Search for family in '55 Maitland flood rescue

CALL ME: Flood historian Peter Bogan. - Main picture by Anita Jones
CALL ME: Flood historian Peter Bogan. - Main picture by Anita Jones
RESCUE: A surfboat moving through East Maitland in the 1955 flood.

RESCUE: A surfboat moving through East Maitland in the 1955 flood.

CONFLICTING: Newspaper reports on the family rescue.

CONFLICTING: Newspaper reports on the family rescue.

THE search has begun for members of a family who were part of a daring rescue in the 1955 Maitland flood.

Maitland historian Peter Bogan has found three conflicting newspaper articles about the mother, father and six-month-old son, who were rescued after being stranded on top of a haystack for 12 hours at Millers Forest, surrounded by raging floodwater.

One article published in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate on February 28, 1955, said a surfboat plucked the family from a mound of hay about 2.30am, only to overturn in the strong torrents.

The woman, who was clinging onto her baby as she held onto the upturned boat, and her husband, were then rescued for a second time in a dinghy and taken by a Maritime Service boat to Raymond Terrace for medical treatment.

Other reports say the surfboat hit power lines, and the family managed to climb onto another haystack.

Mr Bogan keeps records of the flood and wants to set the records straight.

"If I could just contact someone in the family I could get a true story of what happened for history's sake," he said. "The child would be 55 years old now."

The couple's names are believed to be Kevin and Joan Whatman.

Anyone with information should call The Herald on 4979 5999.