CRASH OF A B-25 MITCHELL BOMBER
IN THE AREA BETWEEN ROCKY POINT SCHOOL
AND SNAPPER ISLAND
ON 8 SEPTEMBER 1944

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Late on the afternoon of 8 September 1944, during the rainy season, a USAAF B-25 Mitchell #426, flew down low out of the rain squalls above the Rocky Point State School. It circled the school a number of times and then headed off southwards along the beach. It then returned and dropped three red flares. It then headed off towards Snapper Island and then turned around to head back towards the school. The students heard the engines of the B-25 stop when it ran out of fuel. There was a loud noise and some flashes of light could be seen through the rain squalls. These flashes were probably due to the aircraft's navigational lights short circuiting in the crash.

Private T. Howell of the Port Douglas Company of the Volunteer Defence Corps who was on duty at the time also reported to his Control Room at 1839 hours that an aircraft was spotted coming from the west and heading south. It passed over his Post very low. then turned east flying towards Low Isles which are about 9 miles eats of his post. Private Howell reported that the aircraft then turned west and came over Port Douglas where distress flares were seen to drop from the aircraft. Private Howell contacted his Control Room to update them, then saw the aircraft turn northwards still flying very low with its landing lights turned on. At 1906 hours Howell reported that the aircraft had crash landed on the water about one and a half miles from Rocky Point which is about 9 miles north of his post. Private Howell contacted his Control Room again and informed them of the crash landing and advised that they seemed to be OK as he could still see a light every now and then.

Private Howell was asked to stand by and do what he could for the crew of the aircraft. Howell immediately sent all of his men to patrol the beach while he borrowed a signal lamp from the Harbour Master and went down to the jetty and signalled "Are you in need of help". After a while he saw a flare on Rocky Point and someone trying to answer his signal but his light was too dim. When he contacted his Control Room again he was told that a party of men had been sent from Mossman to Rocky Point Beach and that a Navy vessel was on its way to Rocky Point.

At 0130 hours on 9 September 1944, Powell's  Control Room advised that the Mossman party had picked up 5 men on Rocky Point Beach where he had seen the flares. He was told that the 5 men had been taken to a hospital at Mossman but were not badly injured. Private Howell then recalled his men from their patrol.

One of them, a Captain Miller, advised that their aircraft had left Hollandia on the northern side of New Guinea headed for Cairns. Captain Miller entertained the school children and the locals by firing off his remaining flares. He presented their rubber dinghy to the school children in appreciation for the help and concern. The dinghy contained fish hooks, fishing lines, a compass, some preserved bait and a booklet titled "Survival at Sea".

In parallel with the above activity, Harold Ives at Saltwater Bridge was also notified of the crash. He contacted the local Air Observer Corp and advised them that an aircraft had crash landed somewhere between the Rocky Point School and Snapper Island. Another local, Peggy Powell rode her bicycle to Harold Ives' house and advised him that an aircraft had crashed somewhere between her house and Low Isles. Powell's house was located about one mile north of the Rocky Point School. Using the two sources of information, the Air Observer Corps were able to roughly determine the location of the crash. About 20 minutes after the crash they sighted the same green flare spotted by Private Howell on the beach about a quarter of a mile north of the school.

 

Photo taken of the B-25 Wreckage by Michael Hughes in about January 2002

 

Photo taken of the B-25 Wreckage by Michael Hughes in about January 2002

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Michael Hughes and Denis McCarthy for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Schools at War - Memories of schooldays during World War II"
By Greg Logan and Rosemary Mammino"

Townsville Daily Bulletin 14 November 1945 - Demobilisation of Northern V.D.C.

Operations Record Book for 25 Operational Base Unit RAAF

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 10 June 2001

This page last updated 16 March 2017