B-17E FLYING FORTRESS "SALLY"
THE FLYING OFFICE FOR GENERAL GEORGE C. KENNEY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

"Sally", General George C. Kenney's private B-17 Flying Fortress

 

sally09.jpg (36766 bytes)
Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

"Sally"

 

USAAF B-17E  #41-2633 of the 93rd Squadron of 19th Bombardment Group, was damaged when its undercarriage collapsed after a tire blowout led to a ground loop at Horn Island in north Queensland after a six plane bombing raid on Lae on 4 July 1942. The initial cause of the crash was pilot error.

 

sally01.jpg (37153 bytes)

B-17E #41-2633

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

B-17E 41-2633 after the ground loop on Horn Island

 

M/Sgt. George R. "Dick" Graf, (7031051) who flew with the 435th Bomb Squadron from February 1942 till September 1942, was at Horn Island and saw the crash. He had just returned from a mission himself. The B-17E was patched up and flown to Townsville with its landing gear down. It was repaired at the Townsville Air Depot

After this accident this, the aircraft became the "Flying Office" for General Kenney, the Commander-in-Chief of the 5th Air Force, USAAF.  It was nicknamed "Sally" by Kenney's second aide in Australia,  Major Clarence "Kip" Chase. His wife was named Sally, and she sent a mounted St. Christopher medal which was placed on the wall of the radio room on "Sally". Chase soon went on to more important duties and Kenney went the rest of the war without an aide. Beryl Stevenson then became Kenney's private Secretary. 

"Sally" was stripped of its combat paint and gleamed in its natural metal scheme. It retained all of its gun turrets except the bottom turret. A plywood floor was installed in the bomb-bays, to carry baggage, and a small refrigerator which usually held two case of coke.

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

"Sally"

 

"Dick" Graf went on to become the regular radio operator for "Sally". He had earlier been the radio operator in one of the two B-17's that rescued General Douglas MacArthur and his party from Del Monte in the Philippines. "Dick" was also the official photographer for "Sally". He would return from a flight and have 10 sets of his photos developed. 3 copies of each photo for the General and one for each of the crew members.

After the crash at Horn Island, the AFCE, a B-17's autopilot, did not work, which pleased "Dick" Graf on long trips. This meant he got to fly "Sally" occasionally, to give one of the pilots a break. This was a highly unofficial arrangement.

 


Photo:- "Dick" Graf

General Douglas MacArthur awarding General George C. Kenney
the Distinguished Service Medal at Archerfield airfield in March 1943.
The crew of "Sally" are lined up behind the General with the pilot,
Wilbur B. Beezley, nearest the camera.

 

The crew of "Sally" in the above photograph was as follows:-

Wilbur B. Beezley, pilot
Walter R. Friederich, Navigator (2nd)
Ken Rasmussen, Co-pilot (2nd)
George R. "Dick" Graf, radio operator
George Powell, Engineer (2nd)
Shelby Griffin, tail gunner (2nd)
Donald Aderman, side gunner 

 


Photo:- via Alan Beezley

Wilbur B. Beezley and General George C. Kenney  in front of "Sally"

 


Photo:- "Dick" Graf

General Douglas MacArthur shaking hands with Wilbur Beezley,
the regular pilot of B-17E "Sally", General George C. Kenney's
personal  aircraft. Photo taken in about August 1943

 

sally08.jpg (39005 bytes)

Wilbur Beezley is trying out a camera while
the rest of the crew of "Sally" watch on

 

sally05.jpg (119263 bytes)

Crew of "Sally"
Their mascot, "Butch" the dog
is also in this photo. "Butch" was a
regular  passenger on "Sally"

 

sally06.jpg (40996 bytes)

Crew of "Sally" and "Butch" their mascot

 

sally07.jpg (29318 bytes)

Kenney and crew and others
standing beside "Sally"

 

"Butch"

"Butch"

General Douglas MacArthur often accompanied General George Kenney in "Sally" during visits to New Guinea or other northern bases. Kenney's Secretary, Major Beryl Stevenson, would also often travel on "Sally".

 


Photo:- "Dick" Graf

A Japanese A6M3 "Hamp" fighter based at Eagle Farm airfield during WW2.
"Sally" can be seen in the background of this photograph taken on 12 August 1943.
Jim Helton, Engineer for "Sally" is standing in front of the "Hamp"

 

Jim Helton was later tragically killed in the crash of a B-25 Mitchell bomber near Rattlesnake Island off Townsville in north Queensland on 23 September 1943. An entertainment hall at the Townsville Air Depot was named "Helton Hall" in honour of Jim Helton.

 

Jim Helton

 

In addition to her role of carrying the General around, "Sally" carried out a few other miscellaneous duties. One of these was to provide an aircraft to take some aerial gunnery training footage of Japanese aircraft based at Eagle Farm airfield performing against various Allied aircraft.

One source suggested that "Sally" was damaged in April 1945 in a severe thunderstorm and engineers scrapped her in Brisbane in May 1945. Cecilie Benjamin told me in February 2008 that Wilbur Beezley had told her that Sally was actually scrapped in the Philippines near Manila. The aircraft flew Dick Graf and some of the other crew members back to Brisbane. It was their last flight in the aircraft. Dick and the others then travelled back to the USA by ship and Wilbur Beezley flew "Sally" back to the Philippines where the aircraft was scrapped at possibly Ninoy Airfield. Anything of use was taken off the aircraft and used for parts elsewhere. A slow crack had developed at the base of the main spar on the wing. It had progressed beyond repair. Sally was then abandoned on Ninoy Airfield outside of Manila on the 20th March 1945.

 


Photo:- via Greg Mann

A nice photo of "Sally". Note the P-38 in the background.
Greg Mann found this photo in an antique shop in Houston,
Texas. Note the bar on the start on the rear fuselage. This
means the photo is probably taken post July 1943.

 


Photo:- via Greg Mann

Note the word "Sally" is a different font style in the above
photo compared to the other photos on this web page.

 

In January 2003, I was contacted by Alan H. Beezley, the second son of Wilbur B. Beezley. Alan's daughter Cyndy had stumbled across this web page and alerted her father of its existence. Alan advised that his father, Wilbur B. Beezley (86 years young), was well and living in Southern California. In July, 2002, Wilbur bought himself a brand new black Chevrolet Corvette for his 86th birthday. Alan told me "Still needs those flying machines even on the ground." He always talked to his family about flying "Sally". Alan told me that this was apparently one of the many highlights of his military career. He retired from the USAF as a full Colonel in 1964 from Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas, where he was deputy base commander for a couple years.

On 22 January 2012, I was contacted by Trevor Loomis, the great grandson of Shelby Griffin, the tail gunner of B-17 "Sally" who passed away in 1992. Shelby's wife Marion Hubby (88 years young in January 2012) said that General Kenny let her fly with Shelby while they were in Australia. They were married in Australia and moved later to Texas.

 

Shelby Griffin is the gentleman on the right

 


Photo:- Justin Taylan Collection

Another shot of Sally

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

The island looks suspiciously like Mud Island just off the mouth of the Brisbane River not far from Eagle Farm Airfield.

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

Photo of "Sally", probably taken over Moreton Island or North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay near Brisbane.

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

Another fine shot of "Sally"

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Cecilie Benjamin Collection

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

B-17E 41-2633 "Sally"

 


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

B-17E 41-2633 "Sally" at Port Moresby

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett, Greg Mann and Alan H. Beezley for their assistance with this web page.

I would also like to thank Cecilie Benjamin for her assistance with this web page. Her mother Ellen Grace Chellingworth (93889) of Winton, Queensland, enlisted in the WAAAF at Brisbane on 11 October 1941. She was apparently the first Queenslander to volunteer for the WAAAF's. Sergeant Chellingworth was discharged at No. 3 Stores Depot on 8 June 1945. Cecilie Benjamin told me that her mother was a pilot before WW2 and was one of only about 10 women in Australia to have a pilot's licence. She owned her own Gypsy Moth. She also flew quite a few different aircraft. She would liked to have flown in the WAAAF's and thought that Australia was too conservative (British thinking) in those early war years. The above photographs from Cecilie Benjamin's Photo Collection were passed on to Cecilie from her mother Ellen.

Cecilie Benjamin is still trying to find out why her mother had these images. The link is her mother was a WAAAF, a pilot and an aircraft owner herself pre War. She was also a WAAAF transport driver for "big wigs" during the war in Townsville. There were three 8" x 10" images and rolls of negatives of the same flight. Cecilie had originally thought the images were taken in PNG, Milne Bay but five years after she found them in her cupboard, (She had initially gone to the cupboard to throw them away as trash) she saw Mud Island at the end of Eagle Farm Brisbane airport on a PX return flight to POM from Brisbane. Mud Is was in the background of one of the images. The photos were taken in early 1943 out of Eagle Farm. (Cecilie thinks Macarthur was the passenger on the aircraft). Her mother Ellen told her about them when she was a teenager. Cecilie always remember that her mother always made a huge fuss over Kenney and no fuss over Macarthur.

I'd also like to thank Alan Beezley, the son of the late Wilbur Beezley who passed away on 26 October 2006, aged 90 years.

I'd like to thank Trevor Loomis, the great grandson of Shelby Griffin, for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 28 February 1999

This page last updated 28 February 1999