Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks    
  Missing In Action (MIA) Prisoners Of War (POW) Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)  
Chronology Locations Aircraft Ships Submit Info How You Can Help Donate
  C-53-DO Skytrooper Serial Number 41-20066 Call Sign VH-CDW

Click For Enlargement
Stan Gajda 1980

Click For Enlargement
Ed Plenty 1980

Click For Enlargement
Martincj 2006

Click For Enlargement
Google Earth 2020

Click For Enlargement
Google Earth 2020
Pilot  1st Lt Ray Vandiver, O-413540 (survived) Wasco County, OR
Co-Pilot  1st Lt Melvin C. Lewis (survived)
Crew Chief  Sgt Milford W. Lambert (survived)
Radio  Pfc Melvin C. Scharp (survived)
Passenger  David Campbell, Postmaster-General's Department (survived)
Passenger  Jack Lyons, Postmaster-General's Department (survived)
Force Landed  February 26, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas at Santa Monica. Constructors Number 4836. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-53-DO Skytrooper serial number 41-20066. Assigned to Air Transport Command (ATC) with Tail code 62-TG-66. No known nickname or nose art. Ferried overseas to South West Pacific Area (SWPA). In Australia assigned call sign VH-CDW.

Wartime History
On February 26, 1942 took off from Perth piloted by 1st Lt Ray Vandiver, co-pilot 1st Lt Melvin C. Lewis, crew chief Sgt Milford W. Lambert and radio operator Pfc Melvin C. Scharp on a flight bound for Broome Airfield then onward to Darwin. Aboard were two Australian passengers: David Campbell and Jack Lyons who were telegraphists for the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG) in Western Australia and members of the Australian Army Reserve who were aboard to join an Australian Army signals unit at Darwin. In the darkness, the pilots Broome and flew another 400 miles before force landing wheels up in the only clear area near Vansittart Bay about six miles southwest of Truscott. When this aircraft failed to arrive it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) until the crash site was spotted.

Fates of the Crew
The entire crew survived the crash unhurt. Afterwards, they waited at the crash site for several days awaiting rescue and used metal pipes from the wreckage to distill drinking water from the salt water in the area.

After being declared missing, Allied aircraft including Hudson A16-119 searched for the missing plane and spotted the crash site and crew.

On March 1, 1942 the entire crew were rescued by S.23 "Corinthian" Empire Flying Boat G-AEUF.

After the crash landing, some parts were salvaged. Postwar, the cargo door was salvaged by MacRobertson Miller Airlines (MMA). The rest of the aircraft remains in situ at the crash site.

Lambert passed away on October 19, 1974 due to a apartment house fire. He is buried at Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina, KS at plot block 10, lot 44, space 1.

Vandiver remained in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and retired with the rank of Colonel. He passed away on September 18, 2002 at age 86. He is buried at Belcrest Memorial Park in Salem, OR.

Scharp passed away on May 23, 2006. He is buried at Kaysville City Cemetery in Kaysville, UT.

Other sources state this plane was assigned to the 374th Troop Carrier Group, 21st Troop Carrier Squadron and took off from Perth on a flight bound for Darwin. Other sources list the pilot's surname as Van Diver (two words).
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ray Vandiver
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Milford W. Lambert year of birth listed as 55 [sic]
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Melvin C. Scharp
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-53-DO 41-20066
"20066 (MSN 4836) to RAAF as VH-CDW. Crashed Feb 26, 1942, Vansittart Bay, 150 mi NW of Wyndham, WA. Found at Truscott Field, WA Jun 1978 in good condition."
Allied Air Transport Operations SWPA in WWII - Volume One (2000) page 345
ADF Serials - C-53 41-20066 (photo) - C-53 41-20066
FindAGrave - Milford W. Lambert (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Ray Vandiver (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Melvin Conrad Scharp (photos)
Oz@War "Crash of C-53-DO Douglas On a Beach near Cape Londonserry, Vansittary Bay 400 miles north of Broome on 26 February 1942" (photos)
Thanks to Stan Gajda and Daniel Leahy for information

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
April 24, 2023


Tech Info

Photo Archive

Google Earth
View on Google Earth
  Discussion Forum Daily Updates Reviews Museums Interviews & Oral Histories  
Pacific Wrecks Inc. All rights reserved.
Donate Now Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram