16 NOVEMBER 1943
CRASH OF A C-47A DAKOTA

ON REWAN STATION
SOUTH OF SPRINGSURE, QLD

 

RAAF C-47

USAAC C-47-20-DL, Dakota, VH-CGK, #42-23420, (possibly named "Pushy Cat") of the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group left Batchelor airfield in the Northern Territory at 7.30am on Tuesday 16 November 1943  headed for Archerfield airfield in Brisbane, via Gorrie, Daly Waters and Cloncurry. 

When the the C-47 left Batchelor airfield it carried the American crew of four plus an American Sergeant and fourteen Australian soldiers. The aircraft was not able to land at Gorrie because the airfield was out of order, so they landed at Daly Waters where it picked up another passenger. RAAF A/Sgt Picthford. They arrived at Cloncurry at 1245 hours where three more Australian soldiers boarded the aircraft:-

Lt HE Lockie,
Gnr WH Dorman
Pte AH Mildren. A/Bdr

An Australian soldier, S.W. Wright, had boarded the aircraft but was taken off and his seat given to Lockie, Dorman and Mildren.

The aircraft broke up in mid-air in a violent storm over Rewan Station south of Springsure (about 200 miles south west of Rockhampton, and about 400 miles south of Mackay) at 1500K hours killing the crew of four and all fifteen passengers on board as follows:-

USAAC:
2nd Lt. Raymond E. Anglin (Pilot) (0-665501)
2nd Lt. Joseph W. Kennedy (Co-pilot) (0-680036)
Sgt. Frank J. Ropinski (Aerial Engineer)
Sgt. Harold L.
Baumstein (Radio Operator)
Sgt. Robert L. Adkins (passenger)

RAAF:
F/Lt. Roy Edgar Abbot (264204), HQ NEA
F/Lt. Albert Ernest Watkin (405265)
Sgt. Ronald Keith Pitchford (410850), 55 OBU
Cpl. William Brady (35720), 9 Rep Centre
Cpl. Francis Paul Morris (71310), 110 FCU
LAC John Given Maxwell (31638 or 21638))
LAC Stanley Kirk Sims (28071), 452 Sqn

Australian Army:
Lt. Harley Horace Lockie (NX151680)
Lt. Ross Rowsell (NX107453)
Sgt. Victor Frederick Bishop (NX82074)
Sgt. Thomas William Davey (VX69200)
Sgt. William Joseph Parker (NX133213)
Gunner William Howard Dorman (QX24775)
Private Andrew Henry Mildren (QX52001)

The wreckage was discovered at 1300 hours on 18 November 1943 by Mr. J.N. Wells of Rewan Station on the north side of Carnarvon Creek about 1.5 miles SSE of Rewan Homestead. The fuselage and tail of the C-47 were still in one piece, and the tail fin and the horizontal stabiliser were torn upward and remained attached by only a small plate. Mail bags, kit bags, clothing, equipment and portions of the aircraft were scattered in a line 200 yards wide and 1.5 miles in length along the north bank of the creek in an easterly direction away from the fuselage.

Three bodies were found near the fuselage. Another body was located in a small depression on the south side of the creek. 15 more bodies were located with the cockpit and the front part of the fuselage. Mail and personal equipment were strewn around this area. The four crew members were found in a group near the wreckage of the cockpit.

One of the wings was located about 1.5 miles down the creek on the northern side and the other wing was found about one mile downstream on the southern side. An engine and a main wheel were found about 400 yards south of the second wing.

The bodies of the deceased were brought to a small park in Springsure before being relocated to Rockhampton. There is now a memorial plaque commemorating this tragic crash. The crash was located near where the Injune Road crosses Carnarvon Creek about 3 kms from Rewan Homestead and 6kms from Ingelara Homestead in the Carnarvon Gorge area of Bauhinia Shire.

The aircraft seemed to have disintegrated during a wild electrical storm as determined by a watch that had stopped at 4.25 p.m. There was no sign of a fire. There were no survivors. The American dead were buried in US Military Cemetery at Ipswich on 24 November 1943 and were eventually returned to the USA after the war ended, in late 1947 or early 1948 and the 14 Australians were buried in Rockhampton Cemetery on 25 November 1943. The following are some of those Australians who were killed. This information was from the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour database:-

NAME SERVICE
NO.
RANK UNIT Memorial Panel No.
William Brady 35720 Corporal 105 Fighter Section Darwin RAAF 112
John Given Maxwell 21638 Leading Aircraftman 9 Replenishing Centre Birdum, RAAF 114
Francis Paul Morris 71310 Corporal 110 Mobile Fighter Sector Darwin, RAAF 112
Ronald Keith Pitchford 410850 Sergeant 55 Operational Base Birdum, RAAF 113
Stanley Kirk Sims 28071 Leading Aircraftman 452 Sqn, RAAF 105

This was the Unit's first loss since the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron had recently returned to Australia.

A school mate of mine, Denis McCarthy, knows someone in Toowoomba (a retired ambulance superintendent) whose father was in charge of the ambulance at Springsure at the time of the crash and attended the crash scene. His sister controlled the telephone switch that night relaying messages from US command who were reportedly pretty demanding. Many people in the district ended up with a souvenir piece of the wreckage.

 


Photo: Via Col Benson

Engine from the the crash of Dakota, VH-CGK.
This memorial in Springsure was dedicated in 1979.

 


Photo: Via Col Benson

Wing from the aircraft

 

There are memorials for this crash at both Carnarvon Gorge (wing, landing gear and engine memorial) and Springsure (engine memorial). The memorial at Springsure incorrectly gives the date of the crash as 9 November 1943. Both memorials also state that it was a C-47B Dakota.

On 26 April 2004 a new memorial to this crash was dedicated to remember the five Americans and fourteen Australians killed in this tragic crash. The memorial is located about 60 miles south of the nearest township, Rolleston. 

 


Photo via Col Benson

New Rewan Memorial south of Rolleston, April 2004

 

A handful of dedicated people built the new memorial which is based on the USAAF blue WWII roundel with a white star. Father Rod Hart of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Springsure had created the vision for the memorial in 1999. The concept for the memorial was suggested by Ms Tracey Wallin who works for the local shire council. It features the WWII USAAF blue roundel with a white star, 17 metres (50 ft) in diameter, formed from blue road metal and white pebbles. A wingtip with the roundel clearly visible after 60 years is mounted vertically at the centre of the star. The two engines are mounted towards the rear in the blue area. Two prominent boulders support a plaque for the new memorial, and one from the original memorial at Carnarvon Gorge. A damaged wing has been mounted to the right on tall steel pylons so that people can view its underneath. 

The five people who contributed most made daily round trips on weekends of up to 100 miles with a cement truck and a small excavator. Someone also brought a larger excavator and a low-loader a long distance to carry a C-47 wing four miles from a cattle property to the memorial site where it has been mounted high on steel pylons for people to look at the underside.

The daughter of an Australian airmen killed in the crash attended, but unfortunately there were no US representative, although the US Embassy loaned a US Flag. The RAAF re-tasked eight troops to attend. They had attended the ANZAC Day services the previous day at Longreach, a few hundred miles westwards. 

Bauhinia Shire Council, Cr. Mal Siegmeir, Cr. Clem Clark, Tracey Wallin, Derek Rowlands, Carnarvon Resort, and others were heavily involved in the creation of this new memorial.

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

Wreckage of the starboard wing in 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

Wreckage of the starboard wing in 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 

qld63-14.jpg (306020 bytes)
Photo via David Cameron:
 © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


Photo via David Cameron:     © Environmental Protection Agency 1999

 


 

REWAN PLANE CRASH

AS WRITTEN BY ANN TRAVERS 16TH APRIL 1990

As I remember the events which took place on that fateful November day, I shall attempt to describe it as accurately as I know how.

On or about the first Tuesday of November 1943 (Melbourne Cup day), I recall the day being an extremely hot one, giving rise to a severe thunderstorm, with very strong winds, severe lightning, hail and inches of rain, causing the Carnarvon Creek to flood. 

During the height of the storm a Dakota C47B, an American military aircraft, was flying Australian and American Servicemen on leave from Darwin to Brisbane. It also had other cargo on board, including thousands of copies of the American magazine Yank Down Under, when it came down where the Injune Road crosses the Carnarvon Creek, approximately two miles from Rewan homestead and four miles from Ingelara homestead, further up the creek. The fury of the storm prevented anything being heard of the plane crashing, which appeared to have disintegrated in mid-air.

Two days later, the then owner of Rewan, Michael Wells, or Mick as he was widely known, was checking the fences when he came across a blanket, towels and pieces of clothing hanging on the fence, just as though they had been put there. Further investigation revealed the awful sight of the fuselage containing four bodies and numerous pieces of wreckage. Mick was horror struck and went at once to inform the Police.

Because of the storm the party-line telephone was out of order, so, in spite of the boggy road, he drove his car to Rolleston. By this time it was almost dark and still raining. A Council work party was camped not far from Rewan and a chap named Eddie Thompson (a well-known local identity) managed to catch a horse and ride to inform my father, Charles Ogg, of the terrible tragedy.

He arrived late at night, so my Father persuaded him to stay until morning. This he did and returned to his camp as soon as morning came. My Father then rode to Early Storms property to inform Frank Priddle, who was manager there at the time. Further on from Early Storms at Bandana lived Eddie Powell and his family, and they were informed. At this stage it was thought there may be survivors, but later investigations soon proved this theory wrong. 

The Police arrived and discovered on the other side of the creek 15 more bodies strewn about – the water had been over some of them – and much more wreckage. One engine came down on the rocky outcrop beside the road, driving the stones at least four feet into the ground, while the engine itself was hardly damaged. One wing full of fuel had broken off the fuselage and landed a couple of miles away without even a scratch on it. The landing wheels were found miles apart, as were the two engines. Yank Down Under magazines were scattered everywhere. It has been estimated that the wreckage covered an area of three square miles.

By this time the US Army had been informed and they came on the scene to identify the bodies of 14 Australians and five American Servicemen. A watch on one of the men had stopped at 4:25 pm about the time the storm was at its peak. The US Army gathered up the remains of those killed and took them to Rockhampton where they were given a military funeral. I’m told the US servicemen’s bodies were taken home to the States.

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 235

Position:     24.06 - 147.57

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3341

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Col Benson, Denis McCarthy and Daniel Leahy for their assistance with this home page.

I'd like to thank David Cameron from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for his assistance with this home page. David is keen to hear from anyone who knows of crashed aircraft and other military sites that are located on state lands such as National Parks and State Forests.

 

REFERENCES

Allied Air Transport Operations
South West Pacific Area WWII

Volume Two:-    1943 - Year of expansion and consolidation
by Robert H. Kelly

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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This page first produced 20 June 1999

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