|Pilot Captain Frank L. Christen, O-010199 (MIA / KIA) IL
Gunner Pfc Glenn Shattuck, 359311 (MIA / KIA) Granby, CT
MIA December 16, 1942
Built by Douglas at El Segundo, California. Constructors Number 1080. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as SBD-3 Dauntless bureau number 03258.
Assigned to the U. S. Marine Corps (USMC) to 1st Marine Air Wing (1MAW), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 132 (VMSB-132) "Crying Red Asses". This aircraft had no known nickname or nose art.
On December 15, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain Frank L. Christen with gunner Jackson on a dive bombing mission against Munda. The formation also included SBD Dauntless dive bombers from VMSB-142.
Over the target, this aircraft dive bombed a dump area.
On December 16, 1942 one of four SBDs that took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal at 10:30am piloted by Captain Frank L. Christen on a dive bombing mission to attack a group of transports reportedly unloading on the southeastern coast of the Russell Islands. No transports were located but during the return trip a two masted schooner was found in Hooper Bay off the northwest coast of Pavuvu and the formation dive bombed with all missing the vessel.
On December 16, 1942 took off from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal at 9:05pm piloted by Captain Frank L. Christen on
a flight led by Lt. McEniry with Lt. Skinner, Jackson Simpson, TSgt Humprey and SSgt Wallof plus two SBDs pilots from VMSB-142.
During the flight, Lt. Jackson and Lt. Christen became separated from the formation and located a destroyer or light cruiser off Munda and experienced anti-aircraft fire. Jackson claimed a direct hit while Christen dropped aerial flares then dive bombed the ship, and was never seen again. The rest of the formation was unable to find the ship and instead bombed Munda Airfield. When this SBD failed to return, both crew were officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
In fact, either Christen or Shattuck (or both) either bailed out or ditched and were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POWs) at Munda. Both were interrogated, their ultimate fate is unknown, likely both were executed or died at Munda or elsewhere.
Both crew were officially declared dead on December 17, 1943. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Christen also has a memorial marker at Saint Francis Xavier Cemetery in Jerseyville, IL.
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List December 1942 - SBD Dauntless 03258 pilot Lt. F. L. Christen
Aircraft Serial Number Search - Navy and Marines "03258" third series states: "03258 w/o 5/15/42 in takeoff accident San Diego, CA. Pilot killed." Either this is in error or the Bureau Number for this aircraft is incorrectly recorded in the USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List December 1942
ATIS Intelligence Report, 8 Area Army Group Intelligence No. 9 covering period 16-20 December [1942?] issued by 8 Area Army Force Staff Section.
"Statements of a prisoner of war captured at MUNDA - As of 15 December, on Guadalcanal Island, there are approximately 30,000 Navy Personnel, Air Unit, 10-15 B-17 heavy Bombers, 10 Airacobra fighters, 10 Lockheeds, 50 Grumman F4Fs (Navy Airplane), 25 SBC Carrier Bombers (Navy Airplanes) . . .Air unit personnel has diminished considerably and particularly reinforcements for carrier bomber personnel are few. They make 3 or 4 runs a day and are very tired."
Marine VMSB 132 War Diary 10/13/42 to 4/30/43 - page 17
"On December sixteenth, Lt. McEniry led an attack group on an transport reported unloading on the south east coast of the Russells. Other pilots of this group were; Lieutenants Simpson, Eck and SSgt Wallof, time 1030-1235. No transports located, but on return trip a two masted schooner was found in Hooper Bay, off the North west coast of Pavuvu. All planes dove: score: four misses. Lt McEniry led his second attack of the day, time 2105-2430, on shipping, or the field at Munda Bay. Other pilots of the strike were: Lieutenants Skinner, Jackson, Christen, Simpson, TSgt Humphrey, and SSgt Wallof. Also two pilots from VMSB-142. Lieutenants Jackson and Christen located a large destroyer or light cruiser in the bay (after becoming separated from the attack group) and attacked same. Lt. Jackson scored a direct hit. Lt Christen, after releasing his flares, dove on the ship. Lt. Jackson saw the beginning of Lt. Christen's dive, but was not able to see him again. Heavy AA was received from the ship. the remaining pilots of the attack group were unable to locate any shipping, so they unloaded their bombs on the enemy air base at Munda. Second Lieutenant F.L. Christen and his radio gunner, Pvt. Glenn N. Shattuck, failed to return from the strike. Five pilots from VMSB-132 were grounded this date by Dr. Roy J. Johnson with "pilot's fatigue".
Frank Leonard Christen
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Richard Dunn for research and analysis
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February 4, 2018