21 APRIL 1942


A B-26 Marauder, aircraft #40-1419 of 2nd Bomb  Squadron of the 22nd Bombardment Group, USAAF, ditched into the sea off Palm Island near Townsville, on 21 April 1942 en route from Port Moresby to Garbutt Field, Australia.  The aircraft developed engine trouble and crashed into the sea. Flying Officer Floyd (RAAF), a passenger, was the sole survivor. Those killed were:-

1st Lt. Arthur E. Wentzel 0-408874 pilot
2nd Lt. William A. Lazenby 0-420607 co-pilot
2nd Lt. Carl L. Hansing 0-434901 navigator
Pfc. Raymond E. Hoag 13005280 bombardier
Pfc. Hyman W. Ostroff 7024587 radio operator
Pfc. Norman B. Musgrave 13010026 engineer
Pfc. Dallas W. Keefe 14029421 gunner

Spellings above confirmed from American Battle Monuments Commission web page

Another seven B-26's from the 22nd Bomb Group were lost in Australia during March/April/May of 1942.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science has located a WW2 bomber wreck at Robbery Shoals, Rib Reef about 30 kms north east of Palm Island in north Queensland. Could it be the wreckage of B-26 Marauder #40-1419 perhaps?


NOTE:- Another source incorrectly shows this B-26 Marauder as being from the 408th Bomb Squadron. The above US personnel are all shown as being with the 2nd Bomb Squadron on the American Battle Monuments Commission web page.

Looking at the WWII Nominal Roll for the surname Floyd, provided the following two possibilities for the RAAF passenger who survived this crash off Palm Island:-

F/Lt Arthur Leonard Floyd (1028)
F/Lt John Hulme Aylmer Floyd (033055)



The News-Sentinel, Wednesday, May 27, 1942 (Fulton County, Indiana)

Arthur Wentzel, 23, graduate of the Leiters Ford high school, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wentzel, Route 3, Rochester, who has been reported missing from the Far-East theatre of war since April 21st. Arthur, according to the last letter received from him by his parents, was chief pilot of one of the large type U.S. bombers, which carried a 7-man crew. he was stationed at an Australian airbase and it is believed he was lost or captured in action in the air and naval battles of the Coral sea. Other than the brief message that their son was on the missing list the Wentzels have received no further information from the War Department.


The News-Sentinel, Thursday, June 11, 1942 (Fulton County, Indiana)

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wentzel, of near Leiters Ford, are in receipt of a letter sent them by the parents of Lieut. Charles Hitchcock, of Winchester, Ind., which indicates that Lieut. Arthur Wentzel of the U. S. Aviation Corps, may have lost his life in aerial action in the Far East theatre of war.

Lieut. Hitchcock, also of the U. S.-Australian air force, had been a companion of Wentzel's throughout practically all of their aviation training at Indianapolis, Patterson Field, Hickam field, Hawaii, and active service in Australia. The two Hoosier aviators were members of the same bombing squadron at both the Hawaiian and Australian bases.

May Have Crashed In Sea

An excerpt from Lieut. Hitchcock's letter to his parents at Winchester reads:

"I sure would like to be back in the States again, this Australia is so dead and old-fashioned that you can't have fun or anything. I have been on several missions and had some fun out of it, but most of it is hard work. I had a hard blow to take when we lost Art (Wentzel) last month.

"He was pretty well shot up and tried to return but failed to make it. We don't know just what happened to him, probably ran out of gas and went into the ocean. It's just one of those things we have to expect, I guess. Only I don't see why it had to happen to Art."

Mr. and Mrs. Wentzel on Monday of this week, received a letter from their missing son, which was post-marked April 22nd, 1942, from an Australian air base. The letter was of a personal nature and contained no information of a military nature.

Other than the formal notice announcing that Lieut. Arthur Wentzel was missing in action from an aerial engagement in the Far East, the Wentzels have received no further word from the War Department.



The Forgotten Fifth
A Classic Photographic Chronology of the
Fifth Air Force in Action in the Pacific in WW2

by Michael Claringbould



I'd like to thank Robin Krause and Pete Johnston for their assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 20 September 1998

This page last updated 06 August 2018