Justin Taylan 2003
|Pilot 2nd Lt Delmar L. Wichmann, O-742399 (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Warren W. Everett, O-738126 (MIA / KIA)
Radio SSgt George R. Belchik, 16070703 (MIA / KIA)
Engineer SSgt Fred A. Clayton, 14125311 (MIA / KIA)
Gunner SSgt Edgar D. Faulkner, Jr., 19170027 (MIA / KIA)
Photographer SSgt William J. Hogan, 19033171 (MIA / KIA)
Crashed May 21, 1944 at approximately 9:51am
Built by North American as a B-25D-5 Mitchell. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 345th Bombardment Group, 501st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Tin Liz". During early August 1943, converted to a strafer variant (B-25D-1) by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field near Townsville then returned to the 501st Bombardment Squadron at Port Moresby.
On November 15, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby on a strike mission against Wewak, along with B-25s all four squadrons of the 345th Bombardment Group, plus two squadrons of B-25G's from the 38th Bombardment Group. An escort by P-47s was planned, but were not met at the rendezvous point at Mount Yonkie. Instead, approximately 15 "Zeros" (actually Ki-43 Oscar fighters) were encountered at roughly 10:00am. The fighters made 15 firing passes. Aboard this B-25, gunner SSgt Joe Forman claimed a Zero shot down, firing 60 rounds. The B-25 continued as far north as Dumpu, and observed Japanese twin engine bombers escorted by fighters intercepted by friendly fighters, and bombing damage at Gusap Airfield that was bombed. At roughly 10:17, the bombing mission was aborted, since the element of surprise was lost and returned to Port Moresby.
On May 21, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by Wichmann on a low level strike against Dagua
Airfield. Over the target, the last time this B-25 was seen was approximately 9:51am off the eastern end of Dagua
Airfield during a strafing run. Hit by anti-aircraft fire,
the bomber crashed roughly 3/4 of a mile off the end of the runway.
Crews returning to base reported a fire arid black smoke about 3/4 mile southeast of Dagua
Airfield, and some of the men stated it might possibly be a crashed airplane.
After the crash, search aircraft spotted the wreckage of this bomber, identifying it by the 501st Bombardment Squadron markings visible from the air. At 3:15pm, the wreckage was still burning. It was the opinion of the pilots on the search mission that it would have been impossible for any crew members to have survived the crash.
Recovery of Remains
During April or May 1946, the remains of the crew were recovered by an Australian Army graves team and temporarily buried in Wewak Cemetery then moved to Finschafen Cemetery and finally Manila American Cemetery, before being transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the crew were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 82 site 46B-46D during 1951.
During the crash, the
off and was separated from the rest of the aircraft. This B-25 crashed nearby A-20G "Sweet Milk" 43-9113 that crashed six days earlier.
In 1974, the tail section was recovered transported
to Tadji. There, it was
attached to B-25C "Feather Merchant" 41-12442, for a WWII memorial
"Strange that I went to all the trouble of getting fin and rudder assemblies from [B-25D-1 "Tin Liz" 41-30074] shot-down
at Dagua, then found the
original assemblies buried in sand on the last
day of the work, long after we had taken the bomber down
Justin Taylan visited in 2003:
"This wreck is in close proximity to A-20G "Sweet Milk" 43-9113. I was told at the time of my visit that the hole near the engine was dug by U. S. Army CILHI during a search for additional remains at the crash site."
Andy Decker visited in May 2009:
"The wreck has deteriorated from the 2003 visit in that the right engine has fallen away from the wing and is sinking down into the muck. Locals have been harvesting sago around the wreckage and built a small lean-to over the right wing, presumably for shelter from the elements. Their activities had cleared out a lot of the undergrowth though, so we found many smaller pieces of wreckage that otherwise would have been overlooked. The left wing is present, but looks as though it had been on fire by the condition of the aluminum sheeting. We found a 50 cal fixed mount machine gun with a round corroded to the feed tray. There were also several lengths of the flexible ammo feed belts that ran from the ammo boxes to the guns. While at the Dagua Parish Mission, I met an older woman who said she saw the TIN LIZ get shot down by a machine gun that was set up at the base of a hill just west of the A-20 wreck. She said that she and her friends went to look and that everyone was dead."
Andy Decker (relative of Everett)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-30074
Warpath Across The Pacific pages 65, 92, 98, 126, 214, 369, 397, 397, 414
Thanks to Andy Decker for additional information
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May 13, 2014