|Pilot Captain Joseph W. Geddes, 0390221 (MIA / KIA, BR) Logan, Utah
Crew 2nd Lt. Leon S. King, 0736007 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crew 1st Lt. Leslie W. Neuman, 0421293 (POW, executed November 25, 1943)
Crew 2nd Lt. Saul Albert, 0731130 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Navigator 2nd Lt. William A. Bujold, 0734532 (MIA / KIA, BR) Rumford, Maine
Engineer TSgt William R. Moore, 12008631 (MIA / KIA, BR) Flagtown, NJ
Crew T/Sgt Emil Gentry, 0732533 (MIA / KIA)
Crew S/Sgt Ernest W. Burnside, 33082604 (POW, executed November 25, 1943) PA
Crew Cpl. John J. Mulligan, 6903682 (POW, executed November 25, 1943) Ulster County, NY
Crew Pvt John L. Honold, 13031711 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crew Pvt Robert E. George, 15072338 (POW, executed November 25, 1943) OH
Crashed May 21, 1943
Built by Boeing at Seattle. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 43rd Bombardment Group, 64th Bombardment Squadron. 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 took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby in the afternoon on a flight to Dobodura Airfield Armed with a mix of 300 pound bombs and 20 pound fragmentation bomb clusters for a night bombing mission over Rabaul.
On May 21, 1943 one of five B-17s that took off from Dobodura Airfield at 1:00am to bomb Vunakanau Airfield and Rapopo Airfield then return to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. 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 piloted by Shigetoshi Kudo over Putput plantation. This B-17 was the second night fighter victory using oblique firing 20mm cannons. Previously that same night, Kudo shot down B-17E 41-9244. He returned to Lakunai Airfield at 5:35am, having expended only 178 rounds.
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."
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. The B-17 crashed inland from Putput.
Fates of the Crew
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 held as Prisoners Of War (POWs) at the Rabaul POW Camp. On November 25, 1943 the four crew members 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.
This B-17 crashed inland from Putput with at least two of the crew members aboard.
Recovery of Remains
During 1986 or 1987 the site was investigated by a team from U. S. Army CILHI and 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 ID'd 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 pics 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."
Robert E. George and Ernest Burnside were offically declared dead on January 8, 1946. Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
After the recovery of reamins, Albert, Bujold, Geddes, Gentry, Honold, King and Moore were buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery at section 84, site 399.
Two of the crew have memorial markers. Bujold has a memorial marker at Saint Johns Cemetery in Rumford, ME. Honold has a memorial marker at Saint Ignatius Cemetery in Centralia, PA.
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."
Missing Air Crew Report 2459 (MACR 2459)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-17E Flying Fortress 41-9011
Flightpath Magazine B-17 At Black Cat Pass by Steve Birdsall
Moonlight Interceptor mentions this loss in the prologue
TAPS "Seven Airmen who died in 1943 are reinterred at Jefferson Barracks" October 20, 2007
FindAGrave - Joseph W Geddes (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Leon S King (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Saul Albert (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut William Alfred Bujold (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut William Alfred Bujold (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Emil Gentry (grave photo)
FindAGrave - John L Honold (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - John L Honold (memorial marker)
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Edward Rogers for additional information.
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March 4, 2019