Justin Taylan 2000
|Pilot 2nd Lt. George W. Vandervort, O-662204 (MIA / KIA November 10, 1942 / BNR) Portsmouth, OH
Engineer Sgt Steven J. Pitch, 33118721 (died November 10, 1942, BR) PA
Radio Sgt George R. Kershner, 35267797 (survived) Dayton, OH
Chaplain Capt Theodore "Ted" W. Barron, O-31196 (died December 29, 1942, BR) OR
Passenger Sgt James M. Verstay, 20633547 (died November 10, 1942, BR) MI
Passenger Pvt Vernon R. Moak, 39304877 (died November 10, 1942, BR) OR
Passenger Pvt Charles W. Raddatz, 37139035 (died November 10, 1942, BR) NB
Passenger Pvt Charles I. Stokes, 37139199 (died November 10, 1942, BR) NB
Passenger Pvt Margarito Padilla, 38070304 (died November 10, 1942, BR) NM
Passenger Pvt Carlos D. Failing, 126th Inf. Reg., E Company (MIA / KIA November 17, 1942, BNR) MI
Passenger Pfc Gerald M. Grove, 37111466 (MIA / KIA November 17, 1942, drowned, BNR) Iowa
Passenger PFC Frank A. Thomas, Jr., 37139278 (survived) Tilden, NE
Passenger PVT Duane R. Butler, 36154720 (survived) MI
Passenger Sgt Edward K. Holleman, 36155513 (survived) Hudsonville, MI
Passenger Pvt Floyd L. August, 37139105 (survived) Dorchester, NE
Passenger Pvt John W. Mobley, 39085305 (survived) Oakland, CA
Passenger Tec5 Lawrence E. Peterson, 36308327 (died December 29, 1942, BR) IL
Passenger Pvt John J. Bellus, 27139313 (died December 29, 1942, BR)
Passenger Pfc Malvern E. Patton, 39382982 (died December 29, 1942, BR) Dayton, WA
Passenger Pvt Theodore Romero, 39083083 (died December 29, 1942, BR) CO
Passenger Pfc William L. Smith, 38083372 (died December 29, 1942, BR) CO
Passenger Pvt Martin J. Brandon, 20636075 (died December 29, 1942, BR) MI
Passenger Pvt Antonio T. Montes, 38070252 (died December 29, 1942, BR) AZ
Crashed November 10, 1942 at 1:30pm
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 4689. Delivered to the U.S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Flying Dutchman" in yellow with a black outline and the nose art of a Dutch clog shoe with wings. Assigned Australian call sign VH-CCU. Nose number (buzz number) 564. The regular flight crew included pilot George W. Vandervort and co-pilot S/Sgt John J. Gerrity. When lost, this C-47 was the 33rd Troop Carrier Squadron's first wartime loss.
On November 10, 1942 took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards Drome) near Port Moresby to deliver supplies and troops from the 32nd Infantry Division, 126th Infantry Regiment bound for Pongani Airfield. During the flight, this aircraft became caught in a severe downdraft and crashed into Mount
Obree at 9,000' into a flat area.
of the Crew
Of the twenty-three aboard, seventeen survived
the crash. Many had serious injuries and burn, and died afterwards waiting
for help. Others were not injured at all.
The most health
survivors departed to try to locate help and left the others at the crash site. The first group of four to depart included: Pvt. Carlos Failing, Pvt. Gerald Grove (drown on November 17), Pvt. Duane Butler and Pfc Frank A. Thomas.
Two days later, a second group departed including Pvt. Floyd August, Pvt. John Mobley, Sgt George B. Kershner and Pvt. Ed Hollerman. They followed a stream bed, and eventually
found an outpost. By the time an Australian patrol reached the crash
site, those left behind had all died.
Diary on the Door
A chilling legacy of their ordeal was recorded on the toilet door diary in pencil, starting the day of the crash on November
10, 1942. Notes were made about
the weather, their optimism, the deaths of crew members and home are
recorded. The last entry was written on January 1, 1943.
On March 8, 1961, this crash site was rediscovered during air searches for a missing Piaggio P.166 VH-PAU. It was unclear from records held by the Papua New Guinea administration if this aircraft had been discovered earlier, so Cadet patrol officer (kiap) J. Absolom organized a visit to the crash site. After a difficult three day trek requiring a path to be cut in the jungle, the wreckage was located. During his visit, the door diary was discovered and transported to Port Moresby.
The door diary was displayed at the PNG
Museum until the 1980s, along with a piece of the nose art with the name "Flying Dutchman" and nose art of the Dutch clog shoe with wings. Later, the door was placed on permanent loan
to the USAF
Museum. In exchange, a replica of the door was donated to the PNG
Museum as a replacement.
Three of the crew and passengers remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Vandervort was officially declared dead on November 10, 1942. Failing was officially declared dead on November 17, 1942. Grove was officially declared dead on November 17, 1942. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Postwar, the recovered remains of the crew were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Five of the crew are buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl). Pitch is buried at plot P, grave 967. Peterson at plot P, grave 929. Bellus at plot P, grave 937. Barron at section F site 1017. Romero at plot Q, grave 506. Smith at plot P, grave 550. Brandon at plot B, grave 1008.
Two of the crew are buried at Rock Island National Cemetery. Verstay and Stokes in a group burial at plot E-10.
Moak is buried at Oakland Memorial Cemetery in Clarksville, AR.
Raddatz is buried at Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, NB.
Padilla is buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM.
Failing also has a memorial marker at Highland View Cemetery in Big Rapids, MI
Of the six survivors and regular crew members:
S/Sgt John J. Gerrity, the regular co-pilot of C-47 "Flying Dutchman", did not fly the November 10, 1942 mission. Afterwards, General Kenney offered him a field commission to 2nd Lieutenant and fighter pilot training then transfered to the 40th Fighter Squadron. He went Missing In Action (MIA) piloting P-47D Thunderbolt on March 11, 1944.
Thomas passed away on September 15, 1998. He is buried at Mount View Cemetery in Camden, ME.
August postwar life and burial are unknown.
Butler passed away on September 11, 1992. He is buried at Albion Memory Gardens in Albion, MI.
Mobley passed away on February 22, 1992. He is buried at Florence National Cemetery at plot 2, grave 331.
Kershner lived in Australia after the war. He passed away January 5, 2002. His burial is unknown, presumed to be in Australia.
Jackie (Thomas) Blom
"PFC Frank A. Thomas, Jr. was my grandfather. He was also the last of the survivors of this crash to die, in 1998.".
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records
- George R. Kershner
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John W. Mobley
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George W. Vandervort
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gerald M. Grove
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carlos Failing
FindAGrave - 2Lt George W Vandervort, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - George Kershner
FindAGrave - Sgt Steven J Pitch (grave photo)
Capt Theodore William Barron (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James N. Verstay (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Vernon R. Moak (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Charles W. Raddatz (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Charles I. Stokes (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Margarito Padilla (grave photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Carlos Failing (tablets of the missing photo)
Carlos D. Failing (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Gerald M Grove (tablets of the missing)
FIndAGrave - Duane R Butler (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Edward Holleman (grave photo)
FindAGrave - John Woodard Mobley (grave photo)
FIndAGrave - Tec5 Lawrence E Peterson (grave photo)
FIndAGrave - Pvt John J Bellus (obituary, grave photo)
FIndAGrave - Pvt Malvern E Patton (grave photo)
FIndAGrave - PFC Theodore Romero (grave photo)
FindAGrave - PFC William L Smith (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Martin J Brandon (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Antonio T Montes (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 41-18564
Forty of the Fifth profile 12 "Agony of the Flying Dutchman"
Thanks to Bruce Hoy, Bob Piper and April Thompson for additional information
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June 4, 2017