|Pilot William H. Webster (survived) Hinsdale, IL
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Robert Widener (survived) Boston, MA
Navigator Captain Francis J. Murphy (survived) Boston, MA
Engineer Alfred C. Davis, 16064817 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Radio Lawrence Allport (survived) Salem, OR
Ditched July 9, 1943 at 8:20am
Webster flew a complete tour of duty in the South Pacific, ending his tour with the November 2, 1943 mission against Rabaul. He retired as a Brigadier General. On October 12, 1990, Webster met Japanese pilot Katsuake Kira who shot down his B-25 on July 9, 1943. The research for the meeting was arranged by Larry Hickey and Dr. Izawa.
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On July 9, 1943 took off from Dobodura Airfield at 6:30am piloted by Webster on a solo weather mission. This B-25 planned to fly up the coast of New Guinea, abeam of Salamaua, cut northeast across the Huon Gulf, then to Finachafen and back to Nassau Bay, for a total flight time estimated flight time of 4 hours.
After take off, this B-25 reached Salamaua and started across the Huon Gulf. Around 8:15am this B-25 was intercepted by Ki-43 Oscars from the 24th Sentai. During their initial firing pass, top turret gunner Davis was killed and the fighters disabled one engine and started a fire, causing the B-25 to loose altitude and go into a turn. Damaged, this B-25 ditched into the sea off Salamaua. Davis went down with the sinking bomber. This B-25 was claimed by Sgt Maj Katsuake Kira.
Fates of the Crew
The four surviving crew members of thy crew swam towards an island, which they reached. Later, they met Australian coastwatcher Sgt Pomeroy who arranged for their rescue. Transported to the mainland aboard a native canoe. Soon afterward, a US Navy LCI arrived and evacuated them to a hospital ship at Oro Bay. Later, they rejoined the squadron and returned to duty.
Davis was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Davis is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
"The Milk Run That Turned Sour" by William H. Webster
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25 Mitchell 9 July 1943
Thanks to Larry Hickey and Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 4, 2018