C-53 FORCED LANDED
AT BATHURST ISLAND
ON 4 FEBRUARY 1942
THEN DESTROYED BY JAPANESE ATTACK
ON 19 FEBRUARY 1942

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On 4 February 1942, Douglas C-53B-DO, #41-20051, of the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron, USAAF, was returning from Java and found that Darwin was closed in due to bad weather. It turned back to Bathurst Island, 60 miles north of Darwin, where it landed on the Bathurst Island Mission airfield, an emergency airfield for light aircraft. While landing in a crosswind, the aircraft damaged its left wing tip and aileron. The 21st Troop Carrier Squadron was later assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group on 12 November 1942.

On 19th February 1942, six Zekes (Zeros) from Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu, on their way to attack Darwin, flew across the Tiwi Islands and attacked the Sacred Heart Catholic Mission on Bathurst Island along with the stranded C-53. The six Zekes had broken away from the main force and strafed the Catholic Mission buildings and the airfield. The C-53 was destroyed and a number of buildings including the radio hut were damaged. The attack on the Mission and the radio hut was probably an attempt to eliminate any warning being transmitted to Darwin.

The Douglas C-53 had been delivered to USAAF on 17 October 1941. The aircraft wreck was stripped of all usable items and was still there in 1949. It was later bulldozed off the cliff into Aspley Strait. 

 


Photo:- AWM Accession No. 152203

C-53 #41-20051 after its crash landing on Bathurst Island

 


Photo:- via Bob Alford

The bullet holes from the Japanese attack
on 19 February 1942 can be clearly seen

 


Photo:- via Geoff Goodall

Douglas C-53 #41-20051 remains showing
damage from the Japanese attack and scavengers

 


Photo:- via Geoff Goodall

Wing of Douglas C-53 #41-20051

 

REFERENCE

Document prepared by 1st Lt. Elmore G. Brown, titled:-

"Headquarters, USA Air Forces in Australia
A-4. Aircraft Movements Status & Statistics Section
Location and Status of Damaged Aircraft in Australia"

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Bob Alford, Bob Livingstone, Chris Jamesson and Norman Weeding for their assistance with this home page.

 

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 23 May 2000

This page last updated 30 May 2018