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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
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.
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
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 Englishs 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.
David Gillis visited in 1969:
During January to March 2010, a JPAC J2 (History Department / R&A) visited the crash site by helicopter and investigated the wreckage.
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