MAY 6, 1947
WORK INTO NIGHT
At 7.15 last night, the last body was removed from the wreckage of the special picnic train which crashed on the Samford Range at 9.55am, yesterday, in Queensland’ worst rail smash.
The smash, 13½ miles from Central Station, killed 15 and injured 30. When
searchers thought all the victims had bee found, an elbow was seen jammed
between the tender and the broken edge of the second carriage.
Working feverishly with the aid of portable generating sets, rescuers cut
away a big section of the carriage and extricated the body of a young girl.
The picnic train, organised by the Customs and Excise social club, left
Brisbane with nearly 500 women and children at 8.55am.
At 9.55am, the leading carriage jumped the rails in a cutting a few miles
on the Brisbane side of Closeburn, where the picnic was to have been held.
Within seconds the engine overturned, and the first two carriages
telescoped into the tender.
Immediately the news of the crash was broadcast, cars carrying relatives
of those on the train, headed for the cutting, followed by hundreds of morbid
Police had difficulty in controlling the crowds, who at times hindered
The Railways Commissioner, Mr. Wills, said last night that a full inquiry
would be held into the cause of the accident.
The cause of yesterday’s train accident was not known, he said. The line
was of heavy rail, and in good order, and capable of carrying any train run in
The carriages were “not very old,” said Mr. Wills. The engine was of the
C17 type, and the gradient of the accident section was one in 50.
The line was used frequently in holiday periods to carry heavy passenger
trains, and at normal times, carried usual branch line traffic.
This is the full story compiled by Courier-Mail staff reporters, who went to the scene of the accident and interviewed survivors.
The Customs Department social club, organised two years ago, had train
trouble for its first picnic last year.
The train could not climb Samford Range, and had to be split in two
Since February 14, every Customs officer in Brisbane had put in 6d a week
towards expenses for a picnic at Closeburn, 18 miles from Brisbane, the same
site as last year. There were to be a cricket match, afternoon dancing with a
specially engaged orchestra, and sports.
The picnic train left Central Railway Station at 8.57am. Besides the engine, coal tender, and a water gin, it consisted of seven wooden carriages and the guard’s van.
The Class C17 engine weighed 76 tons. The carriages, the normal suburban
type, each weighed 28 tons.
Engine driver, Charles Hinds, 50, married, of Louten Street,
Woolloongabba, was at the controls. With him was fireman Augustus Charles
Knight, of Days Road, the Grange.
It was estimated that there were 500 passengers, including 150
The train was to stop only at Brunswick Street, and Mitchelton, but it
pulled in at Ferny Grove-last stop before the crash- at 9.40am, eight minutes
More than 100 detrained, most of them from the front two carriages, which
bore the brunt of the crash.
Topping the Samford Range at 9.53am, the train began to run down the
Within a minute, it was running fast. It swayed and rocked. Women and children began to scream in several carriages. It approached the sharp six-chain radius left bend leading into an S-curve slightly more than half-way down the range.
Half-way round the bend the leading carriage jumped the rails. In the
space of a measured 169 feet between this point and the end of the cutting, this
is what happened.
Leaving the rails, the engine rolled over on its right side, ploughed
into the embankment, and stopped within a few feet. The coal tender went off the
line, dug in nose first, and tilted upwards and sideway, with the rear end more
than fifteen feet from the lines.
Wrenched free from the tender, the 20ft water tank, remaining in the
general direction of the line, was struck squarely by the leading carriage. The
impact telescoped to carriage directly through the centre of the water tank,
ripping the bogeys and wheels and massing them on the front undercarriages.
Fittings, compartments, and mangled bodies, were swept aside as the carriage telescoped. Ten or twelve feet from the end, the tank slewed to the right, and brought up against the opposite embankment. Its twist lifted the entire carriage body clear of its undercarriage, which remained off the rails, but flat along the direction of the line.
In the last one-third of the carriage, now lifted crazily more than 12
feet from the lines, almost the entire fittings of the carriage, and at least
five mutilated bodies were jammed. Pressing in against them were the rear wheels
of the engine, which had completely ripped through the near side of the carriage
as it drove past.
Torn clear from the first car, the second carriage drove off the lines,
and embedded itself under the upturned tender, crushing the first two
compartments as though a giant sledgehammer had hit them.
The carriage itself, twisted and overturned to the right, the rear end
again being flung high into the air, resting against the embankment. In the
front of this carriage were nine people, six of whom were killed
instantaneously, and the remaining three trapped for nearly six hours. The third
carriage shifted off the rails, practically escaped damage. Its front buffers
snapped like matchwood, and one was buried 20 yards along the line, but not one
window was broken.
In the end carriages, people kept on reading for a few seconds after the
crash. They were not even thrown from their seats as the telescoping effect of
the front carriages seemed to have acted as a gigantic shock absorber.
Mr. J. O’Mara, of Parry Street, Bulimba, who was riding in the second carriage, said last night: “The train was rocking dangerously as it approached the bend. It appeared to be gathering speed. I realised that something was wrong and yelled ‘Hold on, here it comes,’ Then there was a terrible crash, and we were showered with flying glass, and flung all over the compartment. In the rear of the carriage, we picked ourselves up and clambered out through side windows. Women and children were screaming, and we could hear the groans of the wounded. One girl near us had been flung against a compartment and fractured her shoulder. We ran to the front of the train and helped people from the wreckage. Some of them had been flung halfway through twisted windows.”
First man to leave for help at about 10.5am was Edward Hart, 41, of
Albion Street, Albion. With blood streaming from a gash over his right eye, he
clambered from the front compartment of the third carriage, and ran on down the
line towards Samford.
“I knew things were bad,” he said. “The station was not far, and it was
the first place I thought of.”
News of the tragedy, told to the station master 30 minutes later by Mr. Hart, galvanized Samford. An emergency rescue gang was formed within a few minutes from local farmers and shopkeepers. They climbed into trucks and cars and headed for the scene of the tragedy. With them went axes, saws, crowbars, picks and shovels.
Back at the crash, uninjured passengers were assisting the less seriously
injured out of the train. First outsiders to reach the crash were Sergeant J. F.
Kunkel and Constable L. R. Fitch, of Mitchelton, who received a phone message a
quarter of an hour after the tragedy from a nearby homestead.
They arrived at 10.30am. Within the next 40 minutes, 14 ambulances,
including six called in from the Labour Day procession, and all available cars
from city headquarters, as well as others from Sandgate, arrived.
First doctor on the scene was a Wickham terrace eye specialist, Dr. E. O.
Marks, who was spending the day in his country home about two miles from the
“I came just as I was,” he said. “The ambulance were already there, but an ambulance man is not allowed to prepare a morphia injection.”
“I prepared a hypodermic syringe and gave it to an ambulance man who
crawled through the wreckage to within reaching distance of engine driver Hind.
Unable to administer it from that distance, he gave the syringe to Hind, who,
though pinned by a mass of twisted steel in the cabin, severely scaled by
escaping steam, and suffering from shock, was still conscious. Hind took the
syringe and gave himself the injection.”
Dr. Marks then moved to the second carriage. Visible from the waist up in
the crushed first two compartments were Miss Linda Glenny and Mr. and Mrs. T.
McLean. Mr. McLean was wedged up against the right side of the carriage. His
wife was lying half across him, with Miss Glenny wedged tightly against her.
Forced across Miss Glenny’s lap was the body of a small boy.
Between Mr. and Mrs. McLean’s tightly jammed bodies could be seen the
head of a dead man. Protruding from the wreckage was the arm of a woman with a
heavy gold bracelet round her wrist.
Dr. Marks gave injections to these trapped passengers, who were conscious
although suffering considerable pain and severe shock.
With the morphia injections over, passengers, ambulancemen, and the emergency breakdown gang, made their first determined onslaught on the wreckage. Beneath the overturned engine’s wheels, they found the crushed body of the fireman, A. C. Knight. He had apparently jumped or been thrown from the cabin and killed instantly.
Inside the cabin, bent almost double, engine driver Hind was jammed
almost inextricably across the thighs and knees by the twisted metal of the
control lever, steam pipe, and two Westinghouse air pipes.
The time now was 12.30pm and the gangs set to work to extricate the injured from the wreckage. With axes and saws, they cut away the top of the first carriage which was barring their way in the fight to reach the driver. At the same time, more men started to cut away the side of the second carriage so that they could reach the people trapped there. Other men attempted to cut through the twisted metal from underneath.
Constant morphia injections were given to the trapped survivors, who bore
their ordeal with amazing fortitude.
On his own in the shattered cabin, engine driver Hind actually assisted
with a hacksaw and urged on his rescuers, two of whom were overcome with the
heat and had to be assisted into the open.
In the carriage, both women and Mr. McLean smoked cigarettes and joked
with ambulance men who had clambered inside and were supporting their
As work progressed and the strain of the wreckage shifted, more weight
fell on the lower limbs of these three. Several times Miss Glenny screamed with
At 3.00pm the body of a woman was found in the wreckage.
At 3.30pm engine driver hind was lifted through a hole cut in the roof.
Then unconscious, he was rushed to hospital where his condition last night was
reported to be serious. At 3.40pm, the bodies of three children, including the
boy who had been jammed against Miss Glenny’s legs, were removed. Five minutes
later, rescue gangs simultaneously lifted Miss Glenny and a dead man, believed
to be Frank Delaney, from the compartment.
Redoubling their efforts, they had both Mr. and Mrs. McLean clear within
the next 10 minutes. They had been trapped for more than six hours, but all
three had a smile for their rescuers.
Mrs. McLean’s first request was to ask the ambulance to get in touch with
her mother, Mrs. J. B. List, of Torbanlea, near Maryborough, who was looking
after her two children, Dorothy 14, and Thomas, 12.
When the McLeans had been released, work was continued to free bodies still buried in the wreckage. Ashgrove parish priest, Father D. Cremin, administered last rites to the dead during the progress of the rescue work. On one occasion, crawling through the debris, he could reach only a woman’s hand. On another, only a head was visible.
The Rev. H. R. Heaton, who was with a Methodist Church picnic party at
Samford, heard of the tragedy, and came to join the rescue workers. He brought
with him tea, water, and sandwiches for the rescue workers.
Information on the rescue work was wirelessed directly back to the police
wireless station VKR in the police
depot during the afternoon. With the arrival of the Railway Commissioner (Mr.
Wills), who drove direct from Tamborine during the afternoon, a special
telephone was connected to the trains room at Roma Street.
First news of the tragedy was given to Queensland by special flash to the
14 stations linked in the Queensland Radio News Service.
Throughout the afternoon, crowds estimated at between 400 and 600 lined
the railway fences near the cutting to watch the rescue work. A Red Cross Blood
Transfusion unit under Dr. Shaw went to the smash, but it was not needed.
Hundreds of people called the Blood Transfusion Unit, and offered their
blood for the injured. Shortly after 4.30pm, more than 20 onlookers were
enlisted to aid the breakdown gang, who worked non-stop late into the night to
recover the bodies.
The last body was removed from the wreckage at 7.15pm, and work was begun clearing the line at 8.00pm. The Chief Locomotive Engineer of the Railway Department, Mr. Norman Kenny, who is in charge of the workers, estimates that the line will not be cleared until Wednesday.
The last body was discovered when searchers saw an elbow jammed between
the tender and the broken edge of the second carriage. Workmen had to cut away a
big section of the carriage to extricate the body- that of a young girl.
Police officials and Mr. Kenny then conducted a thorough search of the
train to ensure that no bodies had been missed. Work of clearing the wreckage
could not be undertaken until it was certain that everybody had been found.
All night lighting was provided from portable generating sets sent out by
the Brisbane City council and the City Electric Light Co., following a request
from railway authorities.
Mr. Kenny said that no heavy equipment would be necessary to clear the
wreckage of the engine, tender, water tank, and three coaches.
The wrecked coaches are being broken up with axes and other implements
and dragged clear by a “forest devil”- a geared winch.
By 10.00pm, most of the first carriage structure had been cleared from around the water tank. Three Red Cross workers remained on the spot all night. In eight hours up to 9.00pm, they prepared 30 gallons of tea for survivors, police and workers. During the day, the three Red Cross men were assisted by six girl drivers.
Deathroll nearest to yesterday’s smash occurred near Traveston, near Gympie, on June 9, 1925, when nine were killed and 55 were injured. Two coaches of the Rockhampton mail fell from a bridge into a ravine
Daphne Cochrane, 20 of Evelyn Street, Newstead, was on the
Customs House switch before she was knocked down in the city by an American
truck on V.P. night. Her skull and leg were then fractured.
Francis Delaney- 19, of Lamington Avenue, Doomben, went to
the picnic yesterday with Miss Cochrane. He was a rubber worker and boxer, and
was to have fought at the Brisbane Stadium on Friday. Five years ago, his father
was knocked down by an American truck and killed.
William Kitchen, 53 of Moore Street, Morningside, was a
searcher in the Brisbane Customs’ House shipping branch. He was with the
R.A.A.F. security staff during the war. His wife, Mrs. Olive Kitchen, and their
son Trevor, also was killed.
Francis Aubrey Pitman, 57, was senior inspector and second in
charge of the Queensland Customs. He entered the service in 1905, and came to
Queensland from Tasmania a few months ago.
For hours, relatives of people who had set out on the trip pressed forward trying to identify the injured as they arrived at the General Hospital.
The casualty ward had been cleared, and extra medical and nursing staff
were standing by.
Nurses on leave who were attending the sports at the Exhibition,
telephoned to the hospital when they heard of the disaster, offering to return
Soon after midday, the first ambulance brought the survivors. Emergency
operations were performed, and the patients wheeled to wards.
Ambulances continued to arrive at intervals until the last of the injured
were brought in at 5.30pm- 7½ hours after the smash.
“I feel all right, thank you,” were Mrs. Emily McLean’s first words as she was lifted from the ambulance after her seven hour ordeal pinned in the wreckage of the second carriage.
“I knew they would get me out in the end, and my husband, Tom, was lying
there beside me smoking cigarettes, so I wasn’t afraid.”
Mr. McLean, who, with his wife, was the last to arrive at the hospital,
grimaced with pain as he was lifted from the stretcher.
“I thought we seemed to be going rather fast, and I had just turned
towards my husband when there was a terrible crash,” said Mrs. McLean.
“I seemed to be flying through the air, then everything went black. When
I woke up, there was a terrible pain in my legs and people were screaming.”
“After a while I heard people chopping at the wood above me.”
Several times, while ambulance men and railway workers were trying to
release Mrs. McLean, she screamed with pain, and they had to stop work.
Graham McNamara, young son of Mr. and Mrs. A. M. McNamara, of Wynnum
Road, Norman Park, who rushed straight from the University to the hospital when
he heard of the tragedy, broke down when told that his father was dead and his
mother was severely injured.
High tribute was paid by the injured to the sister in charge of the
KEVIN FRANCIS ARMSTRONG- 24, single, Gloucester Street, South
GREGORY BROWN, 9, of Junction Road, Morningside.
REGINALD BYRNES, 31, married, Eva Street,
JOYCE BYRNES, 30, his wife.
MOYA EDITH CHRISTIANSEN, 24, married, Peach Street,
DAPHNE COCHRANE, 20, single, of Evelyn Street, Kedron.
FRANCIS DELANEY, 19, single, of Lamington Avenue,
IDA BEATRICE DOWD, 36, married, Mellor Street,
MICHAEL KEARNEY, 12, corner of Wynnum Road, and Moore Street,
WILLIAM KITCHEN, 53, married, of Moore Street,
OLIVE KITCHEN, his wife.
TREVOR KITCHEN, 9, their son.
AUGUSTUS CHARLES KNIGHT, of Day’s Road, Grange, train fireman.
ROBERT HAROLD McNAMARA, 52, married, of Wynnum Road, Norman
FRANK AUBREY PITMAN, 57, married, Bowen Street, New Farm.
MELVA BALKIN, 24, Bank Street, West End, severed left leg,
severe shock, seriously ill.
FLORENCE BARTELS, 18, single, Abbotsford Road, Mayne,
fractured right collarbone, shock.
COLIN CHRISTIANSEN, 36, married, Peach Street, Greenslopes;
probable fractured skull, lacerations to forehead, probable fracture left
collarbone, shock, seriously ill.
JEAN CUSKELLY, 43, married, Fernberg Road, Rosalie,
fractured right leg, injury right arm, shock.
EDITH FORD, 47, married, Peach Street, Greenslopes:
probable fracture left leg, forehead lacerations, sever shock.
DONALD FORD, 54, married, Peach Street, Greenslopes,
injuries to head and chest, shock.
LINDA GLENNY, 24, single, Masters Street, Teneriffe,
injury right leg, sever shock.
CHARLES HINDS, 50, married, driver of the train, of Lotus
Street, Woolloongabba; severe burns to trunk and limbs, lacerated right elbow,
abrasion right hip, shock; dangerously ill.
THOMAS McLEAN, 34, married, Edith Street, Newstead;
contused legs, shock.
EMILY McLEAN, 31, married, Edith Street, Newstead,
contused legs, shock.
DESMOND BALKIN, 25, single, Bank Street, West End; severely
lacerated left leg; shock.
PHYLLIS BALKIN, 56, married, Bank Street, West End,
abrasions to face, sever shock.
MAY BEAMISH, 34, married, Gray’s Road, Gaythorne,
dislocated left shoulder, shock.
DARRELL CARNEY, 9, New Cleveland Road, Morningside,
abrasions to right knee and face, shock.
KEVIN CUSKELLY, 8, Fernberg Road, Rosalie, abrasions to
face and both legs, contusion to forehead, shock.
ALFRED CUDS, married, Brisbane Street, Ipswich,
MAURICE DOWD, 40, married, Mellor Street, Kedron,
abrasions and contusions to face and left thigh, lacerated legs.
ARTHUR FRANCIS, 22, single, Ipswich Road, South Brisbane,
JOSEPHINE HENRY, 52, Wynnum Road, Norman Park, injury to left
hip, severe shock.
NEVILLE KITCHEN, 19, single, Moore Street, Morningside,
ETHEL LANGE, 22, single, Omar Street, West Ipswich.
REGINALD MACKLIN, 52, married, Wellington Street, Wooloowin,
lacerated right hand, shock.
ELIZABETH MACKLIN, 49, married, Wellington Street, Wooloowin,
contused right leg, shock.
BETTY MACKLIN, 19, Wellington Street, Wooloowin,
WINIFRED MANN, 32, married, Wellington Street, Wooloowin,
PATRICIA MANN, 2, Wellington Street, Wooloowin, shock.
DOROTHY McNAMARA, 56, married, Wynnum Road, Norman Park,
severe injuries to back, severe shock.
FLORENCE McCORMACK, 51, married, James Street, New farm,
lacerations to head, shock.
MAUREEN McCARTHY, 23, single, Brisbane Road, East Ipswich,
injury left forearm, severe shock.
IVY PITMAN, 56, married, Bowen Street, City, abrasions
and contusions to legs and face, shock.
The unexpected death at 4.30pm
yesterday of the driver of the picnic train which crashed on the Samford Range
on Monday morning removed the last technical witness of the cause of the
He was Charles Hinds, 50,
married, of Louten Street, Woolloongabba. An hour before he died, he appeared to
be making satisfactory progress. The foreman, Augustus Charles Knight, of Days
Road, Grange, was killed instantly in the crash. Hind’s death brought the total
number killed in the smash to 16 and the injured roll to 29.
Yesterday’s developments in the disaster were:-
The Premier Mr. Hanlon
ordered an open enquiry under a judge into the cause of the smash;
His offer of a State
funeral today for the 16 victims was rejected for family reasons, by the various
relatives, but the Government will pay all expenses of the funerals;
Continued work by more
than 30 railway breakdown and flying gang employees has left the way clear for a
tentative service over the damaged line this afternoon;
officials personally visited the relatives of the dead, and the Commissioner,
Mr. Wills, visited all the injured in the afternoon;
The condition of the nine smash
victims who were admitted to hospital on Monday was reported last night as
“satisfactory and improving.”
They were three men and six
women, including Miss Melva Balkin, of West End, who suffered a severed left
foot and later had an amputation below the knee.
Miss Florence Bartels, of Mayne,
who suffered a fractured right collarbone, had improved sufficiently yesterday
to be moved to St. Margaret’s Hospital.
Seventy eight year old Mr.
Alfred Joseph Curtis of Brisbane Street, Ipswich, who was allowed to go home
after treatment on Monday, reported to the hospital yesterday, and was admitted
for observation. His condition was satisfactory last night.
A motor train and a goods train will make trial runs this afternoon over the Dayboro rail track on which the train was derailed. Debris from the wrecked train was finally cleared from the track at 5pm yesterday. Bogey wheels, steel plating, and carriage fittings were spreadeagled over more than 30 square yards. Fifteen men including 10 local volunteers worked all Monday night to clear the line.
The derailed engine and second
carriage are now in an upright position ready to be towed away this
Gruesome discoveries in the
wreckage yesterday were mangled human remains and a woman’s leg.
Despite a police warning, the
Camp Mountain Road was closed, scores of sightseers drove cars or hiked there
yesterday to the scene of the tragedy.
Coal was still burning in the
engine’s furnace last night and smoke was billowing from its funnel.
The coal tender and the twisted
shattered and barely recognizable remains of the first carriage have been hauled
to the top of the embankment into which the train crashed.
Most poignant feature of the
scene 24 hours after the disaster, were the strewn picnic lunches, unclaimed
personal goods in off shoes and a woman’s coat, and the blood covered
handkerchiefs and petticoats.
Police and railway officials
highly praised local volunteers who helped bring the injured out of the wreckage
and then later cleared the line of the debris.
It is expected that, if
available, the Senior Puisne judge, Mr. Justice Mansfield, or Mr. Justice
Matthews, will preside over the open inquiry, which was ordered yesterday by the
The inquiry will be very wide
and cover all aspects of the disaster.
Mr. Hanlon said that the judge
would have the assistance of assessors, one of whom would be an engineer.
He expected to be able to
announce the names of the judge and assessors tomorrow, when the appointments
would be made by Cabinet. By tomorrow all Ministers would have returned to
Brisbane. There would be no delay in beginning the inquiry once appointments
Following the Traveston railway
smash on June 9, 1925, a public enquiry was held, and if that is taken as a
precedent, there will be two assessors.
Railwaymen appreciated Mr.
Hanlon’s action in ordering an open inquiry, said the Combined Railways Union
President, Mr. M. O’Brien, yesterday. An open inquiry was much more satisfactory
to railwaymen than the usual form of departmental inquiry, which was held in
camera, and which was designed to exonerate the administration rather than
ascertain the real cause of the accident.
The Railway Commissioner Mr.
Wills, visited the General Hospital yesterday afternoon, and spoke to all
patients involved in the smash. He intends visiting a patient in a private
hospital this morning.
Only four staff members other
than the 3 killed at Camp Mountain were absent from duty at the Customs House
yesterday. They were Mr. P Dowd (landing branch) whose wife was killed, Mr. P.
E. Swan (excise) Misses D. Tate (import licensing), and L. N. Currey
Empty desks in the Invoice room,
the main public business place, bore grim recollection of the death of Messrs.
Pitman, Kitchen and McNamara. The Customs Collector, Mr. Wild, said yesterday
that his staff were deeply shocked by the accident but had borne it with
BY A STAFF REPORTER WHO TRAVELLED BY RAIL
TO DAYBORO YESTERDAY TUESDAY MAY 6, 1947
Fourteen people travelled by rail from Brisbane to Dayboro yesterday.
It was the first rail connection since Monday’s disaster, near Camp Mountain, involving a picnic train containing 400 people.
Yesterday’s service was a rail motor which normally leaves Central Station at 4.34pm daily.
It was made possible by the clearing of the line of the wrecked locomotive and carriages of the picnic train as the pictures above show. For the first half hour after yesterday’s rail motor left Central, there was no suggestion of anything unusual about the trip. But when the motor got near the scene of the accident, passengers began to show interest in their surroundings. When the motor passed the wrecked engine of the picnic train, on a siding two miles south of the scene of the wreck, normal train silence broke. Passengers began animated conversation.
About 500 yards before the scene of the crash, the motor set off a detonator- a regulation warning to slow down to walking pace. A ganger jumped on the motor and directed the driver Mr. T. Webber, until it had passed through the wreckage, which was piled high on both sides of the track. All the woodwork of the smashed carriages had been burnt, leaving only the bogies and iron framework on the left side of the track, and the water tender on the right.
The two most excited passengers were Margaret Mitchell, 11, and Barbara Mitchell, 8, of Samford, who were returning home from school in Brisbane. Clutching each other’s hands, they laughed and joked until the detonator went off under their feet. Then they jumped with fright.
As the railmotor passed the wreckage, they were deadly serious gazing out of the windows with awe. After they passed the scene safely, they relaxed and began to laugh. But Barbara, still clutching Margaret’s hand, admitted that she had been frightened.
Early On Scene
Among the passengers was Mr. Roy Mason, Samford farmer, who was one of the first on the scene of the crash on Monday. He had worked clearing wreckage until late on Tuesday. Mr. Mason said: “I heard the crash at Samford, and rushed out to help when I found out what had happened. I stayed there clearing up until late afternoon. It’s a queer feeling going over the rails after seeing the mess left by the crashed train, even though you know nothing will happen.”
Mr. Webber, the driver of the rail motor, had been waiting in Brisbane for the line to be cleared since Monday morning when he had driven the motor down. He said yesterday: “I’ve got no idea what caused the crash. I’ve been over this line twice a day for the last five years and have always found it all right.”
Mrs. Webber, who lives at Dayboro, did not know her husband would be returning last night until half an hour before the motor arrived.
Although there were no trains to or from Dayboro from Monday morning until last night, Mr. W. Shale, the station master has been kept busy. He has had to organise emergency bus transport from Dayboro to Brisbane.
8th May 1947
Crowds watched the caskets being
carried on the hearse at the funeral yesterday of Mr. and Mrs. Kitchen and their
son, Trevor, of Morningside, who were killed in Monday’s train smash. Traffic
was brought to a standstill outside the funeral chapel which was crowded. More
than 50 private cars and taxis followed the hearse to the crematorium.
Thousands of people paid silent tribute yesterday as the funerals of 12
victims of Monday’s picnic train tragedy at Camp Mountain passed the city and
suburban streets, preceded by police motor cycles.
It is estimated that more than 3,000, including relatives and friends, attended 10 funerals, one of three members of a family, and another of a husband and wife.
PHOTOS FROM THE COURIER MAIL
HOW THE ENGINE AND FIRST THREE
CARRIAGES ENDED UP
THREE DEAD AND THREE LIVING
WERE TRAPPED TOGETHER IN THIS SECTION OF THE WRECKED COACH
THE AMBULANCE MAN ON THE RIGHT IS GIVING WATER TO MR. T. McLEAN.
THE OTHER AMBULANCE BEARER IS SUPPORTING MRS. McLEAN
WHO IS TRAPPED BENEATH MISS LINDA GLENNY (left)
MISS GLENNY'S LEGS WERE TRAPPED IN THE WRECKAGE
THE DEAD BOY AT LEFT WAS ALSO PINNED AGAINST MISS GLENNY'S LEGS
TWO OTHER VICTIMS, MR. F. P. DELANEY AND DOROTHY COCHRANE
ARE BENEATH MR. AND MRS. McLEAN
LINE BEING CLEARED
TRACK BEING CHECKED NEXT DAY
Mountain, Queensland, 5 May 1947.
worst railway accident in almost 21 years- and the worst railway accident in
Queensland to date- occurred when a crowded picnic excursion train left the
rails on a bend near Camp Mountain in the Samford Ranges, approximately 20 km
Sixteen people were killed and 38 were injured as wooden carriages
shattered after leaving the rails on a downhill stretch of the line.
The train was specially chartered by the Commonwealth Department of
Customs Recreation and Social Club for a picnic at Closeburn on the Dayboro
branch and had left Central Station at 8.59am, two minutes late. Its total load
was estimated at around 230 passengers on departure, many of them being
Shortly before 9.50am, after slowing at Ferny Grove to accept a
single-line tablet, the train crept over camp Mountain Knob and began a two mile
descent towards Samford Station. It was during this steep descent of gradients
ranging from 1 in 50 to 1 in 66 that, according to passengers who survived the
crash, the train began to reach an alarming speed accompanied by a terrifying
swaying and rocking.
At approximately 18.3km, more than halfway down the grade, the train
approached a sharp 120 metre radius bend and derailed with tragic consequences.
The train’s locomotive, a C17 No 824, overturned on its right-hand side, firmly
becoming embedded in the embankment.
The engine’s tender swung up high to the right and overturned about 135
degrees. The right-hand leading edge of the tender ploughed along the cutting
driving clay and stones into the engine’s cab. The engine driver, Clyde Hinds,
was pinned in the right side of the cab, between the reversing sector and the
cab panel. It would be several hours before he could be cut from the
Hinds’ fireman, Augustus Knight, was jammed between the left hand front
corner of the tender and the boiler near the firebox hole door and was killed
A six metre long water gin immediately behind the engine’s tender was
wrenched free of the locomotive and was struck by the leading carriage of the
train. The water tank of the unit telescoped back through the left hand side of
the carriage sweeping all before it. It was found about midway and traversely to
the left of the leading coach of the six carriage train.
The underframe of the gin, however, ran forward on to both pairs of
tender bogies, smashing the frame in two. The broken underframe, with bogies
attached, and the leading and trailing bogies from the tender, travelled to the
left of overturned engine No 824, coming to rest about three metres ahead of the
The leading carriage of the consist (No 740) was wrecked by the impact of
the intruding water gin. Six fatalities probably came from this carriage
although evidence was inconclusive. Part of the roof ended up on the engine cab.
The remainder of the superstructure was “smashed to matchwood” to borrow the
terms of the official Court of Inquiry into the disaster.
Two leading compartments of the following carriage (No. 739) telescoped
and were driven in under the tender. The leading end of this carriage was lifted
completely off its bogie and was titled at an angle high up on the cutting on
the right hand side. Five passengers in this carriage were killed instantly.
Three others were trapped for up to six hours.
The leading end of the third carriage (No. 742) was damaged and
interlocked with the trailing end of the second coach. Its leading bogie was
derailed but the trailing bogie stayed on the rails.
Some indication of the telescoping effect of the front part of the train
was revealed in the Court of Inquiry when it was stated that the locomotive,
tender, water gin, and three leading carriages, had a combined length of just
over 73 metres before the accident, but had been compressed into a space of 41
metres after it.
Passengers in the trailing carriages continued undisturbed for a few
seconds as the telescoping of the rolling stock was cushioned by the distance
from the front of the train. In fact damage to the rear three carriages was so
minimal that they were in a fit condition to be towed away from the accident
scene immediately after the crash.
First news of the disaster reached nearby Samford station by way of a
passenger, Mr. Edward Hart, who clambered from carriage three to raise the
alarm. The train’s guard, Mr. George Evans, was forcibly thrown across his van
by the sudden halt of the train. He rushed to the Westinghouse brake air cock in
his van, only to find that there was no air.
Evans got out of his van, surveyed the scene from the left-hand side
cutting and returned to the van to screw on the hand-brake. He rushed to the
front of the train with the first aid box, left it with someone, then ran back
to his van for the breakdown kit which he also took to the front of the
The guard then returned to his van to obtain red flags and detonators,
and ran back from the train 500 metres to stop the following special train.
After speaking briefly to its crew, he also took steps to protect the front of
An emergency rescue team was quickly assembled at Samford and despatched
to the accident scene in cars and trucks, the first call to ambulance
headquarters being made at 10.08am, with one car being sent immediately. Within
70 minutes, 18 cars and 26 men were at the crash scene.
Ambulances began to bring in some of the injured passengers at noon-two
hours after the accident occurred.
Driver Hind, who was in distress and remained virtually inaccessible for
several hours, was instructed on how to self-administer a pain killing drug.
Before then, however, a couple of witnesses were able to speak to him
uninfluenced by medication and they recounted their conversations later to the
Court of Inquiry.
One of them, Patrick Frederick Campbell, knew both the driver and fireman
of the train. Campbell pulled away some of the loose timber on the cab roof,
recognised Hind, and asked him whether his pump had stopped, thus causing the
accident. Hind had told him:
“No. Nothing like that. I did not know the road. Neither did my
Another witness, Ernest William Wood, told the inquiry Hind had told him:
“My mate did not know the road.”
These comments contrasted with a comment made by Hind in hospital to
police in which he said: “I know i am in the clear alright (sic.”
They also contrasted with the running arrangement for the day in which
Hind-who was unfamiliar with the line- was being taught the road by Knight, who
By 3.30pm, rescuers had cut a hole in the locomotive’s roof, freeing Hind
who was rushed to hospital. Ten minutes later the bodies of three children were
removed. Shortly after rescuers were able to access some badly injured adults
and further adult bodies.
Mrs. Emily McLean, who had been a passenger in the second carriage of the
train and was trapped for seven hours, described to a Courier Mail
newspaper reporter her recollection of events:
“I thought we seemed to be going rather fast, and I had just turned
towards my husband when there was a terrible crash,” she said.
“I seemed to be flying through the air and then everything went black.
When I woke up there was a terrible pain in my legs and people around me were
screaming. After a while, I heard people chopping at the wood above me.”
Another passenger, Mr. J. O’Mara of Bulimba, confirmed many passengers’
recollections of excessive, frightening speed immediately before the derailment
and he had warned other passengers to “hold on, here it comes,” seconds before
Rescuers and breakdown gangs toiled throughout the afternoon and through
the night to extract the injured and dead and repair the damaged trackwork, but
it was not until 5pm the day after the tragedy that the line was cleared of all
debris. Thirty minutes before, Clyde Hind had unexpectedly died in hospital from
injuries he sustained in the accident. Hind’s death, took the final toll in the
disaster to 16 dead and 38 injured.
The Queensland Premier, Mr. Hanlon, announced a full and open inquiry
into the tragedy. He also offered a State funeral for the 16 victims; however,
the government settled for meeting all funeral expenses when various
relatives of the deceased declined the offer of a State funeral.
A Court of Inquiry was established and was presided over by the
Honourable A. J. Mansfield, Senior Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of
Queensland, to determine the cause of the disaster which had claimed 16 lives.
The inquiry sat for 14 days and examined 50 witnesses. On 1 July, Mr. Hanlon
released the inquiry’s findings.
It found that the overturning of the tender, due to excessive speed of
the train, was the primary cause of the accident. It found that driver Hind,
fireman Knight, and the train’s guard, George Essex Evans, were all guilty of
breach of duty.
The maximum speed on the Dayboro branch at the time of the accident was
40 km/h on straight stretches and 32 km/h on curves. The driver was estimated to
have exceeded the speed limit by at least 24km(h) and was guilty of lack of care
and breach of duty.
The inquiry found that while Hind was unfamiliar with the Dayboro branch,
that was not a contributing cause as he must have known he was exceeding the
maximum speed limits.
The inquiry said: “The only reason which could be discovered for
excessive speed was that the train was late and the driver was endeavoring to
make up time. He must have known that the permissible maximum speed was being
exceeded, but he could not have realised that the excess of speed was in any way
likely to endanger the train.”
The inquiry found that Evans was also guilty of a breach of duty in
failing to ensure that the train did not exceed the maximum permissible speed,
in failing to apply the Westinghouse brake that would have drawn the driver’s
attention to the excessive speed of the train and in failing to apply the brake
in an emergency.