7 MARCH 1943
CRASH OF DEHAVILLAND DRAGON

NEAR FRESHWATER GORGE

 

dh84.jpg (11989 bytes)
DH 84 Dragon

 

A DH 84A Dragon, Type 2, A34-24 of No. 5 Communications Flight crashed in the Jigol Peak area in Freshwater Gorge on the 7 March 1943 during a flight from Cairns to Mareeba.

Killed were:-

Sergeant Lindsay James Sutherland McColl, pilot, RAAF (405796), of 5 Communications Flight
Brigadier John Wilson Crawford, Commander (NX378) of HQ 11 Australian Infantry Brigade
Lieutenant Arthur William Morris, AIF, HQ 11 Australian Infantry Brigade

Seriously injured survivors were as follows:-

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Heathcote George Cardale, (NX483) AIF, 31st Battalion
ACI R.H. Appleby, RAAF crew

The above two survivors were found on 11 March 1943 wandering around in the bush.

The Operations Record Book for 9 Squadron RAAF has the following entries:-

    CAIRNS - 10 March 1943    F/O Clark in W2783 and P/O Angove in X9510 carried out a search for missing aircraft A34-24. The alloted area was searched without results.

    CAIRNS - 11 March 1943    P/O Angove in X9510 and F/O Clark in W2783 carried out a search westward of Edmonton and White Rock to Lamb Range, for report of missing aircraft A34-24.
                                             The 11th Brigade reported ground party located  Colonel Cardale this morning and LAC Appleby in the afternoon at Freshwater Creek, both suffering severe injuries.            
                                             A Rapide reported sighting broken scrub and timber on range nearby, possibly position missing aircraft.

The Operations Record Book for 11 Squadron RAAF has the following entry:-

    Catalina A24-17 S/L Burrage & F/O Ryan - Search for Missing A/C - Time Up 2100/7Z 0200/8Z - Time Down 0123/8Z 0748/8Z - Nil Sightings throughout search for A34-24.

    Catalina A24-14 F/L Duigan & Sgt Ross - Search for A34-24 - Time Up 2015/8Z Time Down 0514/9Z - Nil sightings in search for lost aircraft A34-24.

Vera Bradley's book, "I Didn't Know That", refers on page 50 to the crash of a DH-84 Dragon hired by the Australian Army from McRobertson and Muir Airways of the Northern Territory. Corporal Ken Hutchinson recollected that it was used for courier work around the district. While flying to Mareeba via the Intake Gorge it crashed, killing the RAAF pilot, and two Army Officers. The aircraft was reportedly carrying a large amount of money for the Army Pay Master at Mareeba. Because of this, its non arrival at Mareeba was of great concern, and search parties were dispatched not long after it became apparent it was overdue at Mareeba. There were two survivors. Ken Hutchinson assumed that the money was recovered.

Ken later climbed up the Intake Gorge with the RAAF salvage crew from Charters Towers to help retrieve the motors and other recoverable parts. During the search, the pair stumbled across a crashed USAAF P-38 Lightning. The pilot's body was still located in the aircraft wreckage.

Stephen R. Fowler, who has been researching wartime aircraft crashes since 1972, contacted me and advised that it took him three weekends in 1995, to locate what was left at that time of the Dh-84 Dragon.

 

NOTE:-  Peter Nielsen's book "Diary of WWII - North Queensland" incorrectly indicates that this aircraft was a DH 84A Gipsy Major Type 2.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone

"I Didn't Know That"
"Cairns and Districts, Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946,
Service Personnel and Civilians"
By Vera Bradley (1943 AAMWS)

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Paul Snow and Stephen R. Fowler for their assistance with this web page.

 

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 7 February 1999

This page last updated 31 August 2015