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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2650  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
93rd BS

Click For Enlargement
John Kirkpatrick 2008

Pilot  1st Lt. Claude N. Burcky, O-417245
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Augustin Rapisardi, O-438650
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Donald C. Miller, O-42644
Navigator  1st Lt. William F. Meenagh, O-372623 (MIA / KIA) NY
Crew  Sgt. Lloyd Chamberlain, 6554507
Crew  Pvt John Naglich, 14066421
Crew  S/Sgt Norris Reynolds, 20814112
Crew  Sgt Lawrence Johnson, 14021680
Crew  Sgt George Schmid, 6558573

Crashed  September 17, 1942
MACR  650

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 93rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. This B-17 flew combat missions from Garbutt Airfield near Townsville staging via 7-Mile Drome at Port Moresby. On July 27, 1942 one of nine B-17s that bombed Buna.

Mission History
Mission S. M. 9/17: One of four B-17s that took off from Garbutt Airfield near Townsville at 11:00pm on a bombing mission over Rabaul. After departing, the formation encountered bad weather and became lost. This B-17 radioed "We are lost and we are all going to bail out". The entire crew successfully bailed out near the Coen River on the Gulf of Carpentaria in the vicinity of Weipa.

Search
On September 19, 1942 RAAF PBY Catalina A24-2 searched for this aircraft. On September 20, 1942 they f located the wreckage near the Coen River. The Catalina landed and rescued four survivors and transported them to Cairns. Another four crew members wandered into the bush.

On September 21, 1942 the Catalina returned and landed at Weipa Mission to check if the other four might have arrived at the mission. Still missing, nine Aboriginal trackers were taken by the Catalina to the crash site. The four were found on a mud flat, and the Catalina landed to collect them but the tide had gone out leaving the Catalina stuck in the mud. Once the tide came in, they took off for Cairns with the final four survivors. Three of the crew were hospitalized afterwards Burcky, Johnson and Schmid. Meenagh was never found and remains Missing In Action (MIA).

Memorials
Meenagh is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart.

References
Oz @ War "Crash of B-17E north-north west of Weipa" by Peter Dunn
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-17

MIA
MIA
1 Missing

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