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Late on the morning of 31 December 1942, B-25D Mitchell, #41-29698, "The Bird Dog", piloted by Captain William R. "Red" Johnson, of the 90th Bomb Squadron of the 3rd Bomb Group, left Charters Towers for Townsville to pick up some friends, to bring them back to Charters Towers for a party in the newly completed Officer's Club. While returning to Charters Towers they struck some bad weather and crashed into a mountainside about 20 miles west of Townsville. Another source suggest it was 20 miles south of Townsville. The crash site was not located until 3 January 1943. One report suggest it may have occurred near Herveys Range, near Townsville. Private Coen from the 90th Bomb Squadron's Intelligence Section had also gone along for the ride. Therefore there were 8 personnel killed in this tragic accident.

On board were two members of the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group whom were killed. They were Captain John R. Linn  and 1st Lt. Malcolm E. Peterson.

The burial records for the US War Cemetery in Townsville shows the following records. I have assumed that they were all killed in the one crash:-


Lelik, Andrew 12029966 USA 90th Bomb Sq., 3rd Bomb Gp. Air Crash 9 Jan 43 Catholic
Gibson, Archibald B. 6971481 USA 90th Bomb Sq., 3rd Bomb Gp. Air Crash 9 Jan 43 Protestant
Petersen, Malcolm E. 0397451 USA 22nd TP. Carrier Sq, 374th Troop Carrier Group Air Crash 9 Jan 43 Protestant
Linn, John R. 0315444? USA 22nd TP. Carrier Sq., 374th Troop Carrier Group Air Crash 9 Jan 43 Protestant
Johnson William R. 0422025 USA 90th Bomb Sq., 3rd Bomb Gp. Air Crash 9 Jan 42 Protestant
Penler, Stephen 0321823 USA CML. SEC, HQ USASOS Air Crash 9 Jan 42 Catholic
Faris, Robert M. 0295946 USA CML. SEC., 5th Air Force Air Crash 9 Jan 42 Protestant


The following person was buried the following day. He may have been involved in the same crash. Can anyone confirm?

Prunty, Neil J. 6274189 USA 4th Depot Repair Sq. Air Crash (may have been in the above crash) 10 Jan 43 Protestant


1st Lt. Malcolm E. Petersen is buried at Plot C, Row 0, Grave 1223, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu. Hawaii. He was awarded the Silver Star.


Photo:- USAAF, 5th AF, 3rd BG via Joseph Masiero Date:
1942 B&W via Gordon Birkett

Captain John R. Linn

John R. Linn, of Columbus Ohio was a co-pilot on the Royce Mission on 12 - 13 April 1942. He flew in B-25C "Boomerang" 41-12499 (as Co-Pilot) on a difficult mission on 26 July 1942. Later, Lt. Linn transferred to the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 374th Troop Carrier Group. He was awarded the Silver Star. Malcolm E. Petersen (ex 17th Bomb Group) was also part of the Royce Mission commanding B-25C Mitchell #41-12472.

The Townsville Daily Bulletin of Monday 23 March 1953, reported on Page 1, that aircraft wreckage had been spotted in the Herveys Range area 20 miles west of Townsville.

The book "Red Dust Rising: The Story of Ray Fryer of Urapunga" by Ray Fryer and Marion Houldsworth, states on page 24 that a Mitchell bomber coming from Charters Towers to Townsville clipped the top of a hill not far from Ray Fryer's Tabletop Station Homestead at Herveys Range and exploded. The book indicates that about 6 or 8 Americans were killed. Two Blackhawk helicopters collided on 12 June 1996 at High Range Training Area, a short distance from the site of this WWII B-25 Mitchell crash site, tragically killing 18 Australian Army soldiers from the SAS and 5 Aviation Regiment.



"Red Dust Rising: The Story of Ray Fryer of Urapunga"
by Ray Fryer and Marion Houldsworth



I'd like to thank Michael Musumeci and Gordon Birkett for their assistance with this web page.


Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?


I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 31 May 2003

This page last updated 26 March 2016