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  PB4Y-1 Liberator Bureau Number ????? Squadron Number 51-P-?

Pilot  Lt. Stuart Trumble Cooper, O-083188, USNR (MIA / KIA) Wakefield, RI
Co-Pilot  Ensign Harold Augustus Elliott, O-137114, USN (MIA / KIA) Elgin, IL
Crew  AP1c William C. Fowler, 3286258, USN (MIA / KIA) MN
Crew  AMM3 Herman Riley Abbott, 4097368, USNR (MIA / KIA) Wyandotte County, KS
Crew  AMM3 Ernest Francis Adams, 3723494, USN (MIA / KIA) NM
Crew  AOM2 Howard Goldstein, 6020110, USNR (MIA / KIA) Baltimore, MD
Crew  AMM1 Bernard Taylor Hussey, 3758145, USN (MIA / KIA) San Francisco, CA
Crew  AMM2c Albert Tarpley Montgomery, 2686152, USN (MIA / KIA) Augusta, GA
Crew  ARM2c Otis Edward Nelson, 4008753, USNR (MIA / KIA) Melrose, MA
Crew  ARM3 Herman Thomas Sauter, 2438569, USN (MIA / KIA) NJ
Crew  AOM3c Andrew Ellison Sheek, 3721236, USN (MIA / KIA) CO

MIA  February 14, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. The aircraft was either PB4Y-1 Liberator Bureau Number 31948 or PB4Y-1 Liberator Bureau Number 31970. Assigned to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-15-CO Liberator as either serial number 41-24??? or 41-24241.

Wartime History
Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PB4Y-1 Liberator either bureau number ????? or 31970. Assigned to Patrol Squadron VB-101, later redesignated VP-51. Assigned squadron Number (side number) 51-P-11 or 51-P-??. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On February 14, 1943 "Saint Valentines Day Massacre" one of nine PB4Y-1 Liberators that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Lt. Stuart Trumble Cooper armed with a single 1,000 pound bomb on a daylight mission against enemy shipping off southern Bougainville in the Buin-Shortland area. The bombers were escorted by ten P-38 Lightnings from the 347th Fighter Group, 339th Fighter Squadron plus twelve F4U Corsairs from VMF-124.

Aboard this Liberator was a crew of eleven. Although the crew lists of both bombers are know, it is unclear which aircraft each was flying aboard: PB4Y-1 pilot Lt. Jay D, Bacon, Jr. or PB4Y-1 Liberator piloted by Lt. Stuart T. Cooper. Over the target, the PB4Y-1s bombed Hatachi Maru and damaging another ship.

After the bomb run, the formation was intercepted by roughly thirty A6M Zeros and fifteen A6M2-N Rufe floatplanes from Shortland. During the combat, two Liberators were shot down, PB4Y-1 pilot Lt. Jay D, Bacon, Jr. or PB4Y-1 Liberator piloted by Lt. Stuart T. Cooper. One was shot down by head-on attack by enemy fighters over the target and crashed. The other crash landed or ditched off New Georgia. When this Liberator failed to return, the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Due to the severe American losses, this mission became known as the "Saint Valentines Day Massacre".

The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 10, 1945. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. The crew was also memorialized on memorial to Patrol Squadron VP 11/54/51, VB 101, PATSU 1-2 at Bomber 2 Airfield on Espiritu Santo.

Jeannette Banks (niece of Norman Levi North)
"My mother was contacted about a year ago to send her DNA because she was told that his plane had been found and they needed the DNA for the remains.  We have not heard anything as of yet.  My mom is 93 years old and has been excited and now depressed.  Can you direct us to someone who would know about this. His pilot was Bacon. Photo #1 of AMM2c Norman Levi North in uniform and Photo #2 AMM2c Norman Levi North in uniform."

Notes on PB4Y-1 Liberator crew list for February 14, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stuart T. Cooper
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold A. Elliott
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William C. Fowler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Herman R. Abbott
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ernest F. Adams
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard Goldstein
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Bernard T. Hussey
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert T. Montgomery
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Otis E. Nelson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Herman T. Sauter
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew E. Sheek
FindAGrave - Lt Stuart Trumble Cooper (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Ens Harold Augustus Elliott (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AP1C William C Fowler (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AMM3 Herman Riley Abbott (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - AMM3 Ernest Francis Adams (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AOM2 Howard Goldstein (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AMM1 Bernard Taylor Hussey (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AMM2 Albert Tarpley Montgomery (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - ARM2 Otis Edward Nelson (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - ARM3 Herman Thomas Sauter, Jr (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - AOM3 Andrew Ellison "Andy" Sheek (photos, tablets of the missing)
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List February 1943 for February 14, 1943 does not listed either PB4Y-1 loss
History of Patrol Squadron-11F, Patrol Squadron-54, Patrol Squadron-51, VB-101, PATSU 1-2, and CASU F-56
"The next day, February 14,1943, off the coast of Southern Bougainville Island. nine PB4Y-1 aircraft fully armed, bombs and ammunition, bombed and sank a large enemy transport and a destroyer from 22,000 feet altitude. After the flack came 50 to 60 enemy fighters from Kahili airfield to intercept the bombers and their cover. The top cover consisted of 4 Army P-38's and the lower cover consisting of Navy F6F's and Marine Corps Corsairs (F4U). The Marine Corsair was in combat for the first time in this mission. Two PB4Y-1 Bombers -- 101-B-3 and 101-B-4 and entire crews were shot down. The entire top cover was destroyed and six of the lower cover aircraft were destroyed. It was reported by observers that the enemy lost 26 aircraft in this fight. This 'skirmish' was named in most military history books as the 'Saint Valentines Day Massacre'. The losses for both sides were very heavy for the day."
History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II page 135
"On 14 February, their third day in the combat area, the F4U pilots learned that Japanese flyers had not lost their skill or aggressiveness. About 50 well-alerted Zeros were waiting from the raid on Kahili Field in southern Bougainville. The Japanese shot down two F4U's, two Navy PB4Y's, two P-40's and the entire top cover of four P-38's, with a loss to themselves of only three Zeros, [sic only one was lost], one of which collided with a F4U. This 'Saint Valentine's Day massacre' was a painful blow to the Guadalcanal-based flyers of all services."
Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 13th Air Force page 182
We Flew Alone pages 13-14
Thanks to Jim Sawruk and Minoru Kamada for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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