French explorer, Claude Bernard, has uncovered the WW2 plane wreckage of 2UE morning presenter David Oldfield’s late father. He flew from France to personally give David a piece of the wreckage.
Claude started searching for the plane in 2006 after a conversation with a local Indonesian man. After almost five year’s of research into the plane’s history Claude discovered the wreckage was Bill Oldfield’s plane from WW2 and tracked down David to present his findings.
“The more I found out about this plane wreck from Indonesian locals the more I became interested in it, particularly when I found out the pilot had survived the crash,” said Claude Bernard.
“It was very important for me to come to Sydney and present a piece of the wreckage to David, it felt like I was completing a piece of my own puzzle. While I have seen the wreckage and researched the story behind it, actually meeting a living relative of this man completed my historical journey,” added Claude Bernard.
For David the meeting was an amazing and emotional experience he will never forget, with the piece from the plane wreckage to be kept alongside photos of his father from the war.
“It was really emotional to meet Claude and receive a piece from Dad’s plane wreckage, particularly now that my father has passed away. We knew Dad’s plane was in Soemba somewhere but never knew the exact location,” said David Oldfield.
“Claude has really been able to paint a clearer picture for me and my family as he was able to describe the crash site in detail, and even gave me a photo of a well from which my father drank. It was almost like a beyond the grave experience with Dad’s past,” added David Oldfield.
Bill Oldfield joined the Army at 21 in 1939 and transferred to the Air Force in 1940. He went to Air Gunnery School and graduated from number six course as a wireless-air gunner. He was posted to No. 2 Squadron to crew Hudson bombers.
In 1945 Bill found himself under heavy attack while flying in a B-24 Liberator that burst into flames after a night attack on Denpasar. After being on fire for more than two hours, the plane crash landed in shallow water off the island of Soemba.
For his outstanding war efforts, Bill was commissioned from the rank and was twice decorated for bravery. After the war, Bill went back to sales in Perth, and in 1946 took up the agency for a company called Samuel Taylor, and later moved to Sydney to be that company’s New South Wales sales manager. He has since passed away.
Below: David Oldfield with French explorer Claude Bernard