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Diamond plane

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 14 August 2007 | Views [2201] | Comments [1]

Funny lights on the Ambassador

Funny lights on the Ambassador

On the morning of March 3rd 1942, Russian WWI ace Ivan Smirnov took off from Bandung on the island of Java, at that time part of the Dutch East Indies. Just before leaving, he was handed a small package wrapped in brown paper, with the instructions to take good care of it and that someone in Broome would take delivery upon arrival. Onboard his Douglas DC-3 were nine Dutch refugees fleeing the imminent Japanese invasion. As the plane was approaching its destination, Smirnov saw billowing clouds of smoke over Broome. The city was under attack. Nine Japanese Zero had been strafing flying boats and other aircrafts, destroying 22 of them altogether and claiming more than a hundred lives.

The lonely DC-3 was quickly spotted by three Japanese fighters and shot down. A wounded Smirnov still managed to crash-land his bullet-riddled plane on the beach at Carnot Bay, some 80 km north of Broome. After taking care of the wounded, he sent one of the passengers back onboard to recover the mail, the log book and the package. But as the man was climbing out of the wreck, he was hit by a wave and lost his cargo. The log book and some of the mail were recovered, but the package had disappeared.

After the ordeal, Smirnov was questioned by the police about the package. He had no idea, but the package contained $300’000 worth of diamonds. Meanwhile, a local beachcomber named Jack Palmer had sailed his lugger to the wreckage, salvaging what he could. And probably finding the package. It is said that he latter bragged that he “no longer had to work, only sit down and smoke cigars”. By mid-April, he was enlisting in the army, bringing back around $20’000 worth of diamond that he said he found on the wreck. He claimed it’s all he had, since the package had opened itself when he touched it and all the content had fallen in the sea… He was immediately taken into custody for interrogation.

Jack Palmer and 2 other accomplices were tried in Broome in 1943, but all of them were acquitted. Over the years, diamonds started showing up at different locations, but it all accounted for a little more than $30’000. The rest, worth today something between $10 and $20 millions, is still missing… That being said, I’ll grab my shovel and head north. Wish me luck!

Tags: ambassador van, lost!

Comments

1

Theres a bit more about this story here:
http://www.abc.net.au/kimberley/stories/s1714655.htm

Good luck finding the diamonds, Steph!

  stowaway Aug 14, 2007 3:26 PM

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