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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. On August 2, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-25-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24543 and flown to Cheyenne. On September 16, 1942 arrived Hamilton Field then ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On September 28, 1942 assigned to the 5th Air Force, 43rd Bombardment Group, 403rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "I Dood It" on both sides of the nose below the two smaller rectangular navigator's windows. Named 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. Assigned to Lt. Murphy.
On September 29, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Murphy armed with 500 pound bombs with B-17F "Fightin' Sweed" 41-24520 departed in a storm on a mission to bomb a light cruiser reported off Buna. Searching for two hours in the storm without results, they were notified the report was in error and instead bombed Buna Airfield and were fired on by anti-aircraft guns but both bombers returned safely.
As a field modification, 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.
On December 8, 1942 took off piloted by Col. Ramey as one of four B-17s on a mission to bomb Japanese warships south of Rabaul. The B-17s bombed individually from 2,000' and were intercepted by Zeros.
During February 1943, transfered to the 63rd Bombardment Squadron. Often flown by pilots Derr and Harry Staley.
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.
In late March 1943, the nickname "I Dood It" was over painted with a rectangle of dark green or black paint. Sgt Ernie Vandal painted Walt Disney character "Pluto" sniffing the ground on both sides of the nose forward of the large nose windows. On the left side of the nose, Pluto had the outline of two puffs of air coming from its nostrils and a chain extending to the co-pilot's window on the right side of the nose. On the right side of the nose was only Pluto without the chain or puffs. No name was painted this B-17 became known to the squadron as "Pluto" or "Pluto II" due to the loss of B-17F "Pluto" 41-24384 on March 26, 1943.
On April 1, 1943 during the afternoon took off piloted by Captain Robert N. Keatts with B-17F "Talisman" 41-24537 on a bombing mission against shipping in Kavieng Harbor. Due to clouds over the target, this B-17 instead bombed the runway at Kavieng Airfield.
On April 9, 1943 took off piloted by Captain Robert N. Keatts on a reconnaissance mission over the north coast of New Guinea. Over Finschafen, attacked by three Ki-43 Oscars. Aboard, bombardier MSgt Richard G. Tennant was wounded when his .30 caliber machine gun jammed a round detonated in the chamber.
On June 30, 1943 at 1:30am took off from Dobodura piloted by 1st Lt Harold S. Barnett as part of a strike force from the 43rd Bomb Group including fourteen B-17s and four B-24s that took off individually on a night bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. Aboard was an Australian radio operator, Mackay from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Takeoffs and bombing runs were made independently by each individual bomber.
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 this bomber crashing into the mountains southeast of Cape Lambert. This was the final B-17 kill for Shigetoshi Kudo, whose interceptions had accounted for five other bombers between May 1943 until June 30, 1943.
When this bomber failed to return from the mission it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Other air crews reported they were attacked over the target by enemy night fighters.
This B-17 crashed near Kulit village roughly six miles inland from Mandres Plantation on the Gazelle Peninsula on East New Britain. After the crash, native people visited the site and later a Japanese Army patrol arrived. The remains of the crew were buried in a shallow grave at the site.
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 American Graves Registration Service (AGRS). The team recovered the remains of the entire crew. A fountain pen was used to identify one of them. Afterwards, the remains were transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. On November 7, 1951 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 at section 84 sites 403, 404 and 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."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-25-BO Fortress 41-24543
"24543 delivered to Cheyenne Aug 2, 1942; transferred to Hamilton Sep 16, 1942; assigned to 5th Air Force, 43rd BG, 63rd BS at Sumac Sep 18, 1942, named ("Pluto"); MIA Jul 2, 1943 [sic]. No MACR [sic]."
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."
WW2 Nominal Roll - William Alexander Mackay
Aviation Heritage - William Alexander Mackay (photo)
CWGC - William A. Mackay
FindAGrave - Harold S. Barnett (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sidney S. Bossuk (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Warren V. Seybert (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James G. Burke (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James B. Candy (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Anthony H. Woillard (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - William Alexander MacKay (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Robert A. Burtis (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Robert A. Burtis (group burial photo)
FIndAGrave - Donald W Carlson (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Phillip J. Lohnes (group burial photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24543
Moonlight Interceptor (1985) mentions this loss
Pride of Seattle (1998) page 14
Pacific Wrecks Forum - B-17 "Pluto" notes about B-17 41-24543 vs B-17F 41-24384 (2009-2010) post by Steve Birdsall July 24, 2009, November 23, 2009, June 18, 2010
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
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 263 (September 29, 1942), 280, 320 (December 8, 1942 mission), 371 (June 30, 1943 mission), 392
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 pages (Pluto II) 160, 164, 237 (photo), 237 (June 30, 1943 mission, photo), 238 (June 30, 1943 mission, photo Mackay), 319 (Appendix II Personnel Killed), 325 (Appendix III 63rd BS), 330 (Appendix III, 403rd BS), 337, 338 (photo), 394 (index I Dood It), 401 (index Pluto II)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall and Edward Rogers for additional information
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