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  B-24D-13-CO Liberator Serial Number 41-23957  
USAAF
13th AF
307th BG
424th BS

Pilot  Captain Harold G. McNeese, O-726442 (rescued)
Co-pilot  2nd Lt Harvey R. Vanderslice, O-789033 (rescued)
Navigator  Wesley M. Carrol, O-728533 (rescued)
Bombardier  2nd Lt Donald DeClergue, O-728239 (rescued)
Engineer  S/Sgt Roy N. Lund, 37110132 (MIA / KIA) IA
Asst Eng  SSgt William H. Adams, 14071345 (rescued)
Radio  SSgt Robert O. Smith, 16035680 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Asst Radio
 Sgt Lawrence C. Averitt, 14068152 (MIA / KIA) NC
Gunner  Sgt Elton M. Hartt, 20146651 (MIA / KIA) ME

Crashed  February 13, 1943
MACR  559

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Constructors Number 767. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 307th Bombardment Group, 424nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. When lost, engines R-1830-?? serial numbers 1) 42-424?? 2) 42-412?? 3) 42-41711 4) 42-4230?. Weapon serial numbers not listed in the Missing Air Crew Report (MACR).

Crew History
Pilot McNeese retired as a Major and died on February 21, 1995.

Mission History
On February 13, 1943 one of six B-24s that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal as the second wave of a bombing mission against shipping in the Shortland-Buin area. Escorted by 4 P-38s and 7 P-40s (2 P-38s and 3 P-40s abort due to engine trouble). Over the target, two B-24s were shot down. The bombers were attacked by 30 Mitsubishi Zeros and 15 Japanese float-equipped fighters, with support from heavy flak fired by naval vessels below. The bombers attacked from 14,000' dropping 36 x 1,000 lbs bombs. Only a single hit was scored on a transport, and 8 zeros claimed.

Damaged by anti-aircraft fire and the fighters, this bomber's wing and engine were set on fire, causing it to drop out of formation, and P-38 pilot Rist escorted it toward Choiseul Island. Zeros continued attacking for an hour. Four of the crew bailed out. The other five crew successfully ditched the bomber off the north coast of Choiseul.

In the MACR, Carrol reported the bomber crashed 20 miles off the east coast of Choiseul. Descending in his parachute, he recalls one of the others who bailed out was strafed in his parachute by attacking fighters. Carrol himself suffered only minor lacerations.

Paul Roales adds:
"My interview with Wesley M. Carrol. I tracked him down through his unit reunion committee. He called me on the phone on March 27, 2007. We talked for a few minutes. He said his position as navigator in the B-24 prevented him from seeing much of the battle. The only aircraft he saw during the battle was one P-40. He did not know (or did not remember) the names of the local islands, so when I asked him about specifics of where the B-24 flew he could not provide much help. He called the area Cholin Harbor [Choiseul]. He did indicate that the long account in the book "Up The Slot" was accurate."

Escape
The survivors moved down the north coast of Choiseul by rubber raft then crossed to Santa Isabel, where friendly natives notified a coast watcher on the island. After three weeks, they were returned to Guadalcanal.

Memorials
Lund, Averitt, Smith and Hartt were declared dead on December 12, 1945, each earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart. The four are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

Relatives
Robert Reilley (nephew of Robert O. Smith):
"My uncle, and the person for whom I was named, Staff Sgt. Robert O. Smith was a waist gunner on the B-24D piloted by Lt. Harold G. McNeese. My Uncle and the other crew members in the back of the plane lost communication with the crew in the cockpit sometime after they were hit. They may have thought the plane was going down and apparently bailed out. Lt. McNeese wrote a beautiful letter to my grandparents in March 1943 commending my uncle and relaying his dismay that after they crash landed near Choiseul the men in the rear of the plane (4) were missing. My uncle, and presumably the other crew members in the rear, were never found. He is memorialized among the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He was awarded the Purple Heart."

Justin Taylan adds:
"I researched this mission at the Tokyo Defense archives. The following Japanese aircraft attacked: 11 Rufes (one aboarted) of 802nd Kōkūtai, 20 Zeros of the 252nd Kōkūtai and 9 Zeros of the 204th Kōkūtai. A total of 39 Japanese aircraft."

References
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force, pg 180-181, 240
Air & Space A Bougainville Mystery Paul A. Roales, Nov 2006
Vampire Squadron pages 25-26
"Up The Slot" contains a description of the survival of the crew
Kodochosho, 802nd Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 204th Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943
Kodochosho, 252nd Kōkūtai, February 13, 1943

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA
MIA
4 Missing

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