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  Lockheed L-18-56 Lodestar Registration VH-CAB  
Qantas Empire Airways
Former Assignments
USAAF
5th AF
374th TCG
22nd TCS
NEIAF

Pilot  S/Ldr William Geoffrey Campbell, RAAF 261730 (KIA) Marrickville, NSW
1st Officer P/O John Randolph Fleming Henderson, RAAF 410863 (KIA) Prahran, VIC
Radio  F/Sgt Neil Grosvenor Evan, 417064 RAAF (KIA) Rosslyn Park, SA
Purser
 P/O Keith George Shankland Little, 267726 RAAF (KIA) Bronte, NSW
Passenger  Robert E. Lewis, 280 Red Cross Correspondent (KIA) Columbus, OH
Passenger  Harry H. Poague, Red Cross Correspondent (KIA) KY
Passenger  Lt. Col. C. V. Ferry Royal Army Service Corp (KIA)
Passenger  Lt Col Edward John Marston, VX39064 AIF (KIA) East Malvern, VIC
Passenger  Major J. F. McCarthy  NX7195 AIF (KIA) Cameray, NSW
Passenger  Lt Col John Benedict Bolger, AIF NX462 (KIA) Malvern, VIC
Passenger  2nd Lt John E. Brown, 01298384 US Army Courier (KIA)
Passenger  S/Sgt Vincent W. Novak, 33362619 27th Air Depot Group (KIA) PA
Passenger  Captain John W. Baish, 0384600 US Army (KIA) PA
Passenger  Colonel Frank O. Dewey, O-11386 US Army, Cav-Gen HQ SWPA (KIA)
Passenger  F/Sgt Leslie Harold Jenke, 8868 RAAF (KIA) Point Pass, SA
Crashed  November 26, 1943


Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed as Model 18-40 in Burbank. Constructor Number 18-2103. Serial Number 68348. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Call Sign VH-CAB. In Australia, this aircraft was originally intended for the Neatherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) but was instead pressed into service by the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a C-56B Lodestar serial number 42-68348.

Wartime History
In Australia, assigned to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) as Lodestar serial number LT9-08 or LT-908. Instead, pressed into service by the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) and later allocated the designation C-56B Lodestar serial number 42-68348. Operated by the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron with Australian call sign VH-CAB.

During September 1942, operated by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) for Allied Directorate of Air Transport. When this aircraft crashed, it was the second largest loss of life on a single Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) aircraft.

the second largest loss of life on a single Qantas aircraft since the loss of S.23 "Circe" G-AETZ.

Mission History
On November 26, 1943 took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby on a flight bound for Garbutt Field near Townsville. Struck the top of a hill shortly after take off at 4:00am. The 15 crew and passengers were killed. When the aircraft was overdue at Townsville, intensive searches were conducted and the crashed aircraft was located. At Port Moresby, the crash site was located few minutes after loss, on one of the westerly peaks only 40' from the top. Possibly 13km out from the airfield.

Robert Piper adds:
"I think this Lodestar may have even been ex Dutch. The pilot, when I examined his RAAF file, was too inexperienced for night departures at that stage of his career in such a fast aircraft. He was SQNLDR W.G. Campbell aged 32. Ex civil light aircraft flying instructor with a little time on Ansons and Oxfords. There are several peaks west of Wards Strip only a few miles out (see map) and he obviously hit one, either heading west or as he swung south for Australia. There is a civil aviation NDB tower and service road out there and at one stage I sighted an undercarriage leg in a deep crevice in the road and then and now wonder whether it was part of the Lockheed. Carried or thrown there."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash. After the recovery of remains, the Australian and British were buried at Bomana Cemetery. Campbell at B2, D, 15. Henderson at B2, D, 16. Evan at B2, D, 10. Little at B2, D, 12. Marston at B2, D, 14. McCarthy at B2, D, 9. Bolger at B2, D, 11. Jenke at B2, D, 17.

Postwar, the remains of the Americans were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Poague is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section E, site 788.

Lewis is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section A, site 195.

Dewey is buried at Fort Riley Post Cemetery at section E grave 151

Novak is bured at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in McMurray, PA.

Brown is buried in a private cemetery in Michigan, details unknown.

Baish buried in a private cemetery in PA, details unknown.

References
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-56B Lodestar
"C-56B Lodestar Civilian Model 18-40 originally delivered to NEIAF but were impressed by USAAF after aircraft were evacuated to Australia in 1942.
68348 (MSN 18-2103) LT9-08, LT-908, radio call sign VH-CAB. Operated by Qantas. W/o Nov 26, 1943 at Port Moresby. Returned to USAAF and SOC Aug 31, 1944."
Wikipedia List of Qantas Fatal Accidents 26 November 1943 42-68348
54 War Correspondents K.I.A. WWII A Gripping Account of War Journalism 1940-1945 by Doral Chenoweth Chaper VI - The Red Cross Contributes via Wayback Machine November 1, 2016
General Douglas MacArthur cabled the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.: 26 November 1943:
"It is my painful duty to inform you of the death in New Guinea of Robert E. Lewis and Harry H. Poague in an airplane accident. Both served with courage and devotion and fulfilled the important duties of war correspondents with value to their country."
Heaton & Poague - Harry H. Poague Biography
FindAGrave - Harry H Poague (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Frank O Dewey (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Vincent W. Novak (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert E Lewis (grave photo)
Canberra Time "Mystery surrounds 1943 Qantas crash in PNG" by Robert Piper, May 8, 2000
Thanks to Robert Piper and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
October 24, 2019

 

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Lodestar
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