Sunday History Photo / Qld

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 08:56
ThreadID: 133262 Views:4491 Replies:4 FollowUps:1
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USAAF B-24D-53-CO Liberator, #42-40387, "Beautiful Betsy", of the 528th Bomb Squadron of the 380th Bomb Group went missing on 26 February 1945 with the loss of 8 lives (6 American and 2 British service personnel). The Liberator was on a Fat Cat mission from Fenton to Eagle Farm airfield. A Fat Cat Mission was for getting supplies for the bases, some missions were to Adelaide too.
The name Beautiful Betsy, painted on the nose, was coined by the original pilot after his wife Betsy Roth. The first combat mission was a raid over enemy-held Timor Island on June 15, 1943.(the day I was born) In the next eight months, she carried out 25 missions


The wreckage of "Beautiful Betsy" was not discovered until 49 years later on 2 August 1994, when park ranger, Mark Roe, was checking the results of a controlled burn-off in the Kroombit Tops National Park, about 80kms from Gladstone. Standing on an escarpment, he saw something glinting in the sunlight about 800 metres north of his location. He found the wreckage of "Beautiful Betsy" which had crashed on the side of an unnamed hillside
Authorities believe the aircraft was in a shallow descent during adverse weather just before dawn.



The distinctive tail section of the Liberator is intact, appearing to have separated from the fuselage on impact, thereby avoiding further damage. Both wings are also relatively intact, which supports the theory the mid-section of the plane hit first. Shards of aluminium debris are spread out 100m or more up the hill from the tail. The four giant engines broke free from the wings and propelled themselves up the hill, indicating the force of the impact. The Liberator bomber was fitted with four 14-cylinder Pratt and Whitney R-1839-43 twin wasp radial engines, each one rated at 1200hp.



Those killed were:- 1st Lieutenant William Emmett McDaniel - pilot , 2nd Lieutenant Eugene A. Kilcheski, 2nd Lieutenant Hilary E. Routt, Lieutenant Raymond L. Owen, Technical Sergeant Raymond L. Tucker, Technical Sergeant Harold J. Lemons. Flight Lieutenant Thomas John Donald Cook - British Spitfire pilot , and Flying Officer Roy Albert Arthur Cannon British Spitfire pilot

The following items were found in the wreckage:- Dental Prosthesis (bridge), 153 Bone fragments, Personal effects/material evidence, 9 Dog tags, 2 Bracelets, 38 Coins, 4 Gold rings, 1 Aviator's ring, Flare gun with flare, Aviator badge, Bomber Badge, Whistle, 2 Dress Uniform belt buckles, 9 Expended .45 cal rounds , British buttons, American buttons, Razor, Cigarette lighter, 3 Eyeglass frames, Pocket watch and a 1938 Class ring.

The pilot, Lt. Bill McDaniel, volunteered to pilot the plane which had suffered combat fatigue and was only used for short runs. It had been retired from combat for some time. It is believe that it was about to be grounded for good. Bill McDaniel was married to Lorene and had one son whom he never got to see. His widow, Lorene, was still living in 2001.
The discovery of the wreckage of a World War II American bomber In rugged terrain near Rockhampton has brought to light a 49-year-old mystery involving a young British pilot and his Brisbane bride-to-be, Flying Officer Roy Cannon, a 23-year-old Spitfire pilot who was a passenger on the doomed flight, was to have married his Aussie sweetheart just four days after he perished In the crash. Also killed was Cannon's intended best man, RAF Flt-Lt TJ. Cook.
Colin Tigwell, a RAAF historian, had been in touch with Sandra Burns and assisted her with information over a number of years in connection with her uncle Lt. Bill McDaniel, the pilot of "Beautiful Betsy".. Unfortunately Sandra has now lost contact with Colin Tigwell. Sandra has an audio tape that Colin had sent her several years before "Betsy" was found telling of search efforts and speculation of what may have happened to the aircraft. Colin also contacted Sandra when "Beautiful Betsy" was located.

When Sandra called Washington DC, she could tell that they were not pleased that she had been told of the findings. The funeral didn't happen for about a year. Some families did not know about the plane being found until just a few short weeks before the funeral. Sandra will always be grateful to Colin Tigwell for his concern and for contacting her family when he did.
Sandra was little when her Uncle, Bill McDaniel, went missing but he was always kept alive for their family by his mother, "Mama Mae". This is the nickname that his son gave to Sandra's grandmother. The family still use that name. Of course, "Mama Mae" is deceased now.


Beautiful Betsy was also used for stati-Chute experiments dropping wooden dummies fitted with Parachutes out of a slide fitted over the bomb bay doors, these experiments were carried our over the flood plain on Mt Bundy Station, Adelaide River, the tree behind the Jeep is still standing today.
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Reply By: Duncanm - Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 09:51

Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 09:51
Another very interesting story. Thanks again for all your great work.

These are very much a Sunday traditional read. Much like listening to Maca on the ABC when he is about.
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Reply By: Tony F8 - Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 10:14

Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 10:14
Well done once again Doug, never miss yours weekly stories
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 10:52

Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 10:52
Thanks Doug

Kroombit Tops is a great area for a drive if you are near Gladstone.

Alan

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Reply By: Member - John Q (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 17:46

Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 17:46
Hi Doug, Once again a great piece for our Sunday must read. Well done & thanks for your efforts.
just crusin & smelling the flowers

1. At Halls Creek (Is he really lost?)
2. East of Cameron Cnr


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Follow Up By: Member - Barry P (VIC) - Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 19:27

Sunday, Aug 21, 2016 at 19:27
thanks doug glad you put the story of betsy on,was there about 6 weeks ago,my camera was broken at the time,now i have everything in front of me,it was well worth the trip to go there bye barry
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