Alive All Alive: Investigating the disappearance of VH-CIZ, Australia's most perplexing war-time aviation disaster

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Xflow Marketing, Aug 3, 2023 - History - 372 pages

Released in August 2023, “Alive…All Alive” has been researched and written by Lee McCarthy, a relative of one of the missing men.

The book documents the true story of the 1945 disappearance of VH-CIZ (A65-83) – a Royal Australian Air Force C47-B with 25 servicemen on board. The Douglas Dakota was thought to have flown head-long into a severe tropical storm and subsequently crashed or ditched somewhere in the Banda Sea. The next day, when the plane could not possibly be in the air, two cryptic radio messages crackled into military receivers in Darwin – one of which stated the group were “Alive…All Alive.” Shortly after, a civilian radio operator received a third incomplete message from an unknown source. The message stated an unknown group were on Timor, were all OK, and were waiting to be picked up. Despite a frantic search effort, the men and the aircraft were never seen again.

Alive...All Alive investigates the likelihood of the men’s survival, the possible outcomes of the incident, and the flawed Court of Inquiry that followed. Included are first hand accounts of the weather that day from veterans, airstrip conversations with the missing pilot, and many other details not disclosed in the Court of Inquiry.

The book takes a deep-dive into war-time radio technology, explores clandestine military activity at the time, and dissects witness statements and exhibits in plain language.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in war-time aviation, military radio technology, and survival in the Pacific War.


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About the author (2023)

Like many Australians, I have always had an affinity with World War 2, and I’ve always wondered why. Perhaps it’s because I see it as an era where we focused less on the individual, and instead pulled together as one community for a single greater cause.

I’m not obsessed with war, far from it. And I don’t like to glorify it either. But it’s the human stories of war that interest me. It’s trying to understand how seemingly everyday people keep going when the war has pushed their emotions, resilience, and fortitude beyond breaking point. And I’m still staggered by those little war-time nuggets that I stumble across while researching too. Stories of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things, then packing it all up to return to civilian life.

I’ve trekked Kokoda in Papua New Guinea, visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, toured Sandakan where the dreaded Death March took place, and attended an ANZAC Dawn Service in Darwin, where this story is centred. These are all things that many Australians do to not only pay our respects, but to reach back into the past and get a feeling for what it was like back then. In that sense, investigating and documenting this story has at times drawn me back to 1945 so completely that I felt the need to take a break from it periodically - just to get my head back into matters of the present!

I don’t see myself as a war historian, nor do I see myself as a military aficionado, but I’ve worked hard to bring this story to light because I think it’s one worth telling.

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