USAAF Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber 41-2421

Aircraft wreck
North and Cape York

Horn Island Airfield, Horn Island 4875

On 16 July 1942, Major Clarence McPherson and 1st Lieutenant Pencuick with seven crew were flying in a salvage crew of seven men with spare parts and equipment to repair another B17 (41-2633, later known as Sally) that had crashed on Horn Island a few days earlier. They were carrying a complete landing gear, wheel, tire and break assembly, two propellers, and a great variety of tools. This crash is the largest aviation disaster Torres Strait has known, with the loss of 16 men. Witnesses say the aircraft came in low, attempted a very steep banking turn, and then with the heavy spare parts shifting, the aircraft’s wing dipped and slicing like a knife, she went into the ground. The aircraft exploded and was well on fire by the time rescuers’ arrived, leaving them to helplessly watch as the aircraft burned—all onboard were killed.


Vanessa Seekee Torres Strait Heritage