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  Lockheed L-18-56 Lodestar Registration VH-CAB  
Qantas Empire Airways
Former Assignments
5th AF
374th TCG
22nd TCS

Pilot  S/Ldr William Geoffrey Campbell, RAAF 261730 (KIA) Marrickville, NSW
1st Officer P/O John Randolph Fleming Henderson, RAAF 410863 (KIA) Prahran, VIC
Radio  F/Sgt Neil Grosvenor Evan, 417064 RAAF (KIA) Rosslyn Park, SA
 P/O Keith George Shankland Little, 267726 RAAF (KIA) Bronte, NSW
Passenger  Robert E. Lewis, 280 Red Cross Correspondent (KIA) Columbus, OH
Passenger Harry H. Poague Red Cross Correspondent (KIA) KY
Passenger  Lt. Col. C. V. Ferry Royal Army Service Corp (KIA)
Passenger  Lt Col Edward John Marston, VX39064 AIF (KIA) East Malvern, VIC
Passenger  Major J. F. McCarthy  NX7195 AIF (KIA) Cameray, NSW
Passenger  Lt Col John Benedict Bolger, AIF NX462 (KIA) Malvern, VIC
Passenger  2nd Lt John E. Brown, 01298384 US Army Courier (KIA)
Passenger  S/Sgt Vincent W. Novak, 33362619 27th Air Depot Group (KIA) PA
Passenger  Captain John W. Baish, 0384600 US Army (KIA) PA
Passenger  Colonel Frank O. Dewey, O-11386 US Army, Cav-Gen HQ SWPA (KIA)
Passenger  F/Sgt Leslie Harold Jenke, 8868 RAAF (KIA) Point Pass, SA

Crashed  November 26, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed. Constructor Number 18-2103. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) as serial number LT9-08. Instead, operated by the U. S. Army, 5th Air Force, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron with Australian call sign VH-CAB. This aircraft was later allocated the U. S. Army designation C-56B with serial number 42-68348.

During September 1942, operated by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) for Allied Directorate of Air Transport. When this aircraft crashed, this loss was the largest loss of life on a single Qantas aircraft to date.

Mission History
On November 26, 1943 took off from 5-Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby on a flight bound for Garbutt Field near Townsville. Struck the top of a hill shortly after take off at 4:00am. The 15 crew and passengers were killed. When the aircraft was overdue at Townsville, intensive searches were conducted and the crashed aircraft was located. At Port Moresby, the crash site was located few minutes after loss, on one of the westerly peaks only 40' from the top. Possibly 13km out from the airfield.

Robert Piper adds:
"I think this Lodestar may have even been ex Dutch. The pilot, when I examined his RAAF file, was too inexperienced for night departures at that stage of his career in such a fast aircraft. He was SQNLDR W.G. Campbell aged 32. Ex civil light aircraft flying instructor with a little time on Ansons and Oxfords. There are several peaks west of Wards Strip only a few miles out (see map) and he obviously hit one, either heading west or as he swung south for Australia. There is a civil aviation NDB tower and service road out there and at one stage I sighted an undercarriage leg in a deep crevice in the road and then and now wonder whether it was part of the Lockheed. Carried or thrown there."

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash. After the recovery of remains, the Australian and British were buried at Bomana Cemetery. Campbell at B2, D, 15. Henderson at B2, D, 16. Evan at B2, D, 10. Little at B2, D, 12. Marston at B2, D, 14. McCarthy at B2, D, 9. Bolger at B2, D, 11. Jenke at B2, D, 17.

Postwar, the remains of the Americans were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Poague, Lewis and Novak are buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl).
Dewey is buried at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at plot 2 site 212A.
Brown is buried in a private cemetery in Michigan, details unknown.
Baish buried in a private cemetery in PA, details unknown.

Canberra Time "Mystery surrounds 1943 Qantas crash in PNG" by Robert Piper, May 8, 2000
RAAFDB - Lockheed VH-CAB
List of Qantas Fatal Accidents 26 November 1943 42-68348
A Gripping Account of 54 War Correspondents K.I.A. in WWII 1940-1945 biographies of Poague and Lewis
General Douglas MacArthur cabled the American Red Cross in Washington, D.C.: 26 November 1943:
"It is my painful duty to inform you of the death in New Guinea of Robert E. Lewis and Harry H. Poague in an airplane accident. Both served with courage and devotion and fulfilled the important duties of war correspondents with value to their country."
Heaton & Poague - Harry H. Poague Biography
FindAGrave - Harry H Poague
FindAGrave - Frank O. Dewey listed as Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at plot 2 site 212A
FindAGrave - Frank O Dewey (grave photo) listed as Fort Riley Post Cemetery at Plot E grave 151
FindAGrave - Vincent W. Novak
FindAGrave - Robert E Lewis
Thanks to Robert Piper and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
September 25, 2018


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