Byron Bay Historical Society secretary Anne Caylock, from Suffolk Park, pictured with the wreck of the Tassie III in the backgr
Byron Bay Historical Society secretary Anne Caylock, from Suffolk Park, pictured with the wreck of the Tassie III in the backgr

Shipwrecks untold story surfaces

By RACHEL AFFLICK rachel.afflick@northernstar.com.au THE 'untold' story of the shipwreck at Byron Bay's Main Beach, complete with a bomb explosion and the tragic death of a boy, could soon be unearthed by a group of local historians.

Byron Bay Historical Society secretary Anne Caylock said members were compiling an account of the Tassie III and her demise, and in the process had discovered a 'rollicking yarn', largely untold or forgotten by history.

They are now appealing for anyone in the community who can shed any light on the events surrounding The Tassie III's demise to contact them.

If you stand near the swimming pool at Byron Bay's Main Beach car park and look out to sea at low tide, the wreck of the Tassie III also known locally as the Tassie II lies about 80 metres offshore.

What is known is that in June 1945 the American Supply ship Tassie III was making its way from Brisbane to Sydney carrying a cargo of condemned ammunition.

On June 9, she broke down at Byron Bay and was then wrecked while moored at the Byron Bay jetty.

This almost forgotten event had the most tragic consequences for a 16-year-old boy.

On a Sunday afternoon in July 1945, some five weeks after the Tassie III was lost, the boy was in his backyard. Eleven other children were with him.

He was showing them the flare bomb, part of the Tassie III cargo, he had found earlier that day.

It was a powder bomb and he was chipping bits off and lighting them.

One of the others suggested it would take all day that way so the boy threw a match into the bomb container.

The ensuing explosion killed him and injured the eleven other children, nine of whom were taken to hospital in Lismore.

"There seem to be some mysteries surrounding these events," said Anne.

"As one member said, it's a rollicking good tale." On completion of their project the historical society will hold a public presentation on the Tassie III at the Byron Bay Bowling Club.

The historical society was formed last year by several residents fascinated with Byron Bay's colourful past.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Anne Caylock on 6685 4923 or Toni Lee on 6685 9913.



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