CRASH OF A B-24 LIBERATOR
AT CUNDERDIN, WA
ON 14 FEBRUARY 1945

 

On 6 February 1945, a German U Boat, U-862, sunk the motor vessel "Peter Silvester" off the Western Australian coast.

B-24L Liberator,  A72-124, ex USAAF No. #44-41657, of 25 Squadron RAAF, piloted by Flying Officer F.L. Hannah, was setting out on a third search for survivors, when it crashed during takeoff into the south west from Cunderdin airfield in Western Australia at 0604 hours on 14 February 1945. As the aircraft reached only 30 feet it started to drop back to the ground. It hit the ground 3 times and skidded through a fence about 800 feet from the end of the strip and exploded.

 


Photo:- Bob Livingstone Collection

Remains of B-24L Liberator A72-124

 

Five crew members were killed in the subsequent fire which burnt furiously when the full fuel load ignited. The topped-up bomb bay tanks (600 gallons) also feed the fire. "Clarrie" Taylor, an ex member of 460 Squadron, survived this tragic crash. 

Those killed were:-

Sgt. Francis Joseph Naughton (449767), Air Gunner
Sgt. Roy Higginbottom (8503), Air Gunner
Sgt. Kenneth William Uhr (433831), WOAG
Sgt. Charles Ronald Taylor (41804), WOA/E
F/Sgt. Brian John Troy Johnson (444015), Bombardier

The pilot, F/O Francis Leo Hannah (405177), suffered shock as a result of the accident. The other injured crew members were as follows:-

F/Sgt Francis Gregory Coman (426953), Co-pilot
Sgt. K.G. Leroy, Air Gunner (possibly George Keith Leroy (440793)
F/O Claremont Logie Taylor (405237), Navigator (nickname "Clarrie")
F/Sgt. Campbell Edward Earle Verey (424238), WOAG
Sgt. Bernard McTernan (426144), Flight Engineer

The cause of the crash was unknown although one private theory was that the squadron had an absolute minimum of training flights.

The funeral for the 5 crew members killed took place at Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth, Western Australia on 15 February 1945.

A72-124 had been delivered to the RAAF on 3 December 1944.

Cunderdin airfield has two bitumen runways. Off the end of one of the runways are the remains of A72-124.

"Clarrie" Taylor, a survivor of the crash, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the 2003 Cunderdin Air Show to commemorate this tragic incident.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bob Livingstone for his assistance with this web page.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Tocumwal to Tarakan"
"Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator"
By Michael V. Nelmes

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 12 September 1945

This page last updated 30 August 2015