Koku Asahi May 1943
Koku Asahi May 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert L. Kavanagh, O-435791 (POW, died June 22, 1943 MIA / KIA) Hardock, MN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Walter E. Cotton, O-661921 (POW died May 11, 1943) Kansas City, MS
Navigator 2nd Lt. Kenneth P. Moxley, O-660885 (POW, survived) Newburgh, IN
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Hubert R. Garrett, O-726149 (POW, survived) Nachadoches, TX
Radio TSgt Jack K. Redmon, 19074486 (MIA / KIA May 1, 1943) Seattle, WA
Engineer TSgt Edward R. Bodell, 11031740 (POW, died July 15, 1943 MIA / KIA) Pawtucket, RI
Waist Gunner SSgt Joseph C. Kellner Jr., 12060872 (WIA, died May 1, 1943 MIA / KIA) Jamaica, NY
Waist Gunner SSgt Norman P. Dohn, 19079988 (MIA / KIA May 15, 1943, BR) Burbank, CA
Tail Gunner SSgt John E. Lavery, 19081435 (WIA, POW died May 10, 1943, BR) Los Angeles, CA
Force Landed May 1, 1943
Built by Consolidated in San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army, serial number unknown but incorrectly noted as 41-42513. Ferried overseas to India. When lost, engines R-1830 serial numbers 42-42357, 42-43393, 42-42504 and 42-42513. Weapon serial numbers not noted.
Assigned to the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group, 492nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On May 1, 1943 one of eight B-24s that took off from Panagarh Airfield in India on a bombing mission against Japanese shipping off Rangoon in Burma.
Immediately after dropping their bombs, the formation was intercepted by Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) Ki-43-II Oscars from the 64th Sentai, 2nd Chutai.
According to the Nippon Times "Grim Attacks on Enemy Bomber In Burma Skies Vividly Related" by Domei May 5, 1943, the four intercepting pilots were: Lieutenant Yukimoto, Non-commissioned Sub-Lieutenant Takahama, Sergeant Shindo and Sergeant Watanabe.
During the combat, Sgt Watanabe managed to cause a fuel leak and expended all his ammunition making firing passes. Although his Oscar was hit by defensive fire, he attempted to ram the vertical rudder with his wing, but missed but instead his propeller hit the tail gunner position causing a five foot hole in the fuselage. Watanabe's propeller was torn off but he managed to recover at 1,000 meters altitude and did not suffer any injuries himself.
Four of the crew were wounded during the fighter attacks. Kellner sustained two machine gun bullet wounds in his hip and had part of his arm shot off by a cannon shell. Lavery sustained a head wound. Dohn suffered a broken leg in combat or landing. Bodell was also injured.
The intercepting fighters damaged at least two of the engines and caused this B-24 to fall out of formation but managed to escape the enemy fighters in a cloud. It was last seen on a course of 280° entering clouds at 4000' at position 16° 40' N, 95° E. followed by 3 Zekes [sic Ki-43 Oscars]. When this bomber failed to return it was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, the damaged B-24 successfully force landed into a rice paddy roughly 25 kilometers northeast of Bassien (Pathein). The crash and surviving crew were observed by one of the intercepting Ki-43 Oscars.
On May 5, 1943 an account of the shoot down of this bomber was reported in the Nippon Times credited to Domei with dateline May 3, 1943, described the May 1, 1943 air combat in detail. During December 1943 Koku Asahi published a photograph of the force landed B-24D Liberator circa May 1943.
Fates of the Crew
After the crash landing, the surviving crew began trekking in the jungle in hopes of returning to India. During the next week, they were attacked by Japanese patrols on three occasions, resulting in one being killed and Kavanagh was wounded. Finally, the surviving crew was captured by the Japanese Army with a native interpreter named Batu and became Prisoners Of War (POW).
Dohn suffered a broken leg was last seen on May 1, 1943. According to Moxley, he was "taken to Rangoon for X-Ray" by the Japanese, but was never seen again and was officially declared dead on May 15, 1943.
Kellner who was injured in the hip and arm was left in Tawien died of his wounds later that night on May 1, 1943. He was believed to be buried at Tawien. Lavery was unconscious from a head wound and was left at Tawien then taken to Bassien (Pathein) and died and likely buried there.
Bodell was also left behind at Tawien but later joined the rest of the crew at Rangoon.
Redmon was last seen on May 1, 1943. According to hearsay from a native named Batu who was an interpreter for the Japanese, Redmon was killed in a skirmish with a Japanese Army patrol and buried at Tawien.
The rest of the crew were transported to Rangoon and detained at the Rangoon Prison (Rangoon Central Jail).
On June 22, 1943 Kavanagh died in captivity and was buried.
On July 15, 1943 Bodell died in captivity. His body was buried at Rangoon Cemetery. Fellow crew members Garrett and Cotton who were part of the funeral party.
On May 2, 1945 the two surviving crew members Moxley and Garrett were liberated.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) located and exhumed the remains of Kavanagh, Dohn
Dohn was transported to Hawaii for permanent burial. Lavery was transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Kavanagh's remains were placed his remains into a case for transport aboard C-47B Dakota 43-48308 that went missing on May 17, 1946. Although found postwar, Kavanagh remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Four of the crew remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Redmon and Kellner were officially declared dead May 1, 1943. Kavanagh was officially declared dead on June 22, 1943. Bodell were officially declared dead on July 15, 1943.
Kavanagh also has a memorial marker at Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Murdock, MN.
Dohn is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section P site 364.
Lavery is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, CA.
Moxley passed away in June 1986. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at plot 2-H, column 14, niche 3.
Garrett passed away on
December 14, 2010. He was buried at Madisonville City Cemetery in Madisonville, TX.
It is unclear if Cotton is still alive or deceased.
Nippon Times "Grim Attacks on Enemy Bomber In Burma Skies Vividly Related" by Domei May 5, 1943
Koku Asahi December 1943 includes a photograph of the force landed B-24D Liberator circa May 1943
10th Air Force Intel Summary - May 5, 1943
"Enemy Attacks (Continued) 14. 8 B-24's which attacked shipping at RANGOON at 11:50 hours May 1st were intercepted by 5 ZEKES [sic Ki-43 Oscars] immediately after bombs had been dropped. 4 attacks were made: 1 from 1 o'clock, 1 from 11 o'clock, 1 from 6 o'clock and 1 from 12 o'clock positions, all from below. 2 engines of 1 B-24 [this aircraft] were seen smoking on the first attack. The plane lost altitude rapidly but seemed to be under control. It was last seen on a course of 280° entering clouds at 4000' at position 16° 40' N, 95° E. followed by 3 ZEKES [sic Ki-43 Oscars]. Enemy losses were 1 ZEKE [sic] probably destroyed and 1 damaged."
The Neosho Daily News (Neosho, Missouri) "Lt. Walter E. Cotton Meets Death May 11 at Unannounced Battle Front" May 29, 1943 page 1
"Official announcement has been made of the death In action of Lt. Walter E. Cotton, who was the son of Mrs. Etta Cotton of Neosho. Mrs. Cotton is known by many Neosho people, and at one time operated the Pullman Diner here. She lives just west of Neosho, near the junction of Baxter Street Road and the highway. Sincere sympathy is extended her in this loss. Lieut. Cotton was killed May 11. we are told."
The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, Illinois) "Yanks Held In Rangoon Free" May 7, 1945
"Calcutta, May 4. (UB) American airmen liberated from the Japanese prison camp at Rangoon, revealed today how the - Japanese beat and starved U.S. fliers, especially after bombing raids on Japan. The airmen, from the first group of Americans freed In Burma, are recuperating In a hospital here. More. than 400 Americans, most of them members of the air force, and approximately 600 other Allied prisoners were liberated at Rangoon. Although most of them were fairly healthy, despite their starvation diet and beatings, it. was reported that about 50 Americans, too sick to walk, were left at Rangoon."
Missing Air Crew Report 15307 (MACR 15307) was created retroactively on March 25, 1943 and incorrectly states the serial number as "41-42513", this serial number is associated with Hank Lasco’s aircraft lost on Tidal Wave August 1, 1943
Missing Air Crew Report 15818 (MACR 15818)
was created retroactively and incorrectly states the serial number as "42-42513"
Missing Air Crew Report
1226 (MACR 1226) detailing B-24J "Bugs Bunny" 42-73222 pages 25-33 related to this B-24 loss and crew members
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Kavanagh
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack K. Redmon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward R. Bodell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph C. Kellner Jr.
NARA Prisoner of War Data File - Kenneth P. Moxley
NARA Prisoner of War Data File - Hubert R. Garrett
NARA Prisoner of War Data File - Edward R. Bodell
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert L Kavanagh (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Robert L Kavanagh (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Capt Kenneth Porter Moxley (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Hubert Ross Garrett
FindAGrave - Hubert Ross Garrett (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Jack K Redmon (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Edward Raymond Bodell (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Joseph C Kellner, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Norman P Dohn (grave photo) date of death listed as May 15, 1943
FindAGrave - Sgt John Evaristus Lavery, Jr (grave photo) date of death listed as May 10, 1943
Pictorial History of the 7th Bombardment Group/Wing pages 258 (crew photo), 287 (Garrett photo), 314 (index)
Air War For Burma page 86 mentions this loss but does not identify the B-24 or the crew
B-24 Liberator Units of the CBI pages 19 (photo), 95-96
Tenko Rangoon Jail pages 8, 73-75, 78, 80, 83, 85, 87-88, 106, 116, 120, 158
2Lt. Hubert R. "Ross" Garrett by Michael P. Hernandez
MooseRoots "Hubert R. Garrett - Prisoner of War Record"
Brazos Valley Heros - Ross Garrett by Bill Youngkin March 6, 2007
Thanks to Richard Dunn for Nippon Times reference and Edward Rogers for additional links
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February 4, 2018