Shane Elliott 2008
|Pilot Captain Robert H. Richards, O-395292 (KIA) Indianapolis, IN
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert H. McGhee, O-428441 (KIA) Gary, IN
Navigator 2nd Lt. William F. B. Morris, O-431796 (KIA) Armel, CO
Bombardier SSgt Charles E. Bayer, 6911387 (KIA) Covington, OH
Engineer Cpl Otis O. Black, Jr., 18037748 (KIA) Fort Worth, TX
Asst Engineer Cpl Yvon W. Bailey, 657875 (KIA) San Pedro, CA
Radio Sgt Hugh M. King, 7000804 (KIA) Shivers, MS
Gunner/Armour Cpl Peter Charuk, 6150144 (KIA) West Hartford, CT
Gunner Pvt William Omanoff, 12022594 (KIA) Bronx, NY
Crashed September 8, 1942
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2543. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-9071 Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 11th Bombardment Group, 42nd Bombardment Squadron.
Nicknamed "Stingaree" likely after the Hollywood movie Stingaree (1934). During early September 1942, operated from Plaine Des Gaiacs Airfield on New Caledonia.
On September 8, 1942 took off from Plaine Des Gaiacs Airfield piloted by Captain Robert H. Richards on a patrol mission over the Solomon Sea. When the B-17 failed to return, it was was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and presumed lost in the vicinity of Rendova Island.
In fact, this B-17 intercepted a Japanese H6K Mavis flying boat at approximately 1,000' but was hit by gunfire, exploded and crashed on Rendova Island. The combat was observed by coastwatcher Sgt Harry Wickham who reported the B-17 crash to coastwatcher Donald Kennedy at Segi on New Georgia.
This B-17 crashed on Rendova Island. When it impacted, the bombs aboard and exploded causing a large crater.
Recovery of Remains
The crash site was found days later by Reverend J. R. Metcalfe, a Methodist missionary based at Roviana with loyal natives a few days after the crash, finding five dog tags including Morris, Bayer, Black and Bailey, a piece of paper that was Captain Richards' immunization card plus other burned papers. Later, coastwatcher Wickham guided by locals visited the site and found body parts of eight individuals and buried them at the site.
MACR 16202 states:
"A report was received on 14 October 1942 stating that information had been received from coast watcher that a B-17 airplane had crashed on Rendova Island and that the remains of the men in the plane were unrecognizable but were thought to be those of five men. Identification tags of Morris, Bayer, Black and Bailey were found and an immunization card of Captain Richards were also found. Other papers were burned.
After American forces landed on Rendova Island, the crash site was investigated. On July 21, 1943 coastwatcher Lt. Rhodes led a team including Lt. Marcott, 43rd Infantry
Division with members of the 2nd Marine Air Wing (2nd MAW) to the crash site. During their visit to the crash site, a Japanese sniper fired a single shot at the group. On July 22, 1943 natives turned over two photos and papers from the crash site that were sent to coastwatcher Kennedy.
Postwar, the remains recovered were transported to Manila Mausoleum then shipped to the United States.
The entire crew were initially declared dead on October 13, 1943 then officially declared dead on April 5, 1946, with a date of death the day of the mission. On March 7, 1950 the crew was permanently buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial section 78, grave 1009-F, 1009-G and 1009-H.
Bayer also has a memorial marker on his parent's grave at Highland Cemetery in Covington, OH.
Jim Rench (cousin of SSgt Charles E. Bayer)
Diana & Freeman Morris (niece & nephew of 2nd Lt. William F. B. Morris)
Vera & Harold Hartford (sister and brother-in-law of Cpl Peter Charuk)
Dennis Murphy (cousin of Pvt William Omanoff)
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - William F. B. Morris
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - Otis O. Black
NARA - World War II Army Enlistment Records - William Omanoff
On December 7, 1941 two of the crew: pilot Captain Robert H. Richards and Avn Cdt William F. B. Morris were aboard B-17C "Skipper" 40-2049 that force landed at Bellows Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9071
"9071 delivered Geiger 301st BG apr 5, 1942, Lowry Jun 1, 1942. Assigned to 542nd BS [sic, 42nd BS], 11th BG at Hickam Field Jun 10, 1942. (422nd BS) [sic 42nd BS] shot down over Rendova Island 9/6/1942 after running fight with Japanese H5K2 Mavis flying boat. All on board killed. MACR 16202."
Missing Air Crew Report 16202 (MACR 16202) was created retroactively circa 1945-1946
The Tragedy at Egolo-Rendova by Reverend J. R. Metcalfe
All My Father's Children: A Personal Journey by Margaret C. Metcalfe
FindAGrave - Robert H Richards (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Robert H McGhee (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT William F.B. Morris (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Charles E Bayer (photo, memorial marker / group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Otis O Black, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Yvon W Bailey (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SGT Hugh M King (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Peter Charuk (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - PVT William Omanoff (group burial photo)
Fortress Against The Sun, page 253, 389
Thanks to Jim Rench, Shane Elliott and Minoru Kamada for additional information
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August 10, 2019