Sunday History Photo / NT ....the 50th

Submitted: Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 01:19
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F/o Arthur Keith Kelly.

Gunnery training (mock interceptions) of crews was setup with Australian and United States military personnel to academically prepare both countries' airmen with added experience to accompany them as they continued to rout the Japanese from New Guinea and the Dutch East Indies.(Indonesia)

A USAAF B-24 D Liberator #42-40935 (Queer Dear) of the 380th Bomb Group stationed at Darwin/Fenton, went up to Melville Island on a gunnery training mission. The bomber's gunnery crew was to encounter several Australian Spitfire fighter planes to increase their accuracy potential of finding enemy fighter planes and engaging them.
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On 18 September 1944, Flying Officer Arthur Keith Kelly (S/n 401968) of 452 Squadron RAAF, piloting Spitfire A58-435, was taking part in the interception and attack exercise on the B-24 Liberator, whilst carrying out a head-on quarter attack, Another Spitfire Pilot (Red 3) saw some pieces fly off the B-24 Liberator after F/O Kelly's attack on the B-24. Red 3 then saw F/O Kelly's Spitfire spiralling downwards. Red 3 followed the damaged Spitfire down and noticed that the port wing of F/O Kelly's aircraft was jagged near the outboard gun. Spitfire A58-435 spiralled into the sea about 1 mile east of Cape Van Diemen, on Melville Island and disappeared. Upon impact, the right wing of the bomber, flying at 10,000 feet, went perpendicular to the ground. The pilot and co-pilot frantically worked the rudders to level the bomber back to an upright position. The bomber's intercom was chaotic as the pilot ordered everyone to bail out. Radio Operator TSgt John H. Miller was sitting at his radio work station, working a crossword puzzle when the Aussie Spitfire hit their No1 engine, slamming his head into the radar screen. Up above, the upper turret gunner, Robert G. Gjerstad, fell from his upper position, hitting the radio operator with his body.
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F/O Kelly was not able to exit his aircraft before it hit the water. An extensive search by Air-Sea-Rescue failed to find any sign of F/O Kelly. His body was never found. He was listed as "Missing Believed Killed".
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The B-24 Liberator although damaged, was able to land safely at Darwin Airfield after this tragic accident.
One of the crew members of the B-24 Liberator was Everett D. Bever, the Bombardier. The following is an extract from his diary entry for 18 September 1944.
"Our entire crew went up over Melville Island on a gunnery training mission. I experienced my greatest scare and narrowest escape from death when a Spitfire flew head on into our No1 engine. Aussie pilot killed. Everyone hurried into their chutes. Everyone was plenty scared. Threw everything overboard. Had our choice of bailing out or riding it in for a landing. All chose to stay with the plane. John and Paul (pilot/copilot) did a miraculous job of flying and landed safely. Doc gave us some sleeping tablets. Hester went to the hospital."
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Gunner Hester from his Waist Gun position watched the Spitfire crash into their No1 engine. He spent over two weeks in the hospital after witnessing the incident.
Special Thanks to the son of Everett D. Bever, William D. Bever,
of McKinney, Texas , USA who sent the Engine photo's to me last week.


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Reply By: CLC50 (QLD ) - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 05:57

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 05:57
Hi Doug & don't forget Dusty
Thanks for posting this Story
I find these stories on our past hero's , of great interest as I was seven then ,as I lived in Northwood ,Lane Cove Sydney ,I still remember spending a night in a air raid shelter in Northwood Park,when the Jap subs got in to Sydney Harbour, I thank all the service Men who gave us our Life Style.
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Follow Up By: Richard Kovac - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 19:02

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 19:02
This post has been read by the moderation team and has been moderated due to a breach of The Inappropriate Rule .

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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 19:59

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 19:59
Just to set the record straight here and inform a certain continuous nagging member of many posts I make with comments dreamed up from the story books that his suggestion is 100% incorrect in that the text is a mix from files from the NAA and the 380th Bomb Group Heavy Association with permission from the Secretary , Mrs Barbara Gotham, W Lafayette Indianna.
and also some text from Peter Dunn's website , also with Peter's permission whom I'm constantly in contact with,
I might also add that certain member has been a long time protaginist in trying to provoke arguments with me on this forum , I usually just treat childish comments with the contempt it deserves and move on knowing that this fantastic website is just not viewed by us members and visitors here in Australia but by people around the world therefore a standard must be adhered to.

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Follow Up By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:05

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:05

Many of us look forward to your Sunday posts. If I remember correctly it even has the Bosses approval ;)

It is good to see posts that are factual and informative about Australia's history.

Cheers Kev
Russell Coight:
He was presented with a difficult decision: push on into the stretching deserts, or return home to his wife.

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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:10

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:10
It's good that you aren't letting it bother you Doug.

It's interesting stuff that you post and if those of us in the lower half of the country could visit the places you do in Darwin it would promote some interest with us too.

It's good that people like you, in places that were directly affected by WW2, are sharing your interests with us.

I have always been surprised as to how close Japanese forces got to us but it wasn't until I went to live and work in PNG for 4 years in the early 70's that I learnt the truth. Heck, as a kid I thought that Guadalcanal was a central American place because of the John Wayne movies. It's just over the way from QLD and was the location of a massive naval battle between Japan and the US (and Australia).

Just keep the info coming mate.

and look after Dusty.

I'm glad I ain't too scared to be lazy
- Augustus McCrae (Lonesome Dove)

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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:22

Sunday, May 24, 2009 at 20:22
You have all my support Doug....just nice to hear some real stories about what happened in the NT in the 2nd WW spent my last 3 years in the Army up there in the 80's.
Cheers Bruce
D.Max and Jayco Outback

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