Cape Gloucester, Borgen & Rottock Bay July 28 & 29, 1943
On 27–28 July 1943, the Japanese destoyer Ariake was on a troop transport run to Tuluvu, New Britain. After grounding on a reef near Cape Gloucester (05°27′S 148°25′E) with the Mikazuki, Ariake was able to work free. She removed troops and ComDesDiv 30 (Captain Orita Tsuneo) from Mikazuki and completed the mission to Tuluvu, then returned to assist Mikazuki. She was sunk while so engaged by U.S. Army B-25 Mitchells. Seven men were killed, along with Ariake 's captain, Lt. Cmdr. Akifumi Kawahashi.
On July 27, 1943, Mikazuki grounded on a reef while on a troop transport mission to Tuluvu, New Britain 5°27′S 148°25′ECoordinates: 5°27′S 148°25′E. The following morning, she was attacked and destroyed by USAAF B-25 Mitchell bombers, with loss of eight crewmen.
While I rarely comment, it becomes apparent after reading a multitude of pages from the Group & Squadron Monthly histories that everything should be taken with a grain of salt. Especially in the Squadron reports, one can't help but note that the 90th Squadron exalted itself over the other Squadrons. It is in keeping with my conversations with 8th Squadron veterans that the 8th for no apparent reason always seemed to get the short end of the stick. Of the two recollections below, I would suggest that the accounting of Dwight Turner, with whom I still have conversations, recounts the action on this day much better than the Donald Hall diary.
B-25C 41-12906 ( Johnny Pom Pom ) was lost on this date with 1st Lt. William L. Nichols KIA. Jack Heyn's photo shows Paul I. Gunn's B-25G with the 75mm cannon.
WEWAK & VICINITY
Jack Heyn - Una Merkel - Sgt. Joseph E. Hartman - Sgt. William R. Campbell
This photo was taken at Dobadura by Jack Heyn during a USO tour of Gary Cooper & Troupe. Jack isn't sure which of the two 5th Air Force Camera Unit personnel in this photo is which. If anyone can determine the proper ID, please let me know for correction.
Cameramen Make Photo Record for War-Dept.
Col Hall, Maj. Downs and Maj. Conley left Thursday for Australia to broadcast their version of the recent air victory at Wewak. This broadcast will be recorded and flown back to the States and will give a first hand picture of the entire mission. It is expected that Col Hall will confer with higher headquarters to present various aspects and rategy of the strike that made the outstanding blow against the Japs a successful one.
Capt. Robert W. Reed 90th BS recounts that Sgt.
Joseph E. Hartman was filming the mission from the B-25
he was piloting. via Janice Hellman - Daughter of Robert W. Reed.
1st Lt. Richard N. Davis 90th BS piloted B-25 D-1 (531) on the August 17, 1943 mission.
Richard N. Davis Flight Log via Scott Davis
Capt. William H. Webster 8th BS flew the August 17, 1943 mission as pilot of B-25 D-1 41-30311.
William H. Webster Log via Bill Webster
Hansa Bay is located on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, in Madang Province, between Madang and Wewak, north east of Bogia.
B-25D 41-30345 8th BS 3rd BG August 28, 1943 Hansa Bay
1st Lt Robert B WIDENER (MIA/KIA), 8th BS
2nd Lt Bernard LAZARUS (MIA/KIA), 8th BS
Sgt James W LEFLER (MIA/KIA), 8th BS
Sgt Francis M MONAHAN (MIA/KIA), 8th BS
Aircraft hit by bomb blast of preceding plane while attacking an enemy ship on Hansa
Bay, New Guinea. Crashed into Hansa Bay.
John F. Heyn Collection
1st Lt. Richard N. Davis flew mission against Hansa Bay on 8/25/1943 sinking 1200 ton ship in harbor. He was piloting B-25 D-1 (320) from Dobadura. (Richard N. Davis Flight Log via Scott Davis)
October 12 - November 2, 1943
Major Raymond Wilkins ( 8th Squadron CO) led the 8th Squadron on the October 12th raid on the Rapopo airdrome south of Rabaul.The strafing and bombing results were excellent. We took a few A/A hits but no one was injured. Wilkins decided to take some overdue leave after October 15, to go down to Australia to call on a girl he had met on one of his very infrequent leaves from New Guinea. On the 24th of October, the 8th Squadron led by Col. Jimmy Downs attacked Rapopo airdrome again. On the run in to the target, Downs had to circumnavigate some cloud formations, and we were jumped by a large flight of aggressive Oscars. One head-on attacker rammed Down's left wing man, Lt. Bob Miller, at perhaps 500 feet altitude. No chance of survival under those circumstances. I led one three plane flight each mission and Capt. Marty Radnik (a fellow 41-I) led the other flight. The two other B-25 squadrons (the 13th and the 90th) also participated in these Rabaul missions and reported excellent results and no losses. Two other B-25 groups, the 38th and the 345th, attacked Rabaul's Vunakanau and Lakunai airdromes with similar glowing damage reports but with heavy losses from fighter attack. About 100 of our P-38 escorts provided excellent high cover but it's virtually impossible to sweep the skies clear all the way down to parafrag bombing level of 200 feet. In addition to the increased tempo of the air action, the ground action in the Solomon Islands was also heating up and the Japanese were having to reinforce Bougainville in order to protect their retreating troops. This would have to be done by bringing warships, troopships and more aircraft out of Truk and Palau for basing out of Rabaul's Simpson Harbor. For good reason, Rabaul was called the "Gibraltar of the Pacific". There were six highly effective radar units located on the volcanic heights surrounding the four mile harbor with good communication lines to some 400 medium and heavy anti-aircraft guns in the area and to the five well dispersed airdromes that customarily housed up to 110 medium bombers and 150 top line Zero and Oscar fighter aircraft. Added to this firepower were the light and medium anti-aircraft guns carried by the twenty or so warships (cruisers, destroyers and corvettes) and the forty odd troop ships in the Harbor. It was a tempting but very dangerous target. 5th Bomber Command felt that because of the critical timing this possible prize was worth the certain risk, and they hurriedly laid on a massive maximum effort attack plan.
William. H. Webster B/Gen. USAF Ret.
This is an excerpt from a letter General Webster sent Larry Hickey IHRA on June 15, 1989.
1st Lt. Richard N. Davis 90th BS flew bombing & strafing mission against Rapopo on October 12, 1943 in B-25 D-1 (531). (Richard N. Davis Flight Log)
11/09/1943 & 11/10/1943 89th BS Attacks on Alexishafen
09-Nov-43 11 - A-20s 89th BS ALEXISHAFEN attack on grounded planes at ALEXISHAFEN. No 1 and No 2 strip bombed. Hanger, buildings, 4 Bettys and 6-8 u/i aircraft bombed - 2 Bettys on north side of strip seen to explode. Bombed village west side of SEK ISLAND.
10-Nov-43 10 - A-20s 89th BS ALEXISHAFEN Bombed and strafed grounded planes on ALEXISHAFEN No 1 and No 2 strips.1 Betty destroyed. 4 Bettys and 1 Zeke strafed. 1 barge destroyed. 3 - A-20s slightly damaged by A/A fire.
89th BS attack on Tanahmerah Bay
Tanahmerah Bay a bay on the north coast of New Guinea, about 50 km northwest of the provincial capital of Hollandia.
During WWII, the Hollandia area was a Japanese army and air force base. On 22 April 1944, two regiments of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division landed in Tanamerah Bay, as part of the Operation Reckless. Subsequently, the area became an Allied base, supporting further actions in the Southwest Pacific, and the invasion of the Philippines.
The airfield was built by the Dutch in the late 1920s or 1930s. It was the final stop for KLM airlines in Dutch New Guinea. After the Pacific War with Japan broke out in December 1941, a Royal Australian Air Force engineering party with the assistance of the Dutch upgraded the airstrip for military use.
First attacked by Japanese H6K Emilys on December 30, 1941, leaving 3 dead and 14 wounded, including a number of children. Three RAAF No. 13 Squadron Lockheed Hudson bombers were sent there to act as 'fighters', this temporary duty was regarded to be against enemy flying boats while the Dutch KNIL garrison of approximately 200 rushed to improve area defenses and create a clearing for a second runway. The Japanese 2nd Detachment landed at Babo on April 2, 1942 and occupied the town. Most of the Dutch soldiers escaped to Australia.
The airfield was developed into a major base used by both the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy units in the Vogelkop Peninsula, staging to other airfields to the south Aru and Kai Islands or east to New Guinea. The Japanese built a second 'hardtop' runway creating two strips of 4,530' and 2,660' respectively. Naval troops constructed 15 bomber and 24 fighters with more under construction. The base largely escaped any Allied bombing until mid-1943.
The aerial units based at Babo opposed the American landings at Biak, but suffered heavy losses. The 24th Sentai lost 20 pilots and 40 planes while based at Babo in only 30 days then were withdrawn. The 202nd Kokutai was temporarily withdrawn from Babo for defense of Truk, then returned to Babo in June 1944. They lost 12 planes defending Biak, and were then disbanded.
By mid-1944, the base was in range of medium bombers and strafers from the United States Army Air Force's 5th Air Force, and came under heavy attack. Neutralized from the air around October 1944, and never liberated by Allied forces. Tons of American and Australian bombs hit airfield. Many of its aircraft were destroyed by parafrag bombs. Japanese ground crews even sawed off the engines from wrecked planes, in a desperate attempt to ward off further attacks, and used hulks to fill in bomb craters. Isolated from resupply or rescue, the remaining Japanese occupied the area until the end of the war.