Clicking on a photo will display a full sized image of the photo in a new window.
At the end of the display of photos, there is a photo of the Caribou aircraft (taken in 1968) that crashed in 1972 killing 4 aircrew and 21 schoolboy cadets followed by an article on the history of that aircraft
The following article on RAAF Caribou A4-233 draws information from a number of sources:
De La Salle College, Bomana, where the cadets were students.
The Post Courier reports on a ceremony where the remaining two ‘old boys’ of the College were invited to commemorate an anniversary of the crash.
The last is a list of RAAF serial numbers and comments.
On 13 October 1965, Detachment A of No. 38 Squadron began operations from Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, equipped with two Caribous. One of the detachment’s tasks was to give Caribou pilots experience in tropical and mountainous conditions, and all aircraft captains were required to complete at least one two-month deployment to Port Moresby before serving with No. 35 Squadron in Vietnam. In addition to its training role, No. 38 Squadron undertook transport flights in and around Australia, taking part when required in relief efforts following natural disasters.
38 Squadron RAAF undertook two operational deployments during the mid-1970s. From March 1975 until November 1978 Detachment B, comprising a single Caribou and support staff, was stationed at Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and transported personnel and supplies for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. From August to October 1975, a No. 38 Squadron Caribou was assigned to transport Red Cross supplies and personnel from Darwin to East Timor after a civil war broke out in that country. On 4 September that year this aircraft was hijacked by East Timorese soldiers, who forced the pilot to fly 54 refugees to Darwin; it remains the only RAAF aircraft ever to have been hijacked. Detachment A was no longer required after Papua New Guinea achieved independence from Australia and established its own defence force, and the unit was disbanded on 17 January 1976.
Three Caribous were lost while operating with the detachment;
A4-202 crashed near Porgera on 3 June 1965,
A4-147 was written off after it landed short of the runway at Tapini Airport on 6 October 1968 and
A4-233 was destroyed when it crashed at Kudjeru Gap on 28 August 1972. The last of these crashes caused the deaths of 25 aircrew and passengers, making it the RAAF’s worst peacetime disaster; 21 of the people killed were high school students returning from an army cadet camp.
Following the end of its permanent presence at Port Moresby, No. 38 Squadron continued to fly periodic training sorties in Papua New Guinea. During the 1980s, detachments of No. 38 Squadron were established at RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Pearce near Perth to provide these regions with a search-and-rescue capability and to exercise with Army units.
The plane pictured (in 1968 receiving maintenance at POM) was A4-233, the third aircraft destroyed with a cost of 25 lives.
History of aircraft A4-233
7 Dec 1965 – Accepted from De Havilland (Call sign VH-???)
6 Aug 1965 – Departed Toronto for RAAF Richmond
21 Aug 1965 – Assigned to 38 Squadron
28 Aug 1972 – Crashed into the ridge of a valley in poor weather in PNG.
Further notes on A4-233:
During a post “D” servicing test flight on the 11 September 1968, the pilots had a undercarriage malfunction in which the main gear would not extend. The aircraft was landed on just the nose wheel and ramp, using a foam path. The pilots were one Australian and a Malaysian on Caribou conversion. The aircraft was repaired at No 38 Sqn and test flown serviceable on the 23 September 1968.
A4-233 visited HDH Bankstown on the 24 January 1969, 07 August 1970 and then again on the 30 September 1971.
Served with 38 Sqn Det “A” 1972.
Crashed 28 August 1972, Kudjero Gap PNG during a flight from Wau and Mt Yule.
This was 38 Sqn’s first and only fatal Caribou accident.
Crew; FLTLT Graham David Thomas O222081 (Pilot), PLTOFF Gregory Lionel Ebsary O58698 (Co-Pilot), CPL Gary Ainsleigh Power A222878 (Loadmaster), CAPT Robert Dawson Loftus (ARA GLO).
Also on board were 25 PNG cadets.
All cadets were from De La Salle College except for SGT Nad who was from Popondetta High.