18 DECEMBER 1942
CRASH OF A B-24 LIBERATOR
ON MT. STRALOCH ON HINCHINBROOK ISLAND
Tail from Texas Terror"
USAAF B-24 Liberator, #41-23825, now commonly known as "Texas Terror", of the 400th Bomb Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group, crashed into the southern side of Mount Straloch on Hinchinbrook Island on 18 December 1942 during a violent storm. It was being flown from Amberley to Iron Range by 1st Lieutenant James Gumaer for delivery to the 90th Bombardment Group. A total of 12 persons were killed in this tragic crash. 1st Lt. Gumaer and his 4 crewmen had picked up at least 7 passengers at Garbutt airfield in Townsville on their way to Iron Range.
This killed in the crash were:-
|Capt. James E. Gumaer, Jr. (Pilot) (0-397390)||90th Bomb Group|
|2nd Lt Dewey G. Hooper (copilot) (0-791211)||90th Bomb Group|
|2nd Lt David B. Lowe (navigator) (0-790971)||90th Bomb Group|
|T/Sgt Waldo W. Kellner (engineer) ((34024551)||90th Bomb Group|
|S/Sgt Walter E. Haydt (radio operator) (33117652)||90th Bomb Group|
|Col. Carroll G. Riggs||197th Coastal Artillery|
|Lt. Raymond F. Dakin||197th Coastal Artillery|
|Captain Peter E. Kiple (0-375666)||36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group|
|Captain Carl H. Silber (0-353182)||36th Fighter Squadron, 8th Fighter Group|
|1st Lt. John E. Cooper Jr. (0-417008)||22nd Bomb Group, 19th Bomb Squadron|
|T/4 Michael M. Goldstop||1156th QM Co.|
|Robert C. Trevithick||Representative of Pratt & Whitney division of United Aircraft Corp|
"Texas Terror" was in fact not the nose art name for this B-24 Liberator. It was in fact one of the names painted at one of the station positions on the aircraft. "Texas Terror" was possibly painted at the tail gunner's position. Another station name that was found at the crash site was "Lady Ann". See photos of the two station names below.
Photo: Lee Ragan via Bob Livingstone
Small "Texas Terror" station name
Photo:- Peter Johnston
Small "Lady Ann" station name. As
you can see the two
words are only about 8 inches long by about 1 inch high.
Photo:- via Phil Menzies
Memorial Cross at Crash Site
Photo:- via Phil Menzies
Closeup of the Memorial Cross showing names of the 12 men killed in this crash
It took a while before the wreckage of "Texas Terror" was found. Aboriginal trackers eventually found it near the top of Mount Straloch on Hinchinbrook Island. "Texas Terror" had been carrying a payroll for US troops in New Guinea. Shortly after the wreckage was discovered, Australian Federal Police retrieved more than $100,000 US from 2 men in a nearby town.
Roger R. Marks, in his excellent book "Queensland Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On", describes incidents following this crash:-
|A couple of days later, the 90 BG was to lose a B-24 to this bad weather on the same leg. By
noon on 18 December, 41-23825 "Texas Terror" and twelve men were overdue at IRON
RANGE. The aircraft was brand new, on delivery to the Group. Lt. James Gummier his four
crewmen and the seven passengers they picked up at GARBUTT remained 'missing' until the
end of 1943.
Forty years later, armed with my National Parks camping permit, a 'mud map' drawn by my good friend (the late) Donald Hector Johnson, and the eager company of my youthful sons, I set out to climb to the wreck on HINCHINBROOK Island's Mt. Straloch. Several rolls of bright coloured plastic survey tape and almost the same length of "Wait-a-While" scratches later, we conceded defeat. Looking out over the passage to Lucinda Point with Ingham in the distance, I realised we'd strayed out of "Johnson's ravine'. I resolved that next time I'd make sure Don came too.
Six months before his untimely death Don published Torres Strait to Coral Sea. He described Gumaer's passengers on the 'last day of their war' -
'...most senior of them was Col. Carroll G. Riggs, a West Pointer commanding the 197th Coastal Artillery. He had held the appointment since 26 June, when the Regiment had been deployed for anti-aircraft defence around Perth, Western Australia. The Regiment was now fulfilling the same function in Townsville, but Batteries "B" and "E" had been deployed to Iron Range. Col. Riggs was paying his first visit to his detachments. Accompanying him was Lt. Raymond F. Dakin, also of the 197th, carrying money for the gunners, who had not received any pay since their detachment in August.
Capts Peter E. Kiple and Carl H. Silber were both members of the 8th FG, which was then stationed in New Guinea. Lt. John E. Cooper jr was on attachment to the 19th BS, 22 BG, one of the medium bomber squadrons at the Claudie strip near Iron Range. The last member of the services to board the aircraft was Technician 4th Grade Michael M. Goldstrop of the 1156th QM Co. One civilian completed the passenger list. He was Robert C. Trevithick, a representative of the Pratt & Whitney Division of the United Aircraft Corp., whose motors powered the B-24.'
Don went on to report:-
'...late 1943...two aborigines searching the gullies on the flank of Mt. Stralock for stream tin, reported (finding) some burned US currency. Two experienced rock climbers were engaged to search for the wreck.
The remains of the men were group buried in the US Military Cemetery in Ipswich, west of Brisbane and after the war their remains were group buried at Ft McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell, Nebraska USA. In a group burial, the individuals are known, but because of the circumstances of their deaths, they are individually unidentifiable. When this occurs, the Department of Defense directs that all remains be interred together and a headstone be erected with each person's name and other pertinent data engraved upon it. The funeral is closely coordinated with the respective service and the next of kin of the deceased. Factors such as location, date and time, and general logistics are arranged according to the wishes of the next of kin.
Photo:- Sondra Marshall
Headstone above the group burial
at Ft McPherson National Cemetery near Maxwell,
Nebraska, USA of the men who died in B-24 Liberator, #41-23825, "Texas Terror"
BRISBANE'S SUNDAY MAIL
14 February 1999
War crash relics tagged
By Rory Gibson
B-24 Liberators at Iron Range Air Strip in 1942
0n a stormy morning 56 years ago, a US B24 Liberator bomber slammed into a peak on HINCHINBROOK island, exploding on impact and killing all 12 people on board.
It was more than a year before the wreck was found and the mystery of what happened solved.
Felix Reitano with Lt. Cooper's dog tags
Now a souvenir hunter has handed in a relic pilfered from the crash site and kept hidden for more than 20 years.
The anonymous man gave up a dog tag belonging to one of the passengers on board the "Texas Terror", Lt John E. Cooper.
It is believed the man found the identification tag in 1978. It clearly shows Lt Cooper's name and next of kin, Mrs M.C. Cooper, 170 Ridgeway Drive, Battle Creek, Michigan.
It was handed in two weeks ago as a result of publicity for a memorial to the crash victims which will be erected in Ingham and dedicated on Anzac Day.
A flare gun and a watch casing also have been handed in.
A cross on the crash site
Felix Reitano, the Ingham businessman who is the driving force behind the memorial, was surprised when a resident walked into his office and said: "Here, you better have this , " and threw the dog tag on his desk.
It is the second ID tag recovered from the precarious crash site 750m up Mt Straloch on heritage-listed HINCHINBROOK Island.
A Halifax resident found dog tags in 1989 belonging to Lt John Werner, who died when his bomber "Lady Beverly" crashed on a mission to Bougainville in November 1942. Why his ID tags were on the "Texas Terror" is unknown, but they were returned to his sister Jane in California.
Other mysteries have ensured interest in the "Texas Terror" has remained keen for more than 50 years.
The plane, fresh from the factory and heading for the battlefields of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, took off from Townsville on December 18,1942.
It was going to its base at Iron Range on the northern Cape. On board was an officer carrying four months' pay for the Iron Range gunners.
There were heavy storms around Ingham and Cardwell that morning and the crew would not be expecting such big peaks as those found on HINCHINBROOK while flying over the sea.
Although coastal residents reported seeing a flash on Mt Straloch on the day of the crash, and later sugar mill workers reported seeing sunlight flash off pieces of metal just below the summit, the search for the "Texas Terror" was concentrated further north.
It wasn't until late in 1943 that Aborigines scratching for tin in the island's streams reported to authorities that they had found burnt currency. A search party found the plane on January 7,1944.
The payroll was never found. It was reported that Aborigines in Halifax at the time were whooping it up using American greenbacks but that has not been verified.
Another puzzle surrounds a red stiletto-heeled shoe recovered from the wreck. There were no women listed as passengers and the plane wasn't going anywhere such a shoe was likely to be worn.
Captain Carl Silber, a crash victim with an Aussie friend
The plan for a memorial sprang up in about 1997 when Carl Silber jnr attempted to reach the crash site where his fighter pilot father, Capt Carl Silber, was killed in the crash of the "Texas Terror". He was not able to make it to the crash site to pay his respects to his father due to the fact that the creek was running too high and fast.
Carl Silber jnr was in Ingham for the dedication ceremony on 25 April 1999, along with US military and diplomatic representatives. After flying over the crash site in a helicopter Carl Silber jnr was able to point out the location where he had to turn around. It was approximately 80% of the way to the crash site.
E-mails from Carl Silber Jr.
SOURCE:- Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia
Crash: No. 31
Position: 18.27 - 146.18
Department of Aviation Chart No: 3219
Photo supplied by Carl Silber Junior
Dedication ceremony in Ingham 25 April 1999
|Left to right: Capt Honchul, HQ 5th AF/PA; Col Sargeant, 8th Fighter Wing Commander; Brig Gen Stevenson, Deputy 5th AF Commander; C.W. Hooper, co-pilot's brother of the Texas Terror; Carl H. Silber, Jr.; Diane Jackson; Tom Hasebe, Gen Stevenson's Special Assistant; Lt Col Jackson, US Embassy; Lt Col Robinson, US Embassy; & Carl Wall (C.W. Hooper's nephew).|
Photo:- Des Wing April 2007
Memorial on the beach at Lucinda
Photo:- Des Wing April 2007
Plaque on the above memorial at Lucinda
Photo: Shane Springer
Fuselage of "Texas Terror" taken in 1976
More low resolution photos from Shane Springer
I'd like to thank Carl H. Silber Jr., Sondra Marshall, Bob Livingstone, Shane Springer, Pete Johnston, Phil Menzies, Peter Murray, Michael Musumeci and Des Wing for their assistance with this home page.
"Solo Expedition to find a crashed B-24 World War II American bomber on a remote tropical island" - YouTube video by "The Outfit"
Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On",
by Roger R. Marks
"Diary of WWII - North
Complied by Peter Nielsen
The Forgotten Fifth
A Classic Photographic Chronology of the
Fifth Air Force in Action in the Pacific in WW2
By Michael Claringbould
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 7 February 1999
This page last updated 04 December 2022