CRASH OF A BREWSTER BUFFALO
ON MOUNT STANLEY IN VICTORIA
ON 1 JULY 1942

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A Brewster Buffalo (Tail No. 304) flown by 2nd Lieutenant Henry Orous Null Jnr. (#O-425137) of Headquarters Squadron, 4th Air Depot Group USAAF crashed on Mount Stanley in Victoria on 1 July 1942.

 

2nd Lt. Henry Orous Null Jnr.
Photo from Tom Conger of California USA via Rick Hanning

 


Photo: via Rick Hanning

2nd Lt. Henry Orous Null Jnr.

 

This aircraft may possibly have been one of 17 Buffalos that were transferred to the RAAF in 1942. They had earlier been part of the Netherlands East Indies Air Force. With the fall of Singapore twenty Model 439D's and one 339D were sent to Australia in March 1942. They initially were transferred to the USAAC. They still had their Dutch serial numbers and their original US "NX" test numbers. Once they arrived in Australia, most of them were allocated temporary numbers.

Seventeen of these aircraft were transferred to the RAAF and became A51-1 through to A51-17. The first six were sent in crates to Essendon where they were assembled at the Ansett Airways hangar. Cameras were installed and the aircraft were allocated to the newly formed PRU at Laverton in June 1942. The rest of the Buffalos were moved to the PRU at Darwin where they became operational in August 1942.

2nd Lieutenant Henry Orous Null, Jnr. was initially buried on 4 July 1942 at the Springvale Cemetery, Melbourne in Grave 342 of the American Section. Towards the end of the war he was exhumed and reburied in the US Cemetery at Rookwood in Sydney, New South Wales. All of the US dead were then exhumed at Rookwood and taken back by ship to the USA. 2nd Lieutenant Henry Orous Null Jnr. is now buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu Hawaii, Plot D, Row O, Grave Number 46.

He came from Los Angeles California and was born on October 2nd 1918. His brother 2nd Lt. Robert R. Null (# 0-727650) of the 320th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group, who was killed in a Liberator crash in New Guinea on 16 April 1943, is buried near Henry, in Grave No 68, Plot D, Row O. Robert R. Null was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and a Purple Heart. Their family was from San Gabriel, California.

 


Photo:- Daniel Leahy

Wreckage recovered from the crash site was displayed at a museum at Beechworth back in 2002.

 

Henry Null's grave marker at Punchbowl

 


Photo: Rick Hanning

Grave markers for

2nd Lt. Henry Orous Null Jnr. and his brother
2nd Lt. Robert R. Null at Punchbowl

 

Nicole Zerella's paternal grandmother was engaged to 2nd Lt. Henry O Null when he was killed on the 1st July 1942. Nicole's father, Christopher, was born in December 1942. He was not told about his real father until he was 16 years old.

 

Tom Conger (on left), nephew of 2nd Lt Henry O. Null and Rick Hanning standing in front of B-17 Flying
Fortress "Picaddilly Lilly II" at
the "Planes of Fame" at Chino, California, USA in Nov 2004

 

Tom Conger, from Covina, California, a nephew of 2nd Lt. Henry Null is interested in knowing more about Henry Null's time in Australia during WW2. His mother, Virginia E. Conger (nee Null), is Henry Null's sister. She has kept Henry's spirit alive all these years since he died in Australia on 1 July 1942.

Bob Conger, another nephew of 2nd Lt. Henry .O. Null is trying to locate Marc Briggs, who was part of the crew who worked with 2nd Lt. Null prior to his crash on Mt. Stanley. Please contact me if you know anything about Marc Briggs. Marc Briggs told Bob Null that Henry Null invented things that were produced and related to aviation safety. It would be interesting to know what sort of things that Henry invented.

Nicole Zerella, the granddaughter of 2nd Lt. Henry Orous Null, Jr. is trying to find out about her grandfather and any living relatives she may have in the USA. Nicole's father Christopher is Henry Null's son. He was not told about his real father until he was 16 years old. They were told that Henry's family was from San Gabriel, California and that Henry and his brother Robert Null (who also died in a crash in Papua New Guinea in 1943) were both buried in the national memorial cemetery in Hawaii. Can anyone help Nicole with any more information?

Bob Conger told me on 6 November 2006, that the Null's were in fact not from San Gabriel. They were originally from Los Angeles. Bob's grandparents moved to San Gabriel, California in the 1950's. Neither son ever saw the San Gabriel house. The only relatives that Bob knows of are Mary Jo Weeks who was at Virginia's funeral and Tom Null, son of Milt and May Null who he no longer has contact with.

 


Photo: Rick Hanning 2006

Rick Hanning and Christopher Hughes, son of Henry Null,
at Gippsland Armed Forces Museum at Sale, Victoria

 

Andrew Rhodes' grandfather was involved in the salvage of the wreckage of the aircraft.

There is a file in the National Archives on Henry Null as follows. Has anyone accessed this file?:-

Title   
NULL, Henry Orous, Junior - (Lieutenant); Service Number - 0.425137; File type - Casualty - Repatriation; Place - Myrtleford, Victoria; Date - 1 July 1942
Series number
A705
Control symbol
166/30/19
Contents date range
1929 - 1960
Access status
Open
Location
Canberra
Barcode
1074933
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Rick Hanning, Daniel Leahy, Nicole Zerella, Andrew Rhodes, Jim Rhodes, Tom Conger and Bob Conger for their assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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any information or photographs


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This page first produced 10 July 2000

This page last updated 31 August 2015