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380th BG c1943
380th BG Aug 14, 1943
380th BG Aug-Sept 1943
Bob McDonnell 1990
|Pilot 1st Lt. Douglas S. Craig (survived)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert L. Jackson (survived)
Navigator 2nd Lt. John B. Nash (survived)
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Randall R. Packard (survived)
Engineer TSgt Louis D. Joseph (survived)
Radio TSgt Rupert J. Daugherty, Jr. (survived)
Gunner TSgt Vernon A. Krout (survived)
Gunner TSgt William F. Klenn (survived)
Armourer/Gunner TSgt Maurice Powers (WIA, survived)
Photographer F/O. Henry R. Ruston, RAAF (survived) London, England / Perth, WA
Force Landed August 14, 1943
Accepted by the US Army on February 19, 1943. On March 6, 1943 arrived at the Fort Worth modification. Afterwards, to Topeka as a staging area before flying to Hamilton Field. Flown overseas to Australia arriving at Amberly Field near Brisbane.
This B-24 flew a familiarization mission with the 90th Bombardment Group, 319th Bombardment Squadron prior to joining the 380th Bombardment Group.
First combat mission "FEN I-34" on June 10, 1943 took off from Fenton Airfield piloted by Colleran (529th Bomb Squadron) with the Craig crew a bombing mission against shipping off Sorong. Over the target, this bomber was damaged by anti-aircraft fire.
Second combat mission was "FEN I-50" on June 11, 1943 took off from Fenton Airfield on a reconnaissance mission over Koepang piloted by Colleran (528th BS) with Grenfel crew. The same day flew combat mission FEN-I-51 a search mission for a missing B-24.
Over the target, "Shady Lady" was the last bomber to arrive over the target and photograph the results. Returning, the bomber encountered thunderstorms blowing the bomber off course and forced the crew to overfly Timor and were intercepted by two enemy fighters that attacked for over two hours and most of the machine guns were inoperative. Evading the fighters also consumed precious fuel.
Low on fuel on August 14, 1943 at 9:45am after a 16 hours and 35 minutes airborne, this B-24 force landed onto a salt flat near Drysdale Mission. During the landing, the nose gear collapsed and nose turret fell off. The crew was unhurt, aside from Australian Ruston who suffered minor wounds.
Fates of the Crew
Meanwhile, a rescue and salvage party use the Drysdale mission lugger, Teresita Moa (Little Flower) was piloted by Father Seraphim Sanz with four RAAF personnel from Drysdale Airfield plus two US Army engineers and five Aboriginals traveled down river to the crash site and transported the crew to Pago Pago Airfield on Napier Broome Bay. From there, the crew was transported aboard a truck to Drysdale.
During the repairs, Yank Magazine artist Sgt. Charles Pearson visited bomber and sketched the scene. Cpl Eugene Halaas from the 43rd Service Squadron also took film footage.
On September 9, 1943 twenty-seven days after the crash landing, the repaired bomber took off using a 1,800' cleared area on the salt flat and safely landed back at Fenton Airfield. Afterwards, flown to Garbutt Field near Townsville. Despite the extensive efforts to repair the bomber on site, "Shady Lady" was salvaged for parts then scrapped. Officially, this bomber was written off the day of the crash landing, August 14, 1943.
Stan Gajda adds:
Reportedly, parts of this aircraft were used in a B-24 restoration (unknown if wartime or recently).
On August 14, 2011 Mrs. Alice Craig, the wife of pilot Douglas Craig who died in 1998 visited the crash site and dedicated a memorial plaque to the crew.
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