|Pilot 1st Lt. Walter E. Higgins (rescued)
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Lyle Schoenaue (rescued)
Bombardier 2nd Lt Robert Paviour (rescued)
Navigator Lt George Sellma (rescued)
Engineer TSgt Neil J. Gaudet, 14039691 (MIA / KIA, BNR) LA
Radio Cpl Ralph Wolf (rescued)
Gunner SSgt Henry W. Satterfield, 19081322 (KIA / BR) CA
Gunner Sgt Leonard (rescued)
Ditched January 6, 1943
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Cowtown's Revenge" with the nose art of a bull's head with horns on the left side of the nose.
On January 6, 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy off New Britain.
Damaged during the attack, this B-24 ditched off Litisa island (Islet Island) and Lifaba Island (Lebata Island) roughly fifteen miles
west of Kawa Island. Gaudet died in the ditching and went down with the bomber and was never seen again.
The rest of the crew survived and swamp ashore. Satterfield was severely injured.
Fates of the Crew
The surviving seven crew members swam to nearby Lifaba Island (Lebata). Satterfield died from his injuries and was buried by his crew on the island.
Afterwards, crew was spotted by a B-24D Liberator piloted by McMurria which observed them on the beach and dropped them supplies. Afterwards, he landed at Milne Bay to alert authorities and return with a flying boat to rescue the crew.
James McMurria recalls in Fight For Survival page 20:
"Higgins had sent in a report of his approximate position just before he crashed so I got busy on it and searched the area north of Goodenough Island. It was the greatest mission I ever been on - we found them on Islet Island. Eight of the ten survived. We dropped them water, food, blankets and mosquito nets then went back to Milne Bay and got the Catalina out there in a hurry. It was a magnificent feeling to save someone's life and it makes a lot more sense than the work I'm doing most of the time."
On January 7, 1943 B-24D Liberator piloted by McMurria led Catalina A24-2 to rescue the surviving crew.
Edward Rogers adds:
"I found a description of the rescue by the RAAF co-pilot P/O Albert Minty.
The name of the B-24 pilot was 1st Lt. Walter E. Higgins while the RAAF pilot who flew the Catalina which rescued them was Fl/Lt Brian H. "Tubby" Higgins. Four months later Fl/Lt Higgins died in a rough water landing on 24 May 1943."
Satterfield and Gaget were both officially declared dead on January 6, 1943. On Lifaba Island (Lebata) villagers tended to Satterfield's grave until his remains were recovered postwar by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) and transported to Manila and permanently buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot D row 15 grave 68.
Gaudet remains Missing In Action (MIA) and is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Gaudet also has a memorial marker at Saint Joseph Cemetery and Mausoleum in Paulina, LA.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Neil J. Gaudet
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Henry W. Satterfield
FindAGrave - Sgt Neil John Gaudet (memorial marker at Saint Joseph Cemetery and Mausoleum in Paulina, LA)
FindAGrave - Sgt Neil John Gaudet (tablets of the missing photo)
SSgt Henry W Satterfield (tablets of the missing)
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 16 According to Wiley Woods 1st Lt. Higgins transmits to McMurria that this is the crew of Walker's B-17.
The Jolly Rogers pages 29, 195
Catalina Chronicle page 30
Fight For Survival page 20
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 41-23750
“Mission from Manaus” Flight Lieutenant Albert Earnest Minty
Black Cats: The Real Story of Australia’s Long Range Catalina Strike Force in the Pacific War (2001) Complied by A.E. Minty. Edited by Sandra Di Guglielmo
Thanks to Rod Pearce and Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 4, 2018