In any case, I believe that Lieutenants Robert Orr
and Lloyd Miller (see below) were the only MIA B-29 crewmen to survive
as POWs from these seven crews. So, whoever the tail gunner was, I believe,
sad to say, he never returned.
To clarify things, we would need more information about
the wreckage in the photos to establish the Superfortress' identity.
Is there any information about the B-29's markings or serial number?
One of the images appears to show the plane's vertical fin, facing upwards.
But, it seems to have no unit markings upon it.
Also, while the nickname on the tail gunner's canopy
frame could be a clue, it might just be thata nickname. Additionally,
even if the nickname is that of the plane's assigned "original" gunner,
the actual gunner who flew in the plane might have been a substitute.
So, for now, the fate and identity of "Bird" are still a mystery.
Five B-29s Lost on May 14, 1945
B-29 Superfortress 44-70017
Pilot Clewett crashed May 14, 1945
B-29 "Deacon's Disciples" 42-24492
B-29 Superfortress 44-69966
B-29 Serial Number 44-69926 Tail Number V-23
B-29 "Country Gentleman" 42-24793
B-29 POWs In Japan
Regarding the number of B-29 crewmen who survived as POWs of the
Japanese, an article released by the Associated Press on Nov. 17, 1945,
stated that, "837 have been recovered alive from prison camps on the
main islands," out of approximately 2,200 and 2,300 reported MIA during
the course of the 20th Air Force's campaign against Japan. I don't know
if this number refers to B-29 crewmen specifically, or all the Allied
aviator POWs held by the Japanese.