MORTAR: A plaque at St Francis Xavier School at Goodna to honour John Watson after he died on February 23, 1943, and (inset) Councillor Paul Tully.
MORTAR: A plaque at St Francis Xavier School at Goodna to honour John Watson after he died on February 23, 1943, and (inset) Councillor Paul Tully. Contributed

Explosion prompts call for secret evidence to be revealed

SEVENTY-five years after a Goodna schoolboy was killed when an unexploded American bomb he found detonated, Paul Tully is calling for secret information to be made public.

On February 23, 1943, 12-year-old St Francis Xavier School student John Watson was killed when he threw what was believed to be a "dud" shell left in a neighbouring paddock.

The paddock was a well-known site used by the United States Army and Australian soldiers during World War II.

At the time, the Catholic school in Church Street was known as St Patrick's.

In an incident that made news across the nation, John was killed and seven of his school friends injured when the shell exploded at the school.

 

The Courier Mail reported on February 24, 1943, about the death of Goodna schoolboy John Watson who was killed by an unexploded bomb.
The Courier Mail reported on February 24, 1943, about the death of Goodna schoolboy John Watson who was killed by an unexploded bomb. Contributed

Accusations that the Americans were negligent and did not do enough to clear the site of unexploded bombs, or fence it off from inquisitive school children was heard at an inquest into the incident.

With questions remaining about who was at fault in the incident, Cr Tully said who was at fault should now be revealed.

"The inquest really amounted to nothing," Cr Tully said.

"None of the original evidence was made public.

"I think it's time that is made public to determine what was kept secret from the public during the inquest."

Cr Tully said it was a sad day for the Goodna community when one of its "well-known and popular school students, John Watson, died".

"It was a part of World War II which is, in many people's minds, been long forgotten but it's part of the history of Goodna," he said.

Injured schoolboy Ray Thompson made an unsuccessful attempt to secure compensation from the United States about 20 years ago.

Despite years of legal claims, the United States government consistently refused to pay compensation to any of the victims.



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