|Pilot Herb Rutters (survived)
Gunner SSgt James U. Moore (survived)
Force Landed March 12, 1944
Built by Douglas. Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAF) as A-20G Havoc serial number 42-86747. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 90th Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 12, 1944 one of thirty-six A-20s that took off from Nadzab Airfield No. 4 (APO 713, Unit 1) piloted by Herb Rutters on a mission against Boram Airfield west of Wewak. The weather was overcast at 10,000'-15,000' with stratocumulus clouds 8/10 coverage with bottoms at 1,500' and tops at 4,000'.
Returning from the mission, this A-20 was supposed to lead four A-20s back, but became became separated from them and lost. Low on fuel, this aircraft ditched or force landed near a wide river to the west of Port Moresby on the southern coast of New Guinea.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, the crew reached a native village and were transported by boat to the nearest Australian Army camp near the mouth of the river with a sawmill nearby. Afterwards, they were transported to Port Moresby and later returned to duty.
The next day, A-20G Havoc piloted by Major Rosebush unsuccessfully searched for A-20G 42-86730, searching the Dumpu area and the southern coast of New Guinea towards Port Moresby. He spotted two A-20s on the beach, presumably this aircraft and A-20G 42-86614.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-20G-20-DO Havoc 42-86747
Michael Claringboulds adds:
"Regarding [Major] Rosebush, he doesn't mention specific places in his account, just what mainly happened to him. He went out the next day and located the other two planes down, but doesn't mention locations. He escorted Ladd back to emergency landing at Gusap. Rutters was supposed to lead the other four planes in their section back to Nadzab, but Rutters got lost and separated from the other planes, Garlick disappeared (crashed into a mountain), and Short and Trazaskowski got separated from Rutters, ran out of gas and ditched right next to the shore somewhere "above" Port Moresby.
Short and Trazaskowski went down along shore of sea just beyond where a very wide broad river drained into the sea somewhere above (presumably west of) Port Moresby. They were both rescued in good shape very quickly.
Rutters ditched in this same river some miles upstream, made it to a native village, then was taken by boat to an Australian recruitment training camp for natives downriver. It was staffed by an Australian Army Warrant Officer and a non-com, and was not far from the mouth of the river. There was a sawmill directly across the river that produced lumber for the Australian Army. No identification of place names. This may help you locate where Short and Trazaskowski's locations might be. If you find these, you'll know the name of the river that Rutters ditched in. Rutters didn't remember names of these places or the river."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis.
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February 4, 2018