Accident Curtiss SO3C-1 Seagull 4834,
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Date:Friday 1 January 1943
Type:Curtiss SO3C-1 Seagull
Owner/operator:CL-57 US Navy
Registration: 4834
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Around 3° S 110° W -   Pacific Ocean
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:USS Montpelier
Destination airport:
The American light cruiser CL-57 Montpelier was commissioned on 9 September 1942. After some training it left Philadelphia on 13 December 1942 and soon joined a convoy to go to Southwest Pacific. On 1st January 1943 it was part of TF 13, sailing from Balboa, Panama, to Noumea, New Caledonia. This task force also included the escort carrier Chenango and 5 attack transports loaded with troops and supplies, under escort by three destroyers.

In the morning of 1st January, the Montpelier was preparing to launch one of her floatplanes. The pilot, Ens William Tallman Thompson, and his radioman, ARM2c C W Redish, got aboard the SO3C-1 Seagull Buno 4834 that was on the catapult waiting to be shot into the sky by a charge of powder. Before they were shot off the ship was going about 30 knots. At last everything was ready and all hands were watching as the plane was shot into the air at the speed of 50 miles per hour at 1119 hrs. But instead of going down and then up as the planes usually do this plane just kept going down. It hit the water at full force approximately 150 yards off the port beam of the cruiser and then the two 360 pound depth charges it was carrying exploded.

Two men were observed in the water, apparently clinging to the floating wreckage. The Montpelier stopped and lowered a whaleboat that recovered the injured radioman and the body of the dead pilot. At 1150, the La Vallette, one of the destroyers of the escort, destroyed the plane wreckage with depth charges and gunfire.

Thompson was the first dead of the war aboard Montpelier, that will survive naval battles and air and kamikaze hits without serious damage but will lose 12 crew in separate incidents between 1943 and 1945.

The next day, from 1427 to 1442 took place the burial ceremony of Thompson. All hands assembled on the fantail of the Montpelier and the Marines fired their rifles in salute. Prayers were also siad and taps were blown. The Americna flag was over the box made by the carpenters. When the signal was given, Thompson's body was dropped into the Pacific.

The precise location of the crash is not listed in the sources used below but according to the positions logged at 1200 hrs by the various ships of the convoy is around 3° S 110° W.


USS Montpelier war diary, January 1943 (available online at
USS George Clymer war diary, January 1943 (available online at
Transport Division 5 war diary, January 1943 (available online at
Destroyer Division 42 war diary, December 1942-January 1943 (available online at
"Pacific War Diary, 1942-1945. The secret diary of an American sailor", by James J. Fahey. ISBN 0-618-40080-X

Revision history:

23-Nov-2018 09:42 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Time, Operator, Total occupants, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Dec-2020 21:07 Reno Raines Updated [Operator, Operator]

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