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|Pilot 2nd Lt Louis "Tad" W. Ford (survived) San Francisco, CA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt John H. Disbro (survived) PA
Navigator 2nd Lt Edward S. Ashley (survived) Bexar County, TX
Bombardier Pfc Jack A. Roberts (survived)
Engineer Pfc Robert L. Long (survived)
Radio Pfc William F. Loranger, 16011993 (survived) ID
Radio / Tail Gunner Cpl. John E. Oclis (survived)
Force Landed April 11, 1942
Behind this bomber was B-26 piloted by Ashley that observed Ford's bombing. He reported direct hits on many houses on or near the right end of the runway. One bomb hit directly between two parked bombers, probably seriously damaging or destroying both with shrapnel. Just as the last bombs were dropped, three bursts of anti-aircraft fire hit this aircraft, damaging the right engine, the left gas tank and the hydraulic lines. The crew believed the right propeller was also hit.
Returning, the right engine’s oil temperature went up fast and considerable gas was lost from the damaged left fuel tank. The oil temperature hit the top of the gauge and the pressure was low. Ford did not feather the prop because he felt that it was damaged by the anti-aircraft fire. The right engine had to be throttled down to cool off. The bomb bay doors remained open, unable to close due to the hydraulic leak. Lt. Ashley mapped out the shortest route back to New Guinea. Gas was transferred from the auxiliary tanks to the right tank. The crew spotted the north coast of New Guinea at 3:35pm.
The B-26 piloted by Richard Robinson was following Ford's damaged plane, slowing down to remain with him. When he saw Ford gaining altitude Robinson continued on. Ford tried to tell Robinson of his plane’s latest condition, but Ford’s radio command set was not working. Ford then dropped down to 1,000' and began searching for a place to land. Most of the ground was swampy, but one field was spotted that looked clear, aside for a few trees.
Crash landing, the B-26's right wing tip hit a tree and turned sideways and skidded for 100 yards. A very good landing was made, with no injuries.
Fate of the Crew
On April 12 , 1942 Ford, Disbro and Long started to cut a path to the coast After seven and a half hours they found a river and two outrigger canoes. They took one and arrived at a friendly village down the river at 1800 hours. In the meantime, Lt. Ashley and the rest of the crew shot down some coconuts and found some swamp water into which they put in iodine tablets and found it drinkable. About 1700 hours, a RAAF Hudson found the crew and, dropped some food, but it was not found. Some natives came, and one could understand a little English. Three stayed all night with the crew.
On April 13, 1942 the crew took all the equipment that they intended to take to the village with them and put it all in one pile. The natives and crew went into the jungle, except Ford and Ashley. They waited to set fire by placing gas in the toilet and stayed to see it burnt.
The crew walked for about one and a half hours on logs, across patches of quicksand and marsh to the Musa River. The equipment was loaded in an outrigger canoe and the journey was made down the river to the native village of Sabaga. The unnecessary equipment was given to the natives for their food and help. One of the villagers went to Tufi to notify the resident magistrate about the Americans. The crew was fed on a diet of papaya, bananas, fish, squash, coconut and iodized water. The crew rigged up parachutes as mosquito netting. They were hot, but kept the mosquitoes away.
On April 15, 1942 Lt. Anderson, the Resident Magistrate of the district and the Reverend Taylor arrived. They brought the crew some food and "good old non-iodized water" as one of the crew put it. By this time, the crew was getting pretty tired of a daily diet of quinine and iodized water. On April 16, Disbro, Long and Ochs left with the Rev Taylor and his boat for Tufi. Anderson, Ford, Ashley, Roberts and Loranger stayed to await the arrival of Anderson’s boat "The Edie".
On April 17, 1942 Anderson dispatched natives to find the food dropped by the Lockheed Hudson. The natives returned with the food, and reported that the plane was completely destroyed. Notice was received that ‘The Edie’ was out of commission and that Rev Taylor’s boat was broken down and the journey was being continued by canoe. On the 18th, the rest of the crew and Lit. Anderson left for Tufi in three outrigger canoes, arriving there at 1:30 on the 19th.
On April 20, 1942, Lt. Ford sent a message to the 22nd BG Commander and to Port Moresby from the Tufi radio station. Up to the 29th of April, no word was received from any of the messages sent out and some of the crew were sick with a fever. At this time the crew was being taken care of with the best facilities of the resident magistrate and the resident missionary priest.
On May 5, 1942, the crew was picked up by the government coastal launch, The Olvira. After two days travel, they arrived at Wygani, where they had to wait for more transportation. The crew returned to Ahioma, a place they had passed, a short way up the coast where they would be more comfortable.
On May 21, 1942 the crew was picked up by the MV Matoma, a boat of about 75' but quite crowded with other passengers. The first day aboard the Matoma, five of the crew were stricken with malaria, at some time or other. The ship arrived at Fairfax Harbor on May 26. Two days later, on May 28, the crew hitch a ride aboard 22nd Bombardment Group B-26 from 7-Mile Drome to their Squadron at Antill Plains Airfield in Australia. It had been 1 month and 17 days since their combat mission on April 11, 1942.
Justin Taylan visited the site in November 2003:
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