Lt Raymond S. Dau, O-424250 (survived) Arlington, VA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. William J. Sarsfield, Jr., O-791243 (survived) PA
Ditched May 24, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 19th Bombardment Group, 435th Bombardment Squadron 'Kangaroo Squadron'. During July 1942, this B-17 was nicknamed "Tex".
On July 25, 1942, this B-17 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Ernest L. Reid on a reconnaissance mission over Kavieng from 13:30 to 14:15. Over the target, spotted an unidentified vessel and experienced some anti-aircraft fire possibly from ship or Kavieng Airfield. Attacked by 15 Zeros. 3 Zeros seen going down, one on fire out of control. During the attack, two gunners were injured (grazed by bullets) and the engines were damaged and B-17 returned with more than 200 holes. Aboard, the gunners claimed six Zeros, but none were shot down.
The crew on the July 25, 1942 mission were:
Pilot Lt. Leonard S. Humiston (survived) Puyalup, WA
Co-Pilot Lt. Ernest L. Reid (survived) New Haven, CT
Navigator Lt. Chester H. Budz (survived) Housatonic, MA
Bombardier Sgt. Robert W. Freeman (survived) Salisbury, MD
Engineer Sgt. Benjamin J. Hale (survived) San Francisco, CA
Lower Turret Gunner Cpl. Earl E. Curtis (WIA, survived) Manchester, NH
Radio Sgt. Kenneth E. Gradle (WIA, survived) St. Louis, MO
Waist Gunner Cpl. William Clarke (survived) Chanute, KS
Waist Gunner Pvt. Harold Vandorn (survived) Detroit, MI
Tail Gunner Sgt. Robert Forsyth (survived) Irwin, PA
Afterwards, this B-17 remained at 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby for five days undergoing repairs. On July 31, 1942 flown to Garbutt Field at Townsville.
Later, this B-17 was assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 65th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed
On May 24, 1943 took off 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Dau with co-pilot Sarsfield on a bombing mission against Rabaul. Returning from the mission, this B-17 ran out of fuel and ditched off north coast of New Guinea, north of Duvira Mission. The crew were unhurt in the landing. The names of the entire crew aboard are unknown.
The entire crew was
rescued by the U. S. Army 41st Infantry Division and returned to duty.
Previously Dau force landed B-17E 41-9234 on January 8, 1943.
Later, Sarsfield was killed piloting B-17E "Naughty But Nice" 41-2430 on June 26, 1943.
N.G. Force Diary "PM3/25/7 - B17 recce. At 1135K/25 YSAREL CHANNEL in position 2°28'S 15C 37'E. 4 large unidentified vessels possibly large cruisers course 140° led slowly by 2 tenders or pilot ships. RABAUL at 1008K/25 could NOT photograph or observe due to overcast. Kavieng at 1100K/25 small unidentified vessel. Some A.A. possibly from ship or aerodrome. Attacked by 15 Zeros. 3 Zeros seen going down, one on fire out of control. Attack took place 1330-1415K. 2 gunners injured. Engines damaged and aircraft holed."
435th Squadron Diary - July 31, 1942
"...Humiston and crew has a narrow escape after having been jumped by ten Zero. Four were shot down by the crew, but two engines were shot out, hydraulic system out, elevator controls useless, two injured slightly, Sgt. Gradle and Cpl. Curtis receiving head wounds from bullets. A fraction of an inch difference and they would have been killed. On landing, Humiston, unable to stop his plane in time damaged all four props. Horgan now at Charters Towers, checking off two new B-17 pilots in five hours of flying. Humiston and crew return by transport, leaving damaged plane, and bringing Ehrhear and Joyner. These two have leg wounds from Horgan's experience. Only by skilfull use of clouds, turning, climbing and diving did Humiston get back safely to base. Following Humiston's sighting the 19th Group went in and damaged a ship out of a Jap convoy. Gradle, wounded first in Hawaii, fell in slit trench during Jap raid at Moresby and sprained [his] ankle."
Los Angeles Times "Flying Fortress beats Jap Trap" Aug 2, 1942
Fortress Against The Sun page 235
Eagles of the Southern Sky pages 212-213
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Steve Birdsall for additional information
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February 4, 2018