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43rd BG circa 42 to Jan 43
5th CCU January 5, 1943
|Pilot Major Allen Lindberg, O-383726 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Co-Pilot Captain Benton H. Daniel, O-421896 (MIA / POW / KIA) Hollis, OK
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Robert L. Hand, O-726160 (MIA /KIA) Fields Store, TX
Navigator 1st Lt. John W. Hanson, O-434002 (MIA / KIA) Missoula, MT
Engineer TSgt Dennis T. Craig, 6152544 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Radio SSgt Quentin W. Blakely, 6581181 (MIA / KIA) Washington, DC
Gunner Sgt Leslie A. Stewart, 6996623 (MIA / KIA) East Chicago, IL
Gunner Pvt Leland W. Stone, 19064721 (MIA / KIA) Oakland, CA
Gunner Pfc William G. Fraser, Jr., 20815917 (MIA / KIA) San Antonio, TX
Observer Major Jack W. Bleasdale, O-022328 (MIA / POW / KIA) San Fernando, CA
Observer Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, O-012510 HQ, V Bomber Command (MIA / KIA) Cerillos, NM
MIA January 5, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 3143. On July 8, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17F-10-BO Flying Fortress serial number 41-24458. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 93rd Bombardment Squadron (93rd BS). Nicknamed "San Antonio Rose" with the lettering painted with a white outline. This B-17 had no known nose art. Also known by the last three digits of the tail serial number "458".
On October 8, 1942 took off from Mareeba Airfield piloted by Major Felix Hardison to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. After refueling, took off after dark on bombing mission against Rabaul. This B-17 was leading the first wave of nine B-17s from the 93rd Bombardment Squadron, followed by eight B-17s from the 28th Bombardment Squadron plus nine B-17s from the 63rd Bombardment Squadron (including two B-17s from the 43rd BG, 403rd BS). The formation was over the target during the early morning hours of October 9, 1942. From 4,500', this B-17 dropped its bomb load of fourteen 300 lb bombs and eight incendiary bundles over the town starting a large fire.
On October 13, 1942 took off from 7-Mile Drome piloted by Major Felix Hardison on a bombing mission against Rabaul.
During November 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) "Ken's Men", 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers not noted in the Missing Air Crew Report 15359 (MACR 15359) that was generated retroactively circa 1945-1946.
On January 5, 1943 at 8:48am took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by Major Lindberg leading "Mission 4L" a bombing mission against Rabaul. Aboard this B-17 were two observers: Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker, C. O. 5th Bomber Command and Major Jack W. Bleasdale.
The formation included six B-17 Flying Fortresses from the 64th Bombardment Squadron plus six B-24 Liberators from the 90th Bombardment Group on a bombing mission against Rabaul. The specific targets were Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor and Blanche Bay and Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul.
Around noon, the B-17 formation at 8,500' arrived over the target area and bombed Japanese shipping in Blanche Bay anchored between Lesson Point to Kokopo then proceeded over Simpson Harbor. This B-17 was last seen over the target area, east of Vunakanau Airfield at 5,000' pursued "closely pursued by four (4) to five (5) Zeros." [sic Ki-43-I Oscars from the 11th Hiko Sentai] Left outboard engine [no. 1 engine] temporarily smoking."
When this B-17 failed to return the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-17F 41-24538 (crew rescued).
According to Missing Air Crew Report 15359 (MACR 15359):
"Departed on mission 4L to attack Rabaul, at 0848 from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby to attack ships in Simpson Harbor. Last seen going into clouds, closely pursued by four to five Japanese fighters [Ki-43-I Oscars from the 11th Hiko Sentai]. The left outboard engine was observed to be smoking."
A memorandum to the MACR AG 704 (April 29, 1949) states:
"The plane in which these men became missing in action was a B-17 #458, observed turning left making a possible run on shipping in the Keravia Bay on 5 January 1943, in the Rabaul area. It was last seen heading south, just east of Vunakanau, at about 5,000' with left outboard motor smoking and out. The plane, closely pursued by several enemy fighters, went into the clouds and did not rejoin the flight."
Fates of the Crew
Pilot Bleasdale and co-pilot Daniel bailed out and landed in the jungle to the north of Tol. Both were captured by Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) personnel at Tol and transported to Rabaul where they became Prisoners Of War (POWs). In captivity, both were interrogated during February 1943 until March 1943. The two prisoners are mentioned in documents supposedly signed by Bleasdale that were shown to American POWs including 2nd Lt. Jose L. Holguin when he was interrogated during July 1943.
Observer Major Jack W. Bleasdale was interrogated by the Japanese at Rabaul on February 26, 1942. Nippon Times article "U.S. 'Flying Fortress' Is Claimed Mediocre; Unbeatable Bomber Nothing But 'Sitting Bird'" January 19, 1944 mentions him as "Major X X". He was no longer at Rabaul as of the middle of July 1943. He did not survive captivity and was never reported as an official POW of the Japan. He remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Co-Pilot Captain Benton H. Daniel was captured during the middle or late January 1943 at Tol and transported to Rabaul. In late February or early March, he was interrogated about the technical details of the B-17 including its performance and capabilities that was the subject of a report "The B-17 and Its Armament" March 2, 1943 and was intercepted by Allied Translator and Interpreter Service (ATIS) and translated into English. A Catholic priest detained at Rabaul noted Daniel's name as a captive of the Japanese. He was no longer at Rabaul as of the middle of July 1943. Reportedly, he might have been taken to Kavieng. He did not survive captivity and was never reported as an official POW of the Japan. He remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
The fate of the rest of the crew is unknown. The other nine are presumed to have been wounded or killed during the air combat or died when the bomber crashed. Every member of the crew remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
On January 6, 1943 B-24D Liberator 41-23773 took off on a search mission over East New Britain in an attempt to locate this Waller's B-17. Over Wide Bay, this B-24 went Missing In Action (MIA) and was claimed as shot down by A6M Zeros from 582 Kokutai. No other specific search missions were conducted for this B-17.
The wreckage of B-17F "San Antonio Rose" 41-24458 has never been located. Postwar, U. S. Army AGRS (1945-1949) investigated other aircraft wrecks on New Britain but never had any specific leads or information related to this bomber.
During 2012, JPAC conducted a canvassing mission for information related to Missing In Action (MIA) U. S. aircraft and personnel in East New Britain Province but did not generate any specific leads associated with this B-17 loss.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on December 12, 1945. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Lindberg also has a memorial marker at Headstone in Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, NJ.
On March 11, 1943, Walker posthumously earned the Medal of Honor and was the highest ranking American Missing In Action (MIA) on a combat mission during World War II. On December 7, 2001 a memorial marker for Walker was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery at section MC Site 36-M. Walker Air Force Base (Walker AFB) in Roswell, NM was named in his honor until closure in 1967. At Maxwell AFB "Walker Hall" home to the College of Aerospace Doctrine Research and Education is also named in his honor.
Kenneth Walker, Jr. (elder son of Kenneth N. Walker)
Douglas Walker (youngest son of Kenneth N. Walker)
Maj. Lindberg was the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. Brig. General Kenneth N. Walker was Commanding Officer (C. O.) of 5th Bomber Command.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-10-BO Flying Fortress 41-24458
YouTube "Mission To Rabaul" January 5, 1943 cine footage via NARA RG 111, “5th AAFCCU Mission To Rabaul New Britain” Control Number: NWDNM(m)-111-ADC-10476 ARC Identifier: 24237
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17F-10-BO Flying Fortress 41-24458
"24458 (43rd BG, 64th BS, "San Antonio Rose I") shot down by Japanese fighters Jan 5, 1943 on bombing mission at Rabaul, New Britain. 9 KIA, 2 POW."
Missing Air Crew Report 15359 (MACR 15359) was created retroactively on June 9, 1945
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Jack W. Bleasdale
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Allen Lindberg
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Benton H. Daniel
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Hand
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John W. Hanson
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dennis T. Craig
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Quentin W. Blakely
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leslie A. Stewart
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leland W. Stone
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William G. Fraser Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jack W. Bleasdale
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Kenneth N. Walker
FindAGrave - Maj Allen Lindberg (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Allen Lindberg (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Benton Hayes Daniel, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert Lee Hand (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt John 'Wesley' Hanson, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Dennis Craig (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Quentin W. Blakely (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Leslie A Stewart (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Leland W Stone (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC William Gerard "Jerry" Fraser, Jr (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - LtCol Jack Walter Bleasdale (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Gen Kenneth Newton Walker (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - BG Kenneth Newton Walker (photo, memorial marker photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17F Flying Fortress 41-24458
Kenneth N. Walker: Airpower's Untempered Crusader by Martha Byrd biography of Walker
Pride of Seattle page 9
Flightpath Magazine, August–October 2002 Vol. 14, No.1 "Rabaul's Ultimate Mystery – The Loss of Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker" by Michael Claringbould
Daedalus Flyer Magazine “Rabaul’s Ultimate Mystery – The Loss of Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker” by Michael Claringbould Fall 2002 Issue (reprint of Flightpath Magazine article)
Oz@War - Brigadier General Kenneth Newton Walker, USAAC 17 July 1898 - 5 Jan 1943
MIA General Kenneth N. Walker (DVD) 2001 memorial service and interviews
War In Pacific Skies page 49 (painting 'An Expensive Mission' by Jack Fellows)
"An Expensive Mission" by Jack Fellows
B-17 Flying Fortress Units of the Pacific War (2003) B-17F "San Antonio Rose" 41-24458 references: (cover artwork) pages 4, 44 (profile), 61-62 Kenneth N. Walker references: 4, 6, 56, 62, 93
Ki-43 'Oscar' Aces of World War 2 (2009) page 74
Flightpath Magazine August-October 2012 "Rabaul October" by Steve Birdsall page 56, 58
Air Power History "The Search General Walker: New Insights" Fall 2014 pages 6-19 [PDF] by Richard Dunn
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume 1 (2015) Walker references: 6, 49, 58, 100-104, 106-109, 158, 168, 170, 209, 271, 313, 327, 381, 406 (index) B-17F "San Antonio Rose" 41-24458 references: 87, 99 (map), 104 (photo), 103-108, 113, 209, 210 (painting 'An Expensive Mission' by Jack Fellows) 313, 327, 343, 355, 402 (index)
Kenneth N. Walker Official Website <www.KennethNWalker.org>
Thanks to Douglas Walker, David Lindley, Steve Birdsall, Brian Bennett, Richard Dunn, Justin Taylan, Michael Claringbould, and Larry Hickey for additional information, research and analysis.
MIA / POW
Japanese Side of the Mission
Prisoners of War (POW) Daniel and Bleasdale
Walker Medal of Honor Citation
MIA General Walker
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