|Pilot 1st Lt. Roy B. Kendrick, O-724626 (KIA, BR)
Crew 1st Lt. Walter B. Packwood, O-435523 (KIA, BR) MS
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Joe F. Compton, O-433521 (KIA, BR) NC
Crew Sgt Chalmers D. Yeilding, 31463144 (WIA, died, BR) Birmingham, AL
Crew SSgt Lee C. Castille, 14058957 (KIA, BR)
Crew Sgt Wendel V. Sokolovic, 12057423 (KIA, BR) NY
Crew SSgt George Sarrat, III, 34079295 (KIA, BR)
Crew Sgt David, C. Constant, 33265823 (KIA, BR) PA
Crew Donald E. McAndrews, 36318118 (KIA, BR) IL
Crew Paul S. Shrives, 35350256 (KIA, BR)
Crashed December 26, 1942
Built by Consolidated at San Diego at a cost of $289,276.00. Delivered to the U. S. Army on August 31, 1942. Next to St. Paul modification center on September 8, 1942 then to Sacramento Air Depot (SAD) on September 26, 1942 then flown to Hamilton Field on October 5, 1942 and departed three days later overseas via Hawaii to Australia arriving on October 10, 1942.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 400th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On December 26, 1942 took off from Iron Range Airfield (Lockhart River) from Gordons runway at approximately 10:00pm on a bombing mission against Rabaul. During take off, this B-24 clipped the trees causing it to crash into the side of the runway narrowly missing one of the anti-aircraft gun emplacements manned by "E" Battery of the 197th Coastal Artillery (AA) Regiment. On impact, the entire crew with the exception of Yeilding was killed in impact and the bomb load aboard exploded causing a large fire.
After the crash, Captain Franklin Allen from the 22nd BG, 19th BS attempted to rescue a survivor who was shouting from the wreckage and managed to rescue Sgt Chalmore Yeilding who was severely injured and later died of his wounds. For his efforts, Allen was later awarded the Soldier's Medal.
After the crash, the wreckage was largely removed or scrapped. During 2006, Michael Musumeci found some remains of this bomber including aluminum wreckage, .50 caliber shells pipes, wiring, and approximately 200 pieces of wreckage.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, nine of the crew as buried at the U. S. Cemetery in Townsville on March 29, 1942 and one buried on Mach 30, 1942. Postwar, the remains of the crew were exhumed and transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Five of the crew are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Packwood at plot B row 1 grave 124. Compton at
plot A grave 44. McAndrews at plot B grave 390. Sokolovic at plot B grave 521.
Yeilding at plot C grave 1368.
Kendrick is buried at Kendrick Cemetery in Denton, TX.
Castille is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Baker, LA. Castille also has a memorial marker at Saint Peters Cemetery in New Iberia, LA.
Constant is buried at Chartiers Cemetery in Carnegie, PA.
Shrives is buried in a private cemetery in Indiana, details unknown.
On ANZAC Day, April 25, 2007 a brass plaque dedicated to the crew of this B-24 was dedicated at Iron Range Airfield (Lockhart River).
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24D Liberator 41-23875
My Stretch in the Service, Volume 1 by Lionel B. Potter [PDF] page 49
"We were to take off right after the 319th and 400th squadrons. The first take-off was at a little after 10 o’clock and 16 B-24’s were to follow at 5 minute intervals. We got down to the strip about 10 o’clock and I was checking over last minute details aboard the ship when I heard an explosion. I feared the worst. I knew it could only be an airplane or a gasoline truck. I ran down to the edge of the take-off strip with the others and heard that ship #2 of the 400th had crashed into the tress on take-off. We got to about 200 yards of the fire when the wing tanks blew up with a spectacular roll of flame, up to 3,000 feet in the air. Next, the bombs, 500 pounders, started going off and we hit for cover, but fast. The concussion when the bombs went off was so terrific that it knocked me flat on my puss... I might mention that Lt. Kendricks was pilot on the ill- fated ship."
Missing Air Crew Report (MARC) 16601
does not list this bomber's serial number and states "Place of casualty: New Guinea area per cable attached". In fact, this bomber crashed at Iron Range Airfield in Australia on take off.
By a process of elimination, this bomber was B-24D 41-23875.
Note, some wartime references incorrectly state this B-24 crashed on December 25, 1943 [sic, 1942].
FindAGrave - Roy B. Kendrick (photo, obituary)
FindAGrave - Chalmers D Yeilding (grave photo)
Lee G Castille
FindAGrave - Lee G Castille (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Sgt Wendel V Sokolovic (grave photo)
FindAGrave - George Sarrat, III
FindAGrave - Walter B Packwood (grave photo)
FindAGrave - David C Constant (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Joe F Compton (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Donald E Mcandrews (grave photo)
Oz@War - 26 December 1942 crash of a B-24 Liberator at Iron Range, QLD incorrectly claims this bomber was B-24 41-11867 "Heavenly Body".
Queensland Airfields WW2 - 50 Years On - Diary of George Coble December 24-26, 1942:
"...On the alert, the day before Christmas - nothing happened. Had a Christmas, what a Christmas for this neck of the woods. Had Church Services December 24 at 7.30. Went off the alert 1600 hours. December 25 had liquor for the boys. What a surprise! Nearly everyone got tight. On December 26 we were told we were able to take off at 2230, (direct, to attack Rabaul - again) had supper at 2100 hours, went to ship (719) taxied out to runway ready for take off. Wet rainy night, the second ship that took off, was right wing heavy and no more than got off the runway than it crashed into the trees. The ship burned, three big explosions from bombs going off. It was terrible, all the crew were killed. One boy lived 1 1/2 hours, these things really get on your nerves. Hope if I get mine it will be like Frandsen, on combat. Command, after the fire asked the pilots if they still wanted to go. Several, including ours, Lt. P.C. Johnson, volunteered. He, our pilot, told us anyone who did not want to go, did not have to. Of course no one backed out, none of this crew will ever back out on Johnson. We took off at 00 hours December 27. Had bad weather all the way over. Flew at 15-17 000' most of the way over. Had to chew oxygen most of the time. No. 2 engine acting up..."
The Sunday Mail October 22, 2006, page 51 - B-24 wreckage at Iron Range
Pete Johnson adds:
"There is no recorded loss of any 90BG on 25 Dec 43. However, the DD/MM coincides with the 25/26-Dec-42 crash of Roy Kendrick’s aircraft at Iron Range. Compare the entries on the IARC for B-24D "Bombs To Nip On" 41-23942 (The Larson “Train Wreck” crash), and that on the IARC of 41-23875. I propose that this is a clerical error (and should read 12-25-42), on both IARCs, almost certainly by the same clerk (given the handwriting), probably as the result of “change of year-itis” a well known phenomenon in manual clerical days."
Thanks to Pete Johnson for additional information
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February 14, 2020