Having completed their raid on Broome, the Japanese Zeros went on to attack one more plane on 3 March 1942. As they returned to Timor the fighters came across a Dutch DC.3 plane, which was carrying 12 people and a very valuable package towards Broome.

Torch used to make water
Donated by Gus Clinch
Shot down by the Zeros, the Dutch plane made a forced beach landing at Carnot Bay, a remote beach 100 kilometres north of Broome.

The passengers were left stranded for five days with no food and little water.

They used this blow torch to make a primitive distilling plant, which turned sea water into drinking water.

Four people died during the ordeal.

This is one of several notes dropped by air, along with medicines, dressings, tinned food, milk and cigarettes, to those stranded at Carnot Bay.

Their rescue the following day was facilitated by people from the Beagle Bay Mission, after Aboriginal man Jo Bernard alerted the missionaries.

Good luck note dropped to downed plane with diamonds
Provided by the Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome
Ivan Smirnoff
Ivan Smirnoff
The downed plane was piloted by Dutch citizen Ivan Smirnoff, who had been entrusted with a sealed package before takeoff.

The package was lost during the forced landing and only later did Smirnoff learn that it contained diamonds, which would today be worth many millions of dollars.

The diamonds were being transported from Amsterdam for safekeeping in Australia during the Nazi invasion.

A few days after the rescue local man Jack Palmer sailed near Carnot Bay and pulled in to inspect the plane wreck.

Finding a package submerged in sand, Palmer showed some friends the sparkling contents but initially decided against going to the authorities. Some weeks later, he handed a salt shaker filled with diamonds to the Army commander in Broome.

As it contained many fewer diamonds than the package had, the Army launched an investigation.

This image shows Palmer, in a white singlet, at Carnot Bay with the investigation team – which found nothing but torn paper and string.

Palmer and his friends were charged with stealing but the case was dismissed, and many of the missing diamonds were never retrieved. ‘Diamond Jack’, as he became known, went on to live a comfortable life in Broome.

Jack Palmer with investigation team


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