BEFORE AND AFTER PAGE 5
Continuing the 90th BG
BA5 #2a 18MAR43 ONE TIME crash landed at Darwin. The name of the ship was " One Time ", and yes, it was a long battle.. I think I sent you the Recommendation for the Distinguished Flying Cross? That details the fight.. We were credited with 4 confirmed, 3 probables. All I know, is I counted 15 fighters, some of the gunners counted 12.. very difficult to count them during a fight like that. There were 5 left when we were done. Our nose gunner, Ken Strait, was pretty badly hit, I think he had a bullet in almost every joint on the left side of his body.. While the fight was very rough and mean, the tension did not decrease after the fighters left. It took us several hours to climb to 800 Ft. from 200.. Keep in mind that on a lone recon the B-24 had little or no protection from the bottom. So, we headed for the deck, and then they couldn't get under us to wipe us out. When we hit the coast of Australia, we couldn't find Darwin.. I was on the radio almost constantly talking to the base, but it was dusk and we couldn't see any lights.. First I asked them to turn on the runway lights, and when they said they were on, I asked them to have searchlights turned on and aimed straight up so the light would bounce off the clouds.. As we were preparing to bail out, one of the crew let out a yell over the intercom and said "I see the lights ".. I then asked the Ground Station to have Ambulance and Crash Crew standing by. When we were on final, the pilot said I am lowering the gear.. since we had been having fires aboard from leaking hydraulic fluid, we were worried about that, but the gear came down and then we hit the runway and suddenly the pilot yelled " The brakes are gone ".. and everybody braced themselves.. Bert Jordan was preparing to start the Auxillary Generator right below the flight deck, I reached down and got him by the shirt collar and pulled him up on the flight deck - pretty crowded there. When we reached the end of the runway, Currie tried to maneuver the ship down a road that took us away from the fuel dump and we hit trees until the right gear went and swung us around to a violent stop. We on the flight deck went out the top hatch; several men threw Strait up through the hatch to 2 more standing on top, and then the bombardier hurried him off the wing leading edge to the ground. When I got on top I saw they were moving slow, so I jumped off the high side and started to run. We were all afraid that the ship would blow up.. but she didn't .. I talked to an Aussie who had helped drain the tanks, and he said we had 8 gallons in one tank and less than 5 in the others.. The only injury due to the crash, the photographer, cut his finger.. Lucky.. you bet!!
BA5 #3 PUG NOSE, 41-23823 was one of the first B-24Ds to reach Australia, having been sent onwards from Hawaii originally having been destined for the 307th Bomb Group. It flew initially with the 19th BG before taking up residence with the 90th but was declared War Weary fairly early and becoming a transport. In this photo taken at Ward's Strip Port Moresby it can be seen that it never received the 90th's 'skull and cross bombs' tail and has already been stripped of armament.
B5 #5 90BG B-24D1 42-72806 "Ten Knights in a Bar Room" had been named and decorated in Port Moresby as a play on words after the book "Ten Nights in a Bar Room, and What I Saw There" by Timothy S. Arthur in 1854. The book become a famous temperance novel, moralizing on the certainties of bar-room life, and was also made into a play.
B5 #5a 1DEC43 TEN KNIGHTS was shot down over Wewak. After bombing Wewak around 11:12, a single Ki-61 Tony attacked from the direction of the sun, and fired a momentary but accurate burst that hit the port wing of this bomber, causing it to explode in mid-air. S/Sgt James W Cayten, tail gunner of B-24 "Blonde Bomber" witnessed: "the number two engine caught fire. Approximately 15 seconds after the engine was afire, flames broke out through the bomb bay, and waist windows. I saw three chutes open behind the plane. I also saw an object which might have been a man leave the ship, but no parachute was seen. I saw two parachutes float with the clouds, and watched the other until out of view. The plane started losing altitude just after the engine was hit. After approximately a minute and half the plane went into a dive and started breaking apart”. S/Sgt Clarence Roper, right waist of B-24 "Blonde Bomber" witnessed: “Shortly after observing the fire in the waist, number two engine blew up and the wing came off, and as the plane started down the tail came off”. The attacking Tony was observed to turn on its back and follow the wreckage almost to the ground. Some in the Liberators wondered why it did not make opportunity for a second pass."
B5 #6a On 22MAR44 while operating with the Combat Replacement Training Centre, WEEZIE flew a travel flight from Moresby to Nadzab with three crew and 15 passengers but failed to arrive. It was discovered in the early 1980s having flown into Mt Thumb. The right hand fin is displayed in the PNG Military Museum and was photographed there by myself.
93rd Bomb Group, European Theatre
BA5 #10a 03MAY43 hit a hill at 1100ft near Grindavik in Iceland on flight to USA while searching for RAF Kaldadarnes (an alternate for Meeks Field) in fog and with impossible radio conditions; Lt Gen Frank M Andrews and Bishop Adna Wright Leonard killed. The pilot was Capt Robert H. Shannon, who had completed his tour with the 93BG. Shannon had brought 41- 23728 overseas and was now going to fly it home. Andrews took the place of the co-pilot. There were 15 total crew and passengers on board. Some say that Andrews was flying the ship when it crashed, in terrible weather conditions
BA5 #17a. A strange one, this. The readable serial 41-23721 on this fin was found at the wreckage of 41-23755, a 90BG aircraft known as The Ruptured Duck which crashed on take-off from Ward's Strip, Port Moresby, on 7FEB43. The exchange of finplates between aircraft, apparently at the factory, has been noted at least one other time, but it is rare and the reason remains obscure.