|Harry Nelson 5th Air Force, 22nd BG, 408th BS|
Mission to Dili, Timor
I cannot recall the name of the pilot on that mission nor the plane name or number. All I recall is that the mission was in July 1942 and that there were two other planes in the flight. Some day if our group history ever gets printed I may learn all the data. The history is supposed to have all the details of every mission. I do have a photo of myself with Lt. Robert at Seven Mile strip near Port Moresby, New Guinea. The co-pilot of that crew, Lt. John Wells, was also on a Timor mission, but his mission apparently was on a different date than mine. The name of that plane was "Wee Winnie" and number 1430. As for the name of the strip at Darwin, I'm guessing it was Bachelor.
There were three B-26s in the flight. I do not recall the names of any of the pilot-- unfortunately not even the pilot of the crew I was on. I recall that we went in very low. I have no idea whether we hit the target. I recall no ack ack or ground fire. I was the tail gunner and took no pictures.
A lone Zero followed us at a good distance back to our airstrip south of Darwin. I don't recall the name of the strip but it seems to me at had the word crockodile in it. Because I have often wondered whether the target really was an amuniton dump, about 8 years ago [ in 1991] my wife and I went to Dilli with the intention of finding someone who was there in July 1942.
These facts are in sharp contrast with my recollections of events 59 years later. This story illustrates how faulty our memories of things past can be. I think my memory of a low-level mission somehow got mixed up with one such mission I flew over an airfield at Rabaul very early in the war before we moved upstairs quite a few thousand.
Cy Klimesh of the 22nd
BG Website adds:
Returning to Timor 1991
I have a photo of Father Carlos Moetel,the elderly Catholic priest whom I interviewed to learn whether he recalled any hospital being bombed; a photo of a hospital with a red cross on its roof which is located at the foot of a hill like the location I vaguely recall on the bombing mission; and a photo of my wife and myself with Father Eduardo Brito, the priest who led me to Carlos.
As for my visit to Dilli in 1991, my wife and I were spending a month in Indonesia, which you probably know, now includes what used to be the Dutch half of New Guinea. It's now called Irian Jaya. Later in the war I was based in several places in the old Dutch East Indies, so I wanted to go back to see some of the places. Dilli was on the top of the list because I had always wondered whether our target was really an ammo dump.
I wanted to go also because East Timor was a hot bed because of the indpendence movement that blossomed fully several years later. I wanted to see the conditions for myself. Part of the reason was because in civilian life I was a newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Times and I specialized in covering medicine and healthcare. I had done a lot of reporting on health conditions in developing countries and was anxious to see how things were in Indonesia and especially East Timor because of the independence movement.
Conditions were miserable in Dilli, as in the rest
of East Timor. Food for the average person was scarce and poverty
high. The Indonesian army was in tight control and fighting with the
rebels was taking place in the mountains and occasionally in Dilli.
Iran into an American Maryknoll nun who taught school there said the
people survive by giving in to the army. She said most of her students
were orphans. If you read the newspapers in 1999 you know as much
as I do about the problems there.
Nineteen More Missions
I was reassigned to a photo technical squadron as a lab technician and returned to the South Pacific in April 1944. Based in Guadalcanal, Admiralty Islands, Nooemphor and Morotai in the Dutch East Indies, and finally on Leyte where I ended up the war. Discharged October 1, 1945.
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