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MEMORIAL TO THOSE LOST IN THE CRASH OF VH-AGE

 

Lockheed Hudson VH-AGE at Tennant Creek just two days before the crash.
(Picture: Ian Smart)

 

 

The local newspaper announces the ceremony.

 

 
 

This plaque was unveiled at Tennant Creek Airport on Saturday 24 September 2016, the 50th anniversary of the tragedy which also occurred on a Saturday. The plaque is fixed to a rock which came from the crash site.

 

 
 

The story of the tragedy is told on the windows of the terminal.

 

 
 

Photographer and historian Ian Smart whose idea it was to create the memorial. Ian was the Tennant Creek Postmaster in 1966 and he befriended the Adastra crew during their basing in TC. He recalls the crash and the days that followed for the benefit of guests at the memorial dedication..

 

 
 

Jeanette Berwick and Donna Mathews-Gray - Marvin's sisters.

 

 
 

David and Sandra Lloyd went to school with Marvin Matthews. They travelled back to TC for the Memorial and they are pictured here with Ian Smart (right).

 

 

David Curtis Ė Marvinís School Mate.

 

David Curtis recalls his school mate Marvin Mathews.

 

 
 

Jeanette Berwick and Donna Mathews-Gray (Marvin's sisters) and David Curtis (Marvin's School Mate)

 

 
 

Marvin's School Mates.

Back Row - Joe Carter, Tracker Campbell, John Dickson, David Lloyd and Linda Dickson.
Front Row - Pat Brahim, David Curtis, Donna Mathews- Gray, Violet Cecchin, Jeanette Berwick and Sandra Lloyd. The rock came from the crash site.

 

 
 

Rotarians- Jill Kleiner, Helen Kempe, Greg Marlow, Roddy Calvert, David Curtis, Pene Curtis, Tony Boulter, Sylvia Buckman and Graham Stinson. The rock came from the crash site.

 

 
 

A sad but proud day for Northern Territory Airports staff Jan Baldwin, Ian Slade and Tom Ganley.

 

Photography by Helen Kempe and Karl Herzog

 


Read the Times report on the memorial unveiling

Page 1

Page 5

Page 7

 


The Story of the Memorial

The idea for a memorial came from Ian Smart who was the Postmaster in Tennant Creek from 1964 to 1968. Ian wrote to Gerry McCarthy MLA, about the approaching 50th Anniversary of the plane crash, seeking the creation of a Memorial. Gerry wrote to Mr Dave Batic on November 2 last year. Dave is the Manager for Alice Springs Airport and for NT Airports Pty Ltd (the owner of Tennant Creek Airport).

Dave emailed me on November 30, and we decided to meet up on December 16 at Tennant Creek Airport. The meeting went ahead, together with the acting CEO, Barkly Regional Council (Peter Holt). At its meeting on December 10, Council had approved ďin principle support for a memorial to be constructed within Tennant Creek, to commemorate the 1966 Hudson Plane CrashĒ.

Gerry offered financial support, although we didnít need any. NT Airports also offered financial support. The Memorial would be similar to one located at Alice Springs Airport (for a plane crash there on 25 May 1942), organised by the Alice Springs-Stuart Rotary Club back in the 1970s. I came up with the idea to do window stickers, to include the newspaper articles and recollections from people who knew Marvin Mathews, the young passenger on the Hudson. Rotary agreed to do the project. I applied for a Community Benefit Grant for $8500, with a $500 contribution from the Rotary Club.

Newspaper material was provided by the Adastra website and from this "skins" were made for the terminal windows. As it turned out, David Curtis (husband of Pene Curtis, President of the Rotary Club of Outback Australia) had been in Marvinís class. I asked him for his recollections. Upon further enquiry, we asked a number of people for theirs. Alas, none were forthcoming, and the deadline for creating the skins was upon us.

In February, I travelled to Brisbane to arrange the wording for the plaque, and to have it cast. The Community Benefit Grant was approved on May 27. The two window skins were organised in June when I travelled to Darwin. The first plaque arrived in my office in July.

Marvinís sister, Donna, visited Tennant Creek, and met me on July 11. There was an error with Marvinís name and age. My fault entirely, as I had used the newspaper article as the reference for the wording. I informed Donna that we would have the plaque recast. The first plaque was returned to the manufacturer in Brisbane.

From June, I started to receive emails from the families of some of the crew. It was determined that if I can get enough material together, Iíll have a third panel of window skin made up, with their stories.

On August 8, Ian Slade (Tennant Creek Airport Manager) chose two rocks from the area where the plane actually crashed.

The second plaque arrived at my office on August 25. I chose one of the two rocks in the first week of September. The window skins arrived in the same week, and were installed on September 12. It is intended that the skins will be a permanent feature of the terminal windows. When they deteriorate, replacements will be made. Ian Slade prepared the site, and moved the selected rock in the week before the unveiling, attaching the plaque to the rock.

Invitations were sent out in late August to a number of people, including the Federal Aviation Minister, Mr Darren Chester and the new NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner. All this was handled by Pene Curtis, President of the Rotary Club of Outback Australia (formerly Tennant Creek Rotary Club). She also arranged a luncheon at the Memorial Club for September 24.

Tom Ganley (CFO, NT Airports) offered to bring flower arrangements for the unveiling. It was decided on the day (24 September) that Donna and Jenny (Marvinís sisters) would lay the wreaths at the Memorial, after unveiling the plaque. Two other arrangements were given to the ladies for placement on the graves of Marvin and their mother at Tennant Creek Cemetery.

Helen Kempe (a Rotarian, and a member of CWA) arranged with Ian Smart to present a pictorial history of Tennant Creek from the 1960s from 3pm. I drafted a running sheet for the day, which Helen refined. Tenant Creek Work Camp provided labour to move chairs into the terminal for the ceremony on Saturday morning, and removed them from 12:30 that afternoon.

A casual get-together at the Sporties Club was arranged for dinner on the Friday night, for anyone interested. Helen won the badge draw.

If Iíve left out anyone (for crediting), itís my fault entirely.

DGN Greg Marlow
Treasurer
Rotary EClub of Outback Australia

 


 

The Adastra Family expresses its gratitude to the organising committee for placing this memorial.