43rd BG circa 42 to Jan 43
5th CCU January 5, 1943
|Pilot Major Allen Lindberg, O-383726 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Co-Pilot Captain Benton H. Daniel, O-421896 (MIA / POW / KIA) Hollis,
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert L. Hand, O-726160 (MIA /KIA) Fields Store,
Navigator 1st Lt. John W. Hanson, O-434002 (MIA / KIA) Missoula,
Engineer TSgt Dennis T. Craig, 6152544
(MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Radio SSgt Quentin W. Blakely, 6581181 (MIA / KIA) Washington,
Gunner Sgt Leslie A. Stewart, 6996623 (MIA / KIA) East Chicago,
Gunner Pvt Leland W. Stone, 19064721 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Gunner Pfc William G. Fraser, Jr., 20815917 (MIA / KIA) San Antonio, TX
Jack W. Bleasdale, O-022328 (MIA / POW / KIA) San Fernando,
Observer Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, O-012510 HQ, V Bomber Command (MIA / KIA) Cerillos, NM
MIA January 5, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3132. Delivered to the U. S. Army on July 8, 1942. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 93rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "San Antonio Rose" with the lettering painted with a white outline. This B-17 had no known nose art. Also known by the last three digits of the tail serial number "458".
On October 8, 1942 took off from Mareeba Airfield piloted by Major Felix Hardison to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. After refueling, took off after dark on bombing mission against Rabaul. This B-17 was leading the first wave of nine B-17s from the 93rd Bombardment Squadron, followed by eight B-17s from the 28th Bombardment Squadron plus nine B-17s from the 63rd Bombardment Squadron (including two B-17s from the 43rd BG, 403rd BS). The formation was over the target during the early morning hours of October 9, 1942. From 4,500', this B-17 dropped its bomb load of fourteen 300 lb bombs and eight incendiary bundles over the town starting a large fire.
On October 13, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by Major Felix Hardison on a another bombing mission against Rabaul.
During November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not noted in the Missing Air Crew Report 15359 (MACR 15359) that was generated retroactively circa 1945-1946.
On January 5, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby leading a formation
of six B-17s and six B-24 Liberators from the 90th Bombardment Group on a bombing mission against the harbor, shipping and the airfield
at Rabaul. Arriving over the target area around 12:00 to 12:10 local time, the B-17s bombed shipping in Keravia Bay. This B-17 was last seen over the target area at 5,000' pursued by Ki-43 Oscars with the left outboard engine smoking.
According to Missing Air Crew Report 15359
on mission 4L to attack
Rabaul, at 0848
from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby to attack
ships in Simpson
Harbor. Last seen going into clouds, closely pursued by four
to five Japanese fighters. The left outboard
was observed to be smoking."
A memorandum to the MACR AG 704 (April 29, 1949)
"The plane in which these men became missing in action was a B-17
#458, observed turning left making a possible run on shipping in the Keravia Bay on 5 January 1943, in the Rabaul area. It was last seen
heading south, just east of Vunakanau, at about 5,000' with left outboard
motor smoking and out. The plane, closely pursued by several enemy
fighters, went into the clouds and did not rejoin the flight."
This B-17 was never seen again and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-17F 41-24538.
Fates of the Crew
Two of the crew: Bleasdale and Daniel successfully bailed out and were taken prisoner by the Japanese at Tol then transported to Rabaul and interrogated during February - March 1942.
Daniel's name was noted by a Catholic Priest also imprisoned at Rabaul. The two prisoners are mentioned
in documents supposedly signed by Bleasdale seen by surviving POWs during
their interrogations in July 1943.
Captain Daniel was captured during middle or late January 1943 at Tol and transported to Rabaul. In late February or early March, he was interrogated about the technical details of the B-17 including its performance and capabilities that was the subject of a report "The B-17 and Its Armament" March 2, 1943 and was intercepted by ATIS and translated. Daniel's name was noted by a Catholic Priest also imprisoned at Rabaul. Later, he was reportedly taken to Kavieng, and is presumed to have be executed or otherwise died there. He did not survive the war or captivity.
The fate of the rest of the crew is unknown. All are presumed to have died aboard the B-17 during the crash, or were wounded or killed during the air combat.
On January 6, 1943 B-24D Liberator 41-23773 piloted by Rose took off on a search mission over New Britain in an attempt to locate this missing B-17. Over Wide Bay, it was shot down by Zeros from the 582 Kokutai. The Missing Aircraft Report (MACR) for this B-17 was generated long after the loss or postwar in early 1946.
The wreckage of this aircraft has never been found. To date, the American military, including US Army AGRS (1945-1949). Aside from investigating other wrecks in New Britain, US Army CILHI, JPAC and DPAA have never actively searched for this specific bomber, aside from a canvassing mission in the East New Britain area during 2012.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 12, 1945. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Lindberg also has a memorial marker at Headstone in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, NJ.
On March 11, 1943, Walker posthumously
earned the Medal of Honor and was the highest ranking American Missing In Action (MIA) on a combat mission during World War II. On December 7, 2001 a memorial marker for Walker was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery at section MC Site 36-M. Walker Air Force Base (Walker AFB) in Roswell, NM was named in his honor until closure in 1967. At Maxwell AFB "Walker Hall" home to the College of Aerospace Doctrine Research and Education is also named in his honor.
Kenneth Walker, Jr. (elder son of Kenneth N. Walker)
Douglas Walker (youngest son of Kenneth N. Walker)
Maj. Lindbergh was the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. Brig.
General Kenneth N. Walker was Commanding Officer (C. O.) of 5th Bomber Command.
Missing Air Crew Report 15359 (MACR 15359) was generated retroactively during 1946.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Jack W. Bleasdale
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Allen Lindberg
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)
- Benton H. Daniel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Hand
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC)
- John W. Hanson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dennis T. Craig
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Quentin W. Blakely
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leslie A. Stewart
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leland W. Stone
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William G. Fraser Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack W. Bleasdale
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth N. Walker
FindAGrave - Maj Allen Lindberg (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Allen Lindberg (memorial marker photo)
Capt Benton Hayes Daniel, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Lee Hand (photo, tablets of the missing)
1Lt John 'Wesley' Hanson, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
TSgt Dennis Craig (tablets of the missing)
Sgt Quentin W. Blakely (photo, tablets of the missing)
Sgt Leslie A Stewart (photo, tablets of the missing)
PFC Leland W Stone (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC William Gerard "Jerry" Fraser, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - LtCol Jack Walter Bleasdale (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Gen Kenneth Newton Walker (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - BG Kenneth Newton Walker (photo, memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24458
Kenneth N. Walker: Airpower's
Untempered Crusader by Martha Byrd biography of Walker
Pride of Seattle page 9
Flightpath Magazine, August – October 2002 Vol. 14, No.1 "Rabaul's Ultimate Mystery – The Loss of Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker" by Michael Claringbould
Daedalus Flyer Magazine “Rabaul’s Ultimate Mystery – The Loss of Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker” by Michael Claringbould Fall 2002 Issue (reprint of Flightpath Magazine article)
Oz@War - Brigadier General Kenneth Newton Walker, USAAC 17 JUly 1898 - 5 Jan 1943
General Kenneth N. Walker (DVD) 2001 memorial service and interviews
Air Power History "The Search General Walker: New Insights" Fall 2014
pages 6-19 [PDF] by Richard Dunn
Flightpath Magazine August-October 2012 "Rabaul October" by Steve Birdsall page 56, 58
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages 99 (map), 104 (photo), 101-102, 104-105, 107-108, 313, 327, 402, 406
Kenneth N. Walker Official Website <www.KennethNWalker.org>
Thanks to Douglas Walker, David Lindley, Steve Birdsall, Brian
Bennett, Richard Dunn and Larry Hickey for additional information
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June 25, 2016
MIA / POW
Japanese Side of the Mission
Prisoners of War (POW) Daniel and Bleasdale
Walker Medal of Honor Citation
MIA General Walker