CRASH OF A LOCKHEED VENTURA
ON A REEF 3 MILES NE OF WEST ISLAND
NEAR BANKS ISLAND, TORRES STRAIT, QLD
ON 19 OCTOBER 1944

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Lockheed Ventura A59-83 of 13 Squadron RAAF crash landed after double engine failure on a reef 3 miles north east of West Island, near Banks Island at 2130 hours on 19 October 1944. Banks Island may also go by the names Kubin Island or Moa Island. The wreckage ended up in 22 feet of water at high tide. Heavy seas precluded any salvage work and it was recommended that the aircraft be written off.

The crew and passenger were as listed below:-

F/O Thomas Joseph Branigan (408959) (Pilot)
F/O John Alan Wegner (426406) (Nav. "B")
F/Lt Keith George Oglesby (412177) (W/Op. Air)
F/Sgt. Cody (Air Gunner)
W/O Philip George Joseph (407365) (W/Op Air)
LAC Ormon Nicholas Morris (72058) (Passenger Fitter IIE)

The survivors who were uninjured and made it to Banks Island in their dinghy and were apparently located by PNG Natives picked up by a RAAF Crash Boat 023 and later retrieved by a Catalina flown by Wing Commander Kiernan which took them back to Gove Airfield. RAAF Marine Crash Boat 023 and Torpedo Recovery Launch 031 had been dispatched to rescue the crew. Wing Commander Kiernan returned to the crash site on 28 October 1944 to recover the radar equipment. The RAAF Crash Launch returned to the site on 6 November to transport the radar equipment. The aircraft was too damaged to recover any other equipment.

The Lockheed Ventura was on a flight from Gove Airfield to Higgins Airfield to carry out an early A.A. Patrol from Higgins the next morning. At 2015 hours the pilot had reduced height from 6,000 feet to 1,000 feet as requested by the Navigator due to  a low cloud base. Fifteen minutes the starboard engine failed. Oil and fuel pressures were showing normal but the flow meter was fluctuating badly. The starboard engine failed to restart and single engine procedures were adopted. The drop tanks and depth charges were jettisoned, by which the aircraft was down to 350 feet.

The port engine was advanced to take off power and the aircraft climbed to 2,300 feet. All temperatures and pressure were normal except for the engine oil temperature which was showing 95 degrees Centigrade. The aircraft continued on course until 2130 hours. The port engine then coughed and cut, but picked up again for a further few minutes, and then it coughed again and at 2128 hours completely failed. The aircraft was then at 1,500 feet. Attempts were made to feed fuel from the other tanks although the front main tanks were showing normal pressure. The aircraft had been trimmed for a straight glide and when it was at 500 feet, further attempts to start the engines were abandoned.

The Ventura forced landed in the sea at approximately 2130 hours in a position 10.25 S, 142.12 E and sank in about 60 seconds in 22 feet of water at high tide.

Lockheed Ventura A59-83 had been received by 13 Squadron RAAF from 2 AP on 28 July 1944.

 

NOTE:- 1.  Peter Nielsen shows the date for this crash as 9 October 1944. The RAAF "History (Movements, Casualties, Etc) Card shows the date as the 19 October 1944.

            2.  The "History (Movements, Casualties, Etc) Card shows the crash site being 18 miles NE of Banks Island whereas the "Preliminary Report
                 (Internal) of Flying Accident or Forced Landing" and the "Rundle List" state the crash site was 3 miles NE of Banks Island.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

Diary of World War II North Queensland (Update) Data CD-Book
by Peter Nielsen

Horn Island - In their Steps 1939-45
by Vanessa Seekee

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Michael Musumeci for his 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 28 July 2015

This page last updated 29 July 2015