CRASH OF A C-47 DAKOTA
OF THE 374TH TRANSPORT GROUP
IN THE MONTO AREA, 65 MILES WEST OF BUNDABERG
ON 21 NOVEMBER 1943
C-47-DL, Dakota, #41-18648, Directorate of Air Transport radio call sign VHCGC, "Star Duster", of the 21 Troop Carrier Squadron, 374th Transport Group, was lost on its final leg from Ward's airfield in New Guinea to Archerfield via Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton on 21 November 1943. It took on 6,700 pounds of cargo in Townsville and mail in Rockhampton. After leaving Rockhampton at 1147K hours, headed for Brisbane, the aircraft disappeared without trace.
The wreckage was located on 21 June 1948 in the Monto area, 65 miles west of Bundaberg at 24.55S by 151.20E by stockman, Mr. F. A. Smith. A total of 13 personnel were killed in this crash. The wreckage was found about six miles north of a property known as Magpie Station in a steep gully between two high hills, in timbered country. Mr. Smith reported the find to Monto Police. The wreckage was identified by an RAAF search officer.
The subsequent investigation revealed that the aircraft had probably disintegrated in mid-air due to turbulent weather. There had a been a severe fire on the ground in the vicinity of the main wreckage. The starboard wing and engine were initially not found. The starboard mainplane and both elevators were eventually located about 1 km from the fuselage. The starboard motor was located 300 to 400 yards from the main wreckage. As there was no damage to nearby trees it was determined that this engine had come adrift in mid air.
Photo:- Fold3 via Daniel Leahy
Australian troops unloading C-47-DL, Dakota, #41-18648, call sign
VHCGC, "Star Duster", of the 21 Troop Carrier Squadron
Bob Piper told me that Keith Rundle (RAAF) had stated in 1948 that the aircraft was carrying 2 vehicle motor engines, 1 kva engine, 3 large cylinders and three small cylinders. He considered quite rightly that these also may have come adrift in the storm. This then accentuated the spin and break up of the aircraft. They may have been trying to dump them out the door when it came adrift?
It was also found that an unknown American (Cpl Peglow) had been onboard the plane when it crashed. He was not recorded on any manifests. Individual identification of personnel was not possible as the remains were badly charred and were scattered over a wide area due to heavy rains and the ravages of dingoes. Some remains and personal effects were recovered from silt in the bed of the gully. The total weight of remains recovered was approximately 50 lbs. Identity discs for Bartlett, Hore, Kerr, Gibson and Peglow were recovered. An identity disc bearing the name Keenan B. Mains (0-310429) and a medal bearing the name Robert H. Barry were also recovered from the crash site. An official report indicated that advice was being awaited from US Authorities as to whether Mains and Barry were also passengers on this flight. The recovered remains were buried at the Bundaberg War Cemetery in group graces A.B.1 - A.B.5 and A.B.10 0 A.B.16.
The original American serial numbers have Australian VH numbers painted over them but time has worn them off leaving the original numbers on display.
The crew were buried at Bundaberg War Cemetery. The American crew consisted of:-
1st Lt. Victor Noah Gibson, pilot
2nd Lt. Michael L. Reitman, co-pilot
S/Sgt. Everett Louis "Bussie" Ahmann, aerial engineer
Cpl. John F. Giugno (or Guigno), radio operator
The passengers were as follows:-
Technician 5th Grade Albert E. Peglow, Jr (from Bay City, Bay County, Michigan)
T/Sgt. Thomas G. Cucciaro
A/Sgt. Hugh John McClean (Australian Army NX151913 - HQ Moresby Base Sub Area)
Sgt. Philip Ernest Nicholls (Australian Army SX6040 Accounts Office QLD L of C)
Gunner Thomas Layton Vinecombe (Australian Army VX37247 - 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft regiment)
Sgt. Jack Ernest Kerr (Australian Army NX125184 - 165 General Transport Company)
Sgt. Albert William Lawrence (Australian Army WX16521 - 2/4 Light Anti Aircraft Regiment RAA)
F/O Frank McLaurin Bartlett (RAAF 265197 - 25 Operational Base Unit)
LAC Hector Richard Hore (RAAF 126243 - 20 Squadron)
One source suggested that there may have been two more US personnel on board. Official reports do not support this.
NOTE:- A military document found in NARA records, dated 29 June 1948, reports on the finding of the wreckage and lists the American crew members as follows which differs from the above. Tech 5th Grade Albert E. Peglow is not listed and there are a number of spelling variations for the other personnel:-
1st Lt. V. Nangibson (sic) 0-791417
2nd Lt. Michale (sic) L. Reiman 0-790587
Cpl. John F. Guign 12030794
S/Sgt. Everett T. Ahmann 1703955
T/r Thomas G. Cucciaro 12060565
Report on the crash
Queensland State Library - Image number: 73425
Funeral for 6 American airmen and
7 Australian service personnel who
died in an accident when C-47-DL, Dakota,
enroute from Rockhampton to Brisbane on 21 November 1943. The funeral was held after the war in Bundaberg. The wreckage was only
found on 21 June 1948 in a gully on Magpie Station, Yarrol, 35 miles from Monto 21 June 1948. This funeral was held 5 July 1948.
Dannielle Denning provided me with the following inscription for Albert E. Peglow from his headstone in the Bundaberg War Cemetery. Dannielle's grandmother was married to Albert E. Peglow at the time of the crash. Albert was travelling to see his newly born daughter, Ann Marie Peglow for the first time:-
Technician 5th Grade
A. E. Peglow
United States Army Air Corps
21st November 1943
In Loving Memory
Details for one of the Australians killed is as follows:-
In Memory of
HECTOR RICHARD HORE
Leading Aircraftman, 126243, Royal Australian Air Force who died on Sunday, 21st November 1943. Age 34.
Son of John Richard and Ester Essie Hore; husband of Katie Margurite Florence Hore, of Bentleigh, Victoria.
Cemetery: BUNDABERG GENERAL CEMETERY, Queensland, Australia
Grave Reference/Panel Number: Plot A. Row B. Coll. grave 1-5. 10-16.
Bob Piper told me that Sgt Hugh McClean was aged 30 and went to the same school as Bob, namely Thornleigh Public School on the outskirts of Sydney. He came from a gifted family (3 children) and attended the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A violin player. His father had built three study rooms in his gardens at Thornleigh for each of the children to study. Bob thinks there may have been a book published on the three gifted children - The Sound of Strings (1975). In late December 2010 - early January 2011, the Thornleigh Historical Society was writing up a project on the McClean children.
Subject: D A T C-47 Starduster
From: springer [email@example.com]
Date: 14 February 2000
How are things going. The plane called "Starduster" was lost between Rockhampton and Archerfield during the war in about 1943 .The original American I.D was 41-118648 but there was a V.H number painted over the numbers on the tail-fin, all I could make out due to the weathering was V H. It was found in the sixties by a ringer on horseback taking a shortcut through a fenced off zamia area. In the wreckage I saw Australian military insignia some 45 ammo an engine block and steel from what looks like a radio antenna. The crew are buried in Bundaberg cemetery. I have photos of the wreckage as well as the "Texas Terror" and "Beautiful Betsy" and I will send you them as soon my scanner arrives. See you later
Shane Springer Walkerston
Subject: Crash of 41-18648
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 11:32:25 +1000
I've just found your site and thought you might find this of interest.
Military air crash of November 20 1943
On 20 November 1943, with five Australians and one American soldier the USAAF C47 #41-18648 call sign VHCGC, of the 21 Troop Carrier Squadron, 374 Troop Carrier Group departed from Port Moresby. It stopped over at Cairns with two RAAF passengers extra. It called in at Townsville where it took on 6,700 pounds of cargo and called at Rockhampton where it took on mail. After leaving Rockhampton the aircraft disappeared without trace.
On 22 June 1948 Mr F.A. Smith found the wreckage of an aircraft about six miles north of a property known as Magpie Station in a steep gully between two high hills, in timbered country and reported the find to Monto Police.
The subsequent investigation revealed that the aircraft had probably disintegrated in midair due to turbulent weather. The starboard wing and engine were never found. It was also found that an unknown American (Cpl Peglow) had been onboard the plane when it crashed, he was not recorded on any manifests.
The bodies of the twelve (actually 13) onboard were buried as unidentified in the Bundaberg War Cemetery.
?Taken from unidentified Newspaper report found on the file of one of those killed.'
Subject: VHCGC (#41-18648)
Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000 22:23:36 -0700
From: Brian Rourke firstname.lastname@example.org
I have some recent pictures of the above (wreck near Monto) . Are you interested in some jpg's of them?? Also there are some moves to recover this wreck for parts, to help make complete a C-47 that is at present at Archerfield. This C-47 will be going to a new museum that is to be set up in Ipswich. Apparently this museum is to be housed in an old hanger that has been removed from Amberly. Did you know that our far sited Gov just sold off the last RAAF DC3's. The director of the new museum wanted one of these as an exhibit....the government would not donate it, instead they auctioned it for $5000.00 (five thousand dollars) Makes ya spit eh!!
Let me know if you want these jpegs.
All the best,
Click on thumbnails below to see full size photos
Under starboard wing
Shane Springer on wheel. Shane visited the site twice in 1985.
Fuselage of C-47 "Star Duster" near Monto in 1985
Rod McLachlan and Ian Bauer with a section of the wing
Wreckage from a distance
Tail plane of "Star Duster" in 1985
Port wing about 1 km from the main wreckage
SOURCE:- Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia
Crash: No. 4
Position: 24.55 - 151.20
Department of Aviation Chart No: 3340
I'd like to thank Tracey Brown, who is a granddaughter of Albert E. Peglow. I'd also like to thank Dannielle Denning, who is the granddaughter of Albert Peglow's wife through her second marriage.
I'd also like to thank Maree Christensen, grand daughter of Corporal Peglow.
I'd also like to thank Bob Livingstone, Gordon Birkett, Bob Piper, Daniel Leahy, Brian Rourke, Kevin Canny and Shane Springer Walkerston for their assistance with this home page.
I'd also like to thank Bob Piper (now deceased) and Daniel Leahy for their assistance with this web page.
The Forgotten Fifth
A Classic Photographic Chronology of the
Fifth Air Force in Action in the Pacific in WW2
By Michael Claringbould
Allied Air Transport Operations
South West Pacific Area WWII
Volume Two:- 1943 - Year of expansion and consolidation
by Robert H. Kelly
"13 Found Dead in 1943 Plane Crash", The Canberra Times, 5 July 1948
"Wartime Plane Crash Victims", The Courier Mail, Brisbane, 3 July 1948
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 14 June 1999
This page last updated 12 Feb 2020