Friday 9 March 2007
We took a dawn walk the other day.
It was extreme low tide and the sea had retreated some kilometres.
The sun was just rising as we walked out to sea not knowing what we would find.
We'd heard about Flying boat wrecks from WWII. In 1942 Japan had taken control of South East Asia and the invasion of the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia) was imminent. Dutch and other Allied civilians from Java were airlifted to the safety of Western Australia's shores to escape the Japanese invasion. Broome was the obvious landing point being only 900 kilometres away from Java.
Tragedy struck one early morning in March. Japanese Zero Fighters attacked the Flying boats, Allied transporters and bombers. The attack was completely unexpected and devastating. 25 aircraft were destroyed. Those that survived the attack had to contend with the burning fuel and oil on the water and sharks. Few survived.
Puppy scampered on ahead chasing the tide. We struggled on battling the deceptively wet sand, sometimes sinking ankle deep. Occasionally we came upon a starfish that had been abandoned by the sea. I felt like we'd walked ten kilometres already.
And then we saw it.
The first ravaged skeleton of a flying boat. Its body rusted by decades of salt water, exposed to the elements for a few hours before being sealed again in its ocean tomb.