Monday, April 7, 2008

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy Oy Oy!

The Embassy of Australia at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Located prominently on Scott Circle is the Embassy of Australia. It's a rather unpretentious building and while I've never actually seen anyone go in or out of it, I have seen plenty of Australian military attaches walking to or from it. Australia's ambassador to the United States is Dennis James Richardson. Prior to his appointment, he was Director General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (the equivalent of Britain's MI-6 or the U.S.'s CIA.)

According to the Australian Government's website, Australia has a population of more than 20.6 million and "is the only nation to govern an entire continent. It is the earth's largest island and the sixth-largest country in the world in land area." It is believed to have been inhabited for at least 60,000 years prior to the arrival of Europeans. The first European settlement was established by Great Britain in 1788.

Memorial commerating Australia's worst
non-combat-related air crash of World War II

Located at the back of the embassy grounds and next door to First Baptist Church is this tiny memorial to causalities of a plane crash in Australia during World War II. On July 14, 1943, a B-17 Flying Fortress took off from Bakers Creek in Queensland en route to New Guinea. The passengers were American servicemen who'd been on R&R (rest and relaxation) in Australia. Of the 41 passengers and crew on board, only one survived--Koye Kenneth Roberts of Wichita Falls, Kansas.

The Bakers Creek Air Crash was kept a secret because the Americans and Australians didn't want the Japanese to know U.S. forces were in the area. The secret remained for many years after the war, as well. In 2006, through the efforts of surviving family members and buddies of the deceased, the Australian government erected a monument to this non-combat tragedy.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08

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