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US Army February 1943
|Pilot 1st Lt. Leslie W. Neumann, O-421293 (POW, executed November 25, 1943, MIA, BNR) Watkins, MT
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Emil Gentry, 0732533 (MIA / KIA) Chicago, IL
Navigator 2nd Lt. William A. Bujold, 0734532 (MIA / KIA, BR) Rumford, Maine
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Saul Albert, 0731130 (MIA / KIA, BR) Suffolk County, MA
Engineer TSgt William R. Moore, 12008631 (MIA / KIA, BR) Flagtown, NJ
Radio S/Sgt Ernest W. Burnside, 33082604 (POW, executed November 25, 1943, MIA, BNR) PA
Gunner Cpl. John J. Mulligan, 6903682 (POW, executed November 25, 1943 MIA, BNR) Ulster County, NY
Gunner Cpl John L. Honold, 13031711 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Gunner Pvt Robert E. George, 15072338 (POW, executed November 25, 1943, MIA, BNR) OH
Passenger Captain Joseph W. Geddes, O-390221 380th BG (MIA / KIA, BR) Logan, Utah
Passenger 2nd Lt. Leon S. King, O-736007 380th BG (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed May 21, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Constructors Number 2483. On March 11, 1942 delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-9011 and the same day flown to Minneapolis, MN. Flown overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving August 23, 1942.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 19th Bombardment Group (19th BG), 30th Bombardment Squadron (30th BS). On January 7, 1943 loaned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 403rd Bombardment Squadron (403rd BS) then returned.
On November 21, 1942 assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group (43rd BG), 64th Bombardment Squadron (64th BS). No known nose art or nickname.
On July 27, 1942 one of nine B-17s on a bombing mission against Buna.
On May 20, 1943 in the afternoon took off from 7 Mile Drome (Jackson) near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Joseph W. Geddes armed with 300 lbs bombs and 20 lbs fragmentation cluster bombs flying northward to stage from Dobodura Airfield for a night mission over Rabaul.
On May 21, 1943 at 1:00am took off from Dobodura Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Leslie W. Neumann as one of five B-17s on a night bombing mission against Vunakanau Airfield and Rapopo Airfield near Rabaul then planned to land at 7 Mile Drome (Jackson). Aboard were Captain Joseph W. Geddes and 2nd Lt. Leon S. King both from the newly arrived 380th Bombardment Group (380th BG) flying the mission for training purposes.
At 4:20am, this B-17 bombed the Kokopo and Rapopo area. After departing the target area, this B-17 was intercepted and shot down by a J1N1 Irving pilot Shigetoshi Kudo over Putput plantation. This B-17 was the second night fighter victory using oblique firing 20mm cannons. Earlier that same night, Kudo shot down B-17E "Honi Kuu Okole" 41-9244. He returned to Lakunai Airfield at 5:35am, having expended only 178 rounds against both bombers.
Gordon Manuel would later report:
"Shortly after I was shot down [on May 21, 1943 flying B-17E "Honi Kuu Okole" 41-9244 another B-17 was shot down near Put Put plantation 5 or 6 miles inland. I was told by natives that two [men] were burned in the ship, one came to Put Put to get aid for a crew member who had both legs broken and the former was taken prisoner and the latter shot by the Japanese. All the rest escaped from the ship I believe by parachute."
When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, it crashed inland from Put Put on New Britain.
Fates of the Crew
At least five of the crew managed to bail out and landed safely. The fate of the other crew are unknown, either they died in the crash or elsewhere. At least two remained with the bomber and died in the crash. One of the crew reportedly made it to the Putput area seeking help, but was captured by the Japanese and shot.
Four of the crew: Neuman, Burnside, Mulligan and George were captured by the Japanese Navy and transported to Rabaul and detained by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Keibitai (Naval Special Police) at Japanese Navy POW Camp at Rabaul. On November 25, 1943 all four plus along with Sgt Robert A. Curry (gunner aboard B-17E "Honi Kuu Okole" 41-9244) plus seven other prisoners were executed by the Japanese at Rabaul.
In fact, it crashed inland from Put Put on the eastern coast of New Britain.
Recovery of Remains
During 1986 or 1987 this crash site was investigated by a team from U.S. Army CILHI and more remains of the crew were recovered.
Brian Bennett adds:
"This site was reported by a villager up in the Warangoi to me back in the mid 1980's. He went back to the site at my request and came out with a bit of metal that I identified as being off a B-17, a piece of the internal wing frame actually. He also saw a number 19 but as there were several aircraft with 19 in the serial number in it i wasn't certain who this could be. I went in with the first team to help with the IE but later when the main recovery effort went in the site had been prepped with a helipad and I recall that Bruce Hoy went with them as he later wrote a fairly detailed report on the diggings. I took a few pictures but the forest canopy was dense and dark where the bird went in and my pics aren't so good and only a few anyway."
Neumann, Burnside, Mulligan and George were officially declared dead on January 8, 1946 and all three remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). All three are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
After the recovery of remains, Albert, Bujold, Geddes, Gentry, Honold, King and Moore were buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 84 site 399.
Neumann earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Silver Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal, Purple Heart (wounds March 30, 1943 as co-pilot B-17F "Taxpayer's Pride" 41-24448) with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Litchville Cemetery in LaMoure County, ND. The Litchville Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post is named in his honor.
Bujold has a memorial marker at Saint Johns Cemetery in Rumford, ME.
Burnside earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Mulligan earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Honold has a memorial marker at Saint Ignatius Cemetery in Centralia, PA.
George earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Steve Burke adds:
"My wife’s uncle is SSgt William R. Moore. I am interested to see whether you may have any photos of the crash site available for viewing. Thank you for your research it has lent valuable information to our family about what happened to him during his last mission. This past summer I went to visit my mother in law and we brought Billy’s duffel bag out of the attic and opened it for the first time since her mother added things from his boyhood after the war. I can tell you that it was an incredible time capsule of personal effects. There was a lot of correspondence to his parents. We found a telegram from him to his mother the morning before his last flight. We know because it was the same date as he was killed. He told her not to worry. It was very heartbreaking to read. We also found all of the technical manuals for the B-17 and several pictures of girl friends. There was boy scout literature and his scout knife. I am a history buff and have researched my wife’s family for her. She is related to John Honeyman, first spy for General Washington; mother’s side and she is related to Edmund Nathan Atkinson, Col. 13th Ga. Infantry; civil war on her fathers side. Her family has a deep history of military service with her father being a retired Navy Rear Admiral. So I am very pleased by being able to add this information to what the family already knows. Thanks again."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Leslie W. Neumann
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Emil Gentry
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William A. Bujold
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Saul Albert
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William R. Moore
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John L. Honold
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert E. George
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Leon S. King
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9011
"9011 delivered Minneapolis Mar 11, 1942, assigned to 19th BG Hawaii, transferred to 64th BS, 43rd BG (64th BS, 43rd BG) shot down by J1N1-S night fighter over St Georges Channel, New Britain May 21, 1943. Crew KIA."
Missing Air Crew Report 2459 (MACR 2459)
Kodochosho, 251 Kōkūtai, May 21, 1943
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leslie W. Neumann
FindAGrave - Leslie Neumann (photo, memorial marker)
HonorStates - Leslie W Neumann (photo)
FindAGrave - Emil Gentry (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT William Alfred Bujold (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT William Alfred Bujold (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Saul Albert (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT William R Moore (group burial photos)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ernest W Burnside
FindAGrave - SSgt Ernest W Burnside (photos, tablets of the missing photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John J. Mulligan
FindAGrave - SSgt John J Mulligan (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Cpl John L Honold (photo, group burial photos)
FindAGrave - John L Honold (memorial marker photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert E. George does not list Purple Heart
FindAGrave - Pvt Robert E George (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Joseph W Geddes (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leon S King (grave photo)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9011
Moonlight Interceptor (1985) mentions this loss in the prologue
Flightpath Magazine B-17 At Black Cat Pass by Steve Birdsall
Ken's Men Against The Empire Volume I (2015) pages 317 (May 21, 1943 crew), 327 (64th BS, 41-9011)
TAPS "Seven Airmen who died in 1943 are reinterred at Jefferson Barracks" October 20, 2007
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Edward Rogers for additional information
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MIA / POW
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