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  B-25G-5-NA Mitchell Serial Number 42-64835  
5th AF
38th BG
822nd BS

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David Gillis 1969

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Richard Leahy 1999

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John Douglas 2001
Pilot  1st Lt Math L. English O-792567 (MIA / KIA) Decatur, GA
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Leonard T. Coby, O-748916 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Bombardier / Navigator  2nd Lt Elmer J. Hohman, O-743785 (MIA / KIA) Pittsburgh, PA
Engineer  S/Sgt Paul J. Molica, 19084181 (MIA / KIA) San Jose, CA
Radio  T/Sgt Harry B. Kirk, 35462746 (MIA / KIA) Corpus Cristi, TX

Force Landed  April 12, 1944
MACR  3981

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25G-5-NA Mitchell serial number 42-64835. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 38th Bombardment Group, 822nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engines R-2600-13 serial number 41-29362 and 42-28431. The nose 75mm cannon was removed and replaced by two extra .50 caliber machine guns. Nose guns .50 caliber machine guns serial number 153865, 106276, 677789, 386266, 385433, 148150. Side guns .50 caliber machine guns serial number 397919 and 561859. Top turret .50 caliber machine guns 87269 and 85732. Waist .50 caliber machine guns 74380 and 27640.

Mission History
On April 12, 1944 one of six B-25s from the 822nd Bombardment Squadron that took off from Nadzab Airfield on a low level strafing mission against Hollandia. Returning, this B-25 suffered an engine failure for unknown reasons and made a successful force landing intact into kunai grass roughly fifty miles south-southeast of Wewak.

Afterwards, the five crew were spotted alive and apparently unhurt with the bomber. Other B-25s dropped supplies to them and leaflets in Pidgin English informing local people to assist them to Allied lines.

On April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" B-25G Mitchell 42-64837 of the 822nd Bombardment Squadron was sent search for the downed crew, escorted by four Lightnings from the 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. The aircraft searched from 11:45 until 1:30pm when the Lightnings began to run low on fuel.

The B-25 bombed and strafed the intact bomber, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. The wreckage burned, but the rear fuselage, tail section and wings remained intact. As of April 16, 1944, the crew was never seen again and were officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Returning from the search mission, the four P-38s became lost in bad weather and only the flight leader, P-38H piloted by Zielinski returned safely. The other three went Missing In Action (MIA) including: P-38H 42-66555, P-38H 42-66832 and P-38H 42-66668.

Fate of Crew
At the time of the force landing, the nearest Allied forces were hundreds of kilometers east at Dumpu. The crew had little hope of being rescued, unless an airstrip could have been cut during the dry season, a half year later.

According to villagers, the crew survived and traveled as far as Paiambit, where they were captured by the Japanese Army then taken down the Sepik River to Moim, when they were made to dig their own graves, then shot. According to them, only three graves (not five) are said to be at Moim. Who is buried at Moim, if anybody, has yet to be ascertained.

There is a complete Australian file at AWM which refers to "Five survivors from an identified aircraft, possibly RAAF", which crashed west of Moim in March / April 44". There were no Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft wrecks anywhere near this area. This file, beyond any doubt whatsoever, refers to this B-25's crew.

The file reveals that one of the Japanese interrogated during 1945 at Wewak was Lt. General Nakano Hidemitsu, Commanding Officer of the Japanese Army 51st Division. He claimed, among other things, that a Colonel Hori Keijiro, Commander of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, then based at Marienberg, had knowledge of the capture of five Allied airmen circa March-April 44. The Australian legal team then interrogated Keijiro, also captured at Wewak, who signed a statement that five airmen indeed had been brought to him at Marienberg from an unidentified airplane loss in March/April 1944.

Keijiro said he then forwarded the prisoners to Wewak to fall under the jurisdiction of Lt-Colonel Suzuki Notoaki, a staff officer of the Headquarters of the Imperial 51st Division. Notoaki, also interviewed, said however that he could recall only two airmen arriving even though he never saw them. The arriving airmen, whatever number, were then side tracked to Major Veda (full name not quoted) of the 4th Kōkūtai who interrogated them separately and reported results of the interrogation to Imperial 18th Army Headquarters.

It is clear from Keijiro's affidavit that he deliberately provided a minimum of information. If in fact there are three US airmen buried in a grave at Moim, was it Keijiro who ordered three of English’s crew taken there to be executed. If so, were English and another officer taken to Wewak, perhaps under Veda's orders? If an interrogation report was sent by 4th Kōkūtai as claimed, then somewhere in U. S. or Australian intercept archives might be a signals intelligence intercept which should have two surnames, and the results of this interrogation.

This B-25 crash landed in a remote swamp area north of the Sepik River and south of Urimo. During the wet season, the area is partially flooded. The fuselage is burned out from strafing by the other 38th Bombardment Group B-25 Mitchells.

During 1948, this crash site was not visited by a RAAF Searcher Team, due to swamps and the Sepik River being flooded. They believed it to be accessible during the dry season overland from Timbunke.

David Gillis visited in 1969:
"As the kunai grass was too high at the time I touched down lightly on the port wing to allow my passenger to get out and take the B&W photos. As you can see the 50 caliber links had been taken out of the bins some time before judging by the rust stains on the fuselage.  I returned some months later and found a clear area to land so I could check out the wreck myself. The links were still in the same position. As to where the wreck was located I am sorry to say that I cannot give an exact location other than to say “I think” it was south east of Wewak between East Sepik Plains airstrip and the Sepik River. It was located in a large expanse of kunai and very obvious from the air, which makes me think that it would have been recovered (or got at!!) many years ago. Now, after viewing your East Sepik ID, I am 99% sure that it was B-25G 42-64835."

During January to March 2010, a JPAC J2 (History Department / R&A) visited the crash site by helicopter and investigated the wreckage.

Officially, the entire crew was declared dead on February 6, 1946. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. English has a memorial marker at Gibson Methodist Church.

Jeff English (great nephew of Math English)

Missing Air Crew Report 3981 (MACR 3981)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25 42-64835
Sun Setters of the Southwest Pacific Area - From Australia To Japan: An Illustrated History of the 38th Bombardment Group (M) 5th Air Force World War II 1941-1946 As Told and Photographed by Men Who Were There pages 325-327, appendix AII-9, AIII-24
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Math L. English
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leonard T. Coby
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Elmer J. Hohman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Paul J. Molica
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry B. Kirk
FindAGrave - 1Lt Math L English (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Math Lewis English (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Leonard T Coby (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Elmer J Hohman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Paul J Molica (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Harry B Kirk (tablets of the missing)
Thanks to Jeff English for additional information

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Last Updated
August 10, 2019


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Matt English by Nephew Jeff English

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