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  B-26 Marauder Serial Number 40-1400  
USAAF
5th AF
22nd BG
33rd BS

Pilot  Captain William A. Garnett, O-21982 C.O. 33rd BS (MIA / KIA) TX
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Frank A. Corts, O-420576 (MIA / KIA) NY
Navigator 2nd Lt Newell A. Wells, O-433117 (MIA / KIA) TX
Bombardier  2nd Lt William Crooks, O-432968 (MIA / KIA) AR
Engineer  Cpl Sanger E. Reed, 6990404 (POW, survived) IN
Radio
  SSgt Theron K. Lutz, 6833758 (POW, survived) NJ
Gunner  Cpl Reese S. Davies, 6991607 (MIA / KIA) OH

Crashed  April 18, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Martin. Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, 33rd Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot 2nd Lt. James W. Oliver. No known nickname or nose art. Ferried overseas to Australia by Oliver, arriving at Amberly Field on April 2, 1942.

Wartime History
On April 10, 1942 this B-26 flew its first combat mission.

Mission History
On April 17, 1942 took off from Antil Plains Airfield and staged through Garbutt Field near Townsville then took off for 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby and spent the night parked at the airfield.

On April 18, 1942 Garnett (C.O. 33rd Bombardment Squadron) intended to pilot this B-26 on a mission against Rabaul but this bomber's engines failed to start. The other five B-26s departed as planned, but on the way to the target, three of the B-26's aborted due to bad weather before reaching the target and returned to base. The two remaining bombers attacked alone, with B-26 40-1486 bombing Lakunai Airfield and B-26 "Shittenengitten" 40-1404 bombing Komaki Maru in Simpson Harbor.

Back at 7-Mile Drome, the crew drained the batteries and attempting to start the engines then hand cranking each engine to finally start them. An hour behind schedule, this B-26 proceeded to the target alone. Arriving after the other two bombers had bombed, this B-26 was intercepted by two Tainan Kokutai A6M2 Zeros around noon and was attacked from the rear by A6M2 Zero piloted by Lt(jg) Junichi Sasai. Hit the left engine and set it on fire, Garnett ordered the crew to bail out. Only Lutz and Reed managed to bail out before the B-26 completely on fire crashed into the sea near shore. The other five crew members were killed in the crash.

Fates of the Prisoners
Lutz and Reed bail out, their parachutes opening just prior to landing, Lutz landed in Coral Sea and were taken ashore by a native in a canoe. Reed landed on land, hid his parachute and reached the shore and ran along the beach. Both were taken prisoner by Japanese Army soldiers and transported to Rabaul where they were interrogated by an officer who shouted at them both and beat them. Later they were held in a cage and interrogated and threated with death.

After roughly two months, they were placed aboard an aircraft carrier, but offloaded when it sortied for the Battle of the Coral Sea. Instead, they were put aboard a cargo ship and transported to Tokyo and imprisoned at Ofuna Camp.

Later, confined at a baseball stadium at Yokohama and later worked at Asano Ship Works and oil pressing plant and brick works. A year later, Reed was transfer and officially listed as a POW and was held in Yokohama and later transfered to Nigata and reunited with Lutz and both worked at stevedores.

At the end of the war, Lutz was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku). Reed was liberated from the Yacht Club Camp (Civilian Internment Camp) along Tokyo Bay. Both were the only 22nd Bombardment Group airmen who were captured and survived Japanese captivity.

Memorials
The five crew killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Garnett, Corts, Wells, Crooks and Davies are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.

References
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1400
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 74, 76, 83 (Garnett photo) 471-472, 499
NARA WWII POW Data File - Theron K. Lutz
NARA WWII POW Data File - Sanger E. Reed

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech Info
B-26

POW
MIA
5 Missing
POW
2 Prisoners

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