CRASH OF A B-25 MITCHELL
ONE MILE NORTH OF HERBERT RIVER,
HALF A MILE SOUTH OF SMOKO CREEK
ON 15 DECEMBER 1942

 

On 15 December 1942, five B-25 Mitchells of the 90th Bomb Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group, based in Charters Towers, were returning to Charters Towers from Port Moresby. They struck bad weather over the Coral Sea and were forced to fly by their instruments. A new B-25D (or a B-25C?), possibly #41-13091, flown by 2nd Lieutenant Crosswhite became separated from the group somewhere near Cooktown and appeared to be headed for the mountains. They were forced to fly on instruments. They did not arrive at Charters Towers and were reported Missing in Action. 

The owners of Kirrama Station heard the aircraft flying over in the middle of the night. It was not until quite a long time later that they found the wreckage with the bodies still in it on the Kirrama Range about 1 mile north of the Herbert River, and 1/2 mile south of Smoko (or Snake) Creek. The crew were all killed in the crash along with 3 passengers. It is about 40 kilometers west of Cardwell. Unfortunately someone has removed the wreckage piece by piece and it now sits on a property just north of Kennedy. The owners at the time were extremely angry that it had been removed.

The crew and passengers were as follows:-

2nd Lt. Alfred P. Crosswhite (0-789797), Pilot (later buried Ipswich 16 July 1945)
2nd Lt. William R. Werden, Co-pilot (0-797889)
S/Sgt. Van Hoy Waythe, Bombardier (18102538) (later buried Ipswich 18 July 1945)
S/Sgt. Thomas O. Evers, Upper Gunner (39680590) (later buried Ipswich 18 July 1945)
Sgt. Joseph A. Paradiso, Radio/Gunner (11024488)
S/Sgt. Orville E. Luallen, Crew Chief (38032713) (later buried Ipswich 16 July 1945)
Sgt. Henry Nerone, Jr., Engineer (11011605)
2nd Lt. Jarvis E. Sq. Bishop, Statistical Officer (0-649015)
S/Sgt. Gardner F. Galeucia, Passenger (11024367) (later buried Ipswich 18 July 1945)
Cpl. Albert W. Wiedswicki, Passenger (33001257)
T/Sgt. Albert L. Rowley, Passenger (6968484)

One military record states that "The bodies of the last 5 members on the crew list were recovered and buried in the Ipswich Cemetery". I could only locate 5 of the above being buried in US Military Cemetery Ipswich in July 1945. They line up with the last five members on that military list. I assume they may have previously been buried at the US Military Cemetery Townsville.

One source suggested this aircraft may have been  #41-29728, though other records suggest that B-25 #41-29728 crashed on 1 December 1942 7 miles west of Charters Towers.

Anne Mealing, the chairman of the Coral Sea Battle Memorial Park in Cardwell, North Queensland told me that they unveiled a plaque in memory of the crew of the B-25 Mitchell bomber in 2006. Anne told me that the aircraft wreckage was illegally sold for scrap by an American. One of the engines from this aircraft is in private hands in Tully.

The log book belonging to the pilot was found in 1967 by the owner of Kirrama Station, Doug Farquhar. It was in very good condition but was sadly removed from the house by persons unknown a few years later. Anne has a few small pieces of the aircraft as well as a dog tag belonging to Waythe Van Hoy. Anne would dearly love to find some of the families of these men to let them know they are not forgotten. Can anyone please help?

 

Can anyone please confirm the Serial No. of this aircraft?

 

NOTE:- I originally had this crash shown as 15 September 1942 based on Peter Nielsen's book. However, based on information from Michael Claringbould I have now assumed that the date was 15 December 1942. The records for the above crew who were buried at the US Military Cemetery Ipswich state that they died on 15 December 1942.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
by Peter Nielsen

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bill Swain, Gordon Birkett and Anne Mealing for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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This page first produced 7 February 1999

This page last updated 30 March 2013