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|Qantas Empire Airways
|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, 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
Built by Lockheed as Model 18-40 in Burbank. Constructor Number 18-2103. This aircraft was sold to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) as Lodestar LT9-08 (LT-908). Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
In Australia assigned to the Allied Directorate of Air Transport (ADAT) with call sign VH-CAB. Assgined to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as a C-56B Lodestar serial number 42-68348. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
During September 1942, operated by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) for Allied Directorate of Air Transport (ADAT).
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.
This aircraft crash was the second second largest loss of life on a Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) aircraft since the loss of S.23 "Circe" G-AETZ on February 28, 1942.
Robert Piper adds:
"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 S/Ldr 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 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."
Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the remains of the crew and passengers were recovered and buried at Bomana Cemetery. Postwar, the Americans were exhumed and transported to Hawaii and the United States for permenant burial.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash.
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.
The Australian and British were buried at Bomana War 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.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-56B Lodestar 42-68348
"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
WW2 Nominal Roll - William Geoffrey Campbell
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
Honour Roll World War II Qantas Staff Casualties (Campbell) via Wayback Machine October 23, 2009
Thanks to Robert Piper and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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June 26, 2020
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