets during WWII.
·On the 17th January 1945, "MILADY" crashed here during a routine training mission, killing all 6 of her crew.
·This site now stands as a reminder of the tragic loss of life in the defence of Australia by our allies. It is a declared heritage site.
·Recognising the importance of this site, the Martin Government sought to improve the area and make it a place everyone could share.
·In a Government funded project worth almost $15,000, the Cox Peninsular Community Council undertook clearing, fencing and installed interpretative signage and a walk path around the site… and I think you'll all agree they've done a wonderful job!
·The 380th Bomb Group remain an active unit in America today and when we told them of our intentions to improve this area, they were thrilled and have sent a letter to be read out to you all today…. (Tom Hunt's Letter)
·I'd now like to thank you all for coming today and declare this site re-opened and invite you all to tour the site… (CUT RED RIBBON - HOLD FOR CAMERAS)
On December 18, 2002, the Government of the Northern Territory of Australia held a ceremony on Cox Peninsula near Darwin at the location of the crash of MILADY of the 531st; the site has recently been refurbished by the Historical Society. These are photos from that ceremony.
|Honourable Kon Vatskalis delivering his speech. He is the Northern Territories Minister for Infrastructure Planning & Environment, which includes the Heritage Division.|
|Cutting the ribbon: Honourable Kon Vatskalis (left) and Bob Alford (right) .|
|Honourable Kon Vatskalis; the crash site can be seen behind him.|
|Dale and Ellen Egan; Dale is a local councillor (Cox Peninsular Community Government Council); the Council has taken on the long-term responsibilty for the maintenance of the site.|
|Karen Cooper (left) from the Heritage Branch; she took a personal interest in the site and wrote a paper on the site as part of her university degree. David Ritchie (right), CEO of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, who also had a personal interest in the project. The site is right next to aboriginal lands.|
|Maree Tetlow (left), CEO of the Northern Territory Tourist Commission. Patrina Malone (right), from the NT News.|