Marion, MA. February 4, 1943

Marion, Massachusetts – February 4, 1943 


Douglas A-20 Havoc
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 4, 1943, a U. S. Army, Douglas A-20C Havoc, (Ser. No. 41-19637), left Cumberland Air Base in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with four men aboard.  The purpose of the flight was to take part in a joint-training exercise with members of the 3rd Armored Division in the vicinity of the town of Lebanon, about twenty-five miles to the east.  Once over the Lebanon area, the crew was to remain airborne and establish radio contact with armored division forces on the ground.  When the exercise was over, the aircraft was scheduled to return to Harrisburg.  

     The aircrew consisted of the pilot, Major Arnold J. Bailey; the gunner, Sergeant Albert D. Reposa; and the radio operator,  Sergeant Donald T. Robinson; all assigned to the 3rd Air Force.  Also aboard was Major Charles H. Cooke of the 3rd Armored Division who was acting as an observer, and occupied the bombardier’s position in the nose of the aircraft.      

     As the aircraft flew towards Lebanon it encountered poor forward visibility due to low cloudy conditions, and at the time the pilot didn’t have a current instrument flight certification.  Therefore he climbed and executed a 180 degree turn and began heading back towards Harrisburg.  While making their way back to Harrisburg the pilot once again saw the ground, but the overcast continued to close in so he climbed to nearly 4,000 feet to get above it. 

     At Harrisburg he attempted two unsuccessful instrument landings before setting a southern course towards Baltimore, Maryland, flying between layers of clouds as he did so.  Upon arriving at Baltimore he found conditions to be the same as they were at Harrisburg, and set a northeast course towards New England.  However, the weather continued to grow worse, and as the plane neared the New England coast it encountered heavy rain.    

     As the aircraft passed over eastern Rhode Island the pilot noted that the fuel was low.  He then took the plane to 13,000 feet and gave the order to bail out. 

     Major Bailey landed safely in a wooded area at Mayflower Ridge, near the Wareham River, in the town of Wareham, Massachusetts.  He then hiked thought the woods carrying his parachute until he came to the Wareham Country Club where he obtained a ride to Camp Edwards.

     Nobody had seen or heard the plane come down, therefore the location of where it crashed was not immediately known.  Initial reports indicated the plane had gone down in the water somewhere between Swansea, Massachusetts,  and Bristol, Rhode Island.  Later reports indicated the plane had gone down in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts.   The wreckage was finally located in a wooded area on the grounds of the RCA wireless station in the coastal town of Marion, Massachusetts.      

     Major Cooke’s body was recovered at the crash site, but Sergeants Robinson and Repoza were missing, and after a five day search had not been found.  A parachute belonging to one of the men was found offshore in the water and it was presumed that both men had landed in the frigid water and drowned.

     Sgt. Reposa’s body was later recovered in May of 1943 on the shore of Wareham.          


     Unites States Army Air Force accident investigation report #43-2-4-7

     The Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “District Army Officer Dies In Plane Crash In Massachusetts”, February 6, 1943.

     Daily Boston Globe, “Body Found Near Plane, Army Silent, Bomber Lost”, February 6, 1943

     Wareham Currier, “Bomber Crashes In Marion”, February 11, 1943.  (Article courtesy of the Trustees of the Wareham Free Library, Celia Epstein Stone Research Room.)

     Fall River Herald, “ARP Units Aiding In Search For Missing Army Plane”, February 5, 1943, page 1

     Fall River Herald, “Two Aviators Still Sought”, February 8, 1943, page 2.

     Fall River Herald, “Wrecked Bomber Found At Marion”, February 6, 1943, page 1.

     Wareham, MA., death records.




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