'Bombs' welcomed by troops in jungle
Name: Ken Lockyer
Unit: 322 Carrier Wing USAAF
Location: New Guinea
It's not often that the troops want to thank the airmen who are dropping bombs on them but this certainly happened in New Guinea during World War II. It helped that the 'bombs' were actually parcels of newspapers and ice cream destined to cheer up the men fighting in the steaming jungles below.
But what a morale booster it was to have this aerial bombardment arrive just when you were cursing the elements and the war in general.
Captain Ken Lockyer, Wireless Operator Gunner (WAG) Jimmy Packer and Flying Officer Ted Staal were regulars on the 'courier run' from Australia to New Guinea and the Pacific islands, officially carrying General MacArthur's commands to the Allied forces.
They flew come rain, come shine, and never missed a flight regardless of the conditions or weather, according to Mrs Anne Lockyer. In spite of opposition from the Americans, it was their idea to deliver to the men in the field ice cream, cake and newspapers, she added.
"My husband went to Mr Christopherson, of Peter's Ice Cream in Brisbane, who was happy to give him as much ice cream as the aircraft could carry to deliver to 'the boys' on a regular basis," Mrs Lockyer said.
Their efforts were well and truly welcomed by the troops, several of whom wrote to the RAAF trio to thank them for the drops. Sapper Ken Izzard was typical of the writers.
Dear Ken, Fred & Jim,
Just a few lines to let you know that the bombing you done on the morning of 28-2-45 using ice-cream as bombs, was very accurate indeed," he wrote." Two of the boys and myself were doing a bit of a hike in the mud & heat & cursing the world in general & the bloody Nips in particular for making us come up to this steaming hell.
After the cursing we tried to cool things down by telling one & other how a nice long draught of frosty beer or something cold would go.
I think you must have heard us, for about 5 minutes after we heard the familiar roar of engines & made a concerted dash for a clearing, hoping to be on the receiving end of a good old Aussie paper.
Just as we made the clearing we looked up in time to see a parcel leave the door & it landed about 15 feet [4.5 metres] in front of us. Needless to say it was a matter of seconds before the paper was torn off & there looking us dead in the eye was six great blocks of ice cream. For a minute we just stood & gaped but I must admit it was a short minute. We then promptly called smoko & with the aid of some Infantry boys soon made a mess of the ice-cream & believe me it was very nice & in good shape on landing.
I'd like you to thank Mr Christopherson for his kindness in passing bricks along for you to drop on to the boys. Believe me when I say that the boys appreciate greatly the job you do between you & again when I say that your plane is the most popular on the Island & is waited on by all the boys in hopes that they may get a paper.
You say that you're sorry that you can't get enough papers to go round. Well, I can honestly say that the boys understand that your supply is limited & appreciate your kind deeds to the full extent.
You tell us to give the Japs hell. Well the boys are doing just that & with no beg pardons. The Japs are doing a bit of running but get caught up with fairly often.
The RAAF have been having some good shooting & they work in well with the boys & give them great support. We may go crook at them later if we have to fill in any of the craters they made.
Maybe I'll run into you when you have a new strip. I certainly would like to meet up with the three of you and thank you personally for the grand job you are doing for and with the boys.
Well I guess I've bored your ears quite enough so I'll finish this dribble sending my regards & good flying to you all, & thanks once again. Yours faithfully Ken Izzard.
Ken Lockyer and Jimmie Packer died within days of each other in February 2000. Ted Staal was chairman of Emerald Shire Council for many years until he retired.
Ted Staal recalled his days flying in New Guinea with some nostalgia.
My flying time with these two quite outstanding men is still very vivid in my memory, he said. I clocked up nearly 1000 hours in my time flying together with them.
The conditions were sometimes appalling, both in climate & a geographical sense, cyclones being reasonably common, both to fly into - & hopefully out!
In a recent letter to Mrs Lockyer, Ted Staal wrote:
Ken was our captain and a top man indeed. In essence actually, rank was of no consequence. We were just a team of brothers.
The material for this article was supplied by Mrs Anne Lockyer of South Australia
8/01/2002 10:31:15 AM