ON 28 MARCH 1942


Profile:- Gordon Birkett

P-40E Warhawk #41-5559


USAAF P-40E Warhawk (Kittyhawk) #41-5559, #52, of the 8th Pursuit Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant John J. Musial (0430936), crashed at Narrabarba about 13 miles SSW of Eden in New South Wales on Saturday 28 March 1942. Lt. Musial was killed in the crash.

John Musial's aircraft hit the top of an angophora tree before crashing off the Wonboyn Road near Eden in New South Wales. Local Police Constable Willard, and some local residents, retrieved Musial's body and brought it back to Eden.

Lt. Musial was one of four US pilots from Canberra who became lost over the coast near Eden in dense fog (some sources have stated they were lost in a storm) on 28 March 1942 during a routine training exercise from Fairbairn Airfield in Canberra to the Snowy Mountains. Lieutenants Takala and Musial were both killed when their aircraft crashed.

Mr. C. E. Wellings of the local Volunteer Air Observers Corp post reported the incident in the local VAOC logbook which was signed by both Mr. Wellings and Lieutenant Arthur E. Fielder A. C. It read as follows:-

28/3/42 - At 10 am report was received from Lower Towamba that a plane had crashed there. Constable Williams went out to the scene. The Pilot of this plane was killed and the plane destroyed by fire. Lieut. Neal T. Takala LMW. At about 10.30 another plane was reported by the OP at Narrabarba as having crashed. Constable Willard of Pambula was sent to investigate. The Pilot (J. J. Musial) of this plane was also found killed and burnt with the plane. The Pilot, A. E. Fielder of the Plane forced-landed on Aslings beach arrived at this post at 10.45 am and reported himself and plane undamaged. He returned to his plane and with the assistance of many townsmen it was taken up the beach above high water mark. Bodies taken then. The fourth plane of the formation (U.S.A. planes) was later reported as being safe (Lieut. Namola) LMW. The weather at the time of the mishap was very dirty raining to a height 13, 000 feet and visibility almost nil and has continued so all day.

A memorial service was held in the Eden Catholic Church. The bodies of Neal Takala and John Musial were then taken to Canberra for burial. They were both buried in the US Cemetery at Rookwood in Sydney. After the war, their remains were relocated back to the United States.


nsw35a.jpg (54583 bytes)

Pieces of engine from the wreckage in 1998


nsw35b.jpg (63631 bytes)

50 calibre shells


Lt.  "Doc" Fielder crash landed on a coastal sandbar
at Aslings Beach, Eden, NSW on 28 March 1942


Lt. Chester Namola crash landed at Berridale, NSW on 28 March 1942


Lt. Takala crashed south of Eden, NSW on 28 March 1942


I'd like to thank Rick Hanning, Gordon Birkett and Ian Heath for their assistance with the above information.


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 13 March 2000

This page last updated 25 January 2020