9 MARCH 1943



B-26 Marauder, #40-1480, "Thunderbird", of the 2nd Bomb Squadron, 22nd Bomb Group, crashed a couple of miles away from Woodstock in north Queensland on 9 March 1943. They had used more fuel than anticipated and had run out of fuel during a training flight out of Reid River Airfield. The pilot, Captain Harry O. Patteson, tried to make it to Woodstock Airfield but the B-26 crashed into some trees ending up on its nose with the rear fuselage and tail severed.

Sergeant Emil H. Ereckson 18069544, the Bombardier, later died at the scene from head injuries after he fell about 10 feet out of the tail section after the crash. The rescue team did not arrive at the scene until the next morning. Sgt. Ereckson was initially buried at the Townsville US Cemetery on 31 March 1943, some three weeks after the crash. He was later disinterred and reburied in the USAF Military Cemetery at Ipswich on 19 July 1945.

On April 4, 1943 Jim Houston entered into his diary "Capt Patterson crashed last month". 

Captain Harry Patterson was returning from a training flight from Reid River. He buzzed Reid River Airfield, but did not return. By late evening, the authorities at Reid River realised that the B-26 must have crashed.

Apparently the left engine stopped. Patterson feathered the engine, but then the other engine also stopped. He made a crash landing in the bush. Parties from Reid River with flashlights searched almost all night for the crash site. 

The navigator left the crash site, and proceeded north. He came to a Hospital, and gave the news that there had been a crash. 

A Local Australian bushman was called into to assist with the search. He questioned the navigator about what landmarks he had passed on his way to the Hospital. They got a couple Jeeps with the bushman on the hood and started looking. The bushman directed them to a point and said that they were where the plane should be. They fired a flare, and another was fired within 50 yards of them. 

Jack Houston went there early the next day and took the following pictures. One of the photos shows the trees that were clipped off as the B-26 ploughed through them.

The tail section broke off when the plane tipped over and up against the tree. One crew member was riding in the tail section behind the camera hatch, and was killed when the tail broke off and he was thrown to the ground. Captain Patterson received a cut on his forehead. The rest of the crew were O.K.

Harry Patterson told his friends the next day that right after he buzzed the field, one engine quit. He feathered it, and then the other engine quit. All that was in front of him was trees, so he did not try to use the landing gear. 


Crash of B-26 Marauder #40-1480 "Thunderbird"
near Woodstock, on 9 March 1943


Photo:- Gordon Birkett Collection

Crash of B-26 Marauder #40-1480 "Thunderbird"
near Woodstock, on 9 March 1943


Crash of B-26 Marauder #40-1480 "Thunderbird"
near Woodstock, on 9 March 1943


Crash of B-26 Marauder #40-1480 "Thunderbird"
near Woodstock, on 9 March 1943


Note:- I originally had this crash shown as B-26 Marauder, #40-1392, "Old Timer", of 2nd Squadron, 22nd Bomb Group, piloted by Captain Harry O. Patterson crashing near Reid River Airfield. Appendix II of "Revenge of the Red Raiders" shows it as B-26 Marauder #40-1480 "Thunderbird". Reid River Airfield and Woodstock Airfield are only about 8 1/2 miles away from each other.



"Revenge of the Red Raiders - The Illustrated History of the 22nd Bombardment Group during World War II" by Walt Gaylor, Don L. Evans, Harry A. Nelson, and Lawrence J. Hickey - Appendix II

Red Raiders Web Site

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
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



I'd like to thank Gordon Birkett for his assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 13 June 1999

This page last updated 14 December 2023