CRASH OF A LIBERATOR
AT TRUSCOTT, WA
ON 20 MAY 1945

 

liberator.jpg (11693 bytes)

Liberator

 

RAAF B-24M Liberator A72-160, ex USAAF No. #44-41949, of 12 Squadron RAAF, crashed on takeoff from Truscott airfield in Western Australia before dawn on 20 May 1945. Apparently the pilot, Flying Officer Sismey, thought his instruments were malfunctioning and while trying to re-level the Liberator in the darkness, he actually banked his wing into the surrounding scrub.

Many of the personnel camped at the airfield were wakened by the loud explosion as A72-160 crashed. Many of them rushed to the scene of the crash but were held back by the Military Police. They heard the muffled explosion when the depth charges blew up inside the burning wreck.

"Aussie" Jones, and Russell Glenn, gunners from Bigelow's crew and a few others had gotten quite close to the wreckage and could hear the trapped crew banging on the inside of the aircraft's fuselage. The Military Police kept them back as they believed it was about to explode.

18 year old wireless air gunner, Jim Bigelow and his crew had been on 4 missions in this aircraft under the command of pilot Flight Lieutenant Frank Casalegno. They had been posted to 12 Squadron RAAF initially at Cecil Plains in Queensland on 8 February 1945 where they had received Liberator A72-160. After some radar training at Maryborough, Bigelow moved to Fenton on in the Northern Territory on 15 April 1945.  Here they flew four missions in A72-160. Their first mission was on 26 April 1945 and the fourth on 18 May 1945. On 19th May they flew A72-160 to Truscott in readiness for their fifth mission. On arrival at Truscott they were told they were being relieved on this mission by the relief crew of Flying Officer Sismey.

Many of the personal effects from Frank Casalegno's crew were found in the burnt out wreckage and for a short wile there was some confusion as to which crew had perished in the aircraft.

Those killed in this crash were:-

F/Lt. F.L. Sismey
F/O W.S. Bell
W/O T.N. Rust
F/SgtL.M. Bailey

Sgt L. Duncanson
F/Sgt I.N. Easton
F/Sgt T.W. Allen
W/O B.L. Cox
F/Sgt D.D. Benson
F/Sgt J.A. Hollis
F/Sgt J.R. Herps

While the crew were being buried that afternoon a Spitfire crash landed at Truscott. The pilot escaped with some burns to his body.

 

nt30-01.jpg (54356 bytes)

The wreckage of this aircraft can still be seen at Truscott today.
The above photo of the ball turret, engine and wing section
of B-24 Liberator A72-160 was taken in mid 1992

 

A72-160 had been received by the RAAF on 15 December 1944.

Annette Shields of Darwin took the following colour photographs of the wreck of A72-160 in early January 2005. Annette said that most of the wreck still exists, although, the cockpit is now gone! A 60th Memorial was due to be held at the site on the 20th May 2005. 

 


Photo: Annette Shields, Darwin via Bob Buxton

The wreckage of A72-160 in January 2005

 


Photo: Annette Shields, Darwin via Bob Buxton

The wreckage of A72-160 in January 2005

 


Photo: Annette Shields, Darwin via Bob Buxton

The wreckage of A72-160 in January 2005

 


Photo: Annette Shields, Darwin via Bob Buxton

The wreckage of A72-160 in January 2005

 

 


 

Subject:    Truscott B24 Crash
Date:             Sat, 3 Jun 2000 16:58:55 +0800
From:           "Howard Young" <truscott@wn.com.au>

I notice in your web site that you do not have listed the crash of Sismey's Liberator A72-160 which failed to take of on May, 20th, 1945 at Truscott, killing all the crew of 11.

I have pictures and full reports of the crash. The Truscott Base Tribute Committee hold a reunion of Truscott personnel there each year on 20th May.

We have just returned from a very successful "Reunion 2000" there 20th May last. We were supported by Norcom with a Caribou, catafalque party and support personnel, including food and a cook. The people who operate the base Triple J Air Services were our hosts, together with the tradition owners.

Do you want to know more of the crash? (Yes please!)

Cheers!
Howard Young.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Annette Shields of Darwin who works at the airfield at the old WW2 air base in WA. I'd like to thank Bob Buxton for sending Annette's photos to me.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Tocumwal to Tarakan"
"Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator"
By Michael V. Nelmes

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

Disclaimer

Please e-mail me
any information or photographs


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This page first produced 12 September 1999

This page last updated 31 August 2015