CRASH OF A C-53-D-O DOUGLAS
ON A BEACH NEAR CAPE LONDONDERRY,
VANSITTART BAY
400 MILES NORTH OF BROOME
ON 26 FEBRUARY 1942

 

Wreckage of a USAAF C-53-D-O Douglas DC-3 #41-20066 (VH-CDW), of the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron, 374th Troop Carrier Group, was located on a beach near Cape Londonderry, Vansittart Bay, about 400 miles north east of Broome. It went missing on 26 February 1942. It was on a Ferry flight from Perth to Darwin. They were meant to land at Broome but flew past Broome in the dark and ran out of fuel. They made a wheels up forced landing on the coastline. It landed in soft ground and tipped onto its nose. The reasonably intact wreck is still there today. It was located only about 5.55 miles south west of the future site of the secret Truscott Airfield.

Crew
Pilot 2nd Lt Ray Van Diver ASN O-413540 (Ex 88th RS, 7th BG)
Co-pilot Mel Lewis
Flight Engineer Sgt Buck Lambert
Radio Operator Cpl Mal Scharp

Passengers
David Campbell
Jack Lyons of PMG for Darwin communication repairs.

David Donald Ian Campbell and his mate Jack Lyons who were in the Australian Army reserve, were passengers on this aircraft. They both worked as telegraphists in the PMG in Western Australia at the time. David Campbell later joined the RAAF. They were on their way to Darwin to work as with an Army Signals unit.

They were marooned on the beach for a couple of days. They used some pipes off the the aircraft to distil drinking water from salt water.

Daniel Leahy advised that Qantas Short Empire S.23 flying boat "Corinthian" was involved in the rescue of the crew and passengers. Phil Vabre confirmed for me that Orm Denny, piloted "Corinthian" for that rescue on 1 March 1942.

A day or so after the forced landing, two Japanese reconnaissance aircraft flew over the crash site and spotted the aircraft wreck and kept flying. Two days later Broome was bombed.

 


Photo:- Donald Bainbridge

Photo of the wreckage on 25 July 2006

 

The wreckage of this aircraft can still be seen on Google Earth.  14 7.692'S, 126 18.564'E.

 


Photo:- Dr Tom Lewis (Military Historian) 3 July 2018

Military Historian, Dr Tom Lewis visited the crash site on 3 July 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 


Photo:- Barry Chant August 2018

 

 

Note:- Another source has indicated that this aircraft may have been coded as VH-UGY.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Barry Chant, Dr. Tom Lewis, Daniel Leahy, Phil Vabre, Graham Campbell and Donald Bainbridge 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 September 2000

This page last updated 10 August 2018