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Diggers take on mountain of death
The following article appeared in the Australian Army Newspaper in 1994 - Story and photos by Cpl Noel Gilby

ADVENTUROUS training Indiana Jones-style had Canberra and Sydney-based soldiers scaling Queensland's highest mountain for a wrecked WW2 bomber this month.

A nine-man team comprising a flight lieutenant, soldiers and civilians and made the assault on Mt Bartle Frere to find the remains of a B25 Mitchell bomber that crashed on April 7, 1942 [B-25C Mitchell 41-12455].

WO2 Russell Morrison, Mat Div, said the goal of Exercise Relic Search was to find the remains of the aircraft with the aim of removing it at a later date.

"We want to present what is left of the Mitchell bomber to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of WW2 and America's massive support in that conflict," WO2 Morrison said.

"The adventurous training exercise came about after talking to the Curator of Aircraft at the AWM, John White. I told him I was prepared to run an exercise as long as there was something worthwhile at the end of it - I wasn't going to climb mountains for the sake of it.

"We wanted something of national significance and he came back with this aircraft," he said.

The main reason the crash site was selected was due to its inaccessibility - the locals believe no more than 100 people have made the punishing 1960m ascent since the B25's fatal descent nearly 50 years ago.

It took nine-and-a-half hours to reach the aircraft, which was scattered over an area of 100 sq m.

Noel Tunny, a historian and author of two books on US forces in Australia during WW2, explained the aircraft's significance.

"This particular aircraft was on the first B25 raid of the war and was one of 11 Mitchell bombers to attack the Japanese in the Philippines from Australia," Mr Tunny said.

"On its last mission it was part of a search pattern looking for the Japanese fleet that was on its way to attack Port Moresby. The result of finally finding that fleet was the Coral Sea battle."

Thanks to Mark Wilson for providing a copy of the above article

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