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  B-24J-175-CO "Lonesome Lady" Serial Number 44-40680  
USAAF
7th AF
494th BG
866th BS

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USAAF circa 1945

Pilot  2nd Lt Thomas C. Cartwright, O-831661 (POW, survived) York, SC
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Durden W. Looper, O-2067143 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Huntington, AR
Navigator  2nd Lt Roy M. Pedersen, O-2071822 (MIA / KIA, BR) Avees, IA
Bombardier  2nd Lt James M. Ryan, O-785427 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Binghamton, NY
Radio  Sgt. Hugh Atkinson, 39214204 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Seattle, WA
Tail Gunner  SSgt William E. Abel, 36440823 (MIA / KIA) Denver, CO
Engineer  Sgt Buford J. Ellison, 38368550 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Abilena, TX
Nose Turret  Cpl John A. Long, Jr., 33707730 (POW, died August 6, 1945) New Castle, PA
Ball Turret  SSgt Ralph J. Neal, 15042164 (POW, died August 6, 1945) KY

Crashed  July 28, 1945 at 12:48
MACR  14758

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field to the Central Pacific.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Air Force, 494th Bombardment Group, 866th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Lonesome Lady" with a nude woman looking over her shoulder. When lost, engines R1830-65 serial numbers 42-43475, 42-37012, 45-2808 and 45-3021. Weapon serial numbers noted in MACR.

Mission History
Took off from Yontan Airfield on bombing mission #139. This B-24 flew in the #2 position in the formation, behind B-24 #980 at 10,000' altitude on a bombing mission against Battleship Haruna anchored in Kure Harbor

A few moments after dropping their bombs at 12:48, this bomber was hit by anti-aircraft shell that hit near the pitot tube and appeared to pass through the nose between the pilot and navigator's position and exit from the upper life raft compartment. All the crew were able to bail out successfully, except for Pedersen who was seen to exit. Also lost was B-24J "Taloa" 44-40716.

Cartwright recalls in "Date with the Lonesome Lady"
"In quick succession my plane was hit but we could still fly. I did not realize how badly we were damaged and planned to head for the open sea where there was hope that our Naval seaplanes would spot us and pick us up if we ditched and survived. We started losing altitude and the controls were becoming less responsive and I could not head out to sea---the plane flew back toward land on it own."

Although not burning, the B-24 went into a vertical dive into overcast at roughly 34 degrees 3' N, 132 degrees 9' E. Crashed into a field, outside Hiroshima near the village of Ikachi.

Fates of the Crew
Captured, the crew were taken prisoner by the Japanese. All were interned at the Chugoku Military Police Headquarters Kempi Tai (Military Police) at Hiroshima. They died on August 6, 1945 during the atomic bomb as this location was near the epicenter of the bomb.

Cartwright recalls in "Date with the Lonesome Lady"
"All of the crew were able to bail out and were scattered for miles along an area south of Kure Harbor in a mostly wooded, sparsely populated area. We were all captured and after some harassment taken to a city [Hiroshima] We were always blindfolded when out of a prison cell. I saw all of our crew there except Pete [Pedersen] and Bill Abel, the tail gunner."

Abel was captured and taken to Kure where he was interned and survived the war. He was liberated at the end of the war from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) and survived the war.

Carwright was taken to Tokyo on August 1, 1945 and interrogated and questioned intensely after the atomic bombing and placed into solitary confinement. When the war ended, he was marched to Omori POW Camp and was liberated on August 28 and departed via Tokyo POW Camp Branch #2 (Kawasaki).

In 1983, Carwright returned to Hiroshima after a business trip. In 1985 he got a letter from Keiichi Muranaka, who had lived close to where the Lonesome Lady crashed and presented him with a small aluminum piece of wreckage from the crash site. In 1999, he attended the dedication of a memorial for the nine POWs killed by the atomic bomb.

Memorials
Postwar, the remains of Atkinson, Looper, Neal, Ellison, Pedersen and Ryan were recovered and transported to the United States.

On November 3, 1949 Atkinson, Looper, Ellison and Ryan were buried as a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery section 82 site 156.

Neal is buried at Mill Springs National Cemetery at section G site 81.
Pedersen was buried at Atlantic Cemetery in Atlantic, IA.
The burial of Abel is unknown, but presumed to be in his hometown in the United States.

Looper also has a memorial marker at Gilliam Cemetery in Witcherville, AR.
Long also has a memorial marker at Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery in Slippery Rock Township, PA.

In 1999, a Memorial for U. S. POWs at site of Chugoku Kempei-Tai HQ at Hiroshima was established due to the efforts and personal funds of Hiroshima resident, and A-bomb survivor, Mr. Shigeaki Mori. Cartwright, their pilot wrote the words of the memorial. "The Atomic bomb devastated the city and its people with a force beyond any known before. US Air Force and US Navy airmen interned as POWs at the Chugoku Military Police Headquarters, which was located at this site, near the epicenter, were among the victims of this holocaust. This plaque is placed in the memory of these brave and honorable men. May this humble memorial be a perpetual reminder of the savagery of war."

Long, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison, Neal and Looper are memorialized at the Andersonville National Historic Site / National Prisoner of War Museum.

Cartwright passed away on January 11, 2015 in San Juan County, UT. Afterwards, he was cremated and his ashes scattered.

Relatives
Walter Looper Jr. (brother of Looper)
Gary Griffin (relative of Looper)

References
Missing Air Crew Report 14758 (MACR 14758)
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Ralph J. Neal
FindAGrave - Dr Thomas Campbell "Tom" Cartwright (photos, grave photos)
FindAGrave - Durden W. Looper (photo, news, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Durden William Looper (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Roy Marion Pedersen, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James M Ryan (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Hugh H Atkinson (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Buford J Ellison (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John A Long, Jr (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John A Long, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Ralph J Neal (burial photos)
Date with the Lonesome Lady by Thomas Cartwright
Genbaku Shi: Killed by the Atomic Bomb includes an interview with Cartwright
Griffin Genealogy / page removed as of 2007
An Open Letter to the People of Hiroshima by Thomas Cartwright
Stars & Stripes "Three U.S. POWs added to roster of Hiroshima Deaths" July 17, 2009
The Forgotten Tragic Loss of American Airmen at Hiroshima
Hiroshima Survivor Remembers Lost U.S. Airmen
An American face to the tragedy of Hiroshima
Tribute to Durden W. Looper
New Castle man was amogn Hiroshima victims August 10, 2010
A Date with the Lonesome Lady: A Hiroshima POW Returns by Thomas Cartwright
Thanks to Phil Fazzini and Chris Valgardson for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

MIA / POW
MIA / POW
6 Prisoners

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