CRASH OF A P-40E KITTYHAWK
AT DINMORE, IPSWICH, QLD,
ON 20 FEBRUARY 1942

 

Captain Baron Brodine (#0-890082) was killed in the crash of a P-40E-CU Kittyhawk at Dinmore, Ipswich, Queensland on 20 February 1942. Brodine bailed out of his aircraft but his parachute failed to open and he was killed when he hit the ground.  Ironically Captain Brodine had made numerous parachute jumps earlier in his life. His aircraft speared into the ground at Moore’s Pocket, on the other side of the Bremer River, north west of where he plummeted to his death. There had been bad weather that day apparently.

 

Aerial view showing location where the aircraft  crashed into the river
bank of the Bremer River and where Brodine's body was located.

 

Captain Brodine was initially buried in the US Military Section of the Lutwyche Cemetery (Civilian Cemetery in Brisbane) Portion COE1, Section 1, Grave Number 99999, on 21 February 1942. A Curtiss Serviceman from Australia told Mrs Brodine that the first American flag to be flown in Australia was flown in honour of her husband and a plaque was erected to honour him for his service to the American government.  

His body was later removed from Lutwyche Cemetery and reburied at the Ipswich US Military Cemetery on 25 June 1942. The American military only used Lutwyche Cemetery for a short while until the Ipswich US Military Cemetery was opened. Baron Brodine's body was later exhumed from the Ipswich Cemetery and returned to Rochester, USA for burial.

IPSWICH CEMETERY RECORDS

Name         Religion          Date of Death       Date of Burial       Date of Reburial    Name of Applicant          Officiating Clergy         Undertaker
Brodine
     Protestant        20/02/1942            21/02/1942            25/06/1942             Captain E.N. Loeb            J.E. Kenney                  Sgt. Thorne & K.M. Smith

 

Captain Baron Brodine's coffin

 

Grave Marker for Captain Baron Brodine, believed to be when
he was buried at the Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane.

Does that say the "8th Fighter Squadron"?

 

Barron Brodine, Curtiss-Wright Representative

 

Western Union Telegram to Mrs Brodine advising of her husband's death

 

Postal Telegraph to Mrs Brodine

 

Barron Brodine made headlines at the age of 19 years when he parachuted from an aircraft at 2,000 feet over Brieze Field and landed in a freshly dug grave in a cemetery nearby. He had made his first parachute jump when he was 16 years old. He learned to fly in 1933 and soloed after only 2 hours and 25 minutes instruction in the air. He quit parachute jumping in 1938, after making 400 parachute jumps overall. He then became a service representative for the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, Buffalo aircraft manufacturers.

Brodine was assigned to Hamilton Field, California, in the summer of 1940 and in March 1941 he went to Nichols Field, Rizal, The Philippines. He returned the USA in October 1941 to spend nine days with his wife Mrs. Evelyn A. Brodine and their three children Shirley, Edmund and Barbara.

In December 1941 "Barney" Brodine was the Curtiss Wright serviceman at Clark Field in Manila. On 19 December 1941 he accepted a commission in the Army Air Corps.

Until his family were notified of his death they were not aware that he had transferred to the Army, believing that he was servicing new aircraft for the Curtiss firm in various Army posts overseas.

On 26 December 1941, Captain "Barney" Brodine, in charge of a detachment of twenty-five enlisted men of the 24th Pursuit Group's Headquarters Squadron, arrived by truck for detached service at Bataan airfield near the village of Lucanin. The men were all skilled aircraft mechanics who would be responsible for repairs to un-operational pursuit aircraft.

In the very early hours of the morning of 11 January 1942, just before another attack by Japanese dive-bombers, the two remaining P-35A's on Bataan took off with Captain Barney Brodine in the baggage compartment of one aircraft and 1st Lt. Joe McLaughlin, a pilot of the 20th Pursuit, in the other aircraft. The P-35A pilots, Ed Woolery and Bob Duncan who were flying to Del Monte airfield, claimed they had orders from Colonel George to proceed to Australia.

They landed at Del Monte airfield on the afternoon of 11 January 1942, surprising the pursuit pilots and other officers there. Those in command at Del Monte did not believe the story that they had been ordered to proceed to Australia. They were unable to provide evidence of any written orders.

Orders were however received at Del Monte for Captain Brodine only to proceed to Australia. A decision was made that Captain Brodine would fly to Australia aboard a Douglas B-18 Bolo, possibly Serial No. #37-16, that Major Emmett "Rosy" O'Donnell, the Commanding Officer of the 14th Bomb Squadron, was repairing. Brodine rigged 6 fuel drums as reserve tanks to make the long flight to Australia. Someone managed to find a pump and a Filipino located a piece of garden hose. They hacked a hole through the cabin floor and slightly built Lieutenant McLaughlin was lowered through the hole into the belly of the aircraft to transfer fuel. They took of at 3am on 15 January 1942 and as they flew from Mindanao to Darwin, Joe McLaughlin had the task of transferring fuel as required from one tank to another using the one piece of garden hose.

The B-18 missed the Japanese attack on the Dutch naval Base of Ambon by just 10 minutes. Then a Dutch fighter pilot mistook them for a Japanese aircraft and was about to fire on them when they fired an identity flare. Using a Rand-McNally map of the Southwest Pacific and a compass to flew on to Darwin, Australia.

The following personnel were believed to be on board the B-18 Bolo:-

Colonel Emmett "Rosie" O'Donnell, Jr, Pilot (went on to become G-3 for General Brereton in Melbourne)
Major Clyde Box, Co-pilot (Aide to Brigadier General Earl Naiden)
Lt. Edwin S. Green, Navigator - died 18 February 1944
Lt. Joseph P. McLaughlin - died 10 March 1942
Lt. Baron W. Brodine - Passenger
G-3 Operations Officer (unidentified) for Gen. Sharp - Passenger - was this Major General Buritan?
More passengers? (Can anyone advise further names?)

According to an old magazine article, Captain Brodine had helped to get Major General Buritan out of the Philippines by repairing a plane with bailing wire, chewing gum and a garden hose. 

When Major O’Donnell landed in Australia, he  flew up to the United States headquarters at Bandoeng in Java to report to Lieutenant Gen George H. Brett, then deputy supreme commander in the theater. It was agreed that it was vitally important to evacuate skilled flying personnel out of the Philippines. Several flights were soon made, ferrying many needed experienced men from Mindanao to Java.

Pilots Bob Duncan and Don Steele flew to Australia on 26 January 1942 in one of the two B-24 Liberators that had arrived on the night of 25/26 January.  Both pilots were ordered to report to Captain Barron Brodine for engineering duties when they arrived in Australia. "Barney" Brodine was to be responsible for assisting the introduction of the P-40E aircraft with the 24th Pursuit Group and the forthcoming 8th Pursuit Group.

Bill Bartsch was able to locate various orders advising of movements for Captain Barron Brodine in Australia as follows:-

January 21, 1942 (Special Order, USAFIA)  Baron Brodine is assigned to temporary duty at Brisbane. To report about January 22, 1942 to Amberley Field, afterwards back to Melbourne (USAFIA Headquarters).

February 18, 1942. Roster of Headquarte4s, USAFIA, Melbourne, Air Section:- Captain Baron B. Brodine is attached to  the S-3 (Operations) Section (under Col. Ross G. Hoyt, Air Officer).

February 21, 1942, radiogram from Archerfield No. A 736:  Captain Brodine killed February 20, 1942 in line of duty at Amberley Field.  

February 21, 1942, Radiogram, Barnes ( Headquarters USAFIA Melbourne) to the War Department, it is reported that "Captain Baron Brodine killed in line of duty February 20 near Bundamba, Australia, as a result of air crash".  

 

Captain Barron Brodine

 

Gordon Birkett told me that the majority of the wreckage of Captain Brodine's aircraft was removed from the crash site, and the hole was filled back in not long after the crash. Gordon's Sources advised that the engine block may still be there at the crash site, but the owners were reluctant to disturb the site and would not provide approval to enter the crash site area for any investigation. It is believed, that some years ago in the late 1960's or early 1970's, the site was dug up with little or no remains of the aircraft found.

 


 

I was able to put Captain Brodine's daughter, Barbara Spann in contact with Gordon Birkett, who did some fantastic research for Barbara on her father's role at Amberley in January 1942. Rather than edit bits out of it, I have reproduced in full Gordon's e-mail to Barbara on the 19 February 2007 in which he shared his research:-

 

19 February 2007

Hi Barbara,

As stated, if I find anything regarding Baron, I'll shoot it across. Been seating on this for months till I found some other details regarding Fuel.

Okay,.......17th PS(Prov) has departed on the 16/01/1942, and we have the first reinforcement P-40Es via the SS Polk (55) and the SS Mormacsun (69,..one being damaged beyond repair = 70).

On the 21st January, 1942 the RAAF requested that a Squadron of 25 P-40Es be sent to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This is subjected to approval by ABDA( American/British/Dutch/ Australian Command which is in charge of NEI theatre).

This is the second Provisional Squadron,...later to be known as the 20th PS(Prov) under command of Captain Lane. Plans were made and details regarding fuel/ammunition , spares and logistics were being hammered out, including the route up north, via Cairns/Cooktown/Horn Island etc to Port Moresby.

Technical advice was sort regarding the suitability of fuels to power these Allison V-1710-39's which also required to be "slow timed" (In Aussie Parlance, "run in" ) for about 10-20 hours before being able to be used through-out all of their power range. At this dateline there were 11 P-40Es assembled and flying (One 17thPS (Prov) left behind 41-5336 #18 Hanger Queen, and the first ten assembled from the SS Polk's 55).

As part of the performance enhancing of the then advanced P-40E engine, Shell (Still reading that file) had earlier developed a higher octane fuel to increase the compression ratio in the V-12 engines and the like. It was one of the best kept secrets up to that time. The RAAF used 87 Octane for most of its aircraft. Even the Fairey Battle, with its Merlin was tuned to 87 Octane

Earlier in July 1941, the US had been delivering such 100 Octane fuel to sites at Batchelor, NT and various other places around the Globe as part of its pre-war scheme.

This leads up to the next "technical" request to over come this problem of fuel substitution, should there be no 100 Octane on hand when this second P-40E Squadron, if approved, moved up from Amberley AFB to Port Moresby.

As there was limited production in Australia, and huge shiploads were coming from the states (Locally from Netherlands East Indies until it fell) , but at this time, all transient stops maned by the RAAF only had the 87 Octane fuel on hand.

This lower Octane would produce pinging through pre-ignition causing damage to the drive train of the engine (Much like putting un-leaded fuel (92 Octane) in a Formula one race car that uses 100+plus Octane). The Higher octane produces a higher compression that creates more "horse power".

Not only that there was a real problem with the interaction of the P-40e self-sealing tank diaphragms with the aromatic fuel compounds, but that's another story

Captain Brodine was asked and his opinion conveyed in the attached Memo dated 22nd January 1942 (Confirming at last a date of being here in Australia, which would confirm the B-18 flight in from PI,).

Bottom line, don't, you'd be wrecking the P-40E engines.

Anyway ABDA refused to release the Squadron, and Captain Lane with 24 (with 26 P-40Es, losing one on the way) others went off to Java via Darwin on the 29th January 1942 arriving some time on the 04/02/42.

Anyway attached is his comment in the dated report of the 22nd of January 1942 by Captain Floyd Pell. What's also sad, is that today is the 65th anniversary of Pell's Death during the Darwin Raid of the 19th February 1942. By then he was ranked as a Major.

Lest we forget, for today is the 65th Anniversary of the valiant stand of the 33rd PS (Prov) at Darwin Northern Territory

Best Gordy

 

 

 

NOTE:- When Barbara Spann first contacted me and told me that her father, Captain Barron Brodine, had died in Brisbane on 20 February 1942 in an air crash not due to enemy action. my initial thoughts were that he was one of the passengers killed in the crash of the Qantas DH-86 at Mount Petrie, in Brisbane on the same date. However I was advised by John Godfrey of the Belmont and Districts Historical Society on 17 July 2005 that the American killed in this crash was 2nd Lt. Herbert Hughes Hayden (from Los Angeles) who was based in the Rockhampton area.

UPDATE:- Alice McCleary, Barbara Spann's daughter, advised me in December 2015, that her mother Barbara Spann had passed away in February 2013.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Doomed At The Start"
by William H. Bartsch (1995, Texas A&M University Press).

"Turn of the Tide" - Major Edward C. Teats, 19th BG
as told to John M. McCullough - December 1942

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett, Edward Rogers, John Godfrey, Lee Perna and Bill Bartsch for their assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Barbara Spann, daughter of Captain Baron Brodine, for her assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

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©  Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 3 February 2014

This page last updated 05 December 2015