Bill Sugden was an Intelligence Officer in 31 Squadron around 1944, while Darcy Wentworth was Commanding Officer. It seems Bill liked to take many photographs and in his collection we have found our Holy Grail of photos. Below is a copy of an aerial photo taken by 87 reconnaissance Squadron who were also posted at Coomalie.
The photo was taken at 3000 feet and is of the 31 Sqn camp. It was taken on the 28th August 1943. This photo has enabled us to now identify where all the infrastructure of the camp was at Coomalie Creek. It remains one of the most important items in any of the photo collections and is to date, the only one we know that exists. The top of the photo is north and the runway is south approx one and a half miles away.
The red writing is where Bill would have been showing the photo and explaining where things were. We know that no 1 was the position of his tent and we have confirmation of that. (that is the red box without a number bottom right). Very close to his tent was the Field hospital and you might be able to just see a vehicle turning a corner. That is an Ambulance. It has a cross on the roof.
The item No 2 we don’t know. No 3 is the Officers Mess and Bar, No 4 is the CO’s residence and radio room, No 5 is the Intelligence & operations and briefing room. The other buildings above were general food storage, mess and recreation buildings. All the other small buildings around the entire photo are actually the tents that the men lived in. If you look very closely, you will also notice the slit trenches next to almost every tent.
If anyone sees this photo and knows anything about the camp, please contact us, we are very keen to know more.
Bill Sugdens profile is soon to be updated, meanwhile take a look at his photo collection.