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  B-17E Flying Fortress Serial Number 41-2421  
USAAF
5th AF
19th BG
435th BS

Former Assignments
7th BG
14th BS

19th BG

40th BS

Click For Enlargement
USAAF c1942

Click For Enlargement
Richard Rudd 1980
Pilot   Major Clarence E. "Sandy" McPherson, O-22396 (KIA, BR) Sandpoint, ID
Co-Pilot
 1st Lt. Lucius G. Penick, O-413487 (KIA, BR)
Engineer
 MSgt Louis T. "Soup" Silva, R-45343 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  SSgt Marvin C. Bond, 6912315 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt Walter F. Schofield, 6581360 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  MSgt Walter W. Weisner, 6754182 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt William C. Wood, 6914948 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt Charles B. Baxter (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Pvt Richard W. Purcell (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Sgt John Stevenson (KIA, BR)
Passenger  1st Lt. Albert McCabe Hart, O-346934 104th AAA (KIA, BR) WY
Passenger  Pfc Rufus B. Humphries, 20467589, 20467589 (KIA, BR)
Passenger  Pvt Phillip R. Mills, 34102201, 34102201 HQ, 104th Coast Artillery Battalion (KIA, BR) AL
Passenger  Pvt Albert Washington Moore, 34102085 104th Coast Artillery Battalion (KIA, BR) Sylacauga, AL
Passenger  T/5 Atwell E. Moore, 20487595 (KIA, BR) AL
Crashed  July 16, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2232. On November 17, 1941 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2421 at Boeing Field. On November 26, 1942 B-17 took off from Boeing Field piloted by Lt. Maurice C. Horgan on a flight to Salt Lake City. Later, departed Hamilton Field on a ferry flight to Hickam Field.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 7th Bombardment Group (7th BG), 14th Bombardment Squadron (14th BS). No known nickname or nose art. During January 1942, this B-17 operated from Hickam Field flying patrols around Hawaii. Ferried overseas from Hickam Field across the Pacific to Australia.

In Australia, assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 40th Bombardment Squadron (40th BS).

Royce Mission
On April 11, 1942 took off from Batchelor Field near Darwin piloted by Lt. David G. Rawls with co-pilot Jones as one of three B-17s with nine B-25C Mitchells on the Royce Mission on a flight 1,500 miles northward to Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao in the Philippines. On April 12, 1942 the B-17s conduct single-bomber strikes against Cebu and Davao.

On April 13, 1942 spotted by F1M2 Pete and bombed at Del Monte Airfield. Afterwards, the bombers were loaded with military and diplomatic personnel assembled at Del Monte Airfield. After dark, the remaining bombers took off from Mindanao for the flight back to Australia with the B-25s landing safely on April 14, 1942 at 3:00am at Batchelor Field near Darwin.

On June 9, 1942 on a bombing mission, the top turret "ran away" rotating out of control and firing and caused damage to the tail and rudder.

On June 19, 1942 took off from Longreach Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Gilbert E. Erb on a local flight to practice night landings.

In the middle of June 1942, assigned to the 435th Bombardment Squadron (435th BS) "Kangaroo Squadron".

Mission History
On July 16, 1942 took off from Coen Airfield piloted by Major Clarence E. "Sandy" McPherson on a flight bound for Horn Island Airfield. Aboard were five U.S. Army passengers from the 104th Anti-aircraft Artillery AW Battalion plus a salvage crew and replacement parts including landing gear, propeller blades, brake assembly and tools to repair B-17E "Sally" 41-2633 that was damaged July 4, 1942.

While attempting to land in windy conditions near dark, this B-17 was lining up to land on the wrong side of a flare path. Realizing the error, the B-17 attempted to pull up quickly and the heavy replacement parts inside that were not properly stowed to shift, causing the bomber to dive into the ground killing everyone aboard on impact. This B-17 was officially stricken from the register on October 31, 1944.

Wreckage
Until at least 1980, remains of this B-17 still remained on Horn Island (Ngurapai) including an undercarriage leg.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the crash, the remains of the crew and passengers were all recovered. They were initially buried on Horn Island. Later, exhumed and reburied on April 1, 1943 at the U.S. cemetery at Townsville. On July 14, 1945 reburied at Ipswich Cemetery (USAF Cemetery Brisbane).

Postwar, the remains of the crew were transported to the United States for final burial. Six of the crew are buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 79 site 426A-B including McPherson, Penick, Schofield, Silva, Weisner and Wood.

Baxter is buried at Knoxville National Cemetery at section B, site 6276.

Purcell is buried at Plano Cemetery in Rexburg, ID.

Stevenson is buried in an unknown location, presumed to be buried in private cemetery in his hometown.

Two were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). Hart is buried at at section F site 1189. He was the first U.S. Army Chaplain killed in World War II. Albert W. Moore at A-6.

Humphries is buried at Ebenezer Cemetery in West Point, AL.

Mills is buried at Patillo Cemetery in Autauga County, AL. He also has a memorial marker at Billingsley Church of God Cemetery in Billingsley, AL.

Atwell Moore is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Holland Gin, AL.

References
Some sources claim this B-17 was nicknamed "G. I. Issue"
Steve Birdsall adds: "I've never seen evidence of the nickname 'G.I. Issue' for this B-17."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2421
"2421 (19th BG, 40th BS) overshot and burned out Horn Island Jul 16, 1942. w/o Oct 31, 1944 and converted to components."
Gilbert E. Erb Flight Log - July 1942
104th Anti-aircraft Artillery AW Battalion, Headquarters, July 16, 1942
"On July 16 the Battalion suffered its first casualties. Chaplain Albert M. Hart, T/5 Atwell E. Moore, Privates Albert W. Moore, Rufus B. Humphries, and Philip R. Mills were flying from Coen to Horn Island when the B-17 in which they were riding crashed while landing at Horn Island, killing all nineteen of the occupants instantly."
FindAGrave - Clarence C. McPherson (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Lucis G. Penick (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Louis Thomas “Soup” Silva (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Marvin C Bond (group burial)
FindAGrave - Walter Fred Schofield (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Walter W. Weisner (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - William C. Wood (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Charles B Baxter (date of death listed as August 21, 1942 grave photo)
FindAGrave - Richard Wesley Purcell (date of death listed as July 14, 1942, grave photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Albert McCabe “Chaplain” Hart (grave photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Rufus B Humphries (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Phillip R Mills (grave photo)
FindAGrave - PFC Phillip R Mills (grave Billingsley Church of God Cemetery)
FindAGrave - Pvt Albert Washington Moore (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Pvt Atwell E. Moore (grave photo)
Forty of the Fifth (1999) page 21
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 221, 384
Horn Island: In Their Steps 1939-45 (2002) pages 196-197
Echoes From an Eagle (2016) page 52
Australia @ War: 16 July 1942 - Crash of B-17E Flying Fortress at Horn Island
Fortress Against The Sun (2001) pages 164–166 (Royce Mission)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
July 14, 2021

 

Tech Info
B-17
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