RECENT stories of a Beaufort Bomber crash on the escarpment at Foxground in 1943 have rekindled memories of Old Erowal Bay resident Peter Ellmoos.
Mr Ellmoos was just nine years old when a similar Beaufort crashed into St Georges Basin in 1944, not far from his family’s property, Christian’s Minde at Sussex Inlet.
The Ellmoos family were the first settlers of what is now Sussex Inlet.
“I remember it like yesterday,” the now 78-year-old said.
“I was at home at Christian’s Minde and we heard an almighty crash, followed by a big black column of smoke.
“I ran across our property through the bush and arrived on the southern banks of St Georges Basin at the crash site in what we called Oaky Lagoon, because of all the oak trees that surrounded the area.
“My uncle George [George Junk], who was working as a fisherman with my grandfather Thomas, had already arrived on the scene.
“There was no road into the area at that time and he recovered the five airmen who had been killed.
“He wrapped them in parachutes and then used other parachutes to write a message on the small beach near the crash site saying, ‘5 DEAD’.”
Mr Ellmoos said the scene was something he never forgot.
“It was just terrible,” he said.
“The plane ended up in only about knee deep water, embedded in a swampy sort of area.
“There was debris everywhere; the top of the aircraft had collapsed into the fuselage.
“George said a couple of bodies had been thrown clear and were floating in the lagoon.
“I remember the portside wheel was embedded about five or six feet into the mud.
“I believed George contacted the base at Jervis Bay and they came and recovered the bodies and parts of the plane and I think they took them to Albatross.
“Because of where it was, the plane had to be taken away in parts.
“I was only a kid and never really heard what had happened – it was all war secrets and things like that back then – they were too busy with the war.
“I know it really affected George – later on I heard about rumours of sabotage etc, but who knows?
“I believe the plane had been operating out of the airstrip at Jervis Bay.
“For years after we would come across pieces of the wreckage still in the Basin when we would go prawning – there are probably still parts of it in there today.”