Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Finding the Lost Anzac

2010 marks 75 years since Australia’s aviation pioneer, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, along with co-pilot John Thompson “Tommy” Pethybridge, took flight in the Lady Southern Cross with the intent to set yet another record in aviation. Tragically this was to be their last flight.

They set off in November 1935 from the UK with Australia as the intended final destination. To this day, the exact location of the Lady Southern Cross and its crew is unknown by the families and many people interested in this story.

There have been numerous theories on the disappearance of the crew and plane.

Now at the 75th anniversary of the final flight of the Lady Southern Cross, award-winning filmmaker Damien Lay, committed to uncovering the truth about this Australian hero, is in preparation to return to the location of his discovery on the 75th anniversary date, November 8, to commemorate these great men’s lives. To mark the occasion he intends to return with the Kingsford Smith and Pethybridge families and other associated parties. Lockheed Martin representatives who built the Lady Southern Cross will also attend.

Following last year’s highly controversial announcement for the discovery of the wreckage of the missing aircraft, Damien Lay and his team have returned to Myanmar a further five times to conduct extensive preliminary work on their find with an intent to go to the next stage – recovery of the aircraft.

The Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition II (LSCSEII) team is now moving into the next phase of the recovery this November, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the final flight of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge in the Lady Southern Cross.

In addition to the work that has been conducted at the location to substantiate the find prior to recovery, Lay continues to work closely with Lockheed Martin both in Australia and the United States in the examination of artefacts and evidence collected from the location and piecing together of the final chapter in Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge’s life. This discovery and research will offer, what Lay describes as, the beginning to a new understanding into this great man’s life.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith is known worldwide as one of history’s greatest aviators and we are close to understanding more about the circumstances and outcome of his disappearance.

Lay is also very mindful of the sensitivity of this find and works closely with the families of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge in every facet of the operation.

“I've spent most of my life with only a couple of "snapshot" early childhood memories of my father. I've wondered countless times, along with many others in my family, what exactly occurred that took him away from us. It's clear from the evidence that exists that he and Tommy Pethybridge crashed in the Andaman Sea, but where -- and especially, why -- are questions whose answers have eluded everyone so far.

Ted Wixted of the Queensland Museum launched an intense effort to find the wreckage of the Lady Southern Cross off the coast of Myanmar in the early '80s. Although he failed to find it, what he did discover, along with his scientific reasoning, made it clear to me that there is a very high probability that the wreckage is discoverable, and not just "somewhere out there" in the vast ocean. It also seems probable that, being buried in anoxic conditions under mud and sand, the wreckage may be well preserved after all these years.”

Damien Lay has had a single-minded goal for several years, almost an obsession, to find the missing aircraft. From what he has shared with me, I think there is a strong likelihood that he has done this. So I would really like to be there on the windup expedition, to see the place where the LSC ended its flight, and to see identifiable parts of the plane when they are brought to light.” – Charles Kingsford Smith Jr.

This expedition will be the culmination of over six years intensive research into the history of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and the missing aircraft. Lay has been given rare access, cooperation and support by the Government of the Union of Myanmar in every aspect of the operation and the documentation of this expeditionary work and ultimate discovery.

This expedition has provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for the families and associated parties who have waited 75 years for a chance to visit this area that has played such an instrumental role in the history surrounding the disappearance of the Lady Southern Cross.

"The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the Lady Southern Cross has been an enormous part of the lives of the families of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge. In searching for these great men who contributed so much to the world through their achievements, we are honouring their memory, demonstrating that we have not forgotten them and remembering their sacrifice,” Lay says. “The opportunity to remember and honour these men on the anniversary of their final flight, in Myanmar, is unparalleled and something that I want to share with those closest to them."

This search has been a joint Myanmar and Australian Lady Southern Cross Expedition II effort which Lay is keen to acknowledge and this is reflected in the Government of the Union of Myanmar’s support of this project and the exclusive access that Lay has to search and film in these remote and dangerous parts of Myanmar, the largest foreign expedition to ever be approved by the Government of the Union of Myanmar.

Lay is also working with the Myanmar Government on several other major projects.

“The Government of the Union of Myanmar have been extremely supportive of this effort and instrumental in its success through the many challenges we have faced. We are indebted to them for their continued support and assistance in the exploration of this shared history” - Damien Lay.

Support for the recovery and expeditionary work is growing all the time.

List of LSCSEII Expeditions names:

FEB ’09 – Lady Southern Cross Search Expedition II
NOV ’09 – Lady Southern Cross Recovery Expedition
JAN ’10 – Advance Expedition – Lady Southern Cross Recovery Expedition II
FEB ’10 – Advance Expedition – Lady Southern Cross Recovery Expedition II
MAR ’10 – Lady Southern Cross Recovery Expedition II
MAY ’10 – Lady Southern Cross Recovery Expedition II

Lay’s feature film, “The Lost Anzac” continues and will unequivocally reveal the final chapter in the life of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.

"Anyone who professes to know the ending to this story is wrong, without having done what we have done and seen what we have seen, you can never fully appreciate the heroic and tragic death that these men faced, it is a truly befitting ending to the lives of these great pioneers of aviation and a remarkable story." - Damien Lay

Interviews available:
Damien Lay

On expedition:
Charles Kingsford Smith Jr.
Also attending and available will be representatives from:
The Kingsford Smith family.
The Pethybridge family.
The Hodder Family.
The Wixted Family.
Lockheed Martin.

Contact Profile

Belinda Worsley

P: 0415686014
W: www.animaxfilms.com.au


Charles Kingsford Smith, Myanmar, Burma, Aviation, History, Film, Damien Lay



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