A World War II aircraft crash site at Whenuapai west of Auckland was investigated in April-May by a team lead by Simon Bickler in conjunction with Auckland Council. A USAAF B17E flying fortress (‘Texas Tornado’) which had been on a secret mission to New Zealand crashed and exploded shortly after take-off for Laverton on 9 June 1942, with eleven fatalities. The property on which the crash occurred is likely to be developed in the near future. The aim of the project was to undertake a controlled excavation of a large infilled 500 lb bomb crater at the site in a way that would allow recovery of any human remains, personal items, unexploded ordnance and definitive crash relics. The finds recovered from the crash site have yet to be fully examined, but a number of items recovered will be repatriated to the US Defence Department’s Missing in Action unit.
Photo: Bomb crater prior to excavation – Richard Brassey