FORCE-LANDING OF A B-17E FLYING FORTRESS
ON THE WEST SIDE OF CAPE YORK

ON 6 JULY 1942

 

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B17-E Flying Fortress

 

On 6 July 1942, B-17E Flying Fortress, #41-2417, "Monkey Biz-ness", of the 19th Bomb Group, piloted by a Mr. Thompson, made a forced landing on the west side of Cape York about 15 miles north east of the Mitchell River Mission. It crash landed on Umbaladey Station near Shelfo.

It was later salvaged. The recovery effort of the crashed landed B-17 Flying Fortress involved a dozen or so men, and several trucks and trailer equipment that were loaded onto a train at Charters Towers. They de-trained at the Mungana terminus and set off through Wrotham Park some 350 km NW down the Mitchell River. Written accounts of the recovery appear in Unit re-union booklets and letters from veteran participants and an envelope of 57 small b&w photos taken during the excursion that Roger Marks were offered to the Kowanyama Heritage Museum. The B-17 was repaired and all excess weight including gun turrets were removed and it took off in September 1942 from an improvised cleared runway.

 

B-17E Flying Fortress, #41-2417, "Monkey Biz-ness" awaiting recovery

 

Recovery crew on top of the stranded B-17E "Monkey Biz-ness"

 

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2147 "Monkey Biz-ness" taking
 off from the improvised runway after being repaired.

 

B-17E Flying Fortress "Monkey Biz-ness" was originally delivered to Salt Lake City on 19 Jan 1941. It was initially assigned to the 19th Bomb Group at Hawaii. Three B-17's piloted by Maj. Kenneth B. Hobson, Lts. Jack W. Hughes and Clarence E. McPherson (#41-2417) completed the first flight from Hawaii to Java via Australia via the unfinished South Pacific route by 12 January 1942. #41-2417 arrived in Java on 19 February 1942 and was transferred to Project X on 26 December 1942.

 

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Squadron Leader Dick Atkinson
March 1943 in Cairns

 

"Catalina Squadrons - First and Furthest" by Jack Riddell describes a search mission on 7 July 1942 by Catalina A24-14, captained by Squadron Leader Dick Atkinson, with 2nd Pilot, P/O Dunham. They were looking for a missing B-17 Flying Fortress which was eventually found at Mitchell River on the Gulf of Carpentaria. Supplies were dropped and the aircraft's position reported. The Catalina then landed at the mouth of the Mitchell River, had dinner, saw some crocodiles, and flew back above the downed B-17 and dropped them a note to advise of the rescue party.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

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

By Michael Claringbould

"Catalina Squadrons - First and Furthest"
"Recounting the Operations of RAAF Catalinas"
"May 1941 to March 1943"
By Jack Riddell

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Roger Marks and Paul McMillan for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 12 June 1999

This page last updated 28 November 2020