CRASH OF A C-47 DAKOTA
INTO CLEVELAND BAY, TOWNSVILLE, QLD
ON 7 AUGUST 1943
NOTE:- a Memorial was dedicated
in Townsville on Sunday 14 August 2005
to remember this tragic event.
Details and photographs of this dedication Ceremony
27 people died when C-47-DL Dakota, #41-7733, c/n 4212, VH-CCE (I initially thought it was VH-CDI), of the 40th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 317th Transport Group Transport, piloted by H. Wilson, crashed into Cleveland Bay south east of Townsville at 5.20 am on 7 August 1943, shortly after take-off at 5.00 am from Garbutt airfield in Townsville. Their next destination was Archerfield airfield in Brisbane. The aircraft belonged to the Australian Directorate of Air Transport.
The C-47 was carrying Lt. Hawver of the 499th Bomb Squadron of the 345th Bomb Group and twenty ground personnel and enlisted flight crewmen from the 500th Bomb Squadron of the 345th Bomb Group.
The personnel were on their way to Sydney, for a brief R & R while their B-25s were being modified to low-level strafers at the Townsville Air Depot. Hawver, the pilot of another aircraft, "Hell's Belles", had rushed out to the flight line in a jeep, just barely getting aboard before the plane took off.
UPDATE:- On 6 January 2020 I received an e-mail from Jim McEvoy who shared a family story which probably explains why 1st Lt. Owen A. Hawver boarded the aircraft at the last moment:-
Was looking at your list of WW2 crashes it the Townsville area. The above crash happened between the dates of 6th, August and 12th August 1943.
By way of explanation my mother and father lived in Townsville at the time. Motherís mother had a heart attack in Brisbane on 6th August and died on the 8th. I was 2 years and 3 months old at the time. My mother was able to organise a compassionate flight to Brisbane and because I was so small she was allowed to take me.
We were scheduled to fly on the aircraft that crashed but as she was walking out to board an American officer stopped her and said that that flight was a transport aircraft and would be uncomfortable for both her and the child. He was to fly on the next flight and he took her back inside and arranged to swap seats. You know the rest! We circled around the crash and then flew on. My mother never forgot that officers name for the rest of her life.
Incidentally, we flew home on in a Catalina. We lost an engine off Mackay at night and a plane guided us to Townsville, dropping flares every so often. I do remember seeing the orange lights dropping back behind us in the darkness. I also remember the interior aircraft was painted a greenish colour.
The 27 servicemen killed in this tragic crash are listed below:-
|Wilson, F/O H.||Pilot||40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Transport Group Transport|
|Forrestt, F/O||Co-pilot||40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Transport Group Transport|
|Cielinski, S/Sgt||Engineer||40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Transport Group Transport|
|Markel, Cpl||Radio Operator||40th Troop Carrier Squadron, 317th Transport Group Transport|
|Arbogast, M/Sgt. Donald H.||Waterville, Washington||19017105||Comm. Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Braund, T/Sgt. Delbert||LaValle, Wisconsin, Sauk County||16009775||Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Butcher, T/Sgt. Leo W.||Madison, Illinois||16054893||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Caldwell, Tech Sgt Grant W.||Limona, Florida||7001209||67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group|
|Crowley, T/Sgt. Andrew J., Jr.||Athens, Pennsylvania||12080905||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Cummins, Sgt. Herman R.||Baltimore, Maryland||13050228||Radio-Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Dinneen, T/Sgt. Rodney L.||Fitchburg, Massachusetts||31078190||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Doolittle, M/Sgt. Arah L.||Los Angeles, California||3916281||Armament Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Dzury, T/Sgt. Stephen D.||Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania||13056189||Crew Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Hawver, 1/Lt. Owen A.||0-664588||Pilot||499th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Huebner, T/Sgt. Carl J.||Portage, Wisconsin||36222562||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Hunter, T/Sgt Charles S.||Glascow, Va.||7023939||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Lee, M/Sgt. Francis M.||Burlington, Iowa||6935927||Flight Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|McKenna, T/Sgt. Laurence P.||Clinton, Iowa||36245602||Crew Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Rapp, T/Sgt. Ezra E.||Idaho Falls, Idaho||20926193||Crew Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Roberts, T/Sgt George A.||Caraban, Texas||Radio Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Fowler, S/Sgt. Wilmer R.||Baltimore Md||13073375||Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Repass, S/Sgt. William F.||New Market, Tennessee||34283012||Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Simpson, Sgt. Floyd M.||Caddo, Oklahoma||39847563||Crew Chief||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Trebon, Corp Venard H.||Dubuque, Iowa||17027532||67th Fighter Squadron, 347th Fighter Group|
|Tuttle, S/Sgt. Charles W.||Lynn, Massachusetts||1105524||Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Van Patten, S/Sgt. Willard G.||Sumner, Michigan||36178495||Eng.-Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
|Zahora, S/Sgt. Charles J.||Coaldale, Pennsylvania||13054137||Gunner||500th Bomb Squadron, 345th Bomb Group|
Technical Sergeant Grant W. Caldwell was the son of Mrs Roger F. Caldwell of Limona, Florida.
Corporal Venard H. Trebon was the son of Juanita Trebon, 996 Cleveland Ave, Dubuque, Iowa.
A Keith Smith found half a body near Gordon and Sandfly Creek with wallet belonging to Herman Robert Cummin(g)s. He reported this to the US Authorities but received no feed back.
Two other home pages mention this aircraft as follows:-
DC-3 DAKOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
4212 USAAF 41-7733 13Feb42 - 44VHCD 5thAF/RAAF 14Apr42 - "VHCDI" - Cr 07Aug43 Cleveland Bay, Brisbane, Qu.
DOUGLAS PRODUCTION LIST
C/n Type Line Regs. . . . . . .
4212 C-47-DL xxx 41-7733 VH-CDM VH-CDI [W/O]
In April 2004, Peter Murray from Townsville advised me that the Townsville City Council were about to start planning for celebrations to mark the 60th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific (VP60) in August 2005. As part of this event a memorial will be unveiled to commemorate the crash of USAAF C-47, #41-7733 into Cleveland Bay near Townsville on 7 August 1943.
Mary Ann Brincks who is related to Corporal Venard Trebon contacted me on 17 September 2003.
I'd like to thank Paul Van Valkenburg, Peter Murray, Peter Armati and Kevin Parkes for their assistance with this home page. I'd also like to thank Charles Gayley from Virginia, USA for tracking down some of the relatives of those who were killed in this tragic accident.
I'd also like to thank Jim McEvoy and Michael Brodie for their assistance with this web page.
"Warpath Across the Pacific", The Unit History of the 345th.
Are you related to one of those who died in this tragic crash?
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 27 January 1999
This page last updated 02 February 2020