16 AUGUST 1942
CRASH OF A B-17 FLYING FORTRESS

INTO THE SEA NEAR CAIRNS

 

b-17e.jpg (9016 bytes)

B-17E Flying Fortress

USAAF B-17 #41-2434 of the 30th Squadron of the 19th Bombardment Group at Mareeba crashed into the sea near Cairns while testing a new flare dropping mechanism on 16 August 1942.  It malfunctioned and the flare exploded inside the B-17 causing it to crash into the sea, exploding on impact, with the loss of the pilot Major Dean C. "Pinky" Hoevet and all his crew, which included some of his armament officers. Many of the bodies were not recovered including Major Hoevet's.

The accident occurred just inside the Great Barrier Reef a few miles north and east of Mareeba, Queensland. Another source indicated that it went into the sea about one mile out from Yorkey's Knob.

All of the American dead were initially buried in Australia but were then sent to next of kin or to the Arlington National Cemetery in an evacuation program in 1961-1970.

After this accident, the Americans called Mareeba air field by the name Hoevet Field.

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2434 was originally delivered to Salt Lake City on 30 November 1941. One source has stated that it was assigned to the 28 Bomb Squadron (not the 30th Bomb Squadron) of the 19th Bomb Group at Hickham airfield on 22 May 1942 and ditched off Cairns on 17 August 1942. It was wrtitten off on 31 October 1944.

Major Paul M. Lindsey (# 0-406701) may have also been one of those killed in this crash. Major Lindsay had been involved in another B-17 crash about a month earlier when B-17E Flying Fortress, #41-2655, of the 30th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, ditched into the sea near Horn Island on 13 July 1942.

 


Photo:- Copyright Michael Musumeci 17 September 2011

New sign at Mareeba Airfield showing the original name of Hoevet Field that was used during WWII

 


 

AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION (ABMC)

The ABMC web site shows the following American servicemen who died on 16 August 1942:-

30h Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group

Sgt Coy Adams 6882642
T/Sgt Stephen A. Androkovich 6881199
2nd Lt William T. Chesser 0-423468
Major Dean C. Hoevet 0-022248
1st Lt. Paul M. Lindsay 0-406701
T/Sgt Hermon T. Randall 69246702
2nd Lt Arthur F. Sorrell 0-426202
2nd Lt Maxwell D. Stone 0-426204

450th Ordnance Company, Aviation

1st Lt George W. Hammersmith 0-364669
T/Sgt Ralph Tarod 35032421

 

IPSWICH US MILITARY CEMETERY

The following who died on 16 August 1942 were buried at Ipswich. They had all been previously buried at Townsville US Cemetery.

RANK & NAME SERVICE NO. DIED BURIED ISPWICH
S/Sgt Bernard Merker 32110191 16 Aug 1942 6 Aug 1945
Sgt Coy Adams 6882642 16 Aug 1942 6 Aug 1945
T/Sgt Hermon T. Randall 69246702 no entry no entry
1st Lt George W. Hammersmith 0-364669 16 Aug 1942 6 Aug 1945
T/Sgt Ralph Tarod 35032421 16 Aug 1942 6 Aug 1945

Note:- All of the above had been previously buried at Townsville US Cemetery.

 

TOWNSVILLE US CEMETERY

The following US personnel were all buried on the 23 August 1942. They are all listed as being killed in a plane crash at an unknown location. I have assumed at this stage that they were all killed in the same plane crash probably this one off Cairns on 16 August 1942.

NAME AGE RELIGION
Merker, Bernard 28yrs Jewish
Tarod, Ralph 29yrs Protestant
Bailing, William M. 23yrs Protestant
Hammersmith, G.W. - Protestant
Randall, Herman T. 23yrs Protestant
Adams, Coy 26yrs Protestant

 

Based on all of the above, the possible crew members for the crash of B-17 #41-2434 of the 30th Squadron of the 19th Bombardment Group may possible been as follows:-

30h Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group

Sgt Coy Adams 6882642
T/Sgt Stephen A. Androkovich 6881199
2nd Lt William T. Chesser 0-423468
Major Dean C. Hoevet 0-022248
1st Lt. Paul M. Lindsay 0-406701
T/Sgt Hermon T. Randall 69246702
2nd Lt Arthur F. Sorrell 0-426202
2nd Lt Maxwell D. Stone 0-426204

450th Ordnance Company, Aviation

1st Lt George W. Hammersmith 0-364669
T/Sgt Ralph Tarod 35032421

Unit Unknown

S/Sgt Bernard Merker 32110191
Sgt Coy Adams 6882642

POSSIBLE TOTAL OF 12 KILLED

William M. Bailing may have also been onboard but uncertainty level is higher than the above possibilities.

 

Major Dean Carol "Pinky" Hoevet
More details from his relatives

 

Two members of the 30th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group  who died
 on 16 August 1942 were buried at the US Cemetery in Townsville
Were they from the crash of the above aircraft?

 


Photo:- Copyright Michael Musumeci 17 September 2011

An overview of the two new plaques dedicated at Mareeba Airfield on 17 September 2011.
The one on the right is to commemorate the loss of B-17 "Hoomalimali" and all its crew.
The plaque on the left is to commemorate Major Dean C. Hoevet who was killed along with his
crew in the crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress off Yorkey's Knob near Cairns on 16 August 1942.

 


Photo:- Copyright Michael Musumeci
17 September 2011

Close-up of the new plaque dedicated to Major Dean Hoevet

 

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Subject:    WW2 Aircraft wrecks
Date:             Fri, 4 Jun 1999 15:40:35 +1000
From: "Paul Snow" <imocns@unionsteel.com.au>

Just for you info: crash of B-24 of Yorkeys Knob was actually a B-17 (see comments below) and the Gypsy Major in Freshwater Valley is a Dehaviland Dragon (see comments below). You have an excellent web site. My information comes from Steve Fowler, Bayview Heights, Cairns. He actually went and found what was left of the Dragon.

The B-17 was destroyed by a flare igniting in flight.

Many thanks
Paul Snow

COMMENTS:-  The book "Diary of WWII - North Queensland" indicates that the B-17 Flying Fortress on this page, was destroyed by an igniting flare, on 17 August 1942.  I have since received other information which supports Paul Snow's e-mail above and I've now changed the date of this crash on this page from 17 August 1942 to 16 August 1942. (Thanks Paul for your correction - much appreciated)

I've still left the crash of a B-24 on the 16 August 1942 (Crash No. 28) as another crash on that day.  I'll change the Gypsy Major to a Dragon as it looks more correct. The A34 series of RAAF aircraft were Dragons.  Regards Peter Dunn

 


 

Subject:   B-17E Histories
Date:           Wed, 17 May 2000 21:39:30 EDT
From:          B17RELIC@aol.com

I've got about 4,000 pages of mission reports just on the 19th Bomb Group some from the 7th BG and some from the 43rd BG. Most of my research is in 41 & 42 while my dad was a B-17 pilot with the 7th and 19th. I'm currently working on the recovery of the Swamp Ghost 41-2446 in Papua New Guinea. One of my dad's wingman that did not make it back on the first mission against Rabaul.

A question for you, do you have a crash location for 41-2434? It went  down near Cairns, but have you found any specifics? I have some extensive  files on many B-17E's. I'm somewhat focused on 41-2408, 2416, 2421, 2430,  2432, 2434, 2435, 2438, 2440, 2446, 2447, & 2656. These were mainly 22BS, 88BS, and 435th BS Airplanes. I wrote A book on the Swamp Ghost and an article on Chief Seattle (41-2656). Where are you located? I'm in Tacoma, Washington ,

Glen E. Spieth

 

REFERENCE BOOK

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

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Paul McMillan for his assistance with the history of this aircraft.

 

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