5th AF c1943
|Pilot 1st Lt Harold S. Barnett, O-421584 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Sidney S. Bossuk, O-72769 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Bombardier 2nd Lt Warren V. Seybert, O-734614 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Navigator 2nd Lt James G. Burke, O-669983 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Engineer Sgt James B. Candy, 18064952 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Radio T/Sgt Anthony H. Woillard, 17075312 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Radio Sgt William A. Mackay, 414624 RAAF (MIA / KIA / BR) Wooroolin, QLD
Asst Engineer Sgt Robert A. Burtis, 12033755 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Asst Radio Sgt Donald W. Carlson, 17038206 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Tail Gunner Sgt Phillip J. Lohnes, 6930892 (MIA / KIA / BR)
Crashed June 30, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "I Dood It", after comedian Red Skelton's character "Mean Widdle Kid" Junior from his Raleigh Cigarette radio program, whose favorite phrase: "I dood it!" became part of the American lexicon. This bomber had a B-17E nose cone installed with a reinforced gun mount allowing a single 50 caliber machine gun to be mounted in the center of the nose cone.
During February 1943, transfered to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron.
On March 26, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Staley on a night bombing mission against enemy shipping in Wewak Harbor. Over the target, nothing was sighted and harbor installations were bombed instead. Returning, this B-17 landed at Dobodura due to
low fuel, refueled then took off for 7-Mile Drome. When this bomber failed to arrive on time, it was assumed the bomber was missing and a search party was being organized when it returned safely before 15:00.
At some time around late March 1943, this bomber was painted with nose art depicted the Walt Disney character "Pluto" sniffing the ground with a chain extending to the co-pilot's window on the left and right sides of the nose painted by Sgt Ernie Vandal. No name was painted on bomber but it was known to the squadron as "Pluto". This was the second bomber known as "Pluto" after the loss of B-17F "Pluto" 41-24384 on March 26, 1943.
On June 30, 1943 at 1:30am this B-17 took off from Dobodura as part of a strike force from the 43rd Bomb Group including fourteen B-17s and four B-24s on a overnight bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield. Takeoffs and bombing runs were made independently by each individual aircraft. Aboard was an Australian radio operator, Mackay from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
Over the target, this B-17 was spotted and intercepted by a J1N1 Irving piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo, who opened fire with his oblique 20mm cannons and observed the bomber to crash into the mountains southeast of Cape Lambert. This bomber was the final B-17 kill for Shigetoshi Kudo, whose interceptions had accounted for five other bombers during May and June.
When this bomber failed to return from the mission it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Other air crews reported they were attacked over the target by enemy night fighters.
The crash site is near Kulit village on the Gazelle Peninsula, roughly six miles inland from the Mandres Plantation on New Britain Island. After the crash, native people visited the site and later a Japanese Army patrol.
Brian Bennett adds:
"B-17F 41-24543 was visited shortly after its crash by locals and by a Japanese patrol a bit later. Several sets of remains were recovered post war from shallow graves at this site. There is a very good chance that there are still significant remains on site."
Recovery of Remains
During 1948, the crash site was visited by US Army AGRS. The team recovered the remains of the entire crew. A fountain pen to identify one of them. Afterwards, the remains were transported to the United States.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the entire crew, including the RAAF crew member were transported to the United States. All were permanently buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in group burial section 84, sites 403-405. Burtis also has a memorial marker at Allentown Methodist Cemetery in Allentown, NJ.
Liam MacKay (grandson of Sgt. William MacKay)
Sidney Bossuk (nephew of Sidney S. Bossuk)
"I am the nephew of 2nd Lt Sydney Bossuk. I was named after my late Uncle."
Diary of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group
"26 March 1943 – Departed Jackson at 0130. Target: shipping Wewak Harbor. Bomb load; 4 ships with 8 X 500# inst demo, 3 with 4X 100# inst demo.
554 Murphy didn't take off on account of engine trouble. Nothing was sighted by the remaining crews.
358, Denault, 537 O'Brien, 574 Derr dropped their bombs on harbor installations.
455 Diffenderfer, 543 Staley, 417 Trigg dropped theirs on the town and runway.
543 Staley landed at Dobodura on the way back because of lack of gas. Search party consisting of Lt Murphy and Capt Thompson's crew were organized and were about to take off when 543 landed. Squadron on readiness at 1500."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24543
Pride of Seattle page 14
Moonlight Interceptor mentions this loss
Pacific Wrecks Forum - B-17 "Pluto" notes about B-17 41-24543 vs B-17F 41-24384
SGT William Alexander Mackay (photo)
Mark Styling - B-17 Flying Fortresses in the Pacific, page 3 artwork of B-17F 41-24384 "Pluto" incorrectly puts B-17F 41-24543 nose art and nose glass onto B-17F 41-24384
CWGC - William A. Mackay
FindAGrave - Harold S. Barnett (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sidney S. Bossuk (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Warren V. Seybert (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James G. Burke (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James B. Candy (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Anthony H. Woillard (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert A. Burtis (memorial)
FindAGrave - Robert A. Burtis (grave photo)
FIndAGrave - Donald W Carlson (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Phillip J. Lohnes (grave photo)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information
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May 3, 2016