via Bombing of Darwin
by Japanese c1942
Hal Winfrey 1943
43rd BG c1943
Bruce Hoy 1982
Rodger Kelly 1986
Brian Bennett 2000
Justin Taylan 2003
|Pilot 1st Lt. William J. Sarsfield, Jr., O-791243 (MIA / KIA, BR) Philadelphia, PA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Charles E. Trimingham, O-727282 (MIA / KIA, BR) Salinas, CA
Bombardier 1st Lt. Francis
G. Peattie, O-727655
(MIA / KIA, BR) Beacon, NY
Navigator 1st Lt.
Jose L. Holguin, O-728388 (POW, survived) Los Angeles, CA
Asst Bomb 2nd Lt. Herman H. Knott, O-669320 (MIA / KIA, BR) New York, NY
Eng T/Sgt Robert L. Christopherson, 17017152 (MIA / KIA, BNR) Blue Earth, MN
Asst Eng S/Sgt Henry Garcia, 19080310 (MIA / KIA, BR) Los Angeles, CA
Radio T/Sgt Leonard A. Gionet, 11009541 (MIA / KIA / BR) Shirley, MA
Asst Radio S/Sgt Robert E. Griebel, 37139583 (MIA / KIA, BR) Riverton, WY
Gunner S/Sgt Pace P. Payne, 18081362 (MIA / KIA, BR) Corsicana, TX
Crashed June 26, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2430 at Boeing Field. This B-17 was scheduled to be flown by Lt.
Frederick Eaton but was delayed due to an engine
change. On November 29, 1941 took off from Boeing Field piloted by Lt.
David G. Rawls on a flight to Fort Douglas Airfield.
Nicknamed "Naughty But Nice" by
Harold Caffin or T/Sgt Russell Mackey. The nickname was painted orange in cursive with the nose art of a topless woman with one hand behind her head and wearing a blue skirt painted on the right side of the nose.
On December 6, 1941 took off from Hamilton Field on an unarmed ferry flight bound for Hickam Field on Oahu. This bomber had the .50 caliber machine guns installed but carried no ammunition. Aboard was "Crew No. 2" including pilot 1st Lt Harold N. Chaffin, co-pilot 2nd Lt Mabry Simmons, 2d Lt Walter H. Johnson, Avn Cdt Hubert S. Mobley, TSgt Russell E. Mackey, SSgt Lucuis W. Weeks, Sgt Irving W. McMichael, PFC Robert K. Barnard.
On December 7, 1941 in the morning incoming Japanese aircraft detected on radar were dismissed as the expected flight of B-17s and arrived during the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu. This B-17 diverted to land at Haleiwa Field.
After the attack, flown to Hamilton Field and painted in the three-color camouflage scheme at the Hawaiian Air Depot (HAD) with dark green, olive drab and tan upper surfaces with gray lower surfaces. During late December 1942, this B-17 flew reconnaissance missions from Hickam Field over the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii.
In the middle of February departed Hickam Field piloted by Lt.
Chaffin on a ferry flight across the Pacific bound for Australia. On February 16, 1942 landed at Archerfield Airfield near Brisbane.
In Australia, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group, 40th Bombardment Squadron.
On February 18, 1942 while taxing DC-3 VH-ACB collided with this bomber, damaging the starboard wing, tail and part of the fuselage and also damaged Lodestar LT922 parked alongside. The damage prevented it from participating in the first American bombing mission staged from Australia against Rabaul on February 22-23, 1942. The damage was repaired by February 27, 1942.
In early 1942 at Townsville, this B-17 was modified with a metal plate installed at the center of the nose cone for reinforcement to mount a single .50 caliber machine gun.
During November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron to pilot Hal C. Winfrey with crew chief Spillyards. In Australia, operated from Garbutt Field near Townsville. During 1943, operated from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby in New Guinea.
During the Battle of the Bismarck Sea on March 3, 1943 took off piloted by 1st Lt. James L. Easter on a bombing misison against Japanese shipping in the Bismarck Sea off Rooke Island. This B-17 was part of the second element leading B-17 piloted by 1st Niece and 1st Lt. Woodard. Over the target, intercepted by Ki-43 Oscars from the 11th Sentai. A pair of fighters made a single firing pass that damaged the B-17 from nose to tail and wounded five of the crew. The wounded pilot put the bomber into a dive. Damage with wounded crew members aboard, co-pilot 2nd Lt. Russel S. Emerick took the controls and turned back towards New Guinea, but due to clouds elected to land at Doboudra Airfield. During the landing one of the main wheels went flat, having been damaged by gunfire. On the ground, the wounded crew members were evacuated and the damaged bomber was towed off the runway with many bullet holes. Pilot Easter later died of his wounds and in 1948 was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at Section 12, site 4359.
On June 23, 1942 took off piloted by Hal C. Winfrey on a bombing mission against Koepang and claimed a Zero.
On June 25, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby landing at Dobodura Airfield to refuel and load bombs. Regular pilot Hal C. Winfrey had a slight wound and was unable to fly the mission. Instead,
Lt. Charles Trimingham flew as pilot. Also aboard was trainee 2nd Lt. Herman Knott.
On June 26, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield at 1:45am on a night bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. After releasing their bombs over the target, this B-17 came under intense anti-aircraft fire but was not hit. The B-17 loitered over the target area for another 30 minutes, then turned back towards base.
Approaching from lower altitude, a J1N1
Irving piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo, made three firing passes against the bomber using his upward firing 20mm cannons. The second pass killed pilot Sarsfield. The third attack set fire to the left wing. Only navigator Jose Holguin was able to bail out before the bomber crashed into the Baining Mountains southeast of Rabaul.
Also shot down was B-17F "Taxpayer's Pride" 41-24448 (crew MIA, one POW).
When both bombers failed to return, it was assumed they was lost to anti-aircraft fire or bad weather. The next day, two 43rd Bombardment Group B-17s flew search missions down the north and south coasts of New Britain, but found nothing. Learning of this loss, regular pilot Hal C. Winfrey blamed himself for not flying the mission.
Fate of Jose Holguin
Sole survivor Jose Holguin landed in the jungle severely wounded with a broken jaw and back injuries. Miraculously, he crawled without food or medical treatment for weeks until discovered by local people and taken to Arumbum village where he was fed and given basic medical treatment. Because of his severe
the villagers decided to turn him over to the Japanese in hopes he would give him medical treatment.
On July 17, 1943 Holguin was turned over to the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). He was transported to Rabaul where he was detained at the Rabaul Prisoner Compound by the Japanese Army Kempei-Tai (Military Police). As a prisoner, Holguin received no medical treatment, interrogations and harsh treatment. During early 1944, he and other surviving prisoners were moved to the Tunnel Hill POW Camp. Holguin was experimented on by Doctor Hirano who deliberately injected him with malaria. In September 1945, after Japan officially surrendered, he was one of only nine Allied prisoners who survived captivity at Rabaul and was liberated by the Australian Navy and transported to Jacquinot Bay then was flown aboard a C-47 to New Guinea then returned to the United States.
This B-17 crashed into mountains to the north of Wusing village in the Baining Mountains. The entire crew died in the crash with the exception of Jose Holguin who managed to bail out.
Afterwards, the crash site was visited by the Japanese (likely guided by local people) and buried the remains of the crew in a shallow grave near the wreckage. Also, they recovered intelligence material from the crash site including papers that were later shown to POW Jose Holguin.
Brian Bennett adds:
"Jose Holguin was adamant that the Japanese walked into B-17E 41-2430 as he was
shown a leaf from his flight log during a later interrogation.
The recovery of some remains from a shallow grave [where the Japanese buried them] post war is perhaps
further evidence of a visit."
During April 1949, a team from U. S. Army 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company including Sgt Sotan and Cpl Cramer trekked from Rabaul to the crash site from Rabaul and recovered remains of the crew.
On July 30, 1982, the crash site was rediscovered by sole survivor Jose Holguin with assistance from local resident Brian
Bennett, Bruce Hoy, PNG Museum and members of the local community. During their visit, they located the cockpit section, wing with the nickname "Naughty But Nice" and nose art.
Recovery of Remains
During early 1949, the crash site was reported by natives to the U. S. Army 30th Engineer Battalion doing survey work in the area. American personnel visited the crash site and partial remains were recovered from beside the aircraft.
During April 1949, a team from U. S. Army 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company including Sgt Sotan and Cpl Cramer trekked from Rabaul to the crash site to recover the remains of the crew. During their visit, they recovered three sets of partial remains in a shallow grave and a ring with the initials 'H.G.' (Henry Garcia) engraved on it. The remains were assigned the code "IB-28 unknown (Group)" and transported to the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) at Schofield Barracks. These remains were incorrectly disproved to be associated with this aircraft and were instead deemed to be unknowns. Even the ring with initials they did not associate with Henry Garcia. The recovered remains were interned in a group burial at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at graves 607, 610 and 612.
Due to surviving crew member Jose Holguin's efforts, the unknown remains recovered from the crash site in 1949 were disinterred
on August 7, 1984 from Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) for reexamination. They were accessioned by US Army CILHI on the same day with case number CILH 0024-84 through CILHI 0028-84. On February 21, 1985, five
of crew remains were positively identified: Peattie, Knott, Garcia, Griebel and Payne. During 1985, Each was buried in their hometown cemeteries. Both Holguin and Winfrey attended each memorial service for their comrades.
After the crash site was rediscovered in 1982, a team from US Army CILHI visited the crash site between September 7-9, 1983 and again on August 18-22,
1984. In 2000, Brian
Bennett accompanied US Army CILHI to the crash site again for an additional search.
During July 23 - August 20, 2001 a team from US Army CILHI excavated the crash site and recovered human remains and additional material, U.S. Army equipment and items used by crew members were accessioned on August 27, 2001 as CILHI 2001-152. On September 26, 2001 six tooth samples were submitted to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) for mDNA testing. On January 31, 2002 four bone samples were also submitted and on December 16, 2005 five more bone samples were submitted.
No additional remains were found during any of these additional visits and the site was declared
During 2010, the remains of Gionet were identified and scheduled for burial during September 2011.
Holguin Returns to Rabaul
As the sole survivor of his crew, Holguin made
his personal quest to find the remains of comrades. During the 1980s, he used his own funds to make four trips to Rabaul to search for and relocate the crash site.
On his first trip in 1981, Holguin
was accompanied by former pilot Hal Winfrey. Together, they met Brian
Bennett who took them to Arumbum village in the Baining Mountains. There, they located
Mrs. Inui, who tended to Holguin's wounds and helped nurse him.
On his second trip in 1982, Holguin joined Brian
Bennett and Bruce
Museum Curator) and returned to the Baining Mountains.
With the help of an elderly villager from the area, they were led to the crash site. Brian
Bennett located the
first piece of wreckage, a supercharger, then the group found the rest of the wreckage
and cockpit section nearby. On the side of the nose, the nose art and nickname "Naughty But Nice" were still clearly visible.
On his third or fourth in early 1984, Holguin returned to the crash site intent on salvaging the cockpit section. Placing lifting straps around the wreckage, it was lifted and flown back to Rabaul and later brought to the Kokopo
Museum for display. Brian
Bennett and his son Lenny Bennett spent
a week cleaning the relic with cotton balls and applying
lacquer to remove growth
and protect the original paint. Later, the nose
art section was removed, and displayed separately from
Also during the 1980s, Holguin located and reconciled with W. O. Matsumoto, his former Kempei-Tai (military police) prison guard at Rabaul in hopes hopes he might reveal more details about the execution and burial of American Prisoners Of War.
With the exception of Holguin, who survived, the entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All of the missing crew members are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
After the crew identifications in 1984, five were permanently buried in the hometowns during 1985.
Knott was buried at Long Island National Cemetery at section 2J site 92A.
Payne was buried at Oakwood Cemetery at Corsicana, TX.
Griebel was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Riverton, WY.
Trimingham was buried at Irvington Memorial Cemetery in Fremont, CA at Section C; Row 1; Space 48
Garcia was buried in Los Angeles.
Peattie was buried next to his parents at Old Saint Joachims Cemetery (Old Beacon Cemetery) in Beacon, NY. In his home town of Beacon, there is a memorial plaque at the Lewis
Tomkins Hose Company #1 where he volunteered as a fireman prewar. At
the firehouse, his medals, a crew photo and
a piece of wreckage from the B-17 donated by Holguin are on display.
Gionet has a memorial marker at Saint Anthony's Cemetery in Shirley, MA at lot 9.
Holguin passed away on March 22, 1994. He is buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana CA at lawn grave AH.
Former pilot, Hal C. Winfrey passed away on December 10, 1998 in Atlanta, GA. He is buried at Decatur Cemetery in Decatur, GA at section 12.
After additional remains were identifeid, more of the crew were buried on September 21, 2011 at Arlington National Cemetery, section 60 site 9742. The group burial includes remains of Sarsfield, Christopherson, Gionet, Knott, Peattie, Garcia, Griebel, Payne and Trimingham.
Curt Holguin (son of Jose Holguin)
Henry Garcia Jr. (son of
Bonnie Williams (daughter of Robert L Christopherson)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2430
"2430 delivered Salt Lake SAD Nov 30, 1941. Assigned to 7th BG, 88th RS. Was one of six planes that flew into Pearl Harbor Dec 7, 1941. transfferred to 40th BS, 19th BG, then 65th BS, 43rd BG. Ferried to Australia and nicknamed "Naughty But Nice". Shot down by J1N1-S Jun 25, 1943, Vunakanau, SW Pacific with 65th BS, 43rd BG while on night mission to Rabaul. MACR 14590. One crew POW, rest KIA."
7 December 1941 - The Air Force Story -
Appendix D - B-17s Arriving During the Attack page 157
"B-17C 41-2430 / Crew No. 2: 1st Lt Harold N. Chaffin, 2d Lt Mabry Simmons, 2d Lt Walter H. Johnson, Avn Cdt Hubert S. Mobley, TSgt Russell E. Mackey, SSgt Lucuis W. Weeks, Sgt Irving W. McMichael, PFC Robert K. Barnard."
Oz@War - Crash of DC3 Civilian aircraft into USAAF B-17E and Dutch Lockheed Lodestar on 18 February 1942
BritishPathe "Bombing of Darwin by Japanese (1942)" 0:47–0:53 B-17E 41-2430 take off from Garbutt Field
Missing Air Crew Report 14590 (MACR 14590) created retroactively circa 1945-1946
FindAGrave - James Lake Easter (obituary, photo, grave photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William J. Sarsfield, Jr. "recovered and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Trimingham "recovered and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis G. Peattie "recovered and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Herman H. Knott "recovered and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Christopherson "recovered 1982, identified 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry Garcia "recovered in 1982 and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leonard A. Gionet "recovered in 1982 and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. Griebel "recovered in 1982 and identified in 2001"
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Pace P. Payne "recovered and identified in 2001"
FindAGrave - William J. Sarsfield, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
1Lt William J Sarsfield, Jr (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Charles E. Trimingham (Irvington Memorial Cemetery grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles Edward Trimingham, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Charles Edward Trimingham, Jr (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Francis Gerard Peattie (Old Saint Joachims Cemetery grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Francis G Peattie (tablets of the missing)
Francis O Peattie (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Herman H. Knott (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Herman H. Knott (Long Island National Cemetery grave photo)
Herman H. Knott (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Robert L Christopherson (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert L Christopherson (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Henry Garcia (Rose Hills Memorial Park)
SSgt Henry Garcia (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leonard Alphonse Gionet (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Leonard Alphonse Gionet (Saint Anthony's Cemetery grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leonard Alphonse Gionet (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Robert E. Griebel (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Robert E. Griebel (Oakwood Cemetery grave photo)
FindAGrave - Robert E. Griebel (Arlington grave photo)
FindAGrave - Pace P. Payne (tabelts of the missing)
FindAGrave - Pace P. Payne (Oakwood Cemetery photo)
FindAGrave - Pace P Payne (Arlington grave photo)
Testimonial of Jose Holguin, State of California, County of Sacramento 1948
FindAGrave - Jose L. Holguin (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Hal Cawood Winfrey (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2430
Paradise Magazine "The
Lady And The Navigator"
by Bruce Hoy
Moonlight Interceptor (1985) pages 39-40
Reader's Digest "Lt. Holguin's Final Mission" April 1987 page 83
of Rabaul (1996) has
a chapter on the shoot down of
Forty of the Fifth (1999) page 53
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 12, 18, 384
JPAC "Memorandum for the record
identification of CIL 2001-152 3 August 2009" [B-17E 41-2430] by Thomas D. Holland, PhD Scientific Director, JPAC-CIL
Oregon Sentinel "'Angel Flight' brings closure for son of WWII B-17 crew member" Summer 2011
Ken’s Men Against The Empire (2015) pages 145-146, 210 (painting), 211 (color photos), 213, 217 (profile no. 11 starboard side view) 222 (profile 11 port side view, profile no. 11 detail) 232 (nose art and crash site nose art photo), 233 (crew photo), 234-236 (Holguin Rabaul POW Camp), 314, 318, 319, 328, 334-336, 344, 360, 315, 394 (index Jose Holguin), 399 (index Naughty But Nice)
Thanks to Curt Holguin, Brian
Bennett, Bruce Hoy and Steve Birdsall for additional information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
June 29, 2019
MIA / POW
4 40 S
151 41 4 E