|Pilot Ensign William J. Geritz
Force Landed August 23, 1942
On take off from Graciosa Bay on Ndeni Island in the Santa Cruz Island Group, suffered hull damage on take off due to heavy swells and sank, but the crew was unhurt.
Thanks to Jim Sawruk for additional information
The Pacific Theater: island representations of World War II page 262, 263-264
"The excitement caused by the U.S. Navy activities soon took an ominous turn. One day a PBY returned trailing smoke. After landing safely, it taxied straight to the shore, where it was beached near a village. Just as the crew had safely abandoned it, the aircraft exploded. On another day, another, another returning aircraft sank in shallow water before it could be beached... The two aircraft that were now out of action were among those that had been hit, and because their hulls had been holed, their crews had tried to beach the planes before they sunk in Graciosa Bay.
"The anticipated Japanese attack finally came. At the time, the aircraft were away on patrol, so the attack was directed toward the ship. Bombs were dropped, there was some strafing, but no direct hits were scored. The ship fired back, and witnesses believed that the attack was beaten off. There was apparently one casualty: a local boy about five or six years old, who had been paddling about the ship, was struck in the face by a bomb fragment. He made it back to shore and recovered from his injuries, but he lost one eye. Shortly after the attack, the ship weighed anchor and left Graciosa Bay not to return. The remains of two damaged PBYs that were hit by enemy fire are still visible, one on the beach and one in shallow water. Both have been stripped clean of every fragment that could be man hammered and cut away, but they are testaments to to that memorable war action in Graciosa Bay."
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February 4, 2018