30 DECEMBER 1942
CRASH OF AN RA-20A-1 BOSTON BOMBER,

ON A BEACH NEAR THE TOWNSVILLE TOWN COMMON

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RA-20A-1 Boston, #40-3150 of the 4th Air Depot Group, 5th Air Force, APO-922 crashed on 30 Dec 1942 during a test flight after a major overhaul. The aircraft took off and hit a power pole and 5 minutes later it attempted an emergency landing on a beach near Townsville. The aircraft cart wheeled and Major Walter R. Ford, (030271) was killed.

Major Ford, a Protestant by religion, was buried in the US Cemetery in Townsville on 31 December 1942.

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Photos from Rick Hanning

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Photos from Rick Hanning

The Guild diary shows this crash occurring on 28 December 1942 (not 30 December 1942). It also indicates that the aircraft was assigned to the 3rd Bomb Group on 22 August 1942.

 


 

The above crash is described in Rod Cardell's book "Wings around Us". It is about the Stock Route airstrip which was located where Dalrymple Road in Townsville now runs:-

"Wings Around Us" Page 133
On December 30th 1942, I ran across to our side fence to get a closer look at the Boston that was taxiing down Duckworth Street.  I watched it approach, and when it came abeam, I stared hard at the pilot hoping for his acknowledgment, as in the good old days of the Marauders, but the Major didn't look at me, or if he did, he failed to greet me.  I was disappointed, as it was so unlike the Americans not to be friendly.  I ran back to our front verandah, where I hope the extra height would give me a better view of the take off.

He took a long time to get unstuck, and as he climbed away I remarked to someone standing beside me that I could see telegraph wires trailing from the tail of his aircraft.  He must have run well past the end of the strip to have collected those wires.  The aircraft continued to climb, making a very gentle turn to port.  Within minutes I knew that he had crashed on the town common, apparently decapitating himself in the process.  His devoted crew chief raced his jeep through all obstacles and obstructions in a desperate bid to reach the crash and help.  I was told he just stood there and burst into tears at what he saw.

The pilot had been Major Walter R. Ford of Oakland, California, the Group's Engineering Officer.  He had already been the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters for missions in the evacuation of the Philippines and Java.

This was the second such fatality of the 4th Air Depot Group.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Dr. Rod Cardell, Terence Geary and Rick Hanning for their assistance with this home page.

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett for his assistance with this home page in sending me the Guild diary which was provided to him by my mate Bill Swain. 

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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This page first produced 14 June 1998

This page last updated 11 January 2017