TWO SHOT DEAD ON A TRAIN AT INKERMAN
ON 12 NOVEMBER 1942

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Corporal Frederick Theodore Simons (18070026) of the 408th Bomb Squadron of the 22nd Bomb Group based at Reid River was arrested at Mackay after a disturbance. After spending the night in the Mackay lockup he was transported to Bowen railway station where he was going to attempt to catch a train to Townsville.

The Station Master at Bowen Railway Station asked Corporal Peter Jamieson of the 12th Australian Ordnance Ammunition Company if he could take Corporal Simons to Townsville on their ammunition train "65 Down". Corporal Jamieson was rostered for security duties on the ammunition train. He was accompanied on the journey by Provosts Cecil Irwin, Vincent and Hill. They welcomed Simons on board their train. He shared their sandwiches and other refreshments in their carriage.

When the train arrived at Inkerman about 10 kms south of Home Hill, all hell broke loose!  At about 10.30pm Simons was noticed acting suspiciously around some of the ammunition carriages. He was told to move away from them. Unbeknown to the Provosts, Simons had taken Jamieson's handgun from its holster while Jamieson had been resting. Simons shot Corporal Cecil Witherow Irwin (Q 128647) of 1 L of C Provosts Company through the head and ran from the train continuing to fire the handgun recklessly. Irwin's Mobilization Attestation Form has an entry in red on the 2nd pages as follows:- "Died of Injuries Accidentally received".

Corporal Cecil Irwin's Service and Casualty Form shows the following entries:-

            REPORT                                                                                                                                                           DATE OF
            DATE                                                                                                                                                                CASUALTY

13 - 11 - 42    Sick to Gen. Hosp. Home Hill (Gun shot wound)                                                                                12-11-42
13 - 11 - 42    Died at Gen. Hosp. Home Hill                                                                                                           12-11-42
14 - 11 - 42    Buried Townsville Cemetery. Aust. Military Sec. Plot A, Row b, Grave 15.                                            14-11-42
                    Court of inquiry. Death accidental, held at Townsville on 20/11/42. Date of Injury 11/11/42
                    Place of Injury T'ville. Nature of duty. Whilst on Military duty.

The date and location of the injury seem to be in conflict in the above data.

At about the same time, Brisbane-bound troop train "290 Up" and and train "266 Up" pulled into Inkerman. The latter train was carrying cargo and 35 wounded American soldiers.

The Australian soldiers from the 2/1st Australian Army Survey Corps on "290 Up" heard the ruckus and saw the torches searching for Simons. Jamieson boarded "290 Up" and told them that a Yank had shot someone. Jamieson wanted to know if the Australians were armed. About six of the Aussies found some weapons and went looking for Simons.

Simons fired a shot towards their train and Australian Private Richard George Carr fired a number of rifle shots at Simons who had been light up by someone's torch. Another Aussie, M.J. Murnane also fired his .45 calibre handgun at Simons who was blown off his feet and fell to the ground. The soldiers approached his body tentatively and found that Simons was dead. He had been shot twice. Once in the chest by a .303 bullet fired by Carr and through the leg by a .45 calibre round fired by Murnane.

The censors managed to keep this incident from the public. Many exaggerated versions of this event spread around the military and the public arena. Stories such as a train load of Americans and a train load of Australians exchanging gunfire with each other.

Corporal Frederick T. Simons was reburied as a Catholic at the Ipswich US Military Cemetery on 19 July 1945 after being recovered from the US Military Cemetery in Townsville. His body would have eventually be recovered again for removal back to the States.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank the late Barry Ralph for the above information. Barry authored an excellent book on World War 2 in Australia called "They Passed This Way".

 


 

Subject:    Truth or Myth ??
Date:             Wed, 10 Jan 2001 19:41:30 +1100
From:          "Don McClennon" <donfm@spin.net.au>

G'day P,

I heard a story when I was a youngster about an incident during WW2, supposedly in Queensland, concerning two troop trains at a siding/slowly passing.

US troops coming South, AUS troops going North.

Derogatory remarks spoken by a US soldier then promoted gunfire from one train to another. Many wounded and numerous deaths.

AUS soldiers (Relatives & Family friends) who spoke about it in hushed and quiet tones when I was about. Being a child at the time, perhaps they thought that I could not comprehend.

This incident was enacted in a film "Death of a Soldier" and this has wetted the appetite for more information to put the incident in perspective.

I would value your input.

Incidentally, I like your site and believe it contributes to Australian History that sometimes misses out getting into the "Official History Books".

Sincerely

Don

 


 

Subject:    Truth or Myth ??
Date:             Thu, 11 Jan 2001 22:46:28 +1100
From:           "Don McClennon" <donfm@spin.net.au>

Hello again Peter,

Thank you for the prompt reply.

I had a look at the page you suggested and I believe this is most probably the incident and I suppose after 10 to a 100 retellings of the story it certainly would have grown to the exaggeration that was mentioned in the last paragraph.

Thank you again for your reply and the new world of events in AUS during WW2.

Best wishes for the New Year.

Regards

Don

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Piggott for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 2 December 2000

This page last updated 26 September 2015