CRASH OF A LIBERATOR
NEAR DRYSDALE MISSION, WA
ON 14 AUGUST 1943

 

USAAF B-24D Liberator, #42-40369, "Shady Lady", of the 528th Squadron of the 380th Bomb Group, made a forced landing on the tidal salts flats on the Anjo Peninsula, near Drysdale (now Kalumburu) Mission after running low on fuel after a 16 hour low-level night time bombing raid on Balikpapan on 14 August 1943. This raid, which started from Darwin, was against oil and shipping targets at Balikpapan. On their return towards Australia they were caught in a tropical storm and became lost.

When the pilot Doug Craig made his emergency landing on the salt flats, the nosewheel collapsed and the depot-installed nose turret was torn loose. The only casualty was RAAF photographer Sandy Rushton, who received only slight injuries. A rescue party from Drysdale Mission included Father Sanz, a Spanish monk, some mission workers and some local aborigines.

 


Photo by Bob McDonnell supplied by Rick Hanning

Nose-turret of "Shady Lady" photographed in 1990 from a helicopter

 


Photo Bob McDonnell supplied by Rick Hanning

Close-up of nose-turret

 

"Shady Lady" was finally repaired about one month later and was flown back to Darwin.

In 1988, 45 years after the crash, Western Australian air historian Lindsay Peet, reunited Father Sanz with two of the crew that he rescued. They were the navigator and the armourer/gunner. The tyre marks of the Liberator could still be seen in the salt pan.

The pilot Doug Craig died in about 1998.

 

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The following photos are frame grabs from an 8mm video (Hi-8) given to me by Daniel Hultgren. The video is dubbed from another video (Hi-8) which was copied from some old colour film. This explains the poor quality of the pictures.

The original film was shot by Eugene Halaas from Canada, who was in the photographic section of the 43rd Service Squadron, previously known as the Material Squadron. He was based at Fenton. He was part of the team that was sent out to recover "Shady Lady". He took colour film footage of still photographs of "Shady Lady" in a photo album.

 

This is Eugene M. Halaas who took the film

 

The following photographs were supplied to me by
David Halaas, grandson of Eugene Halaas

nt26-01.jpg (45274 bytes) Aboriginal helper
nt26-02.jpg (140281 bytes) Rescue aircraft at crash site of "Shady Lady"
nt26-03.jpg (204211 bytes) Aboriginal helpers
nt26-04.jpg (153353 bytes) Aboriginal helpers
nt26-05.jpg (151232 bytes) Shady Lady?? The tail No. appears to be 240369 or 2404389?
nt26-06.jpg (781211 bytes)

Sgt. Charles Pearson Yank magazine Staff Artist visited the recovery site and sketched the recovery. His sketches were in the 10 December 1943 issue of Yank magazine.

 

The following photographs are screen grabs from the film taken by Eugene Halaas

shady01.jpg (8701 bytes)

B-24 crash landed in a salt marsh

shady02.jpg (9756 bytes)

B-24 in salt marsh, 500 miles west of Fenton
between Wyndham and Broome

shady03.jpg (8470 bytes)

Rescue plane

shady04.jpg (14160 bytes)

Aboriginal helpers

shady05.jpg (10496 bytes)

Equipment removed from the aircraft
to make it light for takeoff

shady06.jpg (14987 bytes)

Person on right has a hood made of
mosquito net to keep the flies off his head

shady07.jpg (12850 bytes) shady08.jpg (11067 bytes)
shady09.jpg (11640 bytes) shady10.jpg (11770 bytes)
shady11.jpg (13007 bytes) shady12.jpg (13807 bytes)
shady13.jpg (9465 bytes)

Refurbished nose section

shady14.jpg (9846 bytes)

Refurbished nose section

shady15.jpg (11289 bytes) shady16.jpg (8545 bytes)
shady17.jpg (11044 bytes) shady18.jpg (10025 bytes)
shady19.jpg (7166 bytes)

 

shady20.jpg (7511 bytes)

His back is covered in tribal scars

shady21.jpg (8112 bytes) shady22.jpg (12254 bytes)
shady23.jpg (9603 bytes)

 

shady24.jpg (6735 bytes)

B-24 taking off - it had 1800 feet or clear ground

shady25.jpg (7720 bytes)

"Shady Lady" buzzed the rescue crew once
and headed for
Fenton

shady26.jpg (8305 bytes)

Camera "Caddy" returning photographic
equipment to plane

shady27.jpg (17859 bytes)

Producer, Director and Cameraman
Mr Eugene Halaas of the 43rd Service Squadron

 

 

NOTE:- I had originally shown Shady Lady as Serial No. #42-40491 in error. That is actually the Serial No of "Poochie" which crash landed near Black Sand Plain near Daly River on 29 July 1943.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bob Livingstone and Rick Hanning for their assistance with this home page.

I'd like to thank Lindsay Peet for compiling the following set of Reference material.

I'd also like to thank David Halaas, grandson of Eugene Halaas.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

PUBLISHED (* denotes illustrations)

Alford, B. 1991, Darwin's air war1942-1945: an illustrated history, Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory & Coleman's Printing, Darwin, NT, p. 50*.

Birdsall, S. 1977, Flying buccaneers: the illustrated story of Kenney's Fifth Air Force, Doubleday New York, USA, p. 84.

Fain, J. (ed) 1946, The history of the 380th Bomb Group (H) AAF, affectionately known as the "Flying Circus", n.p. (printed by Commanday-Roth, New York, USA), pp. 20-22, 24*, 86-88*.

Horton, G.R. 1995, The best in the southwest: the 380th Bombardment Group (H) in World War II, Southwest Pacific Area, ed. G.L.Horton, Mosie Publications, Savage, Minnesota, USA, pp. 77-79*, 446.

Horton, G.R. and Horton, G.L. 1983, King of the Heavies, The Authors, Inver Grove Hts, Minnesota, USA, pp. 3-37*, 43, 128, 172-173.

Livingstone, B. 1998, Under the Southern Cross: the B-24 Liberator in the south Pacific, Turner Publishing, Paducah, Kentucky, USA, pp. 62, 65-66.

Nelmes, M. V. 1994, Tocumwal to Tarakan: Australians and the B-24 Liberator, Banner Books, Belconnen, ACT, p. 59.

Odgers, G. 1957, Air war against Japan 1943-1945, Australia in the war of 1939-1945, Series 3 (Air), Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, pp. 109, 113.

Peet, L. 1995, ‘Monks at war: interpretations of the Kalumburu war diary’, New Norcia Studies [WA], No. 3, 1995, pp. 39-53*.

Peet, L. J. 1998, 'The World War II heritage sites of the northern Kimberley', Trust News [WA], vol. 200, pp. 20-21*. (Reproduced in The Listening Post [RSL, WA], vol. 22, no. 1, 1999, pp. 24-25*)

Perez, E. 1977, Kalumburu, Kalumburu Benedictine Mission, via Wyndham, WA, p. 107.

______ 1981, Kalumburu war diary, eds R. Pratt and J. Millington, Artlook Books, East Perth, WA, pp. 123-124, 127-128.

‘Salvage operations in the Never-Never’, Yank Down Under, 10 December 1943, p. 6* (wartime magazine published in Australia for American service personnel).

Sanz, S. 1979, ‘World War II Kimberley recollections’, in North of the 26th, ed. H. Weller, The Nine Club, East Perth, WA, pp. 207-210.

 

DISSERTATION

Peet, L. J. 1995, ‘Shady Lady the story behind a World War II heritage site in the northern Kimberley’, 86 pp., a major dissertation for the Graduate Diploma in Applied Heritage Studies, Research Institute for Cultural Heritage Studies, Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia.

 

HERITAGE DOCUMENTATION

National Trust of Australia (WA): WYNDHAM-EAST KIMBERLEY 11, 'Shady Lady site, Anjo Peninsula', classified 09 September 1997.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 23 August 1999

This page last updated 31 August 2015