TUESDAY MAY 6, 1947
RESCUERS 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 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 sightseers.
Police had difficulty in controlling the crowds, who at
times hindered rescue work.
The Railways Commissioner, Mr. Wills, said last night
that a full inquiry would be held into the cause of the
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 Queensland.
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 sections.
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 children.
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 behind time.
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 two-mile gradient.
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
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
“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 crash.
“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
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
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
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 heads.
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 pain.
At 3.00pm the body of a woman was found in the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 and help.
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
“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
“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
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 casualty ward.
KEVIN FRANCIS ARMSTRONG- 24, single, Gloucester
Street, South Brisbane.
GREGORY BROWN, 9, of Junction Road,
REGINALD BYRNES, 31, married, Eva
JOYCE BYRNES, 30, his wife.
MOYA EDITH CHRISTIANSEN, 24, married, Peach
DAPHNE COCHRANE, 20, single, of Evelyn
FRANCIS DELANEY, 19, single, of Lamington
IDA BEATRICE DOWD, 36, married, Mellor
MICHAEL KEARNEY, 12, corner of Wynnum Road,
and Moore Street, Morningside.
WILLIAM KITCHEN, 53, married, of Moore
OLIVE KITCHEN, his wife.
TREVOR KITCHEN, 9, their son.
AUGUSTUS CHARLES KNIGHT, of Day’s Road, Grange,
ROBERT HAROLD McNAMARA, 52, married, of Wynnum
Road, Norman Park.
FRANK AUBREY PITMAN, 57, married, Bowen Street,
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
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,
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;
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
ALFRED CUDS, married, Brisbane Street,
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, shock.
JOSEPHINE HENRY, 52, Wynnum Road, Norman
Park, injury to left hip, severe shock.
NEVILLE KITCHEN, 19, single, Moore Street,
ETHEL LANGE, 22, single, Omar Street,
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,
WINIFRED MANN, 32, married, Wellington
Street, Wooloowin, shock.
PATRICIA MANN, 2, Wellington Street,
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,
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 disaster.
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:-
Premier Mr. Hanlon ordered an open enquiry under a judge into
the cause of the smash;
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;
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;
Department officials personally visited the relatives of the
dead, and the Commissioner, Mr. Wills, visited all the injured
in the afternoon;
of the nine smash victims who were admitted to hospital on
Monday was reported last night as “satisfactory and
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.
Bartels, of Mayne, who suffered a fractured right collarbone,
had improved sufficiently yesterday to be moved to St.
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
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 Premier.
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 were made.
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 (rationing).
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 courage.
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.
Thursday 8th May 1947
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
Camp Mountain, Queensland, 5 May
Australia’s 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 from
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
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 wreckage.
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 instantly.
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
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 engine.
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
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 the train.
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 mate.”
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 did.
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 the
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
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.