CRASH OF A P-47 THUNDERBOLT
OR WAS IT A P-40 KITTYHAWK
OR MAYBE A CAPTURED JAPANESE AIRCRAFT
NEAR KEDRON WAVELL SERVICES CLUB
AT CHERMSIDE, BRISBANE
ON 13 NOVEMBER 1943

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visits since 30 May 2001

 

Much mystery has surrounded the crash of an aircraft at Chermside on the north side of Brisbane during WWII. My initial research had indicated that a USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk had crashed at Chermside in Brisbane in about February or possibly March 1944 about 50 metres from where the Kedron-Wavell RSL club is located. So strong was the story that a street that runs beside the Kedron Wavell Services Club was named Kittyhawk Street to remember that fact that a P-40 Kittyhawk had supposedly crashed in this vicinity.

Ron Alviso believes that the aircraft was a Thunderbolt rather than a Kittyhawk and indicated that it had clipped a latrine as it crashed. The plans of Camp Chermside show two latrines near today's location of Ballantine Street. The 317th Repair Squadron was attached to the 12th Air Depot Group, which at that time was based in Townsville at No. 2 Air Depot beside Mt Louisa.

The book "On Target - The Story of the 2/3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment" by C.J.E. Rae states the following on page 218"-

"With large numbers of men in training for active service, inevitably there were accidents from time to time. At this camp, an American fighter plane, a Thunderbolt, coming in to land nearby on one landing wheel only, lost speed, stalled, side-slipped from side to side, crashed and burst into flames. The pilot was killed instantly. On the same night there was over six inches of rain and two soldiers were drowned when attempting to cross a flooded gully."

Please contact me if you know the names of the two South Australian soldiers who drowned that night in the flooded Downfall Creek.

Another theory on the type of aircraft that crashed at Chermside comes from a member of the Goodna RSL club said he and his mates had always believed that the crash involved a US pilot, who was trialling out a Japanese aircraft, that had been captured during WWII. If this was the case it would have been an aircraft attached to the Air Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) located in Hangar 7 at Eagle Farm airfield.

Some detailed research by Rob and Beverley Isdale, Pat O'Shea and Glenys Bolland of the Chermside and District Historical Society has established the name of the pilot who was tragically killed. A newspaper report on their research indicated that 2nd Lt. Sol Stanley Schier of the 317th Repair Squadron, was the name of the pilot. It also indicated that the aircraft crashed near Ballantine Street, Chermside. 

My research of the US Military Cemetery Ipswich indicates that a 2nd Lt. Sol S. Scherr (0-803879) from NY, USA (Religion - Hebrew) died on 13 November 1943. He was buried in the US Military Cemetery Ipswich on 15 November 1943. The officiating clergyman  was Chaplain Goldbergh and the Undertaker was Sgt Turner. Note that his name is spelt differently to the newspaper article.

The street leading into the Kedron Wavell Services Club is now called Kittyhawk Drive. A friend of Chris Jamesson located pieces of the aircraft a couple years ago. The pieces included some Perspex, a filler cap , IFF box etc. They were located just below ground level.

A book called "The History of Chermside" by D.R. Teague describes this crash as follows:-

In 1943, a Kittyhawk plane on a training flight crashed into the camp near Hamilton Road. Evidently the pilot was in difficulty and tried to land on the road but with the appearance of traffic he tried to make a nearby paddock. The plane narrowly missed the sergeant's mess and took the end off the officer's latrines. Both instructor and pilot were killed. U.S. military police were quickly on the scene and sealed off the area but not quickly enough to prevent a local lad's souveniring a generator from the wreckage.

This excerpt from the book suggests that two people died in the crash. On 9 May 2003 I spoke with Lionel Sharp who knew someone who had witnessed the crash. That person indicated that the crash was closer to nearby Corrie Street than the RSL Club. He indicated that the pilot was badly burnt and had been killed in the crash.

On 1 September 2003, I spoke with Val and Clifford Ross about this crash. Val Ross (nee Fullwood) lived in Victor Drive at Chermside which is now called Kidston Street. Val described herself as living around the corner from the Dawn Theatre. Val said there were about to sit down for their Saturday evening meal when they heard the spluttering engine of an aircraft. Val's brother Frank told his step-mother that the aircraft was about to crash, but he was told to sit down. They then heard the loud bang and Frank rushed out to see large clouds of billowing black smoke. He rode his push bike down to Hamilton Road. An Australian Army truck had charged trough a property fence to get to the crash site which was located about 100 yards east of today's Kedron Wavell Services Club and about 100 yards in from Hamilton Road. 

Frank rode his bike through the broken fence after the Army truck and saw the slumped body of the American pilot in the wrecked aircraft which was burning fiercely. The pilot had apparently veered his aircraft to avoid a group of children and impacted the ground and slid along until it slammed into the Officer's toilet at the Australian Army Camp. Fortunately there was no one in the building at the time.

Val's future husband, Clifford Ross, of the 113th General Transport Company, based at Marchant Park at Chermside, was one of the Australian soldiers who arrived on site straight after the crash, and was ordered to guard the site until the Americans arrived. Val and Clifford advised that the aircraft was a Lancer. Frank Fullwood, in his memories about the crash, described how two aircraft were have a simulated dog-fight before one of them had engine problems.

An Australian Army Truck, arrived on site and recovered the body from the burnt out wreckage.

 


 

On Remembrance Day, 11 November 2009, a Memorial Plaque was dedicated at the Kedron-Wavell Services Club in memory of 2nd Lt Sol S. Scherr. This was a project of the Kedron-Wavell Sub Branch RSL and the Chermside & Districts Historical Society Inc. A fitting plaque and memorial service to commemorate this American pilot who paid the ultimate sacrifice in his pursuit of defending Australia.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

President of Kedron-Wavell Sub Branch RSL Mr. Greg Peake

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Ms. Glenys Bolland of the Chermside & Districts Historical Society

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Glenys Bolland unveiling the Memorial Plaque to Sol Scherr

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

The Memorial Plaque dedicated to 2nd Lt. Sol S. Scherr probably of the 317th Depot Repair Squadron, 12th Air Depot Group

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

David Roubin President Queensland Jewish Ex-Servicemen & Women's Association

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Jewish Rabbi Levi Jaffe

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

John O'Neill Post Commander American Legion Brisbane

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Reverend Keith Briggs consecrating the Kedron-Wavell Cenotaph

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Student playing the Last Post at 11am

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

National Anthem sung by students from Wavell High

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Rabbi Levi Jaffe praying over the Memorial Plaque

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Rabbi Levi Jaffe and David Roubin beside the memorial to 2nd Lt. Sol S. Scherr

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 11 Nov 2009

Members of the Jewish Community around the Memorial to 2nd Lt. Sol S. Scherr

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Russell Miller, Glenys Bolland, Chris Jamesson, Lionel Sharp, Roger Marks, Mike Gannaway and Val and Clifford Ross for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"The History of Chermside"
by D.R. Teague

"On Target - The Story of the 2/3rd Australian Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment"
by C.J.E. Rae

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 30 May 2001

This page last updated 12 October 2011