CRASH OF A C-56 LODESTAR
BETWEEN TOWNSVILLE AND COOKTOWN
ON 14 JULY 1942
At about 10:05am on 14 July 1942, C-56 Lockheed L-18-40-11 Lodestar, VH-CAD, #42-68350, of the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 374th Troop Carrier Group went missing on a flight between Townsville and Cooktown enroute to New Guinea after going into a cloud bank at 300 feet. The aircraft had earlier left Essendon Airfield in Melbourne on 9 July 1942 on its long journey to Port Moresby in New Guinea. The C-56, VH-CAD was previously RNEIAF LT9-14, c/n 18-2109.
At the time it disappeared, there was a low ceiling with overcast up to 12,000 feet. The C-56 carried a crew of three and one passenger as follows:-
Pilot, 2nd Lt Robert Lee Davis, 0-431395 (Silver Star)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Harry P. Forry, 0-430579
T/Sgt Jack H. Dorsett, 6293489
Pvt Robert E. Taylor, 14033787 - Passenger, member of 405th Bomb Squadron, 38th Bomb Group
Private Robert E. Taylor was on detached service with the 22nd Transport Squadron at the time he went missing.
This was the first loss for the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron.
The following personnel were the last to see the C-56 before it disappeared:-
1st Lt. T.S. Greene
2nd Lt. D.E. Kendall
S/Sgt W.V. Porter
S/Sgt J.L. Gregg
Four PBY-5 Catalinas for 11 Squadron RAAF based in Cairns carried out a search on 15 July 1942 around the Cairns area, along the coast north to Lizard Island and along the outer reefs. Mountains over 4,000 feet were not searched dye to the heavy cloud cover. That same afternoon three Wirraways from 24 Squadron searched the coast between Townsville and Cooktown. Their search was hampered by low heavy cumulus cloud s down to 2,000 feet covering the mountains. On 15 July 1942, a B-17 Flying Fortress from the 435th Bomb Squadron left Townsville at 0300 Z hours and searched the coast to 10 miles north of Cooktown. It then returned on a route 7 miles inland. Small islands along the coast were searched but no traces of the aircraft or crew were found. Three Wirraways from 24 Squadron repeated their search pattern on 16 July 1942, again without success.
The aircraft's normal route would have been near the east coast of north Queensland and it was concluded that the aircraft either crashed or was forced down on the land or sea in an area under the control of friendly forces between Townsville and Tully.
A separate official report date 6 August 1943 stated as follows:-
a. Personnel referred to departed APO 924 on 9 July, 1942
b. Departed APO 922 in Flight L-5, 1007 $ 14 July, 1942, en route to APO 929 via Cooktown for refuelling.
c. Plane is believed to have gone down between APO 922 and Lully.
d. Upon failure to arrive at final destination, several other aircraft and crew were sent out as searching parties, but discovered no trace of teh missing airplane or its crew, nor have they been located subsequently.
Note:- The following are location for the Army Post Office numbers mentioned above:-
APO 924 = Melbourne
APO 922 = Townsville
APO 929 = Port Moresby, New Guinea
Via Patti ?
2nd Lt Harry Paul Forry
USAAF Missing Aircrew Report #16488
Robert L. Davis - ETVMA.org
"Allied Air Transport Operations South West Pacific Area in WWII - Volume One, Development of air transport 1903 - 1943" by Robert H. Kelly"
"NEI Aircraft in Australia" by Jos Heyman
"History of the Directorate of Air Transport, Allied Air Force South West Pacific Area, and the 332nd Troop Carrier Wing" by Major William H. Carleton U.S.A.A.F.
I'd like to thank Robert Piper, Bob Livingstone and Daniel Leahy for their assistance with this web page.
I'd also like to thank Patti Johnson for her assistance with this web page. Patti is working on a project for the Hershey Industrial School, in Pennsylvania, (founded by Milton Hershey, of the Hershey CHOCOLATE fame). Patti is looking for more info on the hows and whys for their WWII ALUMNI members who Died in Service or were Killed In Action. There are about 40 of them.
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 14 October 2018
This page last updated 02 February 2020