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  B-24D-155-CO "Ten Knights in a Bar Room" Serial Number 42-72806  
USAAF
5th AF
90th BG
321st BS

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90th BG c1943

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John Douglas 2003

Pilot  1st Lt Oliver Sheehan, O-740956 (MIA / KIA, BR) San Bernardino County, CA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt James A. Gebbie, O-676371 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Navigator  2nd Lt Wendell P. Rawson, O-747103 (MIA / KIA , BR)
Bombardier  2nd Lt Robert J. Rothwell, O-681481 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Gunner  T/Sgt Uhland S. Adair, 14150043 (MIA / KIA) AL
Gunner  T/Sgt John J. Haggerty, 11071556 (MIA / KIA, BR) MA
Gunner  S/Sgt Raymond M. Phillips, 13040503 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner  S/Sgt Richard D. Wall, 39536717 (MIA / KIA, BR) Los Angeles, CA
Gunner  S/Sgt Thomas D. McNamara, 37075129 (MIA / KIA, BR) St. Louis, MO
Gunner  S/Sgt Rocco W. Bobbora, 16127310 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL

Crashed  December 1, 1943 at 13:14
MACR  2085

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 2376. Delivered to the U. S. Army on July 30, 1943. On July 31, 1943 flown to Tucson, AZ then on August 16, 194 to Topeka, KS. On September 7, 1943 ferried overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific before arriving in Australia on September 11.

Wartime History
Assigned to the US Army, 5th Air Force, 90th Bombardment Group, 321st Bombardment Squadron. Operating from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby this bomber was nicknamed "Ten Knights in a Bar Room" and painted with a figure riding a Pegasus. This nickname was a play on the title of the book Ten Nights in a Bar Room, and What I Saw There by Timothy S. Arthur published in 1854. The book become a famous temperance novel, moralizing on the certainties of bar room life, and was also made into a play.

On October 18, 1943 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby piloted by Lt. O'Brien on a bombing mission via Hood Point to Kiriwina.

On October 21, 1943 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) piloted by Lt. Sheehan on a mission against the Sattelberg and Finschafen area.

When lost, engines R-1830-65 serial numbers 42-90868, 42-9590, 42-9190 and 42-90868. Aboard were .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers: right tail gun: 382354, left tail gun: 381824, left top turret: 382683, right top turret: 382841, left ball turret: 332737, right ball turret: 382372, right waist gun: 382739, left waist gun: 382324. Left and right nose guns, serial number unknown.

Mission History
On December 1, 1943 took off from 5 Mile Drome (Wards) near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt Oliver Sheehan on a bombing mission against Wewak. This bomber was in the number 5 position in the formation.

After the bomb run at 11:12am over Wewak, a single Ki-61 Tony attacked from the direction of the sun and fired a momentary but accurate burst that hit the port wing of this bomber, causing it to catch fire, with flames coming out of the waist windows. The bomb bay opened just prior to the wings buckling and the tail broke off, crashing near Angoram. The tail section impacted roughly a half mile from the rest of the wreckage. The attacking Ki-61 Tony followed the bomber down to the ground. Possibly, at least one of the crew bailed out prior to the crash.

S/Sgt James W Cayten, tail gunner of B-24 "Blonde Bomber" witnessed:
"the number two engine caught fire. Approximately 15 seconds after the engine was afire, flames broke out through the bomb bay, and waist windows. I saw three chutes open behind the plane. I also saw an object which might have been a man leave the ship, but no parachute was seen. I saw two parachutes float with the clouds, and watched the other until out of view. The plane started losing altitude just after the engine was hit. After approximately a minute and half the plane wen into a dive and started breaking apart”.

S/Sgt Clarence Roper, right waist of B-24 "Blonde Bomber" witnessed:
“Shortly after observing the fire in the waist, number two engine blew up and the wing came off, and as the plane started down the tail came off”. The attacking Tony was observed to turn on its back and follow the wreckage almost to the ground. Some in the Liberators wondered why it did not make opportunity for a second pass."

A total of three B-24s were lost this mission including this aircraft plus B-24D "Lobo" 42-40830 and B-24D "Pistol Packin' Mama" 42-41209. Oficially this B-24 was condemned on December 2, 1943

Wreckage
During 1971, Patrol Officer (Kiap) J. Beitling from Angoram Patrol Post located the wreckage of this B-24 near Angoram and recovered the remains of the crew.

John Douglas adds:
"It was found once after the war in 1971, when the crew were recovered [most of them]; and has been undisturbed since that time. The tail came apart from the main body and has survived quite well as can be seen from the photos. The rest is scrap metal."

Brian Bennett adds:
"I went to the site in September 2005 in an official capacity. I GPS'ed it, it did not find any remains or personal effect, it came in very hard, and it burned."

Memorials
Three of the crew: Gebbie, Adair and Haggerty were officially declared dead on January 22, 1946. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. All three remain Missing In Action (MIA).

After the 1971 recovery of remains, the crew was buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 81, site 311-313. McNamara was buried on May 22, 1971 in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri at plot 24, grave 2288. Rothwell also has a memorial marker at Sunset Memorial Park in Danville, IL.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Oliver Sheehan
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard O. Wall
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - James A. Gebbie
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Wendell P. Rawson
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert J. Rothwell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Uhland S. Adair
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John J. Haggerty
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Raymond M. Phillips
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Richard O. Wall
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Rocco W. Bobbora

Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-24D Liberator Serial Number 42-72806
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Oliver Sheehan "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James A. Gebbie
"his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wendell P. Rawson "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert J. Rothwell "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Uhland S. Adair "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Haggerty "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond M. Phillips "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard D. Wall "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Thomas D. McNamara "his remains were recovered..."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Rocco W. Bobbora "his remains were recovered..."
Ten Knights in A Bar Room by Michael J. Cundiff
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 89
The Jolly Rogers page 197
Montgomery Advertiser May 15, 1971 article about B-24D 42-72806
Mistake Over Wewak - December 1, 1943 Mission
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-72806
FindAGrave - Oliver Sheehan (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - James A Gebbie (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Wendell P Rawson (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Robert J Rothwell (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Robert J. Rothwell (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Uhland S. Adair (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John J Haggerty (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Raymond M. Phillips (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Richard D Wall (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Thomas D "Tommy" McNamara (photos, grave)
FindAGrave - Rocco W Bobbora (group burial photo)
Thanks to John Douglas, Brian Bennett and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-24

MIA
MIA
2 Missing
Partially
Resolved

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