46TH TROOP CARRIER SQUADRON
317TH TRANSPORT GROUP
5TH AIR FORCE, USAAF
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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46th Troop Carrier Squadron Reunion September 2003

 

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Guests at the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron Reunion
on September 2003

 

Subject:    B-17C crash at Bakers Creek - 14/6/43
Date:             Fri, 11 Aug 2000 20:42:38 EDT
From:           Del Sparrowe (Sonomadel@aol.com)

I just found the story you put on the internet about the B-17C that crashed at Bakers Creek near Mackay, Aust. I was one of the assistant crew chiefs assigned to that plane. I just missed that fatal flight as S/Sgt Dale Curtis and I flipped a coin to see who would be taking the flight. I just returned from a trip to Australia. I was in attendance at this year's Bakers Creek Memorial Ceremony, June 4th.

During the past nine months, I have become re-acquainted with the time I spent working and flying on #40-2072. These are some of the things that I remember:

In December 1942 the 317th Troop Carrier Group received orders to ship overseas and were issued all new C-47s. Upon arrival at Townsville the 317th traded planes with the 374th Troop Carrier Group as it was being stationed in the Port Moresby area.

The 46th T. C. Squadron. was left with, you might say, a "hodgepodge" of aircraft. Old DC3 converted airliners, a Dutch Lockheed Lodestar, an LB-30 and the B-17C. The B-17C came with a pilot, Captain Slingsby, and a crew chief, S/Sgt Frank Welchel. At one time the plane may have been named "Pamela", but I believe Capt. Slingsby renamed it "Miss E.M.F." (Every Morning Fix'n"). When we first got the 17, we were stationed in Townsville and for every eight hours of flight we spent almost eight to ten hours on maintenance. I'm not sure if the plane was in that bad a condition or we were rather inexperienced. Perhaps a little bit of both although we soon the ins and out of the B17 and most of it's idiosyncrasies. By the time we were transferred to Mackay, in early March, the plane was running well and only required routine maintenance. Captain Slingsby was, I believe, in his early 40s and had at least 15 years experience as an airline pilot. He left the squadron around the end of May and Lieutenant Gidcumb, who was Slingsby's co-pilot, took over as pilot with Flight Officer Erb as co-pilot.

The plane was grounded toward the end of May for an engine change. The replacement engine was an overhauled engine which "Burned-out" during its test flight. We then received another overhauled engine which also failed. The colonel in command of A. T. C. (Australian Transport Command) then ordered a new engine. Everything checked out perfectly after it was installed. My personal opinion is that the accident was pilot error, and I'm not alone with that. We knew and flew with these pilots and knew their actions.

We believed that instead of making a 90 degree turn to the right for a straight course to New Guinea, they were making a 270 degree turn to the left so that they could buzz the field. This was not an unusual manoeuvre. Remember, 90 percent of the pilots were under the age of 25 and eighteen months before many were having to beg father to borrow the car and now - - - here they were flying a B-17 and they wanted the world to know it.

This a rather long e-mail but I thought I'd give you my ideas of what went on.

Del Sparrowe

 

E-mails from David Kerr (Scotland) who is interested in
the Dakotas used by the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron

 

Crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress
of the 46th Troop Carrier Squadron
at Bakers Creek near Mackay in Queensland
on 14 June 1943 with the loss of 40 lives

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

The Forgotten Fifth
A Classic Photographic Chronology of the
Fifth Air Force in Action in the Pacific in WW2


By Michael Claringbould

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Eugene D. Rossel for his assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 4 October 2003

This page last updated 04 October 2003