S/SGT GEORGE L. SPANGLE
FELL FROM A B-25 MITCHELL
APPROX. 35 MILES SW OF CHARTERS TOWERS, QLD
ON 28 SEPTEMBER 1943

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On 28 September 1943, Radio Operator S/Sgt George L. Spangle (20648171) fell out of the bomb bay of a B-25D-1 Mitchell Bomber of the 8th Bomb Squadron, of the 3rd Bomb Group, 5th Air Force over Wambianna Station at a location approximately 35 miles SW of Charters Towers. It is believed that the B-25 Mitchell may have been piloted by W. D. Baker with Clarence L. Johnson as a gunner for the flight. The 3rd Bomb Group was based at Charters Towers.

Apparently S/Sgt Spangle was at his crew position, possibly sitting on parachutes, when the aircraft hit an air pocket, and the plywood that covered an opening in the floor of the aircraft broke and he fell out of the aircraft. The droppable fuel tank was normally  located in the radio operator's compartment where the lower gun turret was originally located.

Although an extensive search was conducted at the time, his remains were not found for some years until a stockman noticed some parachutes on the large property in September 1945. On 3 October 1945, some Americans arrived to search for possible remains for S/Sgt George L. Spangle in the area where the parachutes were found. After a short time one of the stockmen assisting with the search, spotted a bullock chewing on a bone with a shoe attached about 80 yards east of the parachutes on the west bank of Brigalow Creek. Some other human bones were also found but no dog tags were found.


Photo:- Lyons Family Collection

Wambiana lagoon which is the landmark that those on board the B-25 Mitchell remembered at the time that S/Sgt Spangle fell from the aircraft.

 


Photo:- Lyons Family Collection

29th / 30th September 1943 - The American soldiers with their jeeps in front of the Wambiana house as they were searching for the American airman.  Claire Lyons (John's mother) had just been taken for a run in the jeep.  Frank Carrington (local grazier from Oakvale Station in the dark shirt) is in the other jeep and assisting with the search.

 


Photo:- Lyons Family Collection

29 September 1943 - The American soldiers and a few locals before going to look for the American airman who fell out of the bomb bay of the plane.

Eric Landsberg, Roy French, Mick Perks and Arthur Bluff, an aborigine were the locals on horseback as well as Lieutenant Dubell and seven of his men.

 


Photo:- Lyons Family Collection

3 October 1945 - The US ambulance at Wambiana collecting the limited remains and limited clothing and a boot of American Airman who fell from the B-25 Mitchell on 28 September 1943.

Left to Right:- Julia & Myles Lyons (John Lyons's grandparents), Frances Lyons (2yrs), Myles Lyons (4yrs) (John's brother and sister).  Frank Carrington from a nearby property, a US soldier, Claire Lyons holding baby John (John's mother), John Lyons (John's father), US soldier kneeling

 


Photo:- Lyons Family Collection

                              3 October 1945 - US ambulance at Wambiana collecting remains.

                              Left to right:- Julia Lyons, Myles Lyons and Frank Carrington from Oakvale Station

S/Sgt George Spangle is listed in the Reapers Harvest as KIA and the Guild Diary as Killed other than Combat.

George L. Spangle was buried at the Ipswich US Cemetery on 19 October 1945. The only other person buried at Ipswich on that same day was Corporal Albert L. Godwin who had died on 15 October 1945.

Wambiana Station is a property on the Campaspie River about 60 km from Charters Towers owned and operated by John and Rhonda Lyons. The Lyons family and their ancestors have been on the station since 1912.

 

The following are extracts from the Diary maintained at Wambiana Station:-

AMERICAN AIRMAN

WAMBIANA 1943 DIARY

28 September 1943
American airman radio operator fell through bomb bay while flying in vicinity of lagoon, likely on east side. Eight officers came out at evening time to enquire about horses and help for searching. Had tea here.

29 September 1943
Father (Myles Lyons) and Arthur (Bluff) (an aboriginal stockman), scouting about to see whereabouts of Airman Spangles. Roy and Mick also having a look.

American search party arrived at lagoon about lunch time under Lieutenant Dubell. Eric Landsberg and three Americans rode down from Oakvale along river. Eric camped here the night.

30 September 1943
Eric, Roy, Mick, Arthur and Lieutenant Dubell and seven of his men all on horseback set out to cover north east from lagoon to Symes corner, then south to Brigalow Paddock and back to homestead.

Carrington (Frank) came down in jeep. Self also in a jeep and a third one also went scouting along road to Bendee. Six men walked all through Bendee scrub. Then drove one mile east, walked fan like to back of lagoon and then back again to jeep.

1 October 1943
Search party returned to town.

3 October 1943
Arthur searching on his own account for missing Airman.

 

WAMBIANA 1945 DIARY

21 September 1945
Constable Gough and two Americans called re: parachutes.

2 October 1945
Americans in ambulance truck came out to search for airman lost from plane two years ago. As no men home they returned to town and will come again tomorrow.

3 October 1945
All hands assisting Americans in search for remains Airman Spangles. A short search discovered some bones, his boots with feet bones still in them and some clothing.

They were found about 80 yards east of parachutes but still on west bank of Brigalow Creek.

Identity disc or "dog tag" was not discovered.

Americans returned to town.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John and Ronda Lyons, the owners of Wambiana Station for their assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank, Bill Archer, Edward Rogers and Bill Swain for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

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This page first produced 31 May 2014

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