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Posted on: 10 December, 2018

Canal Creek Memorial Service held to remember WWII Air Disaster on 75th Anniversary


Livingstone Shire Council will host a special memorial service on Wednesday, 19 December from 8am to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of Australia’s second largest air disaster.

Douglas Dakota, a C-47 military aircraft travelling from Townsville to Brisbane went down at Canal Creek, a location north west of Yeppoon on 19 December 1943 at 9.20am. Thirty-one fatalities were recorded from this event.

As part of the special commemorations, Clive Dick, whose father was the Australian War Correspondent killed in the air disaster, will attend the service with his wife Beth. Mr Dick was just seven weeks old when his father was killed.

Mr Dick said he was looking forward to attending the service for the first time, where he will lay a wreath on his father’s behalf.

Mayor Bill Ludwig said although this story is tragic, it is an integral part of the region’s history and is acknowledged with a biannual service held by Livingstone Shire Council at the memorial site.

“Commemorating the 75th Anniversary on the exact date that this historic disaster took place, holds a special significance as we remember those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances more than seven decades ago,” Cr Ludwig said.

Included in the 31 people who lost their lives were 20 United States Armed Services personnel, eight Australian Defence personnel, an Australian war photographer, a YMCA representative and an adjutant of the Salvation Army.

Yeppoon local John Millroy said he was extremely proud to be part of the 75th Anniversary commemorations this year, after advocating for an official memorial to be placed on the site in 2011, having secured more than $14,000 in Local, State and Federal Government funding. The construction was voluntary and Mr Millroy expressed thanks to the team of Cedric Lock, Brian Fisher, Tom Porter, and Bill Atkinson.

In 2012, the memorial, comprised of two plaques with the names of all passengers, historical photos of the crash and pieces of the aircraft was officially opened by the Queensland Governor Penny Wensley.

“Since the opening, memorial services have been held every two years to coincide with the Talisman Sabre military exercises, so having it on the actual day this year means something significant,” Mr Millroy said.

“The story of the disaster was a very well-kept secret, with only a few chosen stories being passed around about the second worst air disaster in Australia.

“I think it’s important to have a marker at the site for relatives and family to visit and the local community to officially acknowledge, and the feedback from people has been amazing. It’s great that Council supports preserving the history of our region.”

Members of the public are invited to attend the Canal Creek Service which will include a wreath laying ceremony followed by a morning tea at the Caves Country Pub.

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