Larry Hickey is co-author of the book "Attack & Conquer - The 8th Fighter Group in World War II"


Subject:   N. Queensland Air Crashes #20 & #94
Date:           Thu, 23 Dec 99 16:02:53 -0700
From:          "Lawrence J. Hickey" <>

This aircraft was Eight Ball Esquire B-25D #41-29709 of the 13th B.S., 3rd Bomb Group. It took off from Cooktown enroute Port Moresby at 1710 hours 20 December 1942. Pilot, 1/Lt William C. Hellriegel, had to feather left engine when oil pressure failed and turned back towards Cooktown. Lost altitude rapidly and made hard ditching approximately 25 miles north and slightly east of Cooktown. The 12 aboard, 7 injured, made it to beach at a point half way between mouth of Morgan River and Cape Flattery (note this is not Princess Charlotte Bay despite what the Townsville log says). 10 stayed behind, two uninjured, Lt. Schwartz and Sgt. McMann started out early 12/21 to walk to Cooktown. Walked and swam for two days and reached Cooktown after dark 12/23. Early next AM rescue boat picked up rest on beach after four hour trip. No fatalities. Plane sank in about 3 minutes.

I have many photos of this plane, including the one on your website attributed to the Jack Heyn Coll. That one was taken at Charters Towers 30 September 1942.

B-25D #41-29706, belonging to the 90th B.S., 3rd Bomb Group was in the process of the permanent move to Port Moresby from Charters Towers, Queensland, on 20 December 1942, when it ran into bad weather. The pilot, 1/Lt. Donald K. Emerson, attempted to fly below a rain squall but caught a wing on the water and crashed into the Coral Sea, killing all 10 aboard. You ID the location as near Osprey Reef and the coordinates.

I can provide this kind of info on most of your USAAF Queensland and Australia crashes. I'm publishing a book series called "Eagles Over the Pacific," which includes histories of most of the bomb groups in the 5th Air Force. Most volumes will be out during 2000, and will account for almost all your USAAF A-20, B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-26 losses. I can also provide much info on your USAAF P-39 and P-40 losses.

I will add individual entries such as above as time permits, as I'm on a very tight publication schedule.

Larry Hickey
Boulder, Colorado USA


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Subject:    Crewmen lost aboard B-25D 41-29706
Date:             Sun, 26 Dec 99 18:40:09 -0700
From:            "Lawrence J. Hickey" <>


RE: your request for the crewmen lost aboard B-25D 41-29706 of the 90/3 on 20 Dec 42 in a crash while enroute to Port Moresby from Charters Towers, Queensland.

The ten aboard were:

EMERSON, 1/Lt. Donald K. Pilot
MILLER, 1/Lt. Robert F. Co-Pilot
BELCHER, S/Sgt. Albert Bombardier
FANTA, S/Sgt. Elmer R. Gunner
WALKER, S/Sgt. Everett E. Radio/Gunner
VIDMAR, Pvt. William S. Engineer
RUTH, Sgt. Donald D. Passenger
ST. SAUVEUR, Sgt. Richard H. Passenger
TAYLOR, Sgt. Stephen L. Passenger
KLEMMER, PFC. Delmar A. Passenger

Strangely, one of the members of this crew was carried as a POW as of mid-1944. This was S/Sgt. Ermer R. Fanta. Don't yet know the details, but will eventually get this (maybe picked up by a Japanese submarine?). If any of your site readers know anything about this, I'd like to hear from them. If Fanta was a POW, it is very unlikely that he survived imprisonment by the Japanese. The others were all carried as killed.

Emerson was a former A-20 pilot recently transferred to the 90th Sq., and the rest of his crew was well-experienced, having completed 20-30 combat missions by the time of the crash.

Yes, you can use the information I sent you on your web site, and yes, you did ID your site cross reference to 41-29709 correctly.

Larry Hickey


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This page first produced 28 December 1999

This page last updated 21 February 2020