Crash of B-17C-BO-40-2072 at Bakers Creek near Mackay, QLD 14 June 1943Ba

Discussion in '317th TCG' started by 25Kingman49, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    This incident was brought to my attention by a friend in Illinois who was acquainted with the cousin of 1st Lt Vern J Gidcumb, Jr., pilot of this ill fated flight. We are more than a month past the anniversary of this tragedy but this was a new story to me and seemed worth shearing with members here.

    The crash of B-17C, 40-2072 remains one of the worst air disasters in Australian aviation history. As a result of war time censorship little about this disaster was released to the public or even families of those killed. This crash resulted in 40 servicemen being killed, with only 1 survivor, and remained classified even after the war. In 1945/46 a postwar (extremely incomplete, only listing 32 casualties) 7 page MACR 15548 was created available starting here https://www.fold3.com/image/47348642 for those with fold3 access

    This Fort was one of the few 19BG survivors of the Jap attack 8 December 1941 and subsequent attacks on Clark Field, Luzon, P.I.. Having become war weary, i.e.; On December 24, 1941 while returning from a bombing mission, this B-17 dove from 20,000' to 12,000'. When it pulled out of the dive, the wing flexed causing permanent structural damage but landed safely in Australia. Afterwards, according to crew chief Del Sparrow, both wingtips were a foot higher than normal. Repairs were attempted but the damage was structural. On 25 December 1941 the ship was declared not combat worthy, All armament and flooring were removed, converting the ship into a transport, initially assigned to the 21TCS, 374TCG, 5th Air Force, later assigned to the 46TCS, 317TCG, 5th Air Force, based at Mackay Air Field, Queensland. 317TCG brief bio http://www.historyofwar.org/air/units/USAAF/317th_Troop_Carrier_Group.html

    There are many web sites which discuss this 40-2072 tragedy perhaps the best here http://www.ozatwar.com/ozcrashes/qld46.htm offering photos of 40-2072 as “Pamela” and crash site images.

    B-17C-BO-40-2072 (VHCBA) 'Pamela', port front photo while serving with the 21TCS, 374TCG
    B-17C-BO-40-2072 (VHCBA) 'Pamela' (a).jpg
    Photo courtesy Gordon Birkett

    B-17C-BO-40-2072 (VHCBA) 'Pamela', port aft view
    B-17C-BO-40-2072 (VHCBA) 'Pamela' (b).jpg
    Photo courtesy Gordon Birkett

    Others sites:
    https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-17/40-2072.html (appears to have some aircraft timeline inaccuracies)
    http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww2/display/90455-bakers-creek-air-crash-memorial
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/11/AR2009061103982.html
    Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakers_Creek_air_crash
    Publication https://www.amazon.com/Mackays-Flying-Fortress-Remembering-Australias/dp/1876780274

    1st Lt Vern Joseph "Jimmy" Gidcumb, Jr., O-660743, pilot of 40-2072; findagrave https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=138723377
    List of 40-2072 "Miss Every Morning Fix'n" (or "Miss E.M.F"), casualties https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-17/40-2072/crew-list.html
    The lone survivor Foye Kenneth Roberts passes 4 February 2004; findagrave https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=20426586

    Overview close-up map for 40-2072 takeoff & crash site Bakers Creek; coordinates -21.212861, 149.150347 (currently Thomas Borthwick & Sons, meat processing facility), roughly 3.5 miles southwest of Mackey Field.
    Overview close-up map for 40-2072 takeoff & crash site Bakers Creek.jpg
    Overview map 40-2072 intended destination to Port Moresby, 7 mile Airdrome 14 June 1943, about 826 miles north/northwest of Mackey Field, Queensland.
    Overview map 40-2072 intended destination at Port Moresby.jpg

    In Memory, Never Forgotten...

    RANK NAME UNIT BURIAL SITE LOC
    Pfc Jerome Abraham 49th Fighter Grp, HQ Sqn Riverside Memorial Park unit 9, Jacksonville, FL

    Capt BERTHOLD, John O. 49th Fighter Grp, 8th Fighter Sqn Woodlawn National Cemetery, plot B, site 3012, Elmira, NY

    T/5 BRIGGS, William A. 478th Service Sqn, 1037th Signals National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Sgt BUSSE, Dean H. 35th Fighter Grp, 40th Fighter Sqn, Hillside Cemetery, Julesburg, CO x
    T/Sgt COPELAND, James A. 8th Service Grp, HQ Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Sgt CUNNINGHAM, Carl A. 49th Fighter Grp, 8th Fighter Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    S/Sgt CURTIS, Lovell Dale (Crew Chief) 317th Troop Carrier Grp, 46th Troop Carrier Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    T/5 EHRMAN, George A. 5th Fighter Command, Signal HQ Company Golden Gate National Cemetery x

    F/O ERB, William C. (Co-Pilot) 317th Troop Carrier Grp, 46th Troop Carrier Sqn CALIFORNIA

    Pvt FINNEY, James E. 27th Depot Repair Sqn PENNSYLVANIA

    Sgt FLETCHER, Leo E. 38th Bombardment Grp, 405th Bombardment Sqn KENTUCKY

    T/Sgt FREZZA, Alfred H. 27th Depot Repair Sqn PENNSYLVANIA (Altoona?)

    1/Lt Vern J. Gidcumb (Pilot) 317th TCG, 46th TCS IL

    Pfc GOETZ, Norman J. 480th Service Sqn IL

    S/Sgt HATLEN, Roy A. 35th Fighter Grp, 40th Fighter Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    S/Sgt HILSHEIMER, John W. 35th Fighter Grp, 40th Fighter Sqn Unknown (Arlington indicated in records but is not buried there)

    Pfc JOHNSON, Vernon 440th Signal Battalion, Company A National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Sgt KYPER, Donald B. 38th Bombardment Grp, 405th Bombardment Sqn PENNSYLVANIA, Riverview Cemetery, Huntingdon x

    Sgt LaRUE, Charlie O. 49th Fighter Grp, 8th Fighter Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Pvt LONGABAUGH, Raymond D. 842nd Aviation Engineer Battalion National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Pfc MANN, Kenneth W. 36th Service Grp, 374th Service Sqn Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery

    Cpl METZGER, Marlin D. 374th Troop Carrier Grp, 6th Troop Carrier Sqn NEBRASKA, Hillcrest Cemetery, Omaha

    Pvt MONTGOMERY, Charles D. 49th Fighter Grp, 7th Fighter Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    2/Lt OGREN, Jack A. (Navigator) 317th Troop Carrier Grp, 46th Troop Carrier Sqn Unsure - thought to be OHIO (No Army records)

    Pfc PARKER, John W. 809th Chemical Company SOUTH CAROLINA

    Pfc PENSKA, Frank S. 374th Troop Carrier Grp, 6th Troop Carrier Sqn MONTGOMERY, Charles D. x

    Maj POWELL, George N. 49th Fighter Grp, HQ Sqn Arlington National Cemetery x

    Sgt RUDNICK, Anthony 565th Signal Battalion, Company A NEW JERSEY, Beverly National Cemetery, Beverly

    Cpl SAMPSON, Charles W. 8th Service Grp, 11th Service Sqn NEW YORK

    Pfc SEIDEL, Arnold 5th Air Force, 415th Signal Company MINNESOTA, Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Sth Minneapolis

    Cpl SKAGGS, Jacob O., Jr. 27th Depot Repair Sqn OKLAHOMA x

    Cpl SMITH, Franklin F. 38th BG, 405th BS National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Cpl SMITH, Raymond H. 35th Fighter Grp, 40th Fighter Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Pfc SWEET, Frederick C. 481st Service Sqn, 46th Ordinance Company MICHIGAN

    Cpl TENNY, Edward 479th Service Sqn WEST VIRGINIA, Big Bend Cemetery, Upshur County

    Sgt TILESTON, David E. (Radio) 317th Troop Carrier Grp, 46th Troop Carrier Sqn National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) x

    Pfc Van FOSSON, Dale 8th Service Grp, 1160th Quartermaster Company WEST VIRGINIA, Grafton National Cemetery, Grafton

    Pvt VAUGHN, Ruben L. 5th Fighter Command, HQ Sqn TEXAS

    S/Sgt WHELCHEL, Frank E. (Crew Chief) 374th Troop Carrier Grp, 22nd Troop Carrier Sqn GEORGIA, Lyons City Cemetery, Lyons

    Pfc WILLIAMS, Charles M. 455th Service Sqn MISSOURI

    Listing courtesy Pacific Wrecks
     

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    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017

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