A Stopover at Randwick

After disembarking from the Queen Mary on March 28, 1942, the 43rd Bomb Group marched through heavy rain to their temporary home at Randwick Racecourse, now known as Royal Randwick, located in Sydney, Australia. These last-minute accommodations required some efforts on the part of the men to make buildings more suitable for sleeping, and the enlisted men were chosen to clear out the straw and feed. They were given large gunny sacks to stuff with hay and subsequently use as mattresses. Unfortunately, most of the men woke up with red, itchy welts from bites they had received overnight from the critters living in the hay. As proper cots came in, they burned the straw to reduce the infestation.

Their sudden arrival disrupted race schedules, and it took about a month for Radwick to get their races back on track. While the men were living at the racetrack, they exercised, practiced plane identification and attended battle simulations and classes on Australian customs as well as hygiene and jungle warfare. During their downtime, they explored the city of Sydney. The 43rd’s squadrons began trickling out of Randwick in May and June, heading for bases in the northern parts of the country.

43rd at Randwick Racecourse

The ground echelon of the 63rd is shown assembled at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, in early 1942. The men of the 43rd Bomb Group and others aboard the Queen Mary interrupted races at Randwick to camp there after they disembarked. In late May 1942, races resumed, even though many units were still quartered there. The 63rd, 65th and HQ Squadrons were among these units, while the 64th had left at the beginning of the month for Daly Waters, in north-central Australia. (Gerald R. Egger Collection)

 

On June 26, 1943, Charles Jones, a member of the 90th Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group was likely on leave in Sydney and attended some races at Randwick. He took a program with him, kept it through his service in the Pacific Theater and gave it to us years later. Now, we’re sharing some scans from that program with you.

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8 thoughts on “A Stopover at Randwick

  1. No pilots and navigators in this group? Ground echelon and I think gunners also arrived by ship, right? The Wieland/Wilson plane didn’t even have their normal navigator with them. Stack was ahead and they had some kind of trouble on the way over on one island. Cannot remember if the island was strafed or what, but I was surprised he wasn’t with his normal crew.

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    • The 43rd had a disorganized start when they were first formed, and all their B-17 pilots were ordered to report to Langley on December 29, 1941. Nine days later, 17 crews checked out on the B-17E and only two pilots rejoined the unit in Bangor, Maine. Fast forward several months to the end of July 1942, and the 64th Squadron still didn’t have any B-17s and only five pilots. General Kenney didn’t even know the 43rd existed until August 10th.

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