Vultee Vengeance Mystery

On Sunday 27 August 1944, a RAAF Vultee Vengeance dive bomber went missing on a training flight from Pearce near Perth. The plane had apparently become lost and run out of fuel.Vultee Vengeance memorial - photo by Linda Rose

The RAAF started a search between New Norcia and Moora without any luck. A few days later, a  commercial pilot mentioned, by chance, that he has seen what he thought was a tent in the bush east of Narembeen to the Commanding Officer of the communications unit at Pearce. Using this tip off, the next morning a bomber identified a parachute in the area by no sign of life. A large number of soldiers from Northam were sent in from Northam.

Four days after the crash, the pilot (Warrant Officer J Ingram) was found at a remote farmhouse having survived by eating goanna. On realising that he was nearly out of fuel, the pilot had warned the navigator (Flt/Sgt CL King) to bale out and conducted the necessary roll to allow him to do so. The pilot then climbed to the required height and baled out himself. On landing, there was no sign of navigator King so he headed west until he found the farmhouse.

A huge effort was mounted to try and locate King and the aircraft. The wreckage was finally discovered 6 days later – the engine was buried ten feet into the ground and strewn over 10 acres of thick scrub. The navigator, Flt/Sgt CL King was never found.

After the war, his father travelled from the eastern states and enlisted the help of Holtfreter to make another search for his lost son, but to no avail.

A plaque has been placed to mark the sight of the crash.

Further information is available to read at the Yilgarn History Museum or in the book “Vengeance of the Outback” written by Charles Page (available for purchase through the Shire of Yilgarn).

How to get there

From Southern Cross, pass the Palace Hotel on the Marvel Loch Road. At 16kms on the left is the remains of Concrete Well and Camel Paddocks used by the camel teamsters during the early days (a large salmon gum marks this spot at the bottom of the crest). 

3kms further along the road is Gatherer School site dated 1929-1944. Continue straight for 5.8kms to a junction of bitumen and gravel road. Continue 14.2kms until you reach a road junction signposted Hyden/Moorine Rock. Directly alongside the signpost on the right is a track into Cockatoo Tank. This is a slight detour to the Vultee Venegeance site but a good picnic place and water hole.

Back on the road, continue to Hyden for 3.4kms until you reach a crossroads marked Parkers Range Road Burbidge. Turn right into Emu Fence Road - Hyden. 53kms along this road is a sign post to the crash site (5kms).

Address

King-Ingram Rd, Mount Holland WA 6426