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  B-17E "Tojo's Nightmare" Serial Number 41-2497  
5th AF
317th TCG
46th TCS

Former assignments
19th BG
30th BS

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Ewing March 24, 1944

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via Horn Island 1944

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via Horn Island 2000

Pilot  Captain William Compton (WIA)
Co-Pilot  1/LT Donovan
Crew  1st Lt. Paul Maaske
Crew  T/Sgt Paul Paddilla
Crew  S/Sgt J. C. Matthowa (WIA, died of wounds)
Crew  Cpl Julian Simmons (WIA, died of wounds)
Crew  2nd Lt. Edward Scudero
Crew  T/Sgt Delbert Steinka
Crew  T/Sgt C. M. Porter
Crew  S/Sgt Charles Kreig
Passenger  T/Sgt Cecil Clarke
Passenger  PFC Swain
Passenger  S/Sgt John Masiars
Passenger  Pte Daniel Pechman
Passenger  Pte Paul Graf
Passenger  T/Sgt T. Underwood
Passenger  Pfc James Colorusso

Crashed  March 24, 1944
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried to Hickam Field on Oahu then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 30th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Tojo's Nightmare".

Late in 1942, assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Group (TCG), 46th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS). During November 1942, this B-17 transported from Australia one U.S. Army howitzer, tractor, ammunition and eight man crew to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. After delivery, the cargo was divided between several C-47 Dakotas and flown to the north coast of New Guinea to support the offensive against Buna.

Mission History
On March 24, 1944 this B-17 was transporting American and Australian troops to Australia for on furlough. During the final approach to land at Horn Island Airfield, the nose began to rise unexpectedly and caused a stall and a quarter turn flat spin from 250' before crashing into about 4' of water in a mangrove swamp near the edge of Horn Island.

The crew was rescued by Americans and Australian personnel who cut a hole into the top of the bomber to allow the crew and passengers to escape. One of the first at the scene was US Army Captain John D. Ewing. Australians from 34 HAA (Heavy Anti Aircraft) Battery and the 157th LAA (Light Anti-Aircraft) Battery helped rescue the crew. All but one person aboard sustained injuries and spent the night in the hospital.

The next day, two died from injuries sustained in the crash. Another aircraft transported the survivors to Garbutt Field near Townsville.

Susan Ewing-Wolfe (daughter of John Donald Ewing) adds:
"Aussies, my father and a few Americans, helped pull the survivors to safety. It was a transportation mission."

Remains of this bomber still remains on the island in the mangroves. In 1997, Australian members of the anti-aircraft units involved in the rescue revisited the island and crash site to pay tribute to those killed.

Flightpath Vol 10 No 4, pg 62-63
Horn Island page 199-200
Newspaper article "Captain died in an Australian plane crash" c1944
Newspaper article "Australians rescue crew of crashed Fortress" c1944
Thanks to Richard Rudd and Susan Ewing-Wolfe for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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