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  B-29-45-BW Superfortress Serial Number 42-24704  
20th AF
58th BW
468th BG
793rd BS

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William Duffy, Jr. 1999

Aircraft Commander/Co-Pilot  Lt. Col. Robinson Billings, O-388871 (MIA / KIA)
Pilot  Maj. Donald Humphrey, O-403902 (survived) Postville, Iowa
Navigator   Captain C. A. Hansman, O-435513 (survived, MIA / KIA February 14, 1945)
Bombardier  1st Lt. William F. Duffy, O-738969 (survived) Chicago, IL
Engineer  1st Lt. Ernest C. Saltzman, Jr., O-862435 (survived)
Radio  T/Sgt. M. A. Kundrat, 33446961 (MIA / KIA) Durman, PA
Radar  1st Lt. Martin James Govednik, O-863344 (POW)
CFC Gunner  S/Sgt J. A. MacDonald, 31289719 (POW)
Left Gunner  T/Sgt Harold D. Gillett, 32476697 (POW, survived)
Right Gunner  T/Sgt Ralph C. Lindley, 37433361 (POW, survived) Omaha, NB
Tail Gunner  S/Sgt R. E. Spratt, 15667634 (MIA / KIA) Gilbert, WV

Crashed  January 11, 1945 at 2:03am
MACR  10879

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Assigned to the 468th Bombardment Group, 793rd Bombardment Squadron. No nose art or nickname (according to MACR). In a postwar interview, Humphrey referred to this B-29 as "Postville Express", this was the name of Humphrey's prior aircraft, B-29 "Postville Express" 42-6279. Another source indicates the nickname might have been "Gear Box". When lost engine and weapon serial numbers noted in MACR.

Mission History
Mission 27: One of twenty-five B-29's that took off from Kharagpur Airfield to bomb the Singapore dry docks. This B-29 was last Seen near Mersing, Malay and contacted by radio.

Pilot Donald Humphrey wrote on January 13, 1946:
"We were over the sea, so I turned inland over the Malay state of Negri Sembilan, and at the same time yelled for the crew to get ready to jump. Got them all lined up at the hatches ready to go as soon as we got away from the cultivated area and into the hill country where we might have a chance of evading the Japs. Just as I was ready to go [to bail out] the plane plunged sharply and threw me forward against the controls. I don't really remember how I managed to get out. I was so groggy that, although I jumped at about 15,000 feet, I couldn't get my chute open until about 4,000 [feet]. Most of the other chutes were far above me. But I couldn't take my eyes off the plane. When that wing [the right wing, on which the Number 3 engine was located] gave way the stress and strain was just too much for it. The other wing broke off, then the tail, and finally the fuselage broke in two."

Fates of the Crew
Several of the crew died in the crash and others died from injuries sustained shortly afterwards.

Four of the crew were captured by the Japanese: Govednick and MacDonald. Gillett and Lindley were held as a prisoners at Saigon POW Camp and was liberated at the end of the war.

Four managed to evade capture with the aid of a group of Communist guerrillas in Malaya: Humphrey, Hansman, Duffy, and Saltzman. Hansman went missing on February 14, 1945. The other three survived until the end of the war.

Crashed near Negeri Sembilan. The son of William F. Duffy visited the crash site in the 1990s.

William F. Duffy, Jr. (son of 1st Lt. William F. Duffy)
In 1999, Duffy visited the crash site near Negeri Sembilan and published "Destiny Ours". His father was still alive, and stays only in bed because of illness but still can vividly recall what was happened on that fateful day. He remember they have eggs as breakfast before the mission, he also felt angry on the wings of B-29 bomber, which collapsed so easily, and he even mentioned he decided to turn towards Negeri Sembilan because he could not swim well!

Destiny Ours If They Tell You I'm Missing by William F. Duffy, Jr.
WW II Soldier Leaves Legacy Of Liberty - Obituary of Martin James Govednik
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Harold Gillett
NARA War II Prisoners of War Data File - Ralph C. Lindley

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech Info


Story of Postville Express

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