43RD BOMB GROUP
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII
63rd Bomb Squadron
"The Sea Hawks"
64th Bomb Squadron
65th Bomb Squadron
"The Lucky Dicers"
403rd Bomb Squadron
"The Mareeba Butchers"
The first members of the 43rd Bomb Group arrived in Sydney onboard the Queen Mary on 28 March 1942. They marched in heavy rain to Camp Randwick at Randwick Racecourse. The enlisted men cleared the straw and feed our of the horse stables to turn them into sleeping quarters for the men. They stuffed large sacks with hay to use them as mattresses. Many of the men were woken through the night covered in itchy bites from the insects living in the hay. When proper cots arrived they burnt the hay to attempt to eradicate the insects.
The arrival of the 43rd Bomb Group interrupted races at the racecourse for about a month. The men exercised, learnt aircraft identification, performed battle simulations, learnt about jungle warfare, hygiene and Australian customs. The Squadrons of the 43rd Bomb Group progressively departed Randwick Racecourse for their new bases in northern Australia.
The 64th Bomb Squadron left at the start of May 1942 for Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. They receive dthe first of four B-17 Flying Fortresses in July 1942 and moved to Fenton Airfield at the start of August 1942.
Photo:- Gerald R. Egger Collection
Ground Echelon of the 63rd Bomb
Squadron, 43rd Bomb
Group at Randwick Racecourse in early 1942
B-17E Flying Fortresses of the 43rd Bomb Group arrived in Australia from Maine, USA in August 1942. They spent several months at various bases, including Torrens Creek, Iron Range, Fenton and Mareeba.
The 43rd Bomb Group were at Iron Range with their B-17's as follows:-
|64th Squadron||12 Oct 42||abt 8 Nov 42|
|65th Squadron||13 Oct 42||7 Nov 42|
|403rd Squadron||15 Sep 42||22 Oct 42|
The 43rd Bomb Group re-equipped with B-24 Liberators and moved to Dobodura in New Guinea in late 1943.
RAAF B-24 Liberator
Five Australian RAAF crews joined the 65th Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group after some initial training in Charters Towers. On 3 December 1943, a decision was made that up to 25 RAAF aircrews would be attached to the USAAF's Fifth Air Force to gain experience with B-24 Liberators as the RAAF were due to receive this type of aircraft in the near future. Five Australian crews were attached to a USAAF unit at Charters Towers. One of the more notable flights they took part in during their training was a mustard gas bombing trial on Brook Island on 21 January 1944. The Captains of these RAAF crews were:-
Sqn. Ldr. John B. "Long John" Hampshire
Sqn Ldr. Jack O'Brien
Sqn. Ldr. Bill Rehfisch
Sqn. Ldr. "Rusty" Rayson
Flt. Lt. Gordon "Mick" Jaques
B-17 #41-24453 shot down with Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker on board
The 43rd Bomb Group suffered many losses due to weather and mechanical problems.
1. B-17F Flying Fortress, #41-24550, ditched into Bootless Bay on 14 December 1942 after engine failure.
2. B-17E, #41-2461, "Tojo's Jinx" was destroyed in a training accident.
3. On 14 September 1942, B-17F, #41-24931, "Hoomalimali" of 63 Squadron caught fire at Mareeba and crashed.
4. "Spawn of Hell" got lost after bombing Rabaul and landed at Batumata Point. It was later salvaged. Later on in its career it was tranferred to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing to become an armed transport aircraft.
5. 1st Lt. Freeman in #41-9194 crashed into a Port Moresby hillside.
6. 2nd Lt. Guyton Christopher ditched #41-24383 in the Gulf of Papua when he ran out of fuel after becoming lost.
7. B-17E, #41-9209, "Blues in the Night", of the 64th Squadron, hit a wallaby during a night take-off from 7 Mile airfield killing Ken McCullar. There were also reports that there may have been an engine fire prior to the impact with the wallaby. After this accident the 43rd Bomb Group called itself "Ken's Men" in honour of Ken McCullar.
8. 1st Lt. McArthur's aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision south west of Port Moresby. The whole crew were killed.
9. #41-9011 ditched off Duvira mission when it ran out of fuel. The crew were rescued by troops of the 41st Division.
10. B-17E, #41-9207, "Texas #6", crashed into the top of Hong Kong Mountain and amazingly there were four survivors. Unfortunately though, local natives led them to a Japanese patrol who executed them on the spot.
11. B-17E, #41-2481, "Topper" crashed on takeoff.
12. B-17F, #41-24552, "Listen Here Tojo" of the 65th Squadron, went missing in cloud after a bombing mission to Lae. The wreck was eventually found in 1992 at 8,900 feet on a mountain 13 miles south west of Lae.
13. B-24D Liberator, #42-40814, of the 64th Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group, disappeared on a flight from Port Moresby to Brisbane on 19 July 1944.
14. B-24J Liberator, #41-47483 of the 403rd Bomb Squadron crashed on a small hill near Leichhardt Creek north of Bluewater Creek (north of Townsville) on 28 March 1944. The aircraft became lost during bad weather associated with a cyclone on a flight from Dobodura in New Guinea to Garbutt airfield.
|E-mails from Charles Bowen Jr., a nephew of a member of 65th Bomb Squadron|
Can anyone confirm whether the B-24D-1 aircraft, tail number #42-40505, nicknamed "Mr. Five By Five" was assigned to the 64th Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group, prior to being attached to the 360th Services Group in 1944?
The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command have conducted two recovery operations of this aircraft in Papua New Guinea in 2002 and 2003, but have no information on 2nd Lt John F. GREEN whose IDPF file is missing.
Can anyone help me with any leads on locating and friends and/or family members of 2nd Lt GREEN. Send me an e-mail and quote the 43rd Bomb Group home page.
"Tocumwal to Tarakan"
"Australian and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator"
by Michael V. Nelmes
Ken's Men Against the Empire
The Illustrated History of the 43rd Bombardment Group during World War II
Volume I: Prewar to October 1943 - the B-17 Era
By Larry Hickey with Steve Birdsall, Madison D. Jonas, Edward M. Rogers and Osamu Tagaya
IHRA Article - "A Stopover at Randwick", 1 December 2018
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn OAM 2020
This page first produced 20 February 1999
This page last updated 20 February 2020