August 1943 In Papua New Guinea, NT and Goolwa

AUGUST 1943    This month, 80 years ago by Frank Tuckwell


The push up Trails from Mubo and Lababia Ridge toward Mount Tambu continuous as Brigadier Murray Moten’s 17th Brigade pushes hard against stubborn Japanese troops as they fall units back in a fighting retreat. Fighting between the enemy forces and the Allied units in the Mt Tambu region has been heavy since last month from July 16 and now into the month of August  as the 17th Brigade have advanced into the vicinity.

Mount Tambu with is features of a range of dense jungle covered razorback ridges as the highest feature about six the miles from their destination, Salamaua. The 2/5th and 2/6th Battalions of the 2/AIF and the 42nd Battalion Militia had taken up a flanking position as part of a pincer move with the 17th Brigade coming up to attempt surrounding the entrenched enemy force on the mountain.


The area was defended by a Japanese force estimated at seven hundred troops. Elements of the Australian force were fighting actions in surrounding areas at “Old Vickers,” Bobdubi and Roosevelt Ridge with US 24th Infantry Battalion troops landing at Nassau Bay to fight diversionary tactics to draw the Japanese away from the main Australian force and relieved some Australian forces in forward positions. The battle for Mount Tambu was concluded on August 18 when the enemy forces withdrew.   

Japanese air attacks on Northern Territory air bases

During August, the Japanese attacks on bases immediately south of Darwin caused little damage to structures or aircraft and seemingly has any value to the raiders compared to the length and risks taken and results gained by them.

On August 13, Fenton and the 29-mile strips were attacked in low level raids which put a few craters in the runways and dirt and leaves stirred up in strafing during the bombing runs.

In late morning of August 17 another raid was conducted by a group of Japanese level bombers which produced the same results as the earlier raid on Fenton. Once again, their objectives were not clear save for the nuisance value inflicted. The same results were reported from Batchelor and Nightcliff on enemy air raids against those fields. The final Japanese air raid for the month was on Sunday morning 29th when minor damage was inflicted on the 29 Mile strip.

Goolwa sailor’s message home

Dick (AW) and Mary Lundstrom of Hay Street, Goolwa, have received a letter from their son, Able Seaman Bert (AL) Lundstrom who at present is a member of a ship’s company sent to England to crew the heavy cruiser Shropshire, which was gifted to Australia to replace the HMAS Canberra, sunk in an action in the Solomons in August 1942. Bert and the crew had arrived in England at the Chatham Royal Navy dockyards in Kent while the Shropshire was still being refitted, going through training and study to prepare them to take over the ship when all the work was completed.

The job was finished on the June 20, allowing the crew to move aboard and take up house. Watches were established, cooks went to work, while Bert and the other crew members were set to their tasks according to their specifications and ship-board routines. It is now believed the Shropshire has left port this month and is on escort duties somewhere at sea.

2/43rd Battalion goes back to New Guinea

Several Goolwa men are included in this battalion after over four months of intense jungle fighting and amphibious landing training on the Atherton tablelands, then at Trinity Bay in northern Queensland. They embarked from Cairns, on August 8 aboard HMAS Manoora, bound for Milne Bay for further jungle training tactics before going into front line duty.

Noted Goolwa grazier, Frank Ayliffe dies.

Frank Ayliffe, whose local property holding lies south of Goolwa died recently. His farm stretched over land lying south from the town boundary to the beach sandhills and from the Goolwa barrage in the east to Beach Road in the west. 



              Goolwa Rifle Club members on the range out for a shoot in 1902 seem to be slightly

              over-dressed for the sport. Captain Tom Goode (standing backrow left) and Dave Reed,

              (kneeling front row left) are pictured at the range on Ayliffe land.


Frank Hamilton Ayliffe who had spent a large part of his younger life in the northern outback of the state was born in 1870 at Brighton. During WW1 when imported mining timber shipments were no longer obtainable, the Broken Hill Zinc Corporation purchased a holding at Mt Jagged Tiers. This holding contained the required stringy bark eucalypts they needed, so they equipped the forest holding with a timber mill and appointed Frank to manage it. During his time at the mill, besides supplying the mines at Broken Hill with its lumber demands, he arranged donations of a large amount of timber for use in local projects of community benefit.

He had three sons who enlisted in WW1 of whom two were killed in action. John (JH), sergeant, 3rd L.H. Regiment in November 1917, died of wounds at Beersheba, Palestine. William (WH),Corporal, 50th Infantry Battalion, killed in action at Villers Bretonneux in  April 1918.

Frank lived on his Goolwa property and welcomed military for use for the duration of WW2 of the Goolwa Rifle Range lying near the sandhills by the Militia ,VDC Home guard units, and the AIF 2/3rd Machine Gun Regiment  under Lt. Colonel Arthur Blackburn, VC., for overseas pre-embarkation training.

During his Goolwa residency, Frank was a member of the Anglican Church of the Holy Evangelists for several years during which he was the Rector’s warden of the Goolwa church.

Several years prior to Frank securing the South Goolwa property, it became the scene of a spectacular battle1 in the mid 1800’s  between the Coorong and Goolwa clans of the Ngarrindjeri confederation which was to be fought under their own strict rules. A crowd of Goolwa citizens gathered to watch the encounter which ended when the first wounded clan member was bleeding. With honour secured, the battle ended, and all went safely home. Later the Tendi, the supreme governance body of the Ngarrindjeri, would act in the role of a high court to deal with the cause of the dispute.

Goolwa and district Red Cross Circle’s event brighten wartime blues.

The recent annual Goolwa district Red Cross ball and queen’s competition of 1943 is the result of several weeks of preparations and fundraising both by the co-operating Red Cross Circles and their public committees supporting their individual queen candidates.

Currency Creek Red Cross had three candidates of their own and as in its fundraising results of always raising amounts exceeding expectations according to the small size of their population, they were not disappointed.  


Goolwa Institute Hall (c1928) The Red Cross Queen of 1943 (Miss Ailsa Mayne) was crowned here in the Institute Hall, sometimes referred to as the town hall, during this annual event.

Winning candidate was Miss J. Gould (123 Pounds, 29,643 votes), second Miss E. Chigwidden (104 Pounds, 24,314 votes) and third Miss K. Hopgood, (90 Pounds, 21,646 votes). Miss Gould was crowned Currency Creek 1943 Red Cross Queen.

Hindmarsh Island Circle decided to support the Goolwa Circle candidate, Miss Ailsa Mayne and did so with a sparkling program of talent, fun and fundraising in the Hindmarsh Island School Hall as a wind-up show of their circle’s support for her.  Ailsa brought a bright talented couple, Misses Ray Dodd, and Marjory Hurford, from Goolwa to perform as a trio in costumes to match the themes of their songs. They were backed up by the Islanders including musicians Percy Newell and Jim Probert.

The 1943 Red Cross ball was held in the Goolwa Institute Hall and drew a capacity crowd to the beautifully decorated event to enjoy a program in a talent of song and music. Between some hilarious comedy routines, all assembled and directed by Goolwa’s own inimitable personality and queen candidate, Miss Gwen Reed.

Chairman of the formal ceremonies, Harold Goode performed the coronation of Miss Ailsa Mayne as Goolwa’s 1943 Red Cross Queen  (26,244 votes), second Miss Lorna Lundstrom (26,194 votes) and third, Miss Gwen Reed (21,542 votes). The funds raised by the candidates amounted to 308 Pounds.

Peter Yerve followed the crowning of Red Cross Queen as the emcee, by giving to all an invitation to the surprisingly sumptuous supper in contrast to this food rationed times. Following supper, the Master called all onto the ballroom floor for a great evening of dancing to music from the top local orchestra and to glide around on an excellently prepared floor surface.

Another colourful old local identity dies.

George (GW) Hall (1863–1943) of Crocker Street, a member of one of Goolwa’s old families who died recently, was born in Wellington in 1863, and educated in Goolwa after the family moved back here. He went to Western Australia in 1892 as a gold prospector for the Mt Benson gold mining company making a discovery of a rich gold reef2 which was named for him as the Hall Reef.

He returned to Goolwa in 1898 and married Margaret Mc Beath (1873-1968) of Hindmarsh Island in that year, taking up commercial fishing until he retired in 1938. He was a founding member of the Goolwa Bowling Club and was elected to the committee at the public meeting in the Goolwa Institute to form the club on March 4, 1923.



1. A description of this battle appears in the book “From Saddles to Sea Kings”, pages 9-10 (Tuckwell, F., 2007.)

2. This reef still bears the name of Hall Reef at Mt Benson Gold Mines, Norseman, WA.