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  B-24D-5-CO "Little Eva" Serial Number 41-23762  
USAAF
5th AF
90th BG
321th BS

Click For EnlargementAerothentic 2000

Click For Enlargement

Justin Taylan 2006

Pilot  Lt. Norman R. Crosson (rescued December 15, 1942)
Co-Pilot  Lt. J. Dyer (KIA February 9, 1943)
Crew  Lt. Wilson (rescued December 15, 1942)
Crew  Lt McKeon (KIA December 3, 1942)
Crew  Lt Hilton (KIA December 3, 1942)
Crew  Cpl Gurdas (KIA December 3, 1942)
Crew  Lt. Workman (KIA December 3, 1942)
Crew  Lt. Speltz (KIA February 24, 1943
Crew  Lt. Grimes (KIA approx December 25, 1942)
Ball Turret  TSgt Grady S. Gaston (rescued March 23, 1943)

Crashed  December 3, 1942
MACR  none
Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot Lt. Norman R. Crosson. Nicknamed "Little Eva" by Crosson.

Mission History
On December 3, 1942 one of four B-24s that took off from Iron Range Airfield (Lockhart River Airport) on a high altitude bombing mission against a Japanese convoy spotted north of Buna. During the mission, this bomber became separated from the formation and aborted the mission. Returning to to base, the bomber became lost over the Gulf of Carpentaria and ran low on fuel. Pilot Crosson ordered the crew to all bail out and assemble at the crash site.

The B-24 flew onward without any pilot before impacting onto its belly near Moonlight Creek. Although all of the crew were ordered to bail out, it is believed McKeon, Hilton and Gurdas were working to free Workman's parachute which became caught in the door frame and all died when the bomber impacted the ground.

Fates of the Crew
The rest of the crew successfully parachuted to the ground, but landed in a very remote and desolate area of the Australian outback.

Only Crosson and Wilson managed to reach the bomber as planned and walked eastward for twelve days until spotted by a rancher and Aboriginal walking across Escott Station, roughly 15km west of Burketown on December 15, 1942. During their ordeal, Crosson's weight dropped from 205 lbs to 155 lbs while wandering the outback. Both were hospitalized and later returned to duty.

Grimes, Dyer, Speltic and Gaston landed near each other and headed to the west, attempting to walk across the outback to safety. Grimes reached Robinson River around December 25, 1942 but was swept into the ocean and drown. His body was found on the beach a few days later. Speltz died of exposure on February 24, 1943.

Gaston reached a paper bark hut on Seven Emu Station on March 23, 1943. He had gray hair and only weighed about 80 lbs from his ordeal in the outback. He returned to the United States and worked for the US Postal Service then retired in Alabama until he died in 1998.

Wreckage
During 1974, Syd Beck recovered a number of pieces of wreckage including the ball turret, an engine with propeller and main landing gear leg. All of these items are now on display at The Beck Museum.

Memorials
Gaston died January 8, 1998. He is buried in Baas Memorial Cemetery , Frisco City, AL

References
Note, another B-24 in the 320th Bombardment Squadron had the same nickname B-24D "Little Eva" 41-23772.
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 24 - 26
The Searchers profiles this aircraft
Savage Wilderness profiles this bomber and crew
The Crash of Little Eva profiles this bomber and crew
Flightpath Vol 12 No 3, pages 66-71
FindAGrave - Grady S. Gaston (grave photo, photos)
Oz@War "2 December 1942 - Crash of a B-24 Liberator near Moonlight Creek"
Savannah Aviation - Liberator Wreck at Moonlight Creek
Fight For Survival page 18-20 McMurria conversation with Crosson after his rescue

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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B-24

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