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  B-24J-1-CO "Baby Sandy 2" Serial Number 42-73013  
7th AF
11th BG
431st BS

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IJN Dec 31, 1943

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via Rita Haddock

Pilot  1st Lt. Ivan M. Osborne, O-662817 (KIA / MIA) CA
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Raymond D. Cloyer, O-728059 (MIA / KIA) IL
Navigator  2nd Lt. Virgil A. Tramelli, O-2845295 (POW, executed, MIA) MO
Bombardier  1st Lt. Maxie G. Deer Jr., O-728260 (POW, executed, MIA) AL
Engineer  T/Sgt Edward J. Bislew, 16047634 (POW, executed, MIA) WI
Asst Eng  Pvt Williston F. Rumsey, 20275475 (POW, executed, MIA) NY
Radio  TSgt Joseph J. Perry, 32162027 (POW, executed, MIA) PA
Asst Radio  S/Sgt John J. Dell, 33261245 (POW, executed, MIA) PA
Gunner  S/Sgt Warren C. Hill, 13029683 (POW, executed, MIA) PA
Gunner  S/Sgt Hulbert J. Swaim, 35400152 (POW, executed, MIA) OH

Ditched  December 29, 1943 at 12:01pm
MACR  1627

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Assigned to the US Army.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 11th Bombardment Group, 431st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Baby Sandy 2". When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not noted.

Mission History
Took off from Tarawa Airfield (Hawkins) on a bombing mission against Taroa Airfield, The bombers were attacked by over 30 A6M Zero fighters.

Damaged, this B-24 was observed to have a large 8" hole in the fuselage and right stabilizer, plus a 6" hold in the left upper No. 2 engine nacelle, causing the No. 2 engine to begin throwing oil and smoking, followed by the No. 3 engine. Later, the No. 1 engine also began to smoke and the bomber began loosing altitude and broke away from the formation and began flying towards Majuro Atoll. Each propeller was spinning, but must have not been generating much power or were unable to be feathered.

Two B-24s in the formation: B-24 piloted by 2nd Lt. Donald H. Joyce and B-24J 42-73006 piloted by 2nd Lt. Harvey I. Lundy escorted the damaged bomber. They were required to use half flaps to match the damaged bomber's airspeed of roughly 130 mph.

Over Majuro Atoll, pilot Osborne made a "U" turn into the wind in preparation for ditching. At this time, the No. 2 engine was feathered or had stopped turning. This B-24 made a perfect water landing atop west reef between Majuro Island and Ajola Island at roughly 12:01pm local time. Two Zero followed the B-24s to Majuro. Spotting the ditched bomber, two Zeros dove down to strafe the bomber, until driven off by the orbiting B-24s.

The aircraft was not broken up and was resting high in the sea with most of the plane above water. It did not catch fire or explode. The two escorts then departed due to lack of fuel and ammunition, as did the Zeros.  The orbiting B-24s did not observe any survivors from the bomber before departing. The entire crew was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

American aircraft searched for any sign of the crew but observed none. They attempted to bomb the wreckage of the B-24, but missed.

When the two strafing Zeros landed at Taroa Airfield, they reported the ditched B-24. The Kaikou Maru steamed from Maloelap to where the bomber ditched

Fates of the Crew
During the ditching, the pilot and co-pilot died.  The other eight members of the crew survived the ditching and managed to reach a small island to the northeast.

On December 30, 1943 the crew were located by the Japanese Navy and captured.

and were taken prisoner by the Japanese Navy and transported to Maloelap Atoll.

, and later executed.

Matt Holly adds:
"The story now has an old version, a middle version, and my new one.  The old version was created by Dirk Spennemann.  It is incorrect.  The middle story is what I produced for the National Park Service in 2000, which basically explained the Japanese had some float planes at the east end of Majuro that day, and possibly forced them to not try a rescue.  Also found was the Navy also lost a PB4Y on the same day and was also searching for it.  In any case a search was made and no signs of life were seen at the aircraft, which was then bombed to avoid its assets or technology from falling into enemy hands.  The bombs missed.  All ten crew were presumed captured and executed.

The crew reportedly escaped and fled to a small island to the northeast, where they were captured the next day.  The Zeros had reported the crash landing and a boat was immediately sent from Maloelap.  (The boat was named the Kaikou Maru, which I discovered sunk in Maloelap in 1981).  This information also included a photo of the crew, taken on Maloelap, in which the aircrew still has on flight gear and is clean shaved.  It was not a week later.    The crew was reportedly paraded through the streets of Majuro, beaten and abused, including Marshallese who were forced to attend.  I do not know if I believe this story, as I don't think they were in Majuro long enough to do this.  But this is a local story.  A machine gun from the aircraft was found in Laura during Majuros capture.  There were few Japanese here, and they transferred to Mili Atoll.

They were taken to Maloelap, and presumably treated well.  They were reportedly attacked by Japanese pilots and crew, who had lost so of their buddies during the B-24 attacks.  The Admiral reportedly gave them some of his whiskey and safe haven, and shipped them to Kwajalein the next day.

The Japanese Admiral, in his notes to the investigating war crimes investigators, states the words 8 survivors of the crash.  The photo on Maloelap shows 8 aircrew, and Osborne and his co-pilot are missing.  There is no other information, and people searching for the lost aircrew after Majuro was captured looked for but did not find any crew.  It has been presumed that the aircrew was executed on Kwajalein shortly before the American invasion on February 1, 1944.  This was always presumed to be all 10 aircrew, but I think only the surviving 8 were killed on Kwajalein.

About six months ago I was taking with some older Marshallese when showing them some of my US Navy war photos of the local population, trying to identify those in the pictures.  Out of the blue this older woman asks me what about the 2 pilots buried at the end of Majuro?  I nearly fell of my chair!  Without prompting, I asked her to explain herself, as only I knew at this point that two were unaccounted for.  She told me they were killed in the aircraft, and that the Marshalese near the end of Laura had found their bodies and buried them near the end of the island.  They had done this secretly, and only a handful of people had known.  The people asking the questions after the war never spoke to these people, and over the last few months I have 5 people still alive that may know the exact site.  I think Osborne and Cloyer are buried on Majuro!"

This B-24 remains in situ in 1-1.5m of water at low tide. Present are the port wing, most parts of the starboard wing, the central fuselage section between the wings, and four engines. A number of small parts can be found scattered around the area. All propellers can be seen in place except for those of the No. 1 engine, which has fallen off its mounting and is resting nose down in the sand. The blades of the propellers are not bent, indicating that the pilot could feather the engines before the crash landing.

The crew was declared dead on February 4, 1946. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Hawaii Cemetery (Punchbowl). Deer has a memorial marker at Mason Cemetery in Escambia County, Alabama.

Connie Blackmon Cauthen (relative of Max G. Deer)
"Deer was a relative of ours and his family was never given any of the above information. His Parents never knew anymore than that he was MIA. Interestingly Deer was friends with the actress Rosalind Russell."

ABMC lists Ivan M. Osborne's unit incorrectly as 430th Signal Construction Company, Aviation
FindAGrave - 1Lt Ivan M Osborne (tablets photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Raymond D Cloyer (tablets photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Virgil A Tramelli
FindAGrave - 1Lt Maxie G Deer, Jr (tablets photo)
FindAGrave - Maxie G Deer, Jr (memorial photos)
FindAGrave - Pvt Williston F Rumsey
FindAGrave - TSgt Joseph J Perry
FindAGrave - SSgt John J Dell
FindAGrave - SSgt Warren C Hill (tablets photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Hulbert J Swaim
Thanks to  Dirk H. R. Spennemann and Matt Holly for additional information

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014


Tech Information

8 Prisoners
10 Missing

1 - 1.5m

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