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Anniversary of bombers crash landing

Lynne Mowbray

This Friday marks the 73rd anniversary of the crashing at South Grafton airstrip of two out of five US B-25 Mitchell Bombers, which crossed the coast and lost their way, on August 14, 1942.
The bombers were to land at Amberley Air Force base west of Brisbane. The bombers were instructed to tune in to the commercial radio station transmitter west of Brisbane. Instead they picked up a stronger signal, possible 2NR and followed the river towards Grafton.
It is believed the planes mistook the Clarence River for the Brisbane River and by the time they realised their mistake they were dangerously low on fuel which forced two of the planes to land at the South Grafton airstrip and subsequently overrunning the airstrip and crashing.
Another two planes crashed near Casino and the fifth crash landed at Evens Head.
It has been said that a message announced over the local radio in Grafton for help from the community saw around 100 cars light up the airstrip with their car headlights to help guide the aircraft in.

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