Midway Island, Navy Plane Crashes, May 1935


Only Wreckage of Craft That
Carried 2 Officers and 4
Men Is Found in Sea


Machine Fell in Ocean Near
Midway Isles After Aiding
Another Forced Down


Third Phase of Problem 16 Is
Completed — The Manoeuvres
Will Continue to June 10

en route from Midway Islands
to Pearl Harbor, May 23 — The loss
of a twin-engined long-range patrol
plane, the 6P7, which "spun into"
the Pacific forty-two miles south
of the Midway Islands Tuesday
night, killing its crew of six, curtailed
the climax of the third phase
of the navy's annual manoeuvres.
As a result of the crash, the third
fatal accident since the manoeuvres
started, all aerial operations yesterday
were confined to a search for
the wreckage of the missing plane
or the bodies of its crew, and after
a short "battle" between the opposing
White and Black surface fleets,
which was shorn of much of its
impressiveness by the disaster, the
"war" was halted.
The ban on radio communication
and the secrecy with which
the fleet's operations have been
shrouded since the White forces'
sortie from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,
a week ago were lifted late last
night, some hours after the "armistice,"
and as more than 150 menof-
war started back to Pearl Harbor
flagship radiomen commenced
sending to the world the story of
the fleet's activities.

Censorship Is Lifted

In addition to Tuesday night's
tragedy, three other less serious
accidents occurred since the White
forces left Hawaii. Another patrol!
plane made a forced landing near
the Mid-way Islands and sank, al-1
though its crew was saved, and two
destroyers, the Decatur and Buchan,
damaged during refueling
operations were sent back to Pearl
Harbor for repairs.
In an earlier phase of the problem,
one man had been killed and four
injured when the destroyers Sicard
and Lea were badly damaged in a
night collision, and an officer
pilot of a plane from the carrier
Saratoga was lost when the plane
dived into the sea.
The plane that crashed Tuesday
night was attached to VP Squadron
6-F from Pearl Harbor and was one
of the forty-three patrol planes that
flew 1,200 miles to the Midway Islands
ten days ago.
Its crew, all of whom are believed
lost, included Lieutenant
Harry Alfred Brandenburger, Lieutenant
(junior grade) Charles Joseph
Skelly, Aviation Chief Machinist's
Mate P. C. Pitts, Chief Radioman
F. M. Derry, Aviation Machinist's
Mate (first class) P. J. Proteau
and Aviation Machinist's Mate
(third class) O. A. Sharpe.
Two Annapolis Graduates.
Lieutenant Brandenburger, who
was executive officer of Patrol
Squadron 6, was born in Illinois
thirty-seven years ago and was
graduated from Annapolis in 1921.
Lieutenant Skelly, who was 30,
was a Californian. He was graduated
from the academy in 1927.
Pitts's home was a t Ocean View,
Va. Proteau was from Wrentham,
Mass. Sharpe's home was at
Heavener, Okla. Derry was from
Gloucester, Mass.
The accident occurred after an
impressive bombing attack by two
patrol plane squadrons on the
White fleet, which was approaching
the Midway Islands from the
south. The steady lights of the
huge patrol planes, which for the
first time were based on the Midway
Islands' lagoon and which had
been flying for thousands of miles
above the open ocean during the
past week, were sighted by the surface
ships of the White fleet shortly
after dusk.
VP Squadrons 4 and 6 made an attack
under orders from Rear Admiral
A. W. Johnson, commanding
the aircraft base force of the United
States fleet with temporary headquarters
at Midway Islands. The
big planes droned steadily southward,
passed above the screening
vessels of the White fleet at about
7 P. M., Twelfth Zone time [3 A. M.
Wednesday, New York daylight
time] and disappeared in the darkness
to the north.

May 24, 1935 edition of The New York Times