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5th Bomber Command
|Pilot 1st Lieutenant Ross A. Sieh, O-874047 15th WS (MIA / KIA) OK
Passenger W/O John W. Newton, Jr., W2107177 15th WS (MIA / KIA) SC
Passenger Captain John W. Duerst, O-428807 11th Sqn, 8th Air Service (MIA / KIA, BR)
Passenger S/Sgt Edward L. Kryk, 13012280 11th Sqn, 8th Air Service (MIA / KIA)
Passenger Flora May Logan (KIA)
Crashed September 30, 1944
Eyewitnesses, mostly military, saw the plane hurtle into the bay about a mile and a half from Bishop Island. George Edward Rowell recalls this crash “In 1944 whilst I was on watch at the Pile Light signal station I observed an aircraft flying on the western side of Moreton Bay, travelling in a northerly direction. It appeared to be at an altitude of about 3000-4000 ft and was holding an even height. In an endeavour to identify the aircraft I used a telescope and was certain it was a US B-25 Mitchell Bomber. Suddenly, it disintegrated before my eyes with the debris falling into the sea”.
Rescue and salvage parties sped from Brisbane, and Constable R. Newham, of the Water Police, assisted the American Army authorities to locate part of the wreckage. Then Constable T. Johnston and J. Ferguson, in the water police launch, took up patrol of the locality, which continued for days. The assisted salvage parties to haul up part of the wreckage to the surface.
Ted Crouch who lived in Bishop Island at the time of the crash recalls that two bodies were recovered; “The day after, my sister and I were walking along the beach on Bishop Island and came across the body of one of the crew. Two days later, my mother and I came across the headless body of the pilot. The remaining three members and the girl were never found. While I do not know the names of the other US servicemen, one of the victims of this accident was a local girl, Flora May Logan, 21, of Felix Street Wooloowin. Miss Logan left her former employment at F.Tritton Pty. Ltd of George Street, to undertake secretarial work for the American Army Authorities. She was employed as a stenographer by the US Air Operational section.
A memorial service was conducted at St Andrews’s Presbyterian Church in the City on Thursday 5th October at 3pm, after which aircraft dropped wreaths over the locality in the bay where the fatality occurred.
The pilot, 2nd Lieutenant Ross A. Sieh was part of the 15th Weather Squadron, a special reconnaissance unit that was formed in March 1944 to carry out comprehensive weather reconnaissance flights in B-25 Mitchells. Brigadier General Jarred V. Crabb, Commander of the Fifth Bomber Command sought volunteer crews to fly weather missions to remote Japanese held areas of New Guinea. Pilots who were proficient in instrument flying were encouraged to apply. Crews who volunteered were sent home earlier than normal combat crews.
Edward L. Kryk's dogtag was found in Port Moresby by Henry Mayer, where presumably, he dropped it or was discarded after his loss.
Duerst is buried at Honolulu Cemtery (Punchbowl) at plot: F grave 127.
Kryk is buried at Saint Patricks Cemetery in Franklin, PA.
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