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Memories:

UNSCHEDULED AIRCRAFT LANDS AT ALBURY


RACECOURSE IN 1934
by David Spurr

DC-2 Uiver being rescued from the mud of Albury


Racecourse in 1934. 1

The landing of a commercial airlines at a provincial city is now an


everyday occurrence and creates little interest. The landing of a giant airliner in
Albury in 1934 created a sensation because

Albury had no airport.


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The dramatic event has been reported and memorialised many times
with three main themes drawing attention:

The resourcefulness of the Albury citizenry and the skill of the


aircrew and the ongoing relationship between Albury and the
Netherlands,
The significance of the events in the developing commercial
aviation, and
The significance of the DC-2 aircraft as an innovative machine.

The early morning unexpected arrival of DC-2 Uiver.

When the KLM DC2 airliner, the `Uiver, made an emergency landing on
Albury racecourse in the early hours of Wednesday October 24, 1934, it
created a local sensation. The airliner was taking part in the `Centenary London
to Melbourne Air Race when it was forced down. While part of a globally
significant event in aviation history the event is famous locally for the
participation of the Albury citizenry in helping to save the aircraft from
disaster. As well as ongoing reports in the local press there are three memorial
sites in the city, one at the Albury Race Course being the site of the emergency
landing, and one at Albury airport. The third is a permanent exhibition at the
Albury LibraryMuseum. The ongoing reports, the museum displays, and the
memorials serve to communicate the history of the `Uiver into the present
day.

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The headlines in the local
Border Morning Mail of 24
Dec 1934 were all about
the air race and the
dramatic landing of one of
the competitors on an
improvised flarepath
within the confines of the
local race course. The
events of the early
The Border Morning Mail- that day in 1934 morning were reported in
great detail2. The aircraft had been lost and was in difficulties because of the
loss of navigation aids after being caught in an electrical storm. The lost aircraft
was informed of its location over Albury by manipulation of the city lights
flashing the name of the town in morse code. Local residents formed a
makeshift flare path with their car headlights at the race course, Albury having
no airport or landing ground at the time.

Given second place on the newspapers front page that day was an
account of the arrival of the winning plane over Melbournes Flemington
Racecourse on the previous day, less than three days after its departure from
Mildenhall RAF base in England3. The Albury Banner also told the story in its
26th October edition in much the same manner as the Border Morning Mail.
Later in the year the Albury Banner featured a number of articles, largely about
the Dutch response to the action of Alburys citizens4. In subsequent years the
event has been mentioned in three general histories of Albury published by the
local council and in a biographical account of the period. While the landing at
Albury is seen in the context of the air race it is the landing and the actions of

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Albury citizens that are stressed5. Similarly, the reminiscences of a close
observer of the event, and interviewer of a crew member, concentrates on the
landing and subsequent relationship between the people of Albury and the
people of Holland6.

The international importance of the air race is indicated by the early


dedication of the new Mildenhall RAF base by George V, accompanied by
Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York, the day before the
races start7. The completion of the journey in a little under three days helped
to demonstrate that commercial air travel between Australia and Europe was
feasible. The demonstration of the viability of long distance air travel was to
be the most significant outcome of the Centenary Air Race.

The DC-2 Uiver departs later in the day.


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The resourcefulness of the
Albury citizenry is demonstrated
by the photographs of groups of
local citizens helping to extricate
the aircraft from the boggy ground
allowing it to take off and
Considering the options. continue its journey to complete
the race. This has been an
enduring image of the event in
subsequent reporting

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On the following day, after the
aircraft had successfully taken
off from Albury Racecourse and
The rescue effort continues made the flight to Melbourne, a
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more detailed report of the events of the 24th was printed in the local paper.
The emphasis was on the heroic and safe landing aided by Alburys citizens,
and the equally dramatic take off from a wet and boggy racecourse surface.

The paper was unstinting in lauding the local


people and in its praise for the pilot,
Parmentier.

Never before has Albury combined so


unstintingly, for the proximity of death in the
darkness of night which so many knew was
hovering , aroused a spirit of camaraderie ,
which only great danger could inspire. Even
women and children sought to be of
assistance. 10

An estimated crowd of 2000 2500 people


The Border Morning Mail the
witnessed the plane taking off and an
next day.
estimated 600 cars were at the scene. Few if
any of Alburys population would have been unaware of the event. An aircraft
was a rare sight at the time and apart from those at the racecourse many
would have witnessed the planes flight over the town on its way to
Melbourne. The lauding of the undoubtedly resourceful actions of a number of
Alburys citizens was to become a recurrent theme in the reporting, retelling,
and memorialising of the event over many years.

The days edition of the Border Morning Mail did include a number of
articles, that preceded the dramatic Albury landing, about the progress of the
air race and about the eventual winner. One article about the arrival of the
`Uiver in Darwin the previous day indicated the planes commercial status by
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listing its manifest of 500lb of freight, 25,000 letters and three passengers in
addition to a crew of four.

International reaction to a local event.

The dramatic events had an international impact. The


`Uiver was a Dutch plane and part of the reason for
its participation in the air race was to prove the
viability of an air connection between The
Netherlands and the Dutch colony in Indonesia. The
Border Morning Mail of Dec 10th 1934 reported the
upcoming visit to
Albury of Mr Staal,
Consul-General for
the Netherlands in
Australia, and
other Dutch
The Border Morning Mail dignitaries to make
10th Dec 1934 presentations to
members of the Albury community in
recognition of their efforts in saving the
`Uiver 11.

Mayor Alderman Waugh remarked that


this was an opportunity to foster, a
stronger comity between the great British
Empire and all the Dutch peoples. A part of the Albury Library/Museums
Uiver display is the document expressing the thanks of the people of the
Netherlands. The relationship forged between the Netherlands and Albury has

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been another recurring theme in newspaper reports and in the
memorialisation of the event. The Border Mail retold the story as part of its
centenary edition in 2000.12

THE MEMORIALS

A feature of each of the three


memorial sites is a bronze plaque
depicting the landing and
featuring the cars that created the
emergency flarepath for the craft
to land.

ERECTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE NETHERLANDS


AS AN EXPRESSION OF THEIR DEEP GRATITUDE
TO THE INHABITANTS OF ALBURY, WHO BY
THEIR TIMELY ACTION SAVED THE DUTCH AIR-
LINER UIVER PH-AJU, FROM GREAT DANGER
AND ENABLED IT TO LAND IN SAFETY IN THIS
PLACE ON THE NIGHT OF THE 24th OCTOBER
1934, WHILST COMPETING IN THE LONDON
MELBOURNE RACE

The copy of the plaque erected in


the caf area of Albury airport as
part of a display of the event is in an
The emergency flarepath depicted . undistinguished position and is
difficult to read.

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Memorials at the Racecourse

The copy of the plaque at Albury


Racecourse rests alongside a tree at the
Uiver Entrance but it is behind a fence and
is also difficult to read.13

The entrance to Albury Racecourse

A smaller plaque was placed on the right


hand pillar of the entrance in 1990, fifty
six years after the event. It continues
the memorialisation of the event and
refers only to the unscheduled landing
and follows the theme of the other
plaque appearing at the airport, the
Uiver Gate Memorial racecourse and in the Library/Museum.
plaque.
UIVER COMMEMORATIVE ENTRANCE

Officially opened by

Mr Joris M. Vos Ambassador to the NETHERLANDS

On January 27th 1990

To commemorate the Unscheduled Landing of the

K.L.M ROYAL DUTCH D.C.2

On OCTOBER 24th 1934

Original Crew; Captain Parmentier

First Officer Moll

Radio Operator Van Brugge

Flight Engineer Prins

To say that the landing was unscheduled is a significant understatement.


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Memorials at the Airport Entrance.

The second group of


memorials was located
at the entrance to
Albury Airport. While
not the original
landing site, it is in

The Memorial Wall close proximity to the


racecourse and the
site is appropriate for an aviation memorial. An Uiver replica aircraft was

The rear of the Memorial Wall with commemorative plaques.


mounted on poles above the memorial wall at the entrance to Albury Airport
but the aircraft and memorial wall have since been removed. The replica
aircraft is undergoing comprehensive long-term maintenance and conservation
work pending its re-display in yet to be decided manner and location14 and this
is a feature of a long running debate. The Memorial Wall was removed to allow
extensions to the airport carpark. The rear of the memorial had a series of
mounted plaques dealing with the three themes15.

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The MacRobertson Air Race Memorial plaque.

Plaque showing air race route. Part of the interpretation


on the memorial showed
details of the MacRobertson Air Race and stated that the Uiver carried
passengers as well as crew and tackled the event as if it was a regular
Amsterdam to Batavia commercial flight.

The route followed by the racing aircraft is similar to the Australia-London air
route that was to be utilised before the advent of the large passenger jets. 16

There was a well publicised re-enactment of the event in 1984 to mark


the 50th anniversary of the original landing.

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The event was further
mentioned in 1992 with the
unveiling of another plaque
at the official opening of the
Airport Memorial17.

Plaque to mark the opening of the


memorial.

The DC-2 that stands in for the Uiver.

The particular airframe that makes up the memorial is not the Uiver as it was
lost in a crash in 1935. The
replica airframe making up
the monument is
recognised and is itself of
historic significance, being
an example of a pioneering
marque of aircraft. It is an
example of the DC-2 that
was to be developed as the
History of the memorial DC-2. DC-3 which became almost
ubiquitous on commercial air routes after WWII. The DC-2 was an all metal
aircraft with a sealed cabin allowing for reasonably comfortable air travel and

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was operated by a number of airlines including KLM. A modified version was
developed for military purposes18. The replica aircraft was originally an
American airliner that was purchased by the RAAF and saw war service as
outlined on the plaque above19.

The Albury DC-2 is regarded as the best known of its type in Australia
and possibly in the world.

Memorials inside the airport.

The caf in the passenger waiting


room is named after the Uiver20. A
mural in the coffee shop depicts the
Uiver on boggy ground and the
inclusion of images of civilian aircrew
and the siting of the mural in the
passenger lounge suggest the
connection with commercial aviation21.
The Uiver Coffee Shop.

The Uiver Mural in the passenger lounge.

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DISPLAYS AT THE ALBURY LIBRARY/MUSEUM

The Albury Library/Museum has a comprehensive coverage of the


`Uiver incident as part of its permanent Crossing Place exhibition. As well as
the plaque shown at the racecourse and airport, the exhibit contains a video
clip, an audio explanation, a model and displays of memorabilia connected
with the event. Easy to access interpretation is provided and all three themes
are dealt with.

Accompanying the plaque


depicting the landing on the
improvised flarepath, the
exhibition at the Albury
Library/Museum is an
information board showing the
iconic photos of the men of
Albury helping to extricate the
`Uiver from the boggy ground to
allow it to re-enter the air race22.

A display case features a


selection of memorabilia as well
as items from the Domenie
Collection.
Portion of the LibraryMuseum Exhibit.

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While a seemingly unimpressive artefact, the
air ticket issued to Rolef Domenie23 is
considered to be one of the first tickets
issued for air travel between Europe and
Australia. Domenie was one of the three
passengers aboard the aircraft and his diaries
The Domenie AirTicket. . and other artefacts including the air tickets
make up the collection. This part of the
Library/Museum exhibit demonstrates the commercial significance of the race
that may be seen as a forerunner of what was to become a universal
phenomena - air travel between far distant parts of the globe.

AN ONGOING STORY

The memory of the `Uiver landing at Albury in 1934 is enduring largely


as a result of the memorials and the ongoing efforts to have them established
and maintained. Regular mention is made about the preservation of the
replica aircraft and the construction of models so that the legend is frequently
refreshed. While an Albury wide sample of Alburys population in 2006 24 did
not rate the `Uiver Memorial Aircraft particularly highly as a significant
heritage item some comments from the survey indicate the attitude of those
who know of the event. Most saw it as inspirational.

The memorial is a reminder of an inspiring event in Alburys history.

It is a reminder of what a community can do when they work together.

Probably the 1st time Albury featured in world news, It is a great story
with a totally happy ending and really inspiring.

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Some did see its significance in aviation history:

Its a significant part of global aviation history.

The story of the Uiver has been kept alive by the memorials, frequent
reporting of the story, and by the establishment of De Uiver Foundation and
their publications, all contributing a comprehensive view of the events of the
landing, the significance of the air race in promoting civil aviation , and the role
of the DC-2 in aviation history25.

END NOTES
1
Uiver - Photograph Uiver Albury Racecourse 1934 - ARM 84.090 | by MAMA &
LibraryMuseum".
2
Fierce Electric Storms Force Great Airliner Down in Albury, Border Morning Mail, 24 Oct. 1934, p.1.
3
SCOTT WINS AIR RACE, Border Morning Mail, 24 Oct. 1934, 1.
4
W.A Bayley, History notes and Index to newspapers published in Albury, 1934
5
Ella McDonald, Albury, Yesterday and Today 1912 1972, (Albury, Albury & District Historical Society, 1972),
pps.54-55.
William AS Bayley, Border City, History of Albury NSW, (Albury, Albury City Council, 1954), pps. 130-131.
Howard C Jones, Albury Heritage, (Albury, Albury City Council, 1991), p 133.
Loretta Re, Stand Up and Cheer, (Petersham, The Wild Colonial Company, 2015).
6
Cleaver Bunton, A Memorable Life. The Historical Ramblings of Alburys Long Serving Mayor, (Albury, C
Bunton, 1988) pps. 26-27.
7
RAF Mildenhall History, (mildenhall.af.mil/desktopModules/ArticleCS/Print.aspx? ) (accessed 11.08.2017)
8
Untitled photograph depicting a crowd of locals inspecting the Uiver at Albury Racecourse on 24th Oct. 1934
Albury City Collections, Accession number 13.001 (eservice.alburycity.nsw.gov.au) (09.09.2017)
9
Untitled photograph depicting Albury citizens preparing to help extricate the Uiver from the mud at Albury
Racecourse on 24 Oct. 1934 Albury City Collection Accession number 12.999 (eservice.alburycity,nsw.gov.au)
(accessed 09.09.2017)
10
TO MELBOURNE IN 59 MINUTES, Border Morning Mail, 25 Oct. 1934, p. 1.
11
Gallery shot, Crossing Place exhibition, Albury LibrarytMuseum
12
Alburys SOS for Dutch plane, Border Mail, Saturday Jan. 1, 2000, p.10.
13
Photo DG Spurr
14
Howard Jones, Home for Uiver still in doubt, Border Morning Mail 11.06.05., p.6
15
Photo DG Spurr
16
Photo DG Spurr
17
Photo DG Spurr
18
Douglas DC-2, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_DC-2) (accessed 28.07.2006)
19
Photo DG Spurr
20
Photo DG Spurr
21
Photo DG Spurr
22
Gallery shot, Crossing Place Exhibition, Albury LibraryMuseum.
23
Uiver display case, Crossing Place Exhibition, Albury LibraryMuseum.
24
DG Spurr, Cultural Heritage in the making: an Albury case study,( Albury,Unpublished M. Appl. Sc.
Dissertation, Charles Sturt University, Faculty of Science Albury, 2007) pps. 167-172.
25
Geoff Ross, The Uiver Memorial, (Albury, de Uiver Foundation, n.d) Library Historical Pamphlet File.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources
Alburys SOS for Dutch Plane, Border Mail, Saturday Jan . 1, 2000, p. 10.
Fierce Electrical Storms Force Great Airliner Down in Albury, Border Morning Mail,24 Oct. 1934, p.1.
Jones, H., Home For Uiver Still in Doubt, Border Mail, , 11 June 2005, , p.6
To Melbourne in 59 Minutes, Border Morning Mail, 25 Oct. 1934., p.1.
Scott Wins Air Race, Border Morning Mail,24 Oct. 1934, p.1
To Melbourne in 59 Minutes, Border Morning Mail, 25 Oct. 1934., p.1.

Secondary Sources
Bayley, W.A.,Border City, History of Albury NSW,(Albury, Albury City Council, 1954)pps 130-131
Bayley W.AHistory, Notes and Index to newspapers published in Albury, (unpublished document held at Albury
LibraryMuseum)
Bunton, C. A., Memorable Life. The Histocical Ramblings of Alburys Long Serving Mayor, (Albury, C Bunton,
1988) pps. 26-27.
Jones H.C., Albury Heritage, (Albury, Albury City Council, 1991) p.131.
McDonald, E., Albury Yesterday and Today 1912-1972, (Albury, Albury Historical Society,1972) pps.54-55.
RAF Mildenhall History, (Mildenhall.af.mil/desktopModules/ArticlCS/Print.aspx?) (accessed 11.08.2017)
Re, Loretta, Stand Up and Cheer, (Petersham, The Wild Colonial Company, 2015).
Ross, G., The Uiver Memorial, (Albury, de Uiver Foundation, n.d) Library Historical Pamphlet File, Albury
LibraryMuseum.
Spurr, D.G., Cultural Heritage in the making: an Albury Case Study, (Albury, Unpublished M. Appl. Sc.
Dissertation, Charles Sturt University Faculty of Science, 2007) pps. 167-172.
Wikipedia, DC-2 Aircraft, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki?Douglas DC-2) (accessed 28.07.2006)

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