21 APRIL 1942
CRASH OF A B-25 MITCHELL
ON MOUNT BARTLE FRERE, QLD
USAAF B-25C Mitchell medium bomber #41-12455, of the 90th Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group based in Charters Towers, crashed into Mount Bartle Frere near Babinda in north Queensland at 7 p.m. on 21 April 1942 while returning from a search mission in the Coral Sea. They flew into a blind gully which lead to the peak of Mount Bartle Frere. They were searching for the Japanese fleet which was destined to take part in the Battle of the Coral Sea a few weeks later.
On the day of the crash, some people in the town of Babinda reported a flash in the direction of Mt. Bartle Frere and noises similar to an engine cutting out. On that same day, a Lockheed 14 belong to Guinea Airways had gone missing. This aircraft was on “Special Work” for the Department of Civil Aviation. The aircraft had ten “important passengers” on board as well as a crew of two (Pilot Capt. D.G. Cameron and First Officer C.H. Gray). The people of Babinda thought that the flash and noises were associated with the missing Lockheed 14. The loss of the American B-25 was not public knowledge at the time.
The crew of seven in the B-25 Mitchell were all killed on Mount Bartle Frere, including the pilot Lieutenant John S. Keeter (or was it Randolph Keeter?) and his co-pilot Captain Glenwood Stephenson, who had been in the infantry in Bataan earlier in the war. Stephenson was one of a number of important officers and enlisted men whisked out of the Philippines in 5 submarines just before it was overrun by the Japanese. The last submarine, the "Spearfish" captained by James Dempsey, left the Philippines two days before it fell on 4 May. Left behind on Corregidor were 173 officers, 2317 sailors and 4 nurses who all became prisoners of war.
"Seawolf" captained by Freddy Warder took 12 army pilots including Glenwood Stephenson and Jim McAfee of the 27th Bomb Group and 13 others who were delivered to Surabaya.
Stephenson was on his first combat mission after rejoining the group. 3rd Bomb Group aircraft helped to find the wreckage. The first ground party to reach the site were guided there by flares dropped by "Jim Davies" of the 3rd Bomb Group. Due to the steepness and thickness of the jungle, it took many attempts to reach the site. In fact it took eight days to reach the wreckage. The B-25 had flown into a blind valley which lead to the top of Mount Bartle Frere. As it came down, it cut a smooth swathe through the tree tops before hitting the ground. There was charred vegetation and trees for about 100 yards in front of the wreckage. It would appear that due to the rain and the green foliage, the fire did not last long.
Crew members killed were:-
Lt. John J. Keeter, Jr. (Pilot)
Capt. Glenwood G. Stephenson (co-pilot)
Sgt. George C. DeArmond (Rear Gunner)
Sgt. James P. "Jim" English (Engineer)
Sgt. William H. "Bill" Lancaster, Jr. (Bomb aimer)
Sgt. J.P. "Jimmie" Morris (Gunner)
Lt. Eugene T. "Gene" Tisonyai (Navigator)
Temporary graves of Glenwood Stephenson (on
and John Keeter on Mount Bartle Frere
The mutilated bodies of the crew were buried in temporary graves on Mount Bartle Frere. In about early December 1942, a local called Ted Richards, took a pack of mules to the crash site and recovered the bodies. They were buried at the US Cemetery in Townsville on 14 December 1942. See the information below which is from the original Cemetery Records for the US Cemetery in Townsville:-
US CEMETERY TOWNSVILLE
|NAME||SERVICE NO||BURIAL DATE||RELIGION|
|Lancaster, William H.||6971404 USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
|Keeter, John S.||0404019 USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
|Stephenson, Glenwood G.||023128 USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
|De Armond, George C.||7002646 USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
|Morris, Jimmie D.||6970723 USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
|Tisonyia, Eugene||USA||14 Dec 42||Catholic|
|English, James P.||6700452? USA||14 Dec 42||Protestant|
Another reference source indicated that the bodies were temporarily interred again at the USAF Military Cemetery, Ipswich in southern Queensland after recovery from Mount Bartle Frere. Perhaps this should have said Townsville, or alternatively they were relocated from Townsville to the USAF Military Cemetery, Ipswich before they were sent back to the States.
At a later stage the remains were again recovered and transported to the USA where most were finally laid to rest at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, in St. Louis, Missouri. It would appear that Sgt. William H. "Bill" Lancaster, Jr. (Bomb aimer) was buried in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo:- Steve Schmoldt
Grave of Sgt. William H. "Bill" Lancaster, Jr. (Bomb aimer) in Nashville, Tennessee
Steve Schmoldt obtained permission from his manager at the Woodlawn Cemetery where he works in Nashville, Tennessee to refurbish the above headstone for Sgt. William H. "Bill" Lancaster. It had corroded badly having been put down in 1949 when his remains were finally brought back home to be buried. Steve received the Work Order to refurbish the headstone on 21 April 1999, the 57th anniversary of the crash. Steve has also found a bit of information on William Lancaster through the local library, such as the high school he attended, and the fact that he had a younger brother.
This aircraft, then part of the 27th Bomb Group, with pilots Wilson and Keeter, had earlier taken part in a series of attacks on the Philippines, after leaving Charters Towers on 11 April 1942 and travelling via Darwin to Del Monte where long distance tanks were removed and replaced with bombs to attack Japanese shipping in Cebu harbour (12th & 13th April) and fortifications. They returned to Charters Towers with 3 evacuees per plane plus one stowaway on Pappy Gunn's aircraft, a Sergeant Jefferson. Eleven B-25 Mitchell's and three B-17 Flying Fortresses from Charters Towers had taken part in this long range mission.
|#112483||Davies, McAfee, Hubbard|
|#112472||Lounge Lizard||Peterson, Mangan|
Noel Tunny told me that someone had told him that one of the persons who died in this tragic crash was connected to someone of importance in USA. Noel believed it may have been Glenwood Stephenson who had the "connections".
Harry Mangan knew and flew with Glenwood Stephenson.
The Evening ADVOCATE
TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 1942
Missing Plane Believed Found
INDICATIONS point to the fact that 4,300 feet up in the ruggedness of Bartle Frere mountain there lies a damaged plane for which search by land and by air has been maintained since last Tuesday.
A plane, which took advantage of today's better weather and admirable visibility to further the searches which have been proceeding for several days both on land and in the air, this morning signalled to Babinda townspeople and officials cooperating in the search that it had located a burnt patch in the mountain at the height reported.
Search parties were at once organised, and will endeavour to reach the location which is one of the worst spots in the fastness of Bartle Frere, rugged northern mountain and highest peak in Queensland.
Following reports that the noise of a plane had been heard by rural residents last Tuesday night and that flares had later been sighted, searches were made throughout last week, but without result.
Bad weather considerably interfered with the operations.
An aeroplane visited Babinda on Sunday, when it was arranged that Mr. R. Trembath should accompany an aerial search party as soon as the weather permitted; and give the airmen advantage of his bushcraft.
A plane, carrying Mr. Trembath as a passenger, flew to Babinda yesterday; and searched the Bartle Frere area.
However, the bad visibility prevented any successful sight; and the machine returned to its base.
With the advent of today's better weather, news was sent from Babinda early this morning to the base where a search plane was stationed.
Within ten minutes it was over Babinda.
For the next 1 1/2 hours, the plane circled the mountain area, observers at Babinda being particularly impressed with the daring navigation which took it into dangerous sectors, especially near the pinnacle.
Then the plane dropped two flares - one of orange color and the other of green - probably as a signal to the grounded plane.
Shortly afterwards, the machine was flying over Babinda township.
During these manoeuvres, it flew very low along the main street.
Returning, its pilot then dropped a message, with such great accuracy in the middle of the street, where it was located immediately.
The message read:
|Have located burnt patch approximately 4300 ft. up southwest direction in dead line with plantation. Will circle town and fly direct to spot as near as possible. Endeavour get bearings.|
Meanwhile, Mr. J. Williams, a member of the Babinda detachment of the V.D.C., obtained a compass, and with this instrument, which was the property of Mr. T. Trembath, the direction in which the searching machine flew was checked twice.
The plane then left for its base.
Shortly afterwards, a telephone message was received from the official who had been directing operations instructing the immediate preparation of search parties, pending his arrival by car to direct the long and difficult march by land to the heights of Bartle Frere where the missing machine appears to have been discovered.
The Evening ADVOCATE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 1942
Land Search Parties Near Site Of Wrecked Plane?
HACKING desperately through the tangled beard of tropical undergrowth that clothes the face of Bartle Frere, search parties are nearing the burnt patch reported by a searching plane yesterday. This patch is believed to mark the spot where an airliner, reported missing last week, crashed with a large number of passengers onboard.
Shortly after 10 a.m. today, one party was reported to be within 200 yards of its objective, and in a direct line with it, and another was seen 400 yards further away. Both were making directly for the scorched patch.
Though no word can be got through from the land party for many hours, Babinda is waiting tensely for news.
Again today, heavy mists and rain clouds have hidden the upper part of Bartle Frere, and brought a return of the extremely dangerous flying conditions which hampered the search from the air all last week. Despite this, a plane roared over Babinda at the promised time today.
Watchers in Babinda held their breath as the plane vanished into the mist, to reappear at intervals as it dipped and banked and swung round spurs and valleys.
When the plane reappeared over Babinda some time later and dropped a note in the main street, residents who picked it up expected to have confirmation of their fears that visibility was impossible. Instead, this is what they read:-
|"Top party within 200 yards: other party quarter of a mile. Both in direct line and cannot miss. I am returning to ____ this afternoon. Regards to all"|
There was an almost unanimous belief in Babinda that the top party comprised a white youth, George Staout, and two aborigines, Willie Wanga and Jackie Bayer, who had left on Monday to conduct a search of their own. The assumption here is that the three men would see the flares dropped from the search plane yesterday, and would pick up the locality from that. Thus they would be ahead of the three parties which were organised from Babinda on receipt of news yesterday.
With the search parties which left yesterday were two members of the Babinda police force and a number of hardy bushmen who had twice defied the discomforts of the jungle last week in a search for the missing plane.
Typical of the grim determination of the land searchers and o their hardihood is the amazing fortitude of a 14-year-old lad named Francis, who went into the scrub this morning with carrier pigeons to take back messages from the searchers.
Francis had left with one of the parties yesterday, but returned this morning to get his pigeons. When he came back he was suffering from a badly lacerated toe, for which first aid was required but which he refused to let stop him from going back.
Great hardships are imposed on the men by the rain and the leeches which infest the scrub in wet weather, and by the cold which comes with altitude. It is to the credit of these men of Babinda and district that never once have the conditions of weather or jungle kept them from maintaining search.
Of outstanding merit was the flying achievement of the pilot of the search plane, who handled his machine with masterly skill in difficult country, to locate the clue which is expected to solve a mystery that has concerned all Australia for more than a week.
Flares Seen at Eubenangee
Confirmation of reports that flares were seen coming from a plane apparently in distress near Mount Bartle Frere last Tuesday, came from Mrs. O. Williamson, of Eubenangee.
Mrs. Williamson is reported to have been attracted by the noise of a plane flying at a low altitude and to have seen flares in the distance. Night was closing down at the time, and visibility was further restricted by rain squalls.
Other persons nearer the scene of the supposed tragedy reported similarly, and little doubt remained in the minds of the people of the district that a plane crashed into the ranges. They held out little hope for any men who may have been aboard.
The Evening ADVOCATE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 1942
Wrecked Plane Found On Bartle Frere - Five Dead
WITH the discovery by land searchers this morning of the twisted wreckage of a plane and the remains of five bodies, a search that has been conducted with grim determination for more than a week has ended.
Guided by flares which were dropped from a plane overhead, the party proceeded to the spot indicated and found the remains of the plane and the scarred bodies of five men. An explosion had obviously occurred when the machine crashed into the mountain, and the men killed instantaneously.
The party which made the discovery consisted of Peter Franzi, Frank Falchetti, W. Nielson, C.H. Marskill, A. Calcatno, and S. Deale. When the plane cooperating in the search appeared overhead they were about 200 yards from their objective, but believe they would have missed it had not the flares been dropped to give them their direction.
After establishing that there was no possibility of any of the personnel of the plane having escaped injury, the six men set out on their return journey and encountered a party led by police officers. While the officers and members of other parties trudged up the track made by Franzi's party, the discoverers came on to Babinda, which they reached at 3.30 p.m.
The men reported that a tremendous explosion had occurred. Trees had been uprooted and scorched, and a great scar made in the mountainside.
The discovery was the culmination of more than a week of untiring efforts by Babinda bushmen. Altogether about 30 men took part in the search and all endured tremendous hardships.
Wednesday, January 19, 1983
After 40 years, bomber found on Bartle Frere
By Lex Ferguson
The B-25 Mitchell was a formidable force
A North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber similar to the one which crashed on Mount Bartle Frere in 1942.
The B-25 Mitchell was the most widely used US bomber of the war and some of the versions were adapted to carry a 75mm cannon.
It had a wing span of 67' 6.7" and was 52' 10" in length. Its maximum speed was 284mph at 15,000 feet and a range of 1525 miles at 233mph.
It's armament was up to 14, .05 machine guns and up to 4000 pound of bombs.
It usually had a crew of six.
What has been said was a super human effort for a 66 year old Miriwinni man, was described by the man himself as simply an interesting test of his memory.
A spritely and very alert Silver Grasso has twice climbed the eastern face of Mount Bartle Frere recently to point out the whereabouts of an American bomber which had crashed on the mountain during World War 11.
Until November 29, last year, it had been 40 years since Silver had climbed to the crash site.. In 1942, he was a member of a second party to climb the mountain to bring down the bodies of the seven airmen killed in the crash.
The 1983 search party
Silver recalled the incident and the events following the crash in a special interview with the Advocate this week.
|'Silver' Grasso and Bill Dubois check the location of the downed American Mitchell bomber on Mount Bartle Frere|
"The aeroplane was an American B-25 Mitchell Bomber carrying a crew of seven. It was returning to its home base at Charters Towers from a bombing raid on Japanese targets in New Guinea which were timed to coincide with Doolittle's raid on Tokyo.
"The bomber apparently became lost in a fierce storm during the night and flew straight into the mountain - exploded on impact killing the entire crew.
"The explosion was so great that the flash and following flare from the fire was seen by a fellow who was collecting his mail from the Miriwinni post office," Silver Grasso says.
The American Air Force Headquarters, within three or four days of finding the crashed bomber, sent up a burial party comprising a Major, a Pardre, a Lieutenant and a Sergeant.
Local men, Nugget Bevan, Bill Wilkins (now deceased), Tom 'Trembath (also deceased), and Mr Fitzgerald, the Undertaker went along to show them the way.
This original search party were guided to the site by another aeroplane which circled the area until they arrived.
The force of the impact when the plane crashed could be realised by the extent of the injuries on the bodies of the crew members.
"It was shocking," Silver reveals. "Arms and legs were torn from some of the bodies and a foot was found still in a boot some distance away. Trees about a metre thick had been snapped by the plane as it came down.
"The bodies were buried near the crash site and marked with simple wooden cross. The names of the dead were put on the cross. "
The crew members were: the pilot, Captain Glenwood Stephenson, 'Staff Sergeant James English, Junior Sergeant William Lancaster, Junior Sergeant John Keeter, James Morris, Ugene Tisonyan and George De Ambrosio.
Whether because of pressure put on the American War Department, or financial assistance from the father of the pilot, who was an American millionaire, another party was sent up the mountain to exhume the bodies and bring them down for shipping back to America for proper burial.
Silver Grasso was a member of this five man party which climbed the mountain about one month after the burial party to retrieve the bodies.
"At daybreak, under a Master Sergeant, Larz Neilsen, now deceased, Steve Gould, Alec Muzic and myself left in a six-wheel drive G.M. truck, for the base of Bartle Frere.
"'We took blankets and sacks to put the bodies in, and a bottle of formaldahyde for our masks to help break down the stench of decaying bodies.
"The going got tough when we reached about 4500 feet. The ground was slippery and the sergeant was flat out walking with the bottles of formaldahyde, so I carried it from there on.
"It became obvious later that we were nearing the crash site because of the stench.
"We unearthed the bodies and put them in the blankets and sacks for the return journey. The trip down was very difficult with four of us to cart seven bodies down the slippery slopes of Bartle Frere.
"We reached the truck eventually, put the bodies on the back and drove out of the mountain down an old timber track. The bodies were then taken to Babinda where they were placed in lead-lined coffins for their return to America.
"We were complemented by the Sergeant on the wonderful job we had done in getting the bodies down through such rough terrain, such of which he had never seen," Silver Grasso concluded.
Since that time Silver has not been back to the crash site until last November when he was approached by the Australian Historical Society to show them the crash site.
The Society members had twice been on the mountain previously but were not successful in locating the wreck.
Inquiries were made around Babinda by Ron Stager from the Society as to whether there were still any of the men around who were connected with any of the search parties and who would know the exact location of the bomber.
Silver was approached. After 40 years, he was not sure that he would be able to find the site, but he decided to give it a go.
He said that once he found a certain rocky outcrop near the top of the ridge near the crash site, he was sure he could find it.
Silver decided that if the climbing party carried smoke bombs with them and a radio, by leaving one member at the base of the mountain in a spot where he could see the rock, by letting off the bombs at intervals, as they climbed, the man at the bottom could relay. by radio where they were in relation to the rock.
"'Once you get right into the jungle on the mountain, you lose all sense of direction as it is impossible to get line of sight vision to help,"' he said.
Early on November 29, Silver with three Historical Society members, Pat Kenny, Bruce Hursts and Ken Reynor went into the mountain leaving Ian Johnstone to watch for their smoke bombs and guide them by radio.
"We let off four smoke bombs at intervals and by 1 pm we had reached the rock I was looking for.
"A short walk to the other side of the ridge and matter of only five minutes we came to the bomber.
"I was very pleased with myself, to think that after 40 years, I was able to walk straight to the site. It is very easy to miss something in the jungle. You could be only a few feet away from what you are looking for and walk pass it.
"The bomber was still in fairly good condition although overgrown by jungle. I don't think many people, if any, have been to the site since we left it in 1942. There has been no vandalism done to it and all the parts which were there in 1942 seem to remain.
""Except, that is, for the bomb sight which was purposely destroyed with a tomahawk by the major in the first search party because of its secret design.
"We stopped at the site until about 2.40 pm while the Society members took thousands of photographs. But I had to hurry them along otherwise we would not get off the mountain before dark.
"We left immediately and reached the bottom by 6.45pm," Silver said.
Silver's second recent trip up Mount Bartle Frere was only last Saturday when he took some members of the Babinda and Eacham State Emergency Service to the site.
The aim of the second trip was to make preparation for a massive S.E.S. exercise which will involve all the S.E.S. personnel from the Far Northern region.
The Controller, of the Babinda headquarters, Bill Dubois, said Silver, who is a member of the Babinda S.E.S. had been invaluable with the assistance he had given them in the planning of the forthcoming exercise.
"We have a twofold purpose with the exercise. Firstly, the task for the exercise will be for the men to locate the crashed bomber, and secondly, if the wheels can be turned fast enough, to assist with the removal of the aeroplane.
"'We understand that the Australian War Museum in Canberra would like part or all of the bomber, so it makes sense that while we will have plenty of men on the mountain for our exercise, it would be the opportune time to lift the aircraft parts out by helicopter.
"Although the S.E.S. is able to request helicopters during emergency situations, we would not be able to get one for an exercise.
"But perhaps the War Museum has the "muscle" to get one at their disposal to remove what parts of the bomber they want.
"It would give me invaluable experience at loading and unloading helicopters," Bill Dubois said.
Both Silver Grasso and Bill Dubois have requested that the exact location of the bomber remain a secret because of the possible vandalism which could occur to the aircraft.
Although it's spread over a large area, most of the parts are recoverable.
"Wings Around Us"
A B.26 Martin Marauder (it was actually a B-25 Mitchell) had crashed somewhere on Mount Bartle Frere. Two of 24 Squadron's Wirraways departed the Stock Route Strip on April 22nd to stage through Cairns while they searched the ranges.
Taking part were Barney Davies (Pilot) and Alex Burgoyne (Observer) in one aircraft, and Sgt Don Kelly (Pilot) with 'Blue' Gould (Observer) in the other. They were not successful. Every approach to the mountain was thwarted by a mantle of cloud. It fell to a ground party eventually to locate the wreck.
"Fight Back from the North" by Noel Tunny, of Brisbane
"Diary of WWII - North Queensland" compiled by Peter Nielsen
"Wings Around Us" by Rodney Cardell
Captain Glenwood Stephenson
Subject: Glenwood Stephenson
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 19:59:03 EST
My name is Clyde Stephenson, I am Glenwood Stephensons brother. I was astonish to learn about the details of the plane crash from your article on the Internet. For years we have tried to get more information, and we always came to a dead end. If you have any more details about the plane crash or pictures or a map where the crash took place we would be very interested.
If you would like me to scan a picture of Glenwood and send it to you or if you would like any more information about him, I could send it to you. I have a picture of Glenwood when he graduated from West Point Military academy, and also he was the first person to be killed in World War II from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Subject: Re: Glenwood Stephenson
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 1999 22:14:28 EST
You had asked, if we had seen this information before. No, we did not see this kind of details before. We Knew that Glenwoods plane crashed into a mountain in Australia, and that was about it. Over the years I have tried contacting other men who were in the military with Glenwood, to try to find out more information. I really never came up with a lot of details. Would you happen to know where about in Australia the plane crashed.? Or where we could find this information out.? Where did you obtain your information about Glenwood?
Feel free to add this information to your web page. I also am sending you his picture (see above), and a western union telegram.
Anne Stephenson (nee Nails)
|"If anyone knows where Anne Nails is who
married Glenwood Stephenson, I would appreciate it, if they could email me,"
Thank you, Clyde Stephenson
Glenwood was reburied at Punch Bowl Cemetery in Hawaii.
This was Glenwood's last letter from Australia to his wife Anne Stephenson on April 10, 1942.
|"I havent much left of what I
started from home with just your pictures, a raincoat and a pair of wings. And believe me,
sweetheart, I really treasure those pictures of you. They have been out in the jungles,
through plenty of bombings raids, but I get them out the first time that I stop.
Havent been in one place over a couple of weeks since the war began. Expect to move
on again tomorrow. It isnt often that are gang gets back around civilization, so I
really appreciated the past couple weeks in all the large cities of Australia
Hope I wont be long before were together again."
The next letter that Mrs. Stephenson received was from Lieut. General H.H. Arnold, commanding general of the army air forces. The letter told of Capt. Stephenson death. "Captain Stephenson repeatedly displayed great skill and intelligence in carrying out missions of importance He was an officer of great personal courage and possessed a magnetic personality," wrote General Arnold.
Captain Stephenson was graduated from West Point Military academy in 1940 and immediately obtained an assignment in the air corps. Glenwood was 27 years old when he died, he was the first Milwaukeean from Wisconsin known to have been killed in Australia during World War II .
If you would like any more information, we would be more then happy to email it to you.
Subject: Re: Glenwood Stephenson
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 20:27:41 EST
My brother who was Glenwood Stephenson was killed on April 21 in 1942 in a plane crash in a B-25 Mitchell on Mount Bartle Frere. Were you able to find out where your information came from? (See above) The reason why is because a B-25 Mitchell which is on Mount Bartle Frere, in a few months they may remove the plane from the jungle, and if this is my brother Glenwood's plane, I plan on being there with some of my family members to watch them remove the plane from Mt. Bartle Frere.
Subject: Re: Glenwood Stephenson
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 08:23:59 EST
Thank you for all of your information. So far it looks like it was the plane of Glenwood's. The Australian army plans on removing the plane from Mt. Bartle Frere and bringing it to the war Memorial (AWM). Perhaps in June, July, August or Sept: I just wanted to tell you, without reading your article on the internet, we would have never known where the plane was located. Some of the men from the Australian army have been to that site and they have pictures, and they say it's Glenwood's plane.
Thank you, Clyde Stephenson
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 17:49:58 +1000
I am planning an Exped back to the mountain in support of an endeavour by the AWM to recover some part of the aircraft for display in their Annex here in Canberra. I saw your site but I didn't know where the info came from about us originally. We had not got around to telling anyone. Never mind, we are happy for people to know. I am also hoping to recover something from Mt Strahloch on Hinchinbrook Island too. Window of opportunity is anytime from June.
In the meantime, I have some pictures - not all were scanned and I hope you will be able to open them satisfactorily. If I can be of any further assistance - please let me know,
The following photographs were kindly supplied
by Russ Morison.
Click on thumbnail to see larger version of photograph:-
|Mount Bartle Frere in north Queensland, Australia|
|The thick jungle on Mount Bartle Frere|
|Another part of the wing|
Subject: Re: Book
Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 15:34:53 EST
I think your doing a wonderful job with your Web pages. Perhaps we will all be able to meet you when we visit Australia When we know for sure all of the different options, and dates, when they will be removing the plane parts, and when will they be cleaning the parts, and etc. They might have some more interesting things for your web page.
I think your doing a great job with all of the war material, and again we look forward to meeting you. Thank you for all of your information.
Best wishes from America
OCTOBER 17, 1998
TO: The Townspeople of Babinda
FROM: The Kinsmen of George C. DeArmond
On April 20th, 1942 a B-25 Aircraft of the 90th. Squadron, 3rd Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Corps crashed atop Mt. Bartle Frere. The entire crew of seven members perished in the crash.
Our Kindsman, George C. DeArmond, was the Radio-Gunner on that crew. For more than Fifty Years our Families knew no details of the crash, such as how the bodies were retrieved, who were members of the search party and the disposition of the crew's remains.
In 1992 Ralph A. Harrell , Major U.S.A.F.(RET.) returned to Nth Queensland for a Reunion of Veterans of the Coral Sea Battle. While in Townsville and Charters Towers he met Mr. Noel Tunny of Toowong, Queensland. Since Mr. Tunny has written several Publications of American Air Forces in Australia during WW II, He was familiar with that Units history. Mr. Tunny obtained complete details of the crash including photographs of the crash site, Names of the search Party that retrieved the bodies and details of the ordeal they experienced in bringing the Bodies to Babinda.
We are DEEPLY GRATEFUL to MEMBERS of the search party and/or THEIR DESCENDANTS, to MR. NOEL TUNNY and to the other CITIZENS of Babinda for their efforts in enabling us to learn the circumstances of George DeArmonds death.
James V. Lee, Jr.
Dane (DeArmond) Harrell
September 23, 1997
James V. Lee, Jr.
3567 Wingfield Dr.
Bossier City, Louisiana 71112
Telephone (318) 746-7353
Mr. Noel Tunny
44 Benson St.
P.O. Box 266
Dear Mr. Tunny, Dear Mate,
You do not know who I am but I hope that I can let you know in this letter, My name is James Vardaman Lee, Jr. and my dad was a Lee. He married a girl by the name of Ruth May DeARMOND (my Mother).
My Mother was a Sister of Georqe DeARMOND who was killed in the plane crash in Queensland, Australia in 1942.
I am writing to you to thank you for the time and effort that you spent in finding the details in regards to the crash. My Mother passed away in 1987 but she often spoke of her brother (my Uncle) George.
I am 56 Years old and have two sons. We live in North Louisiana. My Wife was born in Germany in 1943 and we have been married for 27 Years. Her parents died when she was a very small girl.
Mr. Ralph Harrell is married to a Cousin of mine and He gave me the information that you discovered about my Uncle.
I am very interested to learn that you are a Historian, I would believe that you have seen a lot of interesting things occur during your life time.
I watch a lot of programs about Australia when they are on TV. And it seems like a beautiful land (also a very hard land in areas).
I have looked on maps and found Charters Towers and Mount Bartle Frere,
I hope that I have spelled your name correctly as the article has it as Mr. Noel Tunney and Ralph Harrell gave me Noel Tunny.
Once again THANKS FOR THE TIME AND EFFORT that you spent to find out the details of my Uncles death. If it had not been for your effort we would have never had a true account of what happened.
Hope to hear From You,
God Bless and Keep You and
James V. Lee, Jr.
Subject: Mitchell Bomber crash
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 21:18:42 +1000
From: Robert Leslie Jago <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I found you web page by accident last week My name is Rob Jago. I have quite a bit on the 1942 crash of the Mitchell Bomber on Mt. Bartle Frere, most is the same as what you have but I have some local stuff that may be of interest. I am in the process of putting something together on this subject for the Cairns Historical Society as we do not have a Bulletin on this subject.
I have a question and a theory that I would like comment on. A few weeks ago I was told by an old mate of mine that navigation in 1942 wasn't all that good. He said it was standard practice when returning from search missions in the Coral Sea to intersect the coast line of Northern Australia before night fall, work out where you were than set a coarse for home, is this correct? The first time I ever visited the crash site I took compass bearings and worked out that it has hit the mountain on a course that would have taken it over Buchans Point to the north of Cairns. I checked on the map and Buchans Point, the crash site on Mt. Bartle Frere and Charters Towers all line up.
Could the crash have been caused by a faulty instrument that led them to believe they were flying higher than what they were. Had they been 100m. higher they would have missed the mountain. Is this a reasonable theory, or is this theory way off the mark?
All the best, Rob
Subject: US Military Cemetery
Date: Mon, 26 Aug 2002 18:35:51 -0500
From: "James Lee" <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I just today read the information in regards to the US Servicemen who were buried in the Military Cemetery located at Townsville.
On Page Eight (8 of 16) I found My Uncle George C. DeArmond. My question is since I see a date of Internment being 14 December 1942 and the Body exhumed in 1946, I would like to know if someone might have a record of who was contacted in regards to where to send the Body and where it was sent??
The Seven Members of the Aircraft included My Uncle and I am interested in where the Bodies were sent to from Townsville??
I have located Family of Four of the Crew and I am trying to locate Family of the other Three.
This is in regards to the B-25 that crashed into Mt. Bartle Frere on 21 April 1942.
I along with a Cousin of Mine sent a open letter to the Townspeople of Babinda on 17th of October 1998 Thanking them for helping to remove the Remains of the Crew.
Any assistance would be Appreciated,
Subject: US Military Cemetery
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 2002 08:22:07 -0500
From: "James Lee" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Yes, I have found Your Web Page very interesting. It contains lots of information. I have been in contact with Clyde Stephenson. I have learned that the Pilot and the Co-Pilot are both buried in Punch Bowl Cemetery, Hawaii and the Navigator is buried in Coshocton, Ohio. My Uncle is buried in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. I know that My Uncle's remains were sent Home to be buried, but the Date they were sent Home and from where, I don 't know.
That is the reason when I read about the Townsville Cemetery and the Plaque that indicates the Remains were exhumed by the 18th Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers, Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, when the Cemetery was closed in 1946, I felt they might have some records left.
I also have heard that the Remains may have been buried at Ipswich, I sort of feel that when the Remains were removed from (whatever) location they were last buried at in Australia, the Military was probably contacted, who in turn try to located Family Members to obtain information as to where to send the Remains.
I can not ask any of My Mothers Brothers or Sister or Parents as they are all deceased.
Peter Thanks for all Your work and for Your response.
All the Best to You and Your Family,
Subject: 3rd Bomb Group
Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 12:13:53 EDT
I am a former member of 3rd Bomb Group. I was in Headquarters Squadron, 90th Squadron, and 13th Squadron. I flew combat with the 90th & 13th as a bombardier until all aircraft were converted to strafers. then was transferred to 90th Bomb Group (Jolly Rogers}, a B-24 Outfit.
I recently met with brother and nephew of Capt. Glenwood Stephenson who was killed when their B-25 crashed in to Mt. Bartle Frere on 21 April 1942. We met in New Orleans last month. Exchanged info, photos etc. Sgt Geo. DeArmond of 90th Squadron was radio-gunner on that crew. All perished. He was cousin of my wife. I was also in the 90th at that time. Would like very much to hear from you.
Regards Ralph Harrell
Subject: B-25 on Mount
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 11:10:39 EDT
Received an e-mail yesterday from Jack Heyn with what you had sent him from me. He has done an outstanding job of recording a Photo History of the 3rd Bomb Group to which we both were assigned. I'm having the photo of the Zero copied and will send it to you by surface mail on or about 17 August. I have been involved in a project for the past few years to piece together the history of 3rd Bomb Group, 90th Bomb Squadron's B-25 that hit Mt. Bartle Frere, Queensland in April 1942.when all crew members were killed. My wife's cousin Geo. DeArmond) was on that crew. The co-pilot was a West Pointer from a family in Wisconsin. I have met with them twice to exchange info, photos etc. They are having a writer compile it all in a book that will be out in about 1 year. Will write more to enclose along with photo.
Regards Ralph Harrel
Mitchell Bomber Bartle Frere
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:56:40 +1000
From: "Wayne Hepple" <email@example.com>
My name is Wayne Hepple, District Training Officer with the SES in Cairns. I recently went up to the aircraft on Bartle Frere with several members of the SES from Babinda to remark the track and plot the position of the crash site. I have several photographs of the aircraft if you are interested, I have attached three but will send the others via mail if you would like them. Apart from the wings and the motors there is not much left of the plane at all, I found one tyre but I don't think it had a rim but could not find the one in the picture on your web site.
As a sideline enquire the Babinda crew are in the near future going to be searching a range to the North East for Babinda for another WW2 aircraft that is supposed to have crashed there. Could you shed any light on what may have crashed in that area in 1944?
I'd like to thank Garth Gray who lives at Bartle Frere House, Josephine Falls, in the shadow of Mt. Bartle Frere. Garth believes that there are two Mitchells on Bartle Frere and rumours of a third (PNG supply flight from Aust). He also knows of the one on Hinchinbrook Island (payroll flight) and one on Mt. Bellenden Ker. Garth's uncle, Dean Gray, was shot down over France in a Lancaster Bomber on 5th January 1945.
Models of Mt. Bartle Frere from Garth Gray
I'd also like to thank Steve Schmoldt for his assistance with this web page.
"Diary of WWII - North
Complied by Peter Nielsen
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 7 February 1999
This page last updated 29 October 2018