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FLIGHT-LIEUT. HELY'S GRAPHIC ACCOUNT.

(FROM OUR SPECIAL, REPRESENTATIVE 1

NEWCASTLE WATERS, Friday

Flight-Lieut. Hely and his companions weicl cheery in the cabin of the clumsy, du-sty motor truck, which, guided by a 'plane, had set off at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday for the spot where the pilots of the R.A.AF. machines had dis- covered tile disabled. Diagon-Rapide, and watched the stianded "fliers jumping joyously. They drove up in a cloud of dust. Like everything else in Newcastle Waters-such is the vostness of the lonely, scrub-covered desert country-the sturdy truck looked very small Not the least conspicuous of the rescue party was "Tommy," an aboriginal, known popularly in the district as a good tracker, who was standing up in the lorry as it rumbled In.

Flight-Lieutenant Hely, in his interview with the representative of the "Sydney Morn- ing Herald," said:

"Running short of petrol, I decided to land before the supply was exhausted. I chose the only open space in the scrub, and took the 'plane Into a small clearing. As I descended I grazed the wing tip, which caused the machine to swing, and to crash partly on the left side, and the nose swing partly pulled off the undercarriage. We landed with a great Jolt

"The crew piled out, but I could not; I had my foot caught in the rudder bar. Wal- kington and Sherwood pulled me out. I had a out on my head and abrasions to one of my legs. Walkington and Sherwood grabbed me, pushed me into the shade of the wing, and started attending to my head injury. After this wc wandered around our clear space and took stock of the position.

"We realised we were in a tough spot. I looked over the exact extent of our rations, and we had eight gallons of water and suffi- cient iron rations to last several weeks.

"After landing I decided that as we were many miles from anywheie, It was necessary for us to endeavour to hang out as long as possible, because somebody would come out looking for us. We worked It out at half a pint of water per man per day, with the

necessary short-ration 'food.. We found we could exist on half a pint a day. ,

"By doing that We would liäng out 35 to 40 days, but at the same time we realised that with the very small amount of moisture in the terrific heat In these parts we could not do any physical exertion without weaken- ing ourselves more. After being three days on these rations of food and water, we found that if we walked for three-quarters of an houi. we were all thoroughly done up.

PLAGUED BY FLIES.

"Anything we wanted to do we did be- tween sunrise and 9 a.m. In the daytime we could only keep in the shade Of the wing as much as possible. The flies were in mil- lions, and made life a misery.

"The flies were such- a menace that we woie mosquito nets over our faces, and rigged a small mosquito-netted camp under the fuse-

lage of the 'plane to keep the flies out. '

SMOKE SIGNALS.

. "From 9 a.m we started to read the few old newspapers we had In the 'plane. This was all we had to do besides sleeping In the heat of the day.

"Early each morning we tiled to make such smoke as we could by grass fires and scrub fires. There was not sufficient wind to keep the grass fires going, and the bush would not take Are. There was not sufficient smoke going up for anyone to be able to recognise it es signals.

"Every day was as monotonous as the day before. There was nothing to do but wait. On Friday last, about 4.30 p.m., we saw a multl-engined machine heading south-east about 10 miles north-east. On Saturday we saw and heard nothing. On Sunday we thought we heard what sounded like a multi- engined machine .somewhere to the north-east. It was coming towards us. and then going away. Sherwood thought it sounded like two water-cooled engines. It might have been the Demons.

DRONE OF SEARCHING 'PLANES HEARD.

"On Monday and Tuesday there was no sound like aeroplane engines, but Wasps buzzing about sounded like engines, and we were often in doubt. Somebody would say, 'I hear machines,' Another would say, 'You are in the D.Ts.' However, on Wednesday we heard odd engines droning during the morning. Roughly at 3 p.m. on that day we heard a buzz from the south-east, which shortly took the shape of two Demons diving down towards us.

"On seeing the 'plnnes Sherwood ran to a large bonfire and threw petrol over It to make it burn more, but while watching the 'plane he had his arm severely burnt. The two machines circled over and then disappeared towards Newcastle Waters. They appeared two hours later, and dropped a gallon of water and extia rations. We still had plenty of water, about four and a half gallons, which we had conserved by our rationing."

CELEBRATED IN TEA.

"That night we celebrated by brewing a large pot of tea to ease our feelings. Before the machine found us, We used to drink most of our half-pint of water after sundown each day. While drinking the water, we ate what little we could east. Because we had so little water, we could not eat much. Nobody felt a desire or need for food until

after sundown.

"With the extra supply of water, we could begin to live a normal, reasonable life. When Simms flew over he dropped a message, stat- ing that he wouid come out for us with a truck on the following day. The truck arrived, guided by a Demon and a D.H. Dragon at 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon. We joined the truck, but were overtaken by darkness before we got back to the Murranji track. We camped for the night and started at 7.30 this morn- ing, and got the truck out of the scrub on to the track.

"We did not feel the cold unduly at night, as we had two greatcoats and one suit of winter uniforms. It was fearfully hot during the day and the flics were there in millions. We suffered severely from thirst. For the first three days the feeling was awful after droo

ping from six pints to half a pint. After- wards we got more used to the thirst-and we arrive back to find the hotel with no beer.

"We saw one wallaby and a couple of dingoes. We fired a shot at the dingoes one night to stop them howling. We shot a couple of birds which we could not eat. The country was practically devoid of 'ilrds and animals of any description. We had to bandage all cuts to prevent the flies from swarming on

them.

"Everybody is fit, but in a weak condition, and it will take us some days to recover. All lost much weight."

GREAT RELIEF.

"Our food supplies were mostly tinned foods, beef, soups, and biscuits. I think we could have hung out another three weeks or more, but getting weaker we would have existed on a couple of drops of water a day in the end When we were found, we did not con- template cutting down our water ration further. It was already at the minimum.

"We realised if a 'plane did not find us, we would have to make a trek, but we deter- mined to stay as long as possible. We had a general knowledge of a waterhole about 20 miles northwards.

"We only definitely saw one 'plane, but we were not greatly worried when we were not found, because we knew that a search was going on as early as 'planes could pos- sibly get on the job. The knowledge was a great relief. On seeing the 'plane, which was a Qantas D H.86, we Ut a fire, pouring oil on it. We flashed mirrors and did every- thing possible to attract attention."

"Walkington and Sherwood were excellent, They carried on splendidly while 'stranded. We had looked around our clearing for one mile in every direction without finding" water. It seemed that all the water In the vicinity would run into our clearing."

Flight-Lieutenant Simms said that Rapide was badly damaged. It has not yet been decided by the Air Board whether it is worth salvaging, but there is every probability that the engine at least will be brought in, as well as the instruments. No salvage will be done yet.

The fliers will remain at Newcastle Waters awaiting instructions.

LATE ARRIVAL IN RESCUE TRUCK.

NEWCASTLE WATERS, Friday.

The three rescued airmen arrived at. New- castle Waters just when plans were being m-de to send out, the MacRobertson-Mtllci ?plane to locate the rescuing truck. The fliers, who had suffered many privations during the 10 days they were lost, were accommodated in the cabin of the truck out of the fierce midday heat of the sun. The rescuers, including Flight-Lieutenant Simms and his aircrafts- man, were reclining In the back of the truck, and the aboriginal tracker, Tommy, who ac- companied the party, was standing on the

lorry.

Hely, Walkington, and Sherwood looked well and happy, but weary. Thoy were wearing their Air Force uniforms, khaki shorts, shirt, and sun helmet, which were begrimed. All had dark stubbly beards, which had grown whiie they were lost.

Hely had a bandaged knee, and walked with a limp. He said his injury wai slight, and he had bandaged it to protect it from the flies,

Sherwood had a bandaged arm, which, had been burnt In a fire. He was standing over a signal fire when Simms's Hawker Demon 'plane sighted them on Wednesday afternoon and flew over. So Intent was Sherwood on watching the 'plane approach that he put his hand over the Are, causing a painful burn.

As fie truck, which went to the rescue of the fliers, was approaching the selected point on the Murranji track, where it was pro- posed to turn off into the bush to the clear- ing where the Rapide was lying, Fllght-Liou tcnant Cresswell, in the Hawker Demon, and Pilot Affleck, In the D.H. Dragon, appeared overhead from Newcastle Waters, indicating the direction which the truck was to take through the bush. The 'plane overhead

\

dropped notes to the truck, giving the direc- c tlon, and then dropped a message to the crew t of the Rapide, telling them to fire of! a rifle f which they had in the 'plane at intervals. In c this manner the stranded airmen were able to e assist their rescuers, who heard the shots \ They were able to follow the progress of the

tiuck by the diminishing circles made by the n 'plane. The truck followed an old water- course to the 'plane, taking one and three quarter hours after leaving the Murranji

track. The truck finally was stuck at the ; edge of a dealing 30 yards from the 'plane, ' while excited greetings were exchanged be- ;

tween the two parties.

The first request of Hely and his companions J

at Newcastle Waters was to>have a men'* and ; bath. They were anxious also to shave their c beards off. Several roast chickens, which = had been prepared this morning, were put on ( the menu at the hotel. £

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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