CRASH OF A B-25D MITCHELL
ON BARE SAND ISLAND
IN THE QUAIL ISLAND GROUP
SOUTH WEST OF DARWIN, NT
ON 30 MAY 1945
Netherlands East Indies Air Force B-25D Mitchell N5-176 of the 18th Squadron NEI-AF crashed on Bare Sand Island 65 kms south west of Darwin on 30 May 1945. The aircraft was one of four B-25 Mitchell's from Batchelor Airfield that were taking part in a training exercise. They were making bombing runs in pairs, when N5-176 was hit but water thrown up from the explosion of one of the bombs dropped by another aircraft. The force of the water and the effects of the explosion broke off one of the wings of B-25 N5-176 and the aircraft immediately crashed into the sea near Bare Sand Island. The aircraft disappeared under the water and was never seen again. Its six crew members were eventually listed as "missing believed killed".
The Dutch crew and one RAAF tail gunner who were killed in this tragic accident were:-
Lt. Visser (Pilot)
Lt. Bousche (Co-pilot)
Lt. Fruin (Bombardier)
Sgt. Burghardt (Wireless Operator)
Lt. Liem You Hien (Top Gunner)
Sgt. Jeffrey David Crosbie (RAAF 436683)
Captain P Van Buuren wrote in his statement after the accident:-
"On 30th May 1944, I was Captain of N.E.I. aircraft B25 N5-188 and took off for an operational training flight over Range "L" off Grose Island, together with three other aircraft, N5-171, N5-176 and N5-185. Sgt. Crosbie RAAF Air gunner) was crewed in N5-176.
When over Range "L" the aircraft formed pairs to make bombing runs, N5-176 being paired with N5-188 and carried out three bombing runs at mast height. On the fourth run, N5-176 came in to bomb at a slightly different course causing the port wing of the aircraft to be hit by a column of water caused by the explosion of the bomb released by N5-188.
I saw the port wing blown from N5-176, which turned on its back immediately and crashed into the water, disappearing completely. Although I circled the scene for a period of approximately 20 minutes the plane did not appear again.
All the crew members from the other three aircraft saw the wing of the N5-176 blown off, the aircraft then turning on its back and crashing into the shallows of the south west corner of a sandbank.
The aircraft was reported a total loss, and all crew members "missing believed killed". A Tiger Moth immediately searched the scene of the crash, but no survivors were found."
In 2013 the Australian department of Defence carried out work to locate and destroy unexploded bombs (UXO) in the vicinity of the Quail Island Air Weapons Range. Twenty three high explosive-filled bombs were recovered by June 2013. Much of the wreckage of B-25 Mitchell N5-176 was removed, but no human remains were located.
Betty Franklin who has carried out turtle research in the area for five years, contacted me in August 2015 and said she had seen part of the wing on the island above the high water mark in 2010.
Dutch WWII bomber wreckage removed near Darwin
I'd like to thank Betty Franklin for her assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 11 August 2015
This page last updated 11 August 2015