|Pilot Lt. Don L. Sutliff, O-433748 (survived)
Crashed November 22, 1942
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Assigned to Project "X" on December 22, 1941. Disassembled and shipped overseas bound for the Philippines. Instead, diverted to Australia arriving on January 15, 1942 and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On November 22, 1942 took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by Sutliff on an interception mission. Engaged in combat with A6M Zero fighters, this P-40 suffered engine damage and Sutliff bailed out and landed in a sago swamp between the Mambare River and Gira River. Officially, this P-40 was officially condemned on November 26, 1942.
Fate of the Pilot
Sutcliff wandered in the jungle and swamps until he found local people from Bebewa village and taken to Sia village who took him to the camp of Anglican missionary Reverend Romney Gill at Duvira arriving on November 28, 1942 and remained with him for sixteen days.
Reverend Romney Gill wrote:
"...at 5 p.m., boys arrived to say that an airman - an American - was being brought to me... He [had] spent six nights in that swamp, before he at last struck the Mamba [River]. The emergency articles, which should have been in the 'chute seat were missing, so he suffered much. ... I had Lt. Sutcliffe [sic] with me for nearly sixteen days so we got to know each other. ... Considering the hardships he had been through, he recovered very quickly, but a dose of fever laid him down for several days."
Twenty-one days after his crash, Sutcliff returned to Port Moresby. Later, he survived another bail out of P-40K 42-45964 on February 6, 1943. He died piloting P-70 42-54161 on October 22, 1944.
Delmar W. Meade (cousin of Don L. Sutliff)
"My cousin, Capt. Donald L. Sutliff was the pilot of this aircraft. Sutliff had been stationed at Batchelor Field at Darwin and then the 7th transitioned to Schwimmer Drome (14 Mile Drome) near Port Moresby on or about September 19-23, 1942."
Other sources incorrectly state his bail out location as Wairopi or Yodda near Kokoda or another source states he crash landed in a sago swamp between the Mambare River and Gira River.
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Sutliff 22 November 1942
"Between Mambare River and Gira River, Northern District [Oro Province]"
Another source states
Sutcliff was lost near Yodda near Kokoda
Protect & Avenge pages 90-93
Letters from the Papuan Bush 1942-1946 by Reverend Stephen Romney Gill page 64
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information and research
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 5, 2018