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  B-24D-53-CO "Beautiful Betsy" Serial Number 42-40387  
5th AF
380th BG
528th BS

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Aerothentic 1999

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Justin Taylan 2003

Pilot  1st Lt. William E. McDaniel, O-696476 (MIA / KIA) San Angelo, TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. Eugene A. Kilcheski, O-834448 (MIA / KIA) Trenton, NJ
Navigator  2nd Lt. Hilary E. Routt, 2060434 (MIA / KIA) Upton, KY
Navigator/Bombardier  2nd Lt. Jack W. Owen, 1686450 (MIA / KIA) CO
Engineer  Sgt Raymond L. Tucker, 32167086 (MIA / KIA) Ellendale, DE
Radio  Sgt Harold J. Lemons, 14053461 (MIA / KIA) Stokesdale, NC
Passenger  F/L Thomas John Donald Cook, 124854 RAF, 548 Squadron (MIA / KIA) Surrey, UK
Passenger  F/O Roy Albert Arthur Cannon, 142064 RAF, 548 Squadron (MIA / KIA) UK

Crashed  February 26, 1945
MACR  12758

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego between February 4-16, 1944. Constructors Number 1464. First flight on February 20, 1943. Flown to Fort Worth modification center on March 6, 1943, then departed on March 26 via Topeka, Kansas to Hamilton Field.

Wartime History
On April 15, 1943 departed Hamilton Field and flown overseas arriving at Amberly Field near Brisbane. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, this B-24 was flown by the 90th Bombardment Group, 319th Bombardment Squadron on a familiarization mission. Assigned to the 380th Bombardment Group, 528th Bombardment Squadron based at Fenton Field. Nicknamed "Beautiful Betsy". Crew chief MSgt Elmer S. Riding.

This B-24's first mission was June 11, 1943 piloted by Roth on a bombing mission against Koepang. In total, this B-24 flew 22 combat missions. Retired from combat, it served as a "fat cat" cargo and transport aircraft.

Mission History
On February 26, 1945 took off from Darwin at 2200 hours on a ferry flight bound for Eagle Farm Airfield near Brisbane. Aboard were two Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire pilots from 548 Squadron and passengers from the 380th Bombardment Group's 528th and 530th Bombardment Squadrons. When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-40387, 42-90445, BP-428061 and CP-302849. No weapons were aboard when lost.

Two days later, two B-24s flew the route but failed to find any trace of the missing bomber, focusing on the Claraville area where the bomber was last reported at 3:00am.

This B-24 crashed into a hillside west of Biloela near Monto, roughly 80km from Gladstone, Queensland in the present day Kroombit Tops National Park.

On August 2, 1994 park ranger, Mark Roe was checking the results of a controlled burn-off in the area and while standing on an escarpment, saw something glinting in the sunlight about 800m to the north and found the crash site and reported it to authorities.

Recovery of Remains
During 1994, the Australian Army and U. S. Army CILHI visited the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew. The team recovered a dental prosthesis (bridge), 153 bone fragments and personal effects including: 9 dog tags, 2 ID bracelets, 38 coins, 4 gold rings and an aviator's ring. Also, a flare gun with flare, aviator badge, bomber badge, whistle, two dress uniform belt buckles, 9 expended .45 cal rounds, 2 British buttons, 12 American buttons. Also a razor, cigarette lighter, three eyeglass frames, a pocket watch, and 1938 class ring.

The crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The American crew members were memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

After the discovery of the crash site, a bronze plaque was attached to a rock at the crash site that reads:
"In memory of the six Americans and and two British airmen who lost their lives here 27 February 1945.
Lt. William McDaniel (Captain)  380th Bomb Group, USAF
Lt. Eugene A. Kilcheski (Co-Pilot)  380th Bomb Group, USAF
Lt. Jack W. Owen (Navigator/bombardier)  380th Bomb Group, USAF
Lt. Raymond S. Tucker (Engineer)  380th Bomb Group, USAF
Sgt Harold J. Lemons (Radio operator)   380th Bomb Group, USAF
Passengers: British Spitfire pilots
Flg. Off. Roy Cannon   548th Squadron, RAF
Flt. Lt. Thomas Cook  548th Squadron, RAF

After the recovery of remains in 1994, the remains of the crew and passengers were buried on September 29, 1995 at Arlington National Cemetery at section 34, collective grave 2084. The grave incorrectly lists their date of death as February 27, 1946.

Kilcheski also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at section MC site 32E.

Owen is memorialized on a marker "in memory of those who died in service" at Hillside Cemetery in Fort Lupton, CO at Blk 80 Lot 3 Grave 1 & Memorial Stone.

Lorene McDaniel Sands (widow of William McDaniel)
Sandra Kay Proctor (niece of William McDaniel)

Missing Air Crew Report 12758 (MACR 12758)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William E. McDaniel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Eugene A. Kilcheski
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Hilary E. Routt
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack W. Owen
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold J. Lemons
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond L. Tucker
CWGC - Thomas John Donald Cook
CWGC - Roy Albert Arthur Cannon
FindAGrave - 1Lt William E Mcdaniel (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - William E McDaniel (Arlington group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Eugene A Kilcheski (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Eugene A Kilcheski (Arlington memorial marker)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Hilary E Routt
FindAGrave - Lieut Hilary E Routt (Arlington group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Jack W Owen
FindAGrave - Lieut Jack W Owen (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - TSgt Raymond L Tucker
FindAGrave - Harold Jefferson Lemons (Arlington group burial photo)
The Searchers covers the discovery of this crash site
380th BG Association - B-24D "Beautiful Betsy" 42-40387
380th BG Association - B-24D "Beautiful Betsy " 42-40387 - Mission Record

Australian Army report on B-24 "Beautiful Betsy" 1994
Aerothentic "Rundle's Obsession Beautiful Betsy 42-40387
ABMC previously listed "remains recovered" for each American crew member
Best in the Southwest page 41, 72, 474 (photos, artwork)
King of the Heavies page 160

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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