Australians Commemorate an American Tragedy

On 4 June, 2000 in the seaside city of Mackay, Queensland, Australia, the Australian Returned and Service League (similar to the American Legion) held its annual B-17C 40-2072 Memorial service near the aircraft’s fatal resting ground. Only the Australians have remembered this US Army Air Force (USAAF) aircraft all these years whereas it has been forgotten in the US until now.

The service was attended by American representatives from the 5th Air Force, the USAF Air Attache to Australia, USN and USMC whose ships are in dock marched in the ceremony, US military retirees and one of the survivors of this aircraft.

This memorial is dedicated to the B-17C that crashed at Bakers Creek, outside of Mackay, on June 14, 1943 killing 40 of the 41 passengers and crews. It remains the worst Australian air disaster; it was the worst US military air disaster at that time and the worst single disaster of any of the 12,731 B-17s built. Sgt Robert Foye was the only survivor and his recollection of the crash had been limited due to injuries received; he now lives in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Reported by Eugene D. Rossel, Chino, California.