|Pilot 1st Lt. Robert William Sherman, O-024763 USMCR (POW, died June 28, 1944, BR) Jamestown, ND
Radio Pfc William B. Cashman Sr., 807836 USMCR (MIA / KIA) Ecorse, MI
Gunner Sgt James W. Green, Jr., 403889 (MIA / KIA) New Britain, CT
MIA February 14, 1944
Built by Grumman. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBF-1C Avenger Bureau Number 24340. Shipped overseas to the South Pacific.
Delivered to the United States Marine Corps (USMC). Assigned to 1st Marine Air Wing (1st MAW), Marine Air Group 11 (MAG-11) to squadron VMTB-233 "Bulldogs/Rainbow". Squadron number (Plane Number) 107. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 14, 1944 three groups of Avengers took off from Piva Uncle Airfield on Bougainville at 2:30am piloted by 1st Lt. Robert William Sherman on a mission to
to drop aerial mines into the northern half of Simpson
Harbor near Rabaul. Each Avenger was armed with one Mark 12-1 aerial mine per plane.
This aircraft took off as one of eleven Avengers in "Group C", the last to take off and last over the target. The formation also included "Group A" with nine Avengers plus "Group B" with eight Avengers.
Over the target, each aircraft attacked from less than 600' altitude, flying at a slow speed speed of less than 180 knots. During the attack, the Avengers were targeted by searchlights and intense anti-aircraft fire. One plane was lost from "Group A" (attacking east to west), two planes, including this aircraft were lost from "Group B" (attacking west to east) and three were lost from "Group C" (attacking east to west).
When this Avenger failed to return from the mission, the crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). A
total of six Avengers went down that day, including this aircraft plus TBF
06311 (MIA), TBF
24264 (MIA), TBF 47506 (POW/MIA), TBF 25327 (MIA), TBF
Fates of the Crew
Sherman was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) at Tunnel
Hill POW Camp. Reportedly, he died on June 28, 1944 of
beriberi and was buried nearby. The fates of his other crew members are unknown.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, Sherman's remains were located by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) in a grave near Tunnel
Hill Road. His remains were recovered and transported to Manila for permanent burial.
The entire crew was officially declared dead February 15, 1945. Sherman is buried at Manila American Cemetery at plot D row 8 grave 63. Cashman and Green were memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
NARA "USMC War Diary VMTB-233 1 February 1944 Through 29 February 1944" pages 53, 80-82
(Page 53) "
14 February 1944
1. Orders Received.
Mining operations in north half of Simpson Harbor. Diversion support will be provided by PV-1 aircraft on Vunakanau Airfield. Mines will be laid from the east to west.
Three groups of planes each took off from Piva U strip at one hour intervals starting at 0030 carrying one Mk. 12-1 mine per plane. Group A and C made attack from East to West, retiring down St. Georges Channel. Group B made attack from West to East and retired across Talili Bay and neck of Crater Peninsula. All mines had to be dropped from less than 600' at a speed of less than 180 knots. One plane failed to catch up and returned to Piva U strip.
3. Special Action Report.
The planes were picked up by searchlights followed by intense AA fire throughout the attack. One plane was lost from the 1st. division, two from the second division and three from the last division ["Group C"]. As a result 16 miles were accounted for as dropped, one hung, six were unaccounted for and two were not dropped.
Lt. Bartholf and Cornelius and crews were believed shot down in flames. Lts. Boyden, Sherman, Fowler and Hathway failed to return."
(Page 80-81) COMAIRSOLS Strike Command TBF Intelligence Struck 14, February, 1944
(Page 82) "Plane No. 107, Pilot Sherman, Passengers Cashman, Greene (did not return)"
USMC Casualty Card - Robert William Sherman
USMC Casualty Card - William B. Cashman
USMC Casualty Card - James W. Green, Jr.
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File -
Robert William Sherman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert William Sherman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William B. Cashman Sr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James W. Greene Jr.
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert William Sherman (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC William B Cashman, Sr (tablets of the missing)
Target Rabaul pages 311-312
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February 14, 2019