CRASH OF A B-17 FLYING FORTRESS
INTO MT OBREE, PNG
ON 25 APRIL 1942

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On the 25 April 1942, USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress, #41-2505, of the 30th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, left Cloncurry on its 29th combat mission to New Guinea with two other B-17's. They landed at Townsville where they were loaded with their bombs and more fuel. The three B-17's proceeded to 7-Mile Strip, at Port Moresby, and landed to await their mission take off time of 03.30am which would place them over their target at Rabaul at dawn. #41-2505 was last seen about five miles southeast of Port Moresby while the formation was climbing to cruising altitude. About an hour later at about 4:45am, a B-17 was heard to fly over 7-mile strip in the darkness and it was assumed that it was this B-17. It was believed to have been lost over the Coral Sea.  The crew of 8 personnel were believed killed. They were as follows:-

1st/ Lt. Daniel W. Fagen (0-398681)
2nd Lt. Robert R. Meyer (0-416325)
2nd L:t. Ralph Howard (0-431678)
2nd Lt. Jim Sam Grant (0-419265)
S/Sgt Elton J. Rose (6241916)
Sgt. Edward L. Hargrove (6580643)
Sgt. Joe A. Carter (6579316)
Sgt. Paul A. Reimer (6580519)

The location of the wreck was not known until 1961 when it was spotted on the Tufi side of Mt Obree in PNG at 9,000 feet by a search team looking for the wreck of other crashed aircraft. On 15 June 1986 another US Army team investigated the crash site and found the remains of the crew. Their bodies were returned to the US and buried at Arlington Cemetery. Mt. Obree is located about 85kms east of Port Moresby in the Owen Stanley Range. 

The History of this B-17 is as follows:-

12 Jan 42. Arrived S.A.C.D..

14 Jan 42. Arrived Portland Ore.

20 Jan 42. Returned S.A.C.D..

22 Jan 42. Arrived Mc Dill Field, Fla. Assigned to 7 BG, 9 BS.

10 Feb 42. Arrived at Singosari, Java via The African Route. 2lt Richard B Taylor.

20 Feb 42. "SUMAC". [J8] Assigned to 7 BG, 9 BS.

Date not shown. Transferred to 19 BG.

31 Oct 44. "CON INV LEFT R".

This aircraft was the first B-17 to be fitted with the Sperry ball turret.

 

Part of a document from National Archives.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett, Richard Birkbeck, Glenn Fickey, Thomas Murray and Pete Johnston for their assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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This page first produced 4 December 2003

This page last updated 30 March 2013