Plane Crash Jan. 15, 1943

Suriname Trip April 08
Plane Crash Jan. 15, 1943

"Worst Air Disaster Kills 35" - NY Times Headlines Jan.22, 1943

Douglas C-54 in Flight
Under Contract to the Air Transport Command

Betsy Cowan and other relatives of the 35 passengers killed in what was at the time the worst air disaster in the Western Hemisphere need your help. A C-54 flown by a TWA crew under contract to the Air Transport Command, most likely on its way to the Casablanca Conference, crashed in the jungle 30 miles from Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana (now Suriname). Rumors of a bomb on board caused the pilot, Benjamin Hart Dally, to land in Trinidad and search the plane. A screwdriver was found in the hatch containing the IFF  device. No bomb was found. Two identical C-54 planes traveling just 1/2 hour before and after this plane noticed anti-aircraft fire coming from what appeared to be an enemy submarine. Consequently, security at US Bases worldwide was beefed up by Maj. Gen. Harold George immediately following this tragic disaster.

Maj. Eric M. Knight


Among those lost was my grandfather, Maj. Eric Mowbray Knight, highest-ranking military personnel on board the plane and author of the beloved novel, Lassie Come-Home. He was a devoted patriot of both his land of birth, Yorkshire, Eng.,  and adopted country, the USA. Having fought in WWI in the Princess Pat's Canadian Light Infantry, he reinlisted in the US Army and helped co-author the film, Battle of Britain in the "Why We Fight" Series under the direction of Frank Capra.

Eric Knight visits Eleanor Roosevelt 1941

 After the publication of his #1 Best Seller, This Above All, the Knights were invited to FDR's estate at Hyde Park, NY and also to the White House.

Knight and wife, Jere at Hyde Park, NY, 1941

Under great secrecy, FDR left Washington, in a Douglas C-54 two days before my grandfather. Reports are that Nazi submarines mistook Knight's C-54 for the one FDR was to be on. As it was, FDR switched planes at the last minute and took a Boeing 314 seaplane from Miami to Belem, Brazil to Dakar, West Africa. Word of the tragic crash was kept secret until FDR was safely back from the Casablanca Conference a week later.

at Casablanca, Morocco Jan. 1943

FDR, at the Casablanca Conference, is wearing a black armband. At his side is son, Lt. Col. Elliott Roosevelt. Winston Churchill, also at the Conference, assisted FDR onto the C-54 piloted by Cpt. Donald Terry for the return trip to the U.S. "These aeroplane journeys...I always regarded them as dangerous excursions." - The Hinge of Fate by Winston Churchill, pg. 695.


Transcontinental & Western Airlines


Capt. Benjamin Hart Dally, Jr, 35

Pilot, TWA

Wife Susan H. Dally

Daughter Judith Ann

18 Roland Parkway

Alexandria, VA

(originally from Mission, KS)


Dr. Samuel S. Dorrance

Flight Surgeon, TWA

Brother Dr. Dorrance

Wife Dorothy Elsa Smith Dorrance

40 S. Main Ave.

Parents Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Dransky

Albany, NY


Theodore M. Wagner, 26

First Officer,TWA

Wife Mrs. R.M. Wagner

Glen Echo Park, MD


Everett Lee Bacon, 31

Second Officer, TWA

Son, Roger Lee Bacon, 3

5310 Stoneleigh

Dallas, TX


Jason E. Voss, 23

First Navigator, TWA

Parents Mr. & Mrs. Elmer C. Voss

5058 Oleathea Ave.

St. Louis, MO Western Air


James M. Kane, 26

Second Navigator, TWA

Wife Alice Bernice Kane

Daughter Judith Mayreen

434 Oakhurst Drive

Beverly Hills, CA


Clyde E. Quisenberry, 31

Flight Engineer, TWA

Wife Mary Quisenberry

5 East Howell St.

Alexandria, VA


Leonard La Frank, 31

First Radio Officer, TWA

Wife Joan B. La Frank

Son Victor La Frank

20 Forest St

Alexandria, VA


Leo J. Moriarty, 19

Second Radio Operator,TWA

Parents M&M Leo F. Moriarity

2820 Monterey St.

St. Joseph, MO


Eugene A. Dempf

Flight Purser, TWA

Mother Mathilda Dempf

1729 Norman St

Brooklyn, NY

Eric Knight and Lassie on movie set Hollywood, 1942



Eric M. Knight, 45, Major, USA, OSS,

Author of Lassie Come Home

Jere B. Knight, Quakertown, PA


Albert L. Seeman, Capt., SC

Mrs. Elizabeth G. Seeman

Seattle, WA


Basil D. (Red) Gallagher, Capt.

Sp. Services,

Upper Darby, PA, Plainfield, NJ


Charles W. Campbell, First Lieutenant

Quartermasters Corps

Ruth N. Campbell

Salt Lake City, UT


Peter D. Barnhart, First Lieutenant, SC

Parents Rev. & Mrs. P.W. Barnhart

418 Lovejoy St.

Atlanta, GA


Donald C. Martin, First Lieutenant

Air Corps

Ann Arbor, MI


Carl A. Matteo, 25, Second Lieutenant

Air Corps

Niles, OH


Robert B. Walker, Second Lieutenant

Air Corps

Seattle, WA


John T. Girling, Second Lieutenant

Air Corps

Los Angeles, CA


Thomas L. Gallagher, Second Lieutenant

Air Corps

Upper Darby, PA


Max Solomon, Second Lieutenant

Air Corps

Turners Falls, MA


Charles S Shively, Flight Officer

Air Corps

North Bend, OR


Russell A. Baughman, Staff Sergeant

Air Corps

Whittaker, PA


Ellis H. Roberts, Jr., Staff Sergeant

Air Corps

Denham, TX


Heyward O. Wylie, Staff Sergeant

Air Corps

Decatur, IL


Roger M. Stoflet, Staff Sergeant

Air Corps

Mother Lulu Stoflet

Lyons, WI


Oscar Spahr, Jr., Sergeant

Air Corps

Irene I. Spahr

Miami Beach, FL


Charles S. Roberts, Jr., Sergeant

Air Corps

Mother Sarah L. Roberts

Bowman, GA



Percy E. Foxworth, 36

Asst. Dir. FBI

New York Office

Mrs. Sarah Ann Foxworth

New York, NY


Harold D. Haberfeld, 30

Special Agent,  FBI,

worked in Algiers

Buffalo, NY


William Hodson

U. S. State Department,

NY Welfare Commissioner

Minneapolis, MN

dau. Mrs. Thomas Street


James W. Seeger

Civilian Employee,

Army Signal Corps

Fort Monmouth, NJ


Charles Howell Brown

California-Arabian Oil Co.


Osmon E. Henryson, 37

U. S. State Department,

Diplomatic Clerk to

Am. Consulate Gen., Algiers

Washington, DC

Story City, IA


Morris Lewis, 34

Information Specialist,

Office Brig. Gen F.H. Osborn

Spec. Serv. War Dept.,

Former Publicity Director

Committee to Defend America

Mary Owings Lewis

66 West 11th St.

New York City, NY



We would like to hear from any relatives of those killed. We would appreciate information from any of those associated with Maj. Gen. Harold George's investigation, personnel who went to the crash site, or ground crew associated with Franklin Delano Roosevelt's leaving the United States Jan. 11, 1943 (Bolling Air Force Base). Persons associated with German Abwar or submarine activities around South America may have the information we need. ANY FORMER OR PRESENT FBI PERSONNEL COULD ESPECIALLY PROVIDE CRITICAL INFORMATION!

You may email me at:

Here are some websites you may find interesting:

Early Douglas Aircraft Info:

More on the C-54:

Dave Edhard's documentary about Suriname in WWII:

About the Air Transport Command:

The FBI's page on the crash:

More information on Foxworth:

More information on Haberfeld:

Liberty Ship named after Foxworth:

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