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  B-17E "Tex / Red Moose Express" Serial Number 41-2634  
5th AF
43rd BG
65th BS

Former Assignments
19th BG
435th BS

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Ed Widdis 1943

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5th AF c1943
Pilot  1st Lt Walter K. Brenneman, O-726738 (MIA / KIA) Warkarusa, IN
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt James G. Purdy, O-738461 (MIA / KIA) Portland, OR
Navigator  2nd Lt Philip M. Smith, O-804890(MIA / KIA) Brockton, MA
Bombardier  2nd Lt Charles F. Lanning, Jr., O-669329 (MIA / KIA) Gewell, NJ
Engineer  Sgt Harry C. Billings, 11033067 (MIA / KIA) New Britain, CT
Asst Engineer  SSgt Andrew W. Scribner, 36075217 (MIA / KIA) Jerseyville, IL
Radio  Cpl Guy P. Signorino, 14079822 (MIA / KIA) New Orleans, LA
Asst. Radio  Cpl Stuart A. Lambe, 16048269 (MIA / KIA) Austin, TX
Gunner  Sgt Francis E. Caldwell, 36172510 (MIA / KIA) Detroit, MI
Gunner  SSgt Roy M. Erskine, 19171574 (MIA / KIA) Salt Lake City, UT
Crashed  August 3, 1943 at 11:27
MACR  15687

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2445. At the factory painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with "U.S. Army" on the underside of the wings. On March 3, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2634 and the same day flown to Lowry Field, CO. By early July 1942 ferried overseas via Hickam Feild then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 435th Bombardment Squadron (435th BS). Nicknamed "Tex" (in double quotes) in block letters. This bomber had a SCR-521 surface radar installed with a yagi antenna mounted on the nose to detect enemy ships at night.

On July 30, 1942 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a reconnaissance mission over Buna, Lae and Gasmata.

In late 1942, assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG) "Ken's Men", 65th Bombardment Squadron (65th BS) "The Lucky Dicers".

For the remainder of the year, operated from Mareeba Airfield. In January 1943 operated from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby.

In early January 1943 took off from 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Robert H. Fuller with co-pilot Brigadier General Howard K. Ramey to search for the crash site of B-17F "San Antonio Rose" 41-24458 with Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker that went Missing In Action (MIA) January 5, 1943 and retraced the bombers estimated flight path but had nil sightings.

During April 1943 assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Robert B. Corrie but often flown by different pilots in the squadron.

On April 1, 1943 took off piloted by Adams on a reconnaissance over the Bismarck Sea.

On April 7, 1943 took off piloted by Smith on a reconnaissance over Kavieng.

On June 19, 1943 took off on a bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.

During July 1943 nicknamed "Red Moose Express" with nose art depicting a red moose head and bombs falling in a dark blue circle and as an homage to the time the squadron was stationed in Bangor, Maine and unofficially dubbed the "Moose Squadron".

On August 2, 1943 took off piloted by Brenneman on a bombing mission against Salamaua.

When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers were not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 15687 (MACR 15687).

Mission History
On August 3, 1943 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt Walter K. Brenneman as one of seven B-17s on a bombing mission 214-C against a Japanese construction camp on the Kofebi River south of Bogadjim on the Bogadjim-Ramu Road.

This B-17 was part of the second element of three bombers, flying in a vee formation, along with B-17 piloted by 1st Lt. Henseler. Due to clouds and mountainous terrain, they dropped their bombs on Bogadjim village, the secondary target.

After bombing the target, at 11:27 over Astrolabe Bay at 5,000' the bombers were intercepted by Ki-43 Oscars from 24th Sentai led by W.O. Katsuaki Kira (misidentified as A6M3 Hamps). The Oscars dove at both B-17 and made simultaneous high frontal attacks. The third Oscar attacked this B-17 from 3 o'clock position hitting this bomber.

This B-17 went into a 45 degree dive with inboard engines smoking and hit the sea in a glide and broke up on impact, but did not explode or burn. The crash was estimated to be roughly 100 yards off the mouth of Mindjim River to the east of Bogadjim. No trace of the crew was seen by the three other B-17s that observed the crash. This bomber was officially written off August 5, 1943.

Afterwards, no further searches were conducted for survivors.

The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Brenneman earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Purdy earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Sulphur Springs City Cemetery in Sulphur Springs, TX. He also has another memorial marker at River View Cemetery in Portland, OR.

Smith earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Lanning earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Billings earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Scribner earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Oak Grove Cemetery in Jerseyville, IL in section A.

Signorino earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Gulf Coast Memorial Cemetery in Bay Saint Louis, MS.

Lambe earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Caldwell earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously.

Erskine earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2634
"2634 delivered to Lowry Mar 3, 1942, Assigned to 19BG at Hickam, Hawaii May 18, 1942. With 43rd BG 65th BS "Red Moose Express", destroyed in crash 3 Aug 1943, New Guinea; Entire crew KIA. W/o Aug 5, 1943."
Missing Air Crew Report 15687 (MACR 15687) created retroactively circa 1945–1946
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter K. Brenneman
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - James G. Purdy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Philip M. Smith
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles F. Lanning, Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry C. Billings
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Andrew W. Scribner
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Guy P. Signorino
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stuart A. Lambe
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Francis E. Caldwell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Roy M. Erskine
FindAGrave - 1Lt Walter K Brenneman (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Walter K. Brenneman (memorial maker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt James Grant Purdy (tablets of the missing)
FIndAGrave - 2LT James Grant Purdy (memorial marker Texas photo)
FIndAGrave - Lieut James Grant Purdy (memorial marker Oregon photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Philip Manley Smith (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Charles F. Lanning, Jr. (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Andrew W Scribner (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Andrew W Scribner (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Guy Paul Signorino (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - CPL Guy Paul “Gaetano” Signorino (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Stuart A Lambe (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Francis E Caldwell (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Roy M Erskine (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Roy M Erskine (memorial marker photo)
Air Forces General Information Bulletin no. 13, August 1943 "Oscar vs. B-17"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-2634
Walter: An Airman's Life Marcia A. Brenneman Goshen, IN: Marcia Brenneman Nov. 1989
Ken’s Men Against The Empire Volume 1 (2015) pages 84 (photos), 108 (January 5, 1943 search mission) 220 (profile 23), 224 (profile 23a detail / profile 23b detail), 251-253 (August 3, 1943 mission), 320 (August 3, 1943 crew list), 329 (65th BS, 41-2634), 344, 372-373 (Profile 23 description), 401 (index Red Moose Express), 404 (index Tex)
Thanks to Steve Birdsall, Edward Rogers and Osamu Tagaya for additional information

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Last Updated
August 2, 2022


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