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|Commander Lt John M. Arbuckle, 85153 (POW, survived) State College, PA
Crew Lt(jg) Raymond B. Thompson, 129779 (POW / MIA) Seattle, WA
Crew Ensign John F. Ryder, 157076 (POW / MIA) Keene, NH
Crew Ensign Phillip K. Phillis, 251356 (POW, executed 1-17-44) Pointsville, KY
Crew ARM2/c George E. Furman, 5522326 (MIA / KIA 11-23-43) Florence, SC
Crew ARM1/c William S. Hamilton, Jr., 4050885 (POW / MIA) Conneautville, PA
Crew AOM1/c James J. Kirk, 2439049 (POW executed 4-12-44) Philadelphia, PA
Crew AMM2/c Arthur R. Bradbury, Jr., 6141636 (MIA / KIA 11-23-43) OH
Crew AMM2/c Paul M. Mannon, 6603207 (POW / MIA) Oakland, CA
Crew AMM2/c Carl L. Morgan, 2583530 (POW / MIA) Annapolis, MD
Crew AMM1/c Richard Blanchard, 2016689 (MIA / KIA 11-23-43) East Providence, RI
Ditched November 22, 1943
Built by Consolidated. Assigned to the US Navy (USN) to squadron VP-52. No known nickname or nose art. On November 20, 1943 this Catalina arrived at Namoia Bay off Sariba Island in Milne Bay.
On November 22, 1943 took off from Namoai Bay off Sariba Island in Milne Bay piloted by Lt John M. Arbuckle on a night mission against the Japanese shipping. Off New Ireland at 23:00, this Catalina discovered a small coastal vessel and strafed it, meeting no return fire. An escorting ship opened fire on this aircraft igniting parachute flares aboard and causing a fire in the aft to the navigator's station.
Fearing that the bombs might explode, Arbuckle ditched in Saint Georges Channel roughly 12-15 miles off New Ireland at roughly Lat 3.30 Long 151.50.
Fates of the Crew
The entire crew managed to swim away from their burning aircraft together but were unable to deploy their life rafts because they were burned in the fire.
Due to exhaustion, the crew split up. The three men last seen in Saint Georges Channel were: Blanchard, Bradbury, and Furman. These men either drown or had an unknown fate.
The next day, Arbuckle, Thompson and another crewmen and encountered a group of dolphins that they mistook for sharks. They managed to reach the shore at 11:00am on November 23 and attempted to locate Australian Coastwatcher on the island, by trekking into the jungle and avoiding paths that might be in use by the Japanese.
Later, they encountered an elderly native man and spoke with him in Pidgin English. He offered to take them to the coastwatcher, but on the same trail encountered a group of Japanese with rifles who took them prisoner.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the crew also made landfall on New Ireland and were also captured by the Japanese and became prisoners.
The crew were transported to Kavieng in two groups and later taken to Rabaul where they were reunited. In total, eight of the original crew were taken prisoner: Arbuckle, Thompson, Hamilton, Kirk, Mannon, Ryder, Phillis, and Morgan. Together, they were held as prisoners by the Japanese 81st Naval Guard Unit.
Seven members of the crew were reportedly put aboard a ship, but they were never heard from again. Possibly, they were executed at Rabaul during late 1943 or early 1944.
On January 17, 1944 Phillip was executed. Postwar, his remains were recovered.
On February 17, 1944 Arbuckle was one of six Allied prisoners transported aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber from Rabaul to Truk, and then onward to Japan. He survived captivity in Japan and was freed on October 8, 1945 from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku).
Blanchard, Bradbury, and Furman were officially declared dead on January 11, 1946. All three are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Phillis was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 8, site 5270-A interred on March 5, 1951. Kirk is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at plot Q, grave 1295.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - John M. Arbuckle
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Raymond Barrell Thompson
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - John Francis Ryder
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Phillip K. Phillis
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - William S. Hamilton, Jr.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - James Joseph Kirk
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Paul Monroe Mannon
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Carl L. Morgan
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - PBY Catalina Bureau Number 8428 [sic 08428]
Black Cat Raiders of WWII pages 177-180
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida pages 20-21, 93 page 93 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Arbuckle)
VP-34 Mishap Summary Page references by Michael Moskow related to 08428
FindAGrave - James Joseph Kirk (grave photo)
Combat Connected Naval Casualties, World War II
National Archives Australia "Arbuckle Report" postwar letter from Lieutenant Commander John M. Arbuckle to Commander Walter W. Finke, Director of the Dependents Welfare Division, USN, concerning the fate of Arbuckle’s crew (found in RAAF Casualty File A 705/15 (Item 166/42/42), for Flight Officer Geoffrey H. Vincent of No. 8 Squadron RAAF).
MIA / POW
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