28 JANUARY 1944
CRASH OF A B-25G MITCHELL

AFTER LEAVING TOWNSVILLE, QLD

 

B-25G-1 Mitchell #42-64881 took off at about 11:30am on 28 January 1944 from Garbutt Airfield, in Townsville on a ferry flight to 17 Mile Airfield near Port Moresby in New Guinea. It was carrying a number of passengers including some from the 823rd Bomb Squadron, of the 38th Bomb Group. The B-25 Mitchell failed to arrive at 17 Mile Airfield and was never heard from again. It was presumed to have been lost somewhere in the Coral Sea between Townsville and Port Moresby. There was a heavy weather front between Australia and New Guinea at the time.

Those missing and presumed dead were as follows:-

1st Lt. Donald T. Renshaw 0-796885 - Pilot
2nd Lt. Jesus P. Badia 0-678139 - Co-pilot
1st. Lt. Justus W. Bachman 0-671252 - Navigator
S/Sgt. Charles Donald Plageman 33221034 - Radio Gunner
T/Sgt. Norman L. Nelson 17018599 - Crew Chief
1st Lt. Calhoun P. Narten 0-795435 - Passenger
Sgt. William D'Elia 32418978 - Passenger
Capt. James F. Coleman 0174067 - Passenger, HQs USASOS
1st Lt. John L. Youngblood 0-1647816 - Passenger, 832nd Signal Service Co.
1st Lt. Jack E. Thomas 0-659606 - Passenger, 440th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group
S/Sgt. Wilfred H. Chretien, Jr 6149635 - Passenger, 11th Service Squadron, 8th Service Group

Chris Guest from Richmond, Virginia, USA told me about his great-uncle, Charles Donald Plageman, who was with the 823rd squadron, 38th Bomb Group. He disappeared when he went with a crew to pick up a new B-25G in Townsville, Australia. He had flown 29 missions at the time he was killed.

This is the report filed on his flight :

"B25G-1, number 42-64881 was received from the 4th Air Depot Group, Townsville for transfer to 38th Bomb Group. Took off from Garbutt Field, Townsville for Durand Field, Port Moresby at 11:30 January 28,1944. Plane never reached destination. A radio check of all fields in Australia and New Guinea within range failed to reveal 881's whereabouts. Radio message requesting crew and passenger list was sent to Base Operations, Garbutt Field, was received and answered, but message was garbled. Another radio message was sent requesting written crew and passenger list to be sent Safe Hand Courier, answer not yet received.

Rescue Service, Advance Echelon Fifth Air Force, APO 929 was immediately notified. Extent of Rescue Service search unknown. Aircraft of 38th Bomb Group made intensive search of sea and coast with 100 miles range of Port Moresby. Aircraft of 38th Bomb Group enroute to Townsville for modification reported sighting possible wreckage 97 miles south of Port Moresby. Other aircraft of 38th Group made intensive search of this area. While searching this area, plane 42-64810 is also missing. Search for both planes continuing."

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

 

SOURCE:-   Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia

Crash:         No. 22

Position:     19.15 - 146.46

Department of Aviation Chart No:       3219

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Chris Guest for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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This page first produced 23 January 1999

This page last updated 01 February 2019