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3 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections


Mail Train Wrecks Bus

SYDNEY, Thurs: Fifteen persons were killed and at

least 4 others were critically injured when the Tam- worth mail train crashed into a bus at a level crossing near Hawkesbury River station this morning.

All the victims were in the bus, which contained 21 passengers, in- cluding several children. Wreckage and bodies were hurled in all direc- tions. Of 5 members of one family in the bus, 3 were killed outright and 2 injured.

Wrapped round the engine, wreck- age of the bus was carried for nearly a quarter of a mile until portion of it struck the platform of the station, tearing away 20 yards of bricks and stone at one end.

The train's brakes acted auto- matically when the air pipes operat- ing them were severed, and the train stopped with a jolt on the viaduct approaching the bridge over the river after the tender had been derailed.

This was the worst level crossing accident in the State for over 30 years, and railway officials said it was amazing that the train, which contained about 300 passengers, was not also wrecked.

The victims were :—


Sister Ephram Mary Nolan, 48, and Sister Germaine Mary Brennan, 43, both of St Catherine's Orphanage; June Darker, 12, and Vera Gauchi, both orphans and students at the orphanage; Mrs Eileen Mary Mollers, 34; Mrs Elizabeth Robinson, 63; Mrs Olive Higgs, 53; Mrs Gladys Silvia Italiano, 50, and her 2 daughters, Valerie, 11, and Norma, 14; Walter Cox, 6; John Austin Callen, 55, driver of the bus; Mrs Mary Parkyns, 74; Mrs Sovinia Mary Malone, 51; Keith Cameron, 13, son of Capt J. Cameron, master of the Peats ferry.


Alfred Raphael Italiano (whose wife and 2 daughters were killed outright); David Italiano, 9, his son; Neil Ross (grandson of Alfred Italiano); Gloria Silvia, 9; Edward Marsh, 73.

Doctors believe Marsh has a chance of recovering.

All the victims lived in Brooklyn

rd, and some had boarded the bus less than 5 minutes before the crash. Many intended to catch the 9.30am train at Hawkesbury River station for Sydney. Others, including a few of the children, were sent by their parents on shopping errands to Brooklyn.

Driver of the train was J. Sponberg. "As the train turned the last bend in the decline towards Brooklyn," he said, "I saw the bus travelling along the road, which runs parallel with the railway line for some dis- tance. When the train was ap- proaching the level crossing I was amazed to see the iron gates open for vehicular traffic, and the bus about to cross the line. I jammed on the brakes, but it was too late. The engine struck the bus broad on, and the impact seemed to split it into fragments, hurling pieces every- where until the train stopped about 30 yards from the platform at Hawkesbury River station."

Hawkesbury River station is at Brooklyn township, and road traffic at the level-crossing is safeguarded by iron gates in charge of a gate- keeper. Peter Cecil Tolley, 20, of Woy Woy, was acting gatekeeper at the time. The 2 swing gates are opened on to the road, so that the railway line is never closed. Road traffic is warned of the approach of trains merely by the closing of the gates.

Tolley said he heard the train rumbling down the grade, and when he looked out of his cabin he saw the bus approaching. The bus turned the curve in the road, and as it reached the crossing Tolley said he ran toward it. "I put up my hand and shouted to the driver to stop, but it was on the railway line by this time," he added.

Police believe the driver of the bus did not hear the approach of the train, and that as the gates were open for him to cross he did not suspect any danger.