Visit to Tocomwal New South Wales 11/13 June 2003
At 1400 ( 2PM ) on Wednesday the 11th. of June 2003 I caught the bus from Melbourne's Spencer Street station to Tocomwal, about 175 kilometers by road as the crow flies, but my bus was going via Shepparton and a host of small country towns that cluster each side of the Victorian/New South Wales border close to the River Murray.
It was 1835 ( 6.30 PM ) before we rolled to a stop at Tocumwal alongside a large model of a Murray Cod ( fish ) and my old ship mate, and very good friend Kevin O'Neill was there to greet me. We had served together in HMAS Adelaide, an old Australian cruiser mounting single 6 inch guns, having been built in Australia around 1922. We had sunk the German ship Ramses in the Indian Ocean in 1942, see my Blockade Runner on Ahoy. Mac's Web Log for that story.
We had not seen each other for some 20 years, but have kept in touch over that time, Kevin for many years farmed some 2 square miles of irrigated country at Jerilderie, growing rice, wheat and canola etc, but had sold the farm 2 years ago and moved into Tocomwal, a country town of about 2,000 people nestled close to the Murray River.
Combined Probus Club of Tocomwal.
Probus Club Meeting. On Thursday the 12th. of June I talked to some 50 or so members of the Tocomwal Probus Club, which is a mixed one with both female and male members, and was very generously received. We later had lunch with several members at the local Pub, built in 1861.
Tocumwal Historic Aerodrome Museum.
From scratch, Bob and a few ardent helpers have created a photographic display in part of one of the huge hangars build back in 1942, when McIntyre Field, was quickly constructed from acquired farm land, they carved out an airfield, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere for the US Army Airforce to operate Liberator Bombers.
At that time, Tocomwal only had a population of some 500 souls, but the Airfield added another 5,000 service people to really make a tiny country hamlet come to life with a real thump and start to jump, jump, jump! The US only stayed for six months, moving north to Townsville, 2,000 miles closer to the then Japanese enemy.
The Royal Australian Air Force then took over the Airfield, for training pilots. The fascinating story of McIntyre Field has been recorded by Bob Brown in a small 14 page document, which I have his approval to reproduce for a wider audience on my Web Site.
Bob was not aware how this massive air field gained its name, on my return home, I promised I would do some research on the Internet to try and unlock that secret.
The naming of McIntyre Field in 1942 at Tocomwal.
The US Airforce in Australia named this new facility Tocumwal McIntyre Field after Captain Patrick W. Mc Intyre USAAC who died in an aircrash at Archerfield, Queensland on June 5th. 1942.
Sportavia Soaring Centre.
My ambition to glide.
I returned to Melbourne by the 0715 ( 7.15 AM ) bus out of Tocumwal on Friday the 13th, arriving at Spencer Street at 1115 ( 11.15 AM ) to be collected by Denise. It had been a very happy and satisfying visit to see Kevin.