Presque Isle, ME. – May 12, 1944

Presque Isle, Maine – May 12, 1944 

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

      On May 12, 1944, an AT-6C trainer aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-33064), with two men aboard took off from the Presque Isle Army Air Field for a local training flight.  For reasons never determined, the plane crashed at high speed six miles south of the airfield and both men, 1st Lt. Dennis S. Smyth, (24), and 1st Lt. Thomas R. Sheehy, (21), were killed. 

     It is unclear which man was flying the plane at the time of the accident.  

     To see a photo of 1st. Lt. Smyth click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/191969977/dennis-s-smyth 

     Click here to learn more information about Lt. Sheehy https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/130123343/thomas-russell-sheehy 

     Sources:

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006. 

     www.findagrave.com

Bangor, ME. – September 17, 1944

Bangor, Maine – September 17, 1944

 

A-26 Invader – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of September 17, 1944, a flight of three Douglas A-26 aircraft took off from Down Air Field in Bangor for a ferry flight to the European Theatre of Operations.  Just after take off, one of the aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-39247), suffered engine trouble and crashed in a wooded area about 3.5 miles from the air field. 

     Killed in the crash were:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. Jack W. Williams

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. Albert L. Keener  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/77166738/albert-l-keener

      Sources:

     Book: “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006.

     www.findagrave.com

Fort Mountain, ME. – June 20, 1944

Fort Mountain, Maine – June 20, 1944

    On June 20, 1944, a military C-54A, (Ser. No. 41-37277), with a civilian crew, took off from Newfoundland to transport one military passenger and a load of cargo to Washington, D. C.   At 4 A.M. on the morning of the 20th, while flying in thick low-lying clouds, the aircraft crashed into Fort Mountain, about 100 feet from the summit.  Fort Mountain is located in Baxter State Park about 30 miles northwest of the town of Millinocket. 

     When the crew failed to radio in at required checkpoint times, and failed to answer control tower transmissions from Presque Isle and Bangor airfields, it was declared missing.   

     A search was begun, and the aircraft wreckage was located from the air on June 23, but due to the extreme remoteness of the location, it took four more days before a ground crew could reach the site.  The search party was forced to hack its way through heavy brush and undergrowth covering the mountain.  Upon reaching the site they found wreckage strewn over a wide area, and no survivors.

     Those who perished were:       

     Pilot: Roger R. Inman

     Co-Pilot: Disbrow N. Gill, 32, of Florida.

     Navigator: David E. Reynolds

     Engineer: Nordi Byrd

     Radio Operator: Eugene B. Summers, (21-22) of Kansas. 

     Crewman: Samuel B. Berman

     Passenger: Sgt. Elbert R. Barnes, 23, of Escatawpa, Mississippi.  Sgt. Barnes was a radio mechanic in the Air Crops.  He was born and raised in Escatawpa, and graduated from Moss Point High School.  He attended Graceland College in Mona, Iowa, for two years, and belonged to the Latter Day Saints Church.  He’d been stationed in Newfoundland.  He was survived by his parents, four brothers, and four sisters.  His name is on a WWII honor plaque in the Moss Point High School, a gift of the class of 1944.   

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/46166703/elbert-roderick-barnes

     Sources:

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006. 

     www.mewreckchasers.com

     www.findagrave.com

     The Chronicle-Star, (Pascagoula, MS.), “Elbert Barnes Of Escatawpa Killed In Plane Crash”, July 7, 1944, page 1.  

     Detroit Evening Times, “Plane Rescuers Scale Mountain”, July 27, 1944, page C-15

     Pascagoula Chronicle – Star And Moss Point Advertiser, “Former Students of Moss Point High School To Be Listed On Honor Plaque”, August 19, 1944, page 6. 

   

Castle Hill, ME. – July 2, 1943

Castle Hill, Maine – July 2, 1943

 

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 2, 1943, a B-26C twin-engine bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-35181), with five men aboard, took off from Presque Isle Field bound for overseas duty.  Three miles from the airfield the starboard engine developed a problem and the pilot was forced to shut it down.  With only one engine, the pilot was unable to sufficiently  climb to maintain a safe altitude as the aircraft passed over increasingly rising terrain.  About six miles later the aircraft crashed into a wooded area and exploded killing three crewmen and seriously injuring two others. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Walter M. Cothran.  

     (Co-Pilot) 1st Lt. Walter H. Peoples, of Wilmington, Delaware. 

     (Flight Engineer) Corporal Albert L. Williams of New Mexico.  

     Sources:

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006

     The Imperial Valley Press, (Calif.) “Three Army Fliers Killed In Wreck”, July 4, 1943, page 3. 

 

Buxton, ME. – October 4, 1943

Buxton, Maine – October 4, 1943

     On October 4, 1943, a British aircraft on a training flight from the Brunswick Naval Air Station was passing over the town of Buxton, Maine, when the pilot was forced to bail out.  The pilot landed safely, and the plane went down in a field in the western portion of town in an area known as Bar Hills.  No further info at this time.  

     Source:

     The Lewiston Evening Journal, “British Pilot Bails Out As His Plane Crashes At West Buxton”, October 5, 1943.

Pownal, ME. – October 3, 1943

Pownal, Maine – October 3, 1943 

     On the morning of October 3, 1943, two British Corsairs, (JT-190 & JT-198), belonging to the 1837 Squadron, took off from the Brunswick Naval Air Station for a tactical training flight.  While over the town of Pownal they collided in mid-air.  One pilot was killed instantly, the other managed to bail out, but later died of his injuries.  Both aircraft came down within one hundred feet of each other in a swamp near the Pownal State School.  The debris field was spread over a large area.    

     The pilots were identified as Lieutenant David J. F. Watson, (24), and Lieutenant Commander Alfred J. Sewell, (30).  Both are buried in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Cemetery in Kittery, Maine. 

     To see photos of their graves click below. 

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/71686589/alfred-jack-sewell

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/71691019/david-james_felshaw-watson

     Sources:

     The Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two British Pilots Killed As Planes Collide In Mid Air”, October 4, 1943

    The Waterbury Democrat, “British Flyers Killed in N. E. ” October 4, 1943

     Aviation Archeology In Mane website http://mewreckchasers.com/

Augusta, ME. – July 25, 1942

     Augusta, Maine – July 25, 1942

 

P-38 Lightning
U.S. Air Force photo

     On July 25, 1942, a U. S. Army P-38 fighter, (Ser. No. 41-7647), was making a landing approach to the Augusta State Airport when the pilot overshot the runway and crash landed in a sand pit beyond and the plane caught fire.  The aircraft was loaded with gasoline and ammunition and the pilot was trapped inside.  Ignoring any danger to themselves, eight enlisted men of the Military Police from Camp Keyes ran to the plane and managed to rescue the pilot.  These men were later identified and received medals for their heroism.    

     The rescuers were identified as follows:

     Private George W. O’Connell of New York City.

     Sergeant Joseph E. Cote of Cranston, R. I. 

     Private Edward A. Singer of Boston, Mass. 

     Sergeant Charles J. Hoffman of Bridgeport, Conn.

     Sergeant Alfred H. Paddison of Worcester, Mass.

     Corporal Alfred H. Squires of Westfield, Mas.

     Sergeant Francis J. Curran of Jamaica Plain, Mass. 

     Private Joseph De Napoli of West Hartford, Conn. 

     Sergeants Hoffman and Paddison were severely burned during the rescue. 

     Source:

     The Waterbury Evening Democrat, “Military Police Will Be Honored” September 17, 1942

 

Presque Isle, ME. – September 7, 1944

Presque Isle, Maine – September 7, 1944

 

C-54 Skymaster
U. S. Air Force Photo.

     On the morning of September 7, 1944, a U. S. Army Douglas C-54A, (Ser. No. 42-72211), crashed shortly after take off from the Presque Isle Army Air Base.  The plane made a normal take off and was seen to rise 1,000 feet into the air before turning to the left.   As it did so, it suddenly fell to the ground and exploded on impact.  The aircraft came down about a mile from the air field on the property of Walter Carmichael, a Presque Isle potato farmer.    

     All three crewmen aboard perished.  They were identified as:   

     Pilot: Major George H. Shafer, (37-38). He’s buried in Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico.   

     Co-pilot: Captain Knute Nordahl

     Engineer: Master Sergeant Thomas W. Marshall, (23).  He’s buried in Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney, Texas.    

     The purpose of the flight was for training.  

     Sources:

     The Nashua Telegraph, “Several Believed Dead As Plane crashes In Maine”, September 7, 1944, page 10.

     www.findagrave.com

     Aviation Safety Network

 

 

Deer Mountain, ME. – July 11, 1944

Deer Mountain, Maine – July 11, 1944

 

B-17G “Flying Fortress”
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 11, 1944, a B-17 “Flying Fortress”, (Ser. No. 43-83023), with ten crewmen aboard left Kearney Army Air Field in Nebraska for a cross-country flight to Dow Army Air Field in Bangor, Maine.  The purpose of the flight was to land in Maine before proceeding overseas for combat duty.   

     As the aircraft came into the New England area in encountered bad weather, with low visibility, and low cloud cover.  The last radio transmission from the plane was received by the control tower at Grenier Army Air Field in Manchester, New Hampshire at 11:55 a.m.  At some point afterwards the plane crashed into Deer Mountain in the unincorporated area of North Oxford, Maine. 

     When the aircraft failed to arrive at Dow a search was instituted, and when searchers reached the crash site they found all ten crewmen deceased. 

     The crew were identified as:

     Pilot: 2nd Lt. John T. Cast, (27) of Springfield, Ohio.  He’s buried at St. Bernard Cemetery in Springfield, OH.  He was survived by his wife and five month old son.      

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John W. Drake, (21) from Port Arthur, Texas. He buried in Greenlawn Memorial Park, Groves, Texas.

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. William H. Hudgems of Flagstaff, Arizona. 

     Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Robert S. Talley, (26) of San Angelo, Texas.  he’s buried in Fairview Cemetery in Pampa, Texas.  He was survived by his wife. 

     Engineer: Staff Sgt. Wayne D. McCavran, of Seymour, Iowa.

    Radio Operator: Sgt. Cecil Leon Murphy, (21) of Falls City, Nebraska.  He’s buried in Falls City Cemetery, Falls City, Neb. 

    Gunner: Cpl. John H. Jones, Jr., of Buffalo, New York.  He was survived by his wife.   

    Gunner: Sgt. Clarence Marvin Waln, (22), of Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  He’s buried in Ten Sleep Cemetery.  He would have been 22 on July 30th. 

    Gunner: Sgt. Gerald V. Biddle, (23) of East Orange, New Jersey.  He’s buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron, Ohio.  he was survived by his wife. 

     To see a photo of Sgt. Biddle, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10196746/gerald-v.-biddle

     Armor Gunner: Sgt. James A. Benson, (21), of Clark, South Dakota.  He’s buried in Clark Center Cemetery, Clark, S.D.

     Sources:

     The Nashua Telegram, “Army Squads Search Woods For Wreckage Of Fortress”, July 14, 1944

     www.findagrave.com

 

Caribou, ME. – June 26, 1943

Caribou, Maine – June 26, 1943

 

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on the morning of June 26, 1943, an army B-26 bomber, (Ser. No. 41-31645), was en-route to cross the Atlantic  for overseas duty with a crew of five aboard.   

     Meanwhile, four adults and a 10-year-old boy were working in an open field on the farm of Carl Rasmussen in Caribou loading rocks on two horse-drawn wagons.  

     The B-26 came out of the sky and crashed right were the civilians were working, killing four of the five of them, as well as all members of the aircraft crew.  The momentum of the aircraft carried it onward into an adjoining field and the debris field stretched all the way to a wooded area.  

     The four civilians killed on the ground were identified as Alfred Winter, 37,  and his 9-year-old son, Alfred, Jr., Miss Ann Theriault, (25), and Miss Elouise M. Newton, (18).   Freeman Hitchcock, who was also working in the field suffered serious injuries.  

     The servicemen were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st. Lt. Bertrand N. Robertson, (28) of Greenville Junction, Maine.  He’s buried in Greenridge Cemetery in Caribou, Me. 

     (Co-Pilot) 2nd Lt. Herbert F. Myers, 22, of South Portland, Maine.  To see a photo of Lt. Meyers, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/62097192/herbert-f-meyers

     (Navigator) 1st Lt. Edwin M Hankinson, (25 – 26) of Morrice, Michigan.  He was survived by his wife whom he’d married eight days earlier on June 18, 1943.  He’s buried in Roselawn Cemetery in Perry, Michigan.  To see a photo of him click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/36429945/edwin-morgan-hankinson

      S/Sgt. William H. Jochim, (20), of Louisville, Nebraska.  He’s buried in Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Louisville, Nebraska.  To see a photo of him click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/64401819/william-h-jochim

     T/Sgt. John M. Kuser, of New York City.  He’s buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.  

     Sources:

     Fort Fairfield Review, (Me.), “Nine-Death Bomber Crash Sat. Was Third Airplane Accident In Green Ridge Section In Ten-Month Period”, June 30, 1943, page 1.  

     Unknown newspaper, “Nine Killed When Plane Hits Field”, June 26, 1943

     Imperial Valley Press, (Calif.), Army Plane Crashes, Kills Five Fliers, Four Workers”, June 27, 1943

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

Mapleton, ME. – July 3, 1943

Mapleton, Maine – July 3, 1943

 

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 5 p.m. on July 3, 1943, a U. S. Army B-26C bomber aircraft, (Ser. # 41-35181), took off from the Presque Isle, Maine, Air Base, for a routine training flight when it lost an engine shortly after take off and went down and exploded in a wooded area of Mapleton, about five miles west of the airfield.    

     There were five men aboard at the time, three of whom perished. 

     The dead were identified as:

     The pilot: 1st Lt. Walter M. Cochran of Wilmington, Del.

     The co-pilot: 1st Lt. Walter H. Peoples of Wilmington, Del.

     Flight Engineer: Corporal Albert O. Williams of Central, New Mexico.  

     The injured survivors were identified as:

     Corporal Richard P. Hamilton of Pasadena, Cal.

     1st Lt. Norman F. Smith, of Sandena, Cal.

     Both were brought to Presque Isle Air Base Hospital. 

     Sources:

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Three Army Fliers Die In Maine Plane Crash”, July 4, 1943m, page C-7 

     Aviation Safety Network

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanford, ME. – July 25, 1944

Sandford, Maine – July 25, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 25, 1944, several aircraft were taking part in a “carrier landing practice” exercise at the Sanford Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  One aircraft was a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42759).  As the pilot made his landing on a simulated aircraft carrier deck platform the arresting wire broke causing the plane to swing violently to the right and skid for about 40 feet.  The aircraft required a major overhaul, but the pilot was not injured.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 25, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – March 10, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – March 10, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura
U. S. Navy Photo

     On March 10, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-3 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 33949), ground-looped upon landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the crew was not injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6197, dated March 10, 1943.    

Brunswick, ME. – July 7, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – July 7, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 7, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft , (Bu. No. 27614), was landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in a strong 90-degree cross-wind.  As the pilot attempted to use alternate brakes to prevent a ground loop the aircraft nosed over.  The pilot and instructor aboard suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The aircraft required a major overhaul.        

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-7567, dated July 7, 1943.

Brunswick, ME. – April 2, 1944

Brunswick, Maine – April 2, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On April 2, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28262), was returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a training flight.  The pilot was making a normal landing approach, but was unable to establish radio contact with the control tower, and unknown to the pilot was the fact that one of the landing gear wheels had failed to come down.  When the aircraft touched down it went off the runway and nosed over.  The aircraft was heavily damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-44.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-12844, dated April 2, 1944.

Sanford, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sanford, Maine – May 16, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 16, 1944, a TBM-1C, (Bu. No. 17085), made a normal landing on Runway 14 at the Sanford Maine Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  As the aircraft was rolling down the runway the left landing gear collapsed.  The aircraft skidded to a stop and the three-man crew was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-14211, dated May 16, 1944.

 

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 28, 1944, a flight of three Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft were returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a formation training flight.  As the aircraft approached the field at an altitude of 1,800 feet in a “V” formation, one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 28727), left the formation and went into a spin from which it did not recover.  The aircraft crashed and burned killing the pilot, Ensign James A. Andrew, Jr., and the gunner, Seaman 1/c Harry Hoerr. 

     The men were assigned to VS-31.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11278, dated January 28, 1944.  

Brunswick, ME. – August 4, 1945

Brunswick, Maine – August 4, 1945 

 

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

    On August 4, 1945, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 94055), was taxiing into position in preparation for take off at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  Unbeknownst to the pilot, some workers were in the process of digging a trench along the side of the taxi way, however no signalman had been stationed on the tarmac to give warning.  As the airplane approached, one of the workers suddenly ran into its path waving his arms for the pilot to stop.  The pilot was forced to hit the brakes hard enough to cause the aircraft to nose over causing damage to the propeller and the engine.  There were no injuries.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 4, 1945

Sebago Lake, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sebago Lake, Maine – May 16, 1944

 

British Corsairs – WWII
U.S. Navy Photo

     Shortly before noon on May 16, 1944, a flight of British Navy D4V Corsairs, was on a low level formation training flight over Sebago Lake.  (Some sources state there were six panes in the flight, while others state there were only four.) The purpose of the flight was to give the pilots experience flying low over water.  

     Among those taking part in the exercise was Sub-Lieutenant Vaughn Reginald Gill, piloting aircraft number JT-132, and Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Laurence Knott, age 19, piloting JT-160.  Both men were assigned to 732 Squadron based at nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station.    

     As the formation was passing over the water, one aircraft suddenly dropped and struck the lake sending up a large plume of water that was struck by the second, causing it too to crash.  Both aircraft, one containing Sub-Lieutenant Gill, and the other, Sub-Lieutenant Knott, immediately sank in over 300 feet of water and disappeared.  Despite a search conducted immediately afterward, neither the airplanes or the pilots were found. 

     The aircraft were later discovered and photographed in the 1990s.  The courts have decided that these aircraft are not to be disturbed as they are considered war graves.

     Sources:

     Portland Evening Express, “Two British Planes Crash In Sebago Lake”, May 16, 1944, page 1.

     Maine Aviation Historical Society Newsletter, Dirigo Flyer, June, 1998. 

     Pacific Wrecks website:  https://www.pacficwrecks.com/aircraft/f4u/jt160.html

     Book: “Finding The Fallen: Outstanding Aircrew Mysteries From The First World War to Desert Storm, by Andy Saunders, Grub Street Publishing, London, 2011.   

Perham, Maine – Sept. 22, 1942

Perham, Maine – September 22, 1942

 

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, a flight of B-25 Mitchel bombers left Presque Isle Army Air Field bound for overseas duty.  Shortly after take off the planes were recalled to the base due to poor weather/visibility conditions.  One of the planes, (41-13049), crashed in a wooded area about six miles west of Perham Village, Maine, and exploded.  Local residents stated the blast was heard for miles around, and the site was marked by a large crater. 

      The tail section was discovered about a quarter of a mile away, which would seem to indicate a structural failure with the aircraft.   Two Nazi sympathizers were later arrested for tampering with an aircraft at Presque Isle leading to speculation that the B-25 had gone down due to sabotage.

     The B-25 was attached to the 310th Bomb Group, 379th Bomb Squadron, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.   

     All seven crew members were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Pilot: 2lt. John F. Watson  Entered service from New York, (O-790435) Burial location unknown. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149733656/john-f-watson

Co-Pilot: 2lt. John W. Rieves Jr. , 22.  He’s buried in Asbury Cemetery, McKenney, Virginia. For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #138056088. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/138056088/john-william-rives

S/Sgt. John S. Delano  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49226891/john-s-delano

S/Sgt. James A. Kviz, 26. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149734166/james-anton-kviz

S/Sgt. Eugene J. Crozier He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49173051/eugene-joseph-crozier

S/Sgt. Frederick W. Rowbottom, 23.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia, Minnesota.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #123323580.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/123323580/frederick-w-rowbottom

S/Sgt. Richard K. Riddle, 27.  He’s buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  memorial#47394120. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47394120/richard-kellogg-riddle

     Later in the day another B-25 (41-13098) belonging to the 379th Bomb Squadron took off from Presque Isle also bound for overseas duty, but it crashed shortly after take off in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, Maine.  For more information, see Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942  under “Maine Military Aviation Accidents” on this website.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Plane Falls On Wooded Hill”, Sept 23, 1942

57th Bomb Wing Association website http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php 

www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Atlantic Ocean, ME – February 2, 1943

Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943

    

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

     On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.  

     The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank.  Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult.  Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.    

     Both men were survived by their wives.

     Update July 15, 2016

     In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).  

     Sources:

     Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.

5 mi. east of Howe Brook, ME – May 24, 1942

 5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine – May 24, 1942

     On Sunday, May 24, 1942, a U.S. Army C-40D aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-22249) crashed  5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine while on a transport mission from Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., to Montreal, Canada, to Presque Isle, Maine.   The plane dove in at a steep angle, (Estimated by investigators to be 75 degrees.) with such force that debris was thrown up to 1,000 feet ahead of the impact. 

     Due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident, but noted that weather “was undoubtedly a strong causal factor”.  

     All aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Clarence A. Wright.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #3059564)

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Frederick J. Taylor.  (10th Ferrying Command.)  He’s buried in  Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88208245)

     Lt. Col. Louis H. Gimbel.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #22787359)

     Capt. John D. Franciscus.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Mo.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #49551001) 

     Capt. Gilbert M. Herbach.  He was from New York.  Place of burial unknown.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88680256)

     2nd Lt. Earl R. Wilkenson.  He’s buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Batavia, New York.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75139854)

     Sources:

     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-24-13

     www.findagrave.com

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Arlington Pilot, Five Others Die In Army Plane Crash In Maine”, May 25, 1942, page A-2

    

Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942

Fort Fairfield, Maine – September 22, 1942

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, A flight of eight B-25 bomber aircraft were enroute to Gander, Newfoundland, when they stopped at Presque Isle Airfield to refuel.  After refueling, the aircraft assembled for take off to resume the flight.  While refueling, the weather had deteriorated and the aircraft would now be flying on IFR rules.  One of the B-25s, (Ser. No. 41-13098), piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph L. Drogula, was the second of the eight aircraft to take off.  Seven miles northeast of the airfield the left wing suddenly collapsed and the plane went down in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, off Fort Fairfield, Road.  All seven crewmen aboard were killed.  

     Civilian witnesses stated they saw the aircraft burst into flames while still in the air. 

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Ralph L. Drogula, 26.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Newspaper accounts list Lt. Drogula as a Second Lieutenant, but an internet photo of his grave indicates he was a First Lieutenant.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49175499/ralph-lee-drogula

     (C0-pilot) 2nd Lt. James Q. Crocker, 22.  He’s buried in San Marcos Cemetery, San Marcos, Texas.    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/104939796/jimmie-q-crocker

     S/Sgt. William H. Finch, 35. Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Fairview, Michigan. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118827837/william-h-finch

     S/Sgt. Billy John Hill, 22. Buried in Nocona Cemetery, Nocona, Texas. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63223944/billy-john-hill

     S/Sgt. George E. Simmons, 22.  Buried in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Du Bois, Penn. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/58284089/george-edgar-simmons

     S/Sgt. Lawrence A. Robinson, 26.  Buried in Pine grove cemetery, Marlborough, N.H. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22359063/lawrence-alfred-robinson

     S/Sgt. Joseph Martino https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149734573/joseph-martino

     There was another B-25C that left Presque Isle earlier in the day which crashed in the town of Perham, Maine, just a few miles north-west of Fort Fairfield.  (The tail number of that plane was 41-13049.)   In that crash, the tail section was reportedly found 1/4 mile from the wreck site possibly indicating a structural failure.  (See Perham. ME – September 22, 1942 under Maine Aviation Accidents on this website for more information.)  

      Both aircraft were part of the 379th Bomb Squadron, 310th Bomb Group, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.    

     Sources:

     New York Times, “14 Army Men Lost In Two Maine Crashes”

     57th Bomb Wing Association http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php

     www.findagrave.com

 

Bangor Air Base, ME – December 30, 1941

Bangor Air Base, Maine – December 30, 1941

    

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 30, 1941, an A-29 bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23302) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  The seven man crew escaped, but the pilot and copilot were injured.   

     The crew were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. James J. Hayes

     (Copilot) 1st Lt. Jonathan H. Knox

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard A. Turner

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. James L. Wilson

     Pfc. Homer W. Read

     Pfc. George F. Nichols

     Pvt. Walter E. Taylor

     The men were assigned to the 65th Bomb Squadron (H)

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

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