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90th BG c1943
|Pilot F/O John L. Stiles, T-000237 (POW, died MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Frank P. Baker, O-798725 (MIA / POW / KIA) GA
Crew 2nd Lt John D. Elliott, O-670046 (MIA / KIA, BR) AL
Crew 2nd Lt Dale R. Lawyer, O-674590 (POW, died MIA / KIA) IL
Crew T/Sgt W. R. Hatcher, Jr., 38172903 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crew T/Sgt Edward M. Tierney, 31172274 (MIA / KIA) Conimicut, RI
Crew S/Sgt Mont O. Bower, 37217419 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crew S/Sgt Virgil R. Harmon, 38174105 (MIA / KIA) LA
Crew S/Sgt Wilson F. Harmon, 34144735 (MIA / KIA) TN
Crew S/Sgt Ernest R. Huff, 13012678 (MIA / KIA) PA
Crashed August 20, 1943
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-20-CO Liberator 41-24207. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 90th Bombardment Group (90th BG), 400th Bombardment Squadron (400th BS). This B-24 flew some combat mission as an unnamed aircraft, then was nicknamed "Miss Carriage" with nose art of a stork delivering a bomb.
On August 20, 1943 took off from 5-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by F/O John L. Stiles on a bombing mission against Wewak. Departing the target, a Japanese fighter fired at this B-24 from extreme range and hit one of the engines, setting it on fire, and causing it to descend roughly 800', then both wings collapsed. Seven parachutes were observed, one on fire by other B-24s in the formation before the bomber exploded and crashed. Japanese fighters strafed the men in the parachutes until they landed roughly a mile from the target, and could not be determined if any survived.
Fates of the Crew
On March 7, 1944 Stiles was mentioned on an unofficial Japanese radio broadcast as a prisoner at Wewak. A Japanese broadcast on April 3, 1944 mentioned Lawyer and Baker as a prisoners at Wewak. [Read text of broadcast]. On April 14, 1944 the 400th BS was notified that a Japanese broadcast stated eight men were taken prisoner, believed to be from this B-24.
When the Australian Army captured the Wewak area in May 1945, they discovered on a Japanese cemetery on Mission Point with five graves with the names and dates: #1 Tierney, #2 Feehan, #3 Power, #4 Name Illegible, #5 Sheroden. All had a date of death listed as "Nov 1942" The date of death was deemed to be in error. After being exhumed and transported to the American Cemetery at Finschafen.
The U. S. Army determined the remains in grave #1 listed as "Tierney" to be P-38 Lightning pilot 2nd Lt. Robert E. Feehan. Grave #3 listed as "Power" was determined to be S/Sgt Mont O. Bower. The remains in grave #5 listed as "Sheroden" were determined to be 2nd Lt. John D. Elliott. All three were crew members aboard this B-24.
The remains of Stiles, Lawyer and Baker were never located, but presumed to have been taken prisoner and executed or otherwise died in captivity.
During 2011, JPAC potentially visited this site during mission 11-1 PP and coded the site JPAC Site 126. A dog tag from "John D. Elliott" was turned over to the team that was recovered from a burial site. Later that year on mission 11-2 PP the burial site was investigated.
Elliot is buried at Plot C Row 16 Grave 47 at Manila American Cemetery. He also has a memorial marker at Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, AL at section 2.
Bower is buried at section 2, grave 1703 at Fort Scott National Cemetery plot 2, row 0, grave 1703.
The other members of the crew were officially declared dead on January 12, 1945 and all are memorialized on the tablets of the missing in Manila American Cemetery and a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery.
Robert G. Stiles (brother)
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA ) RG457 series, entry 9012, box 20, folio 16850
National Security Agency (NSA) Historical Collection - RG457, Box 637, Binder 1701aa
AGRS Hq First Aust Army (AIF) "Grave: US Service Personnel" May 3, 1946
"1. Comd 6 Aust Div advises that the graves of 5 American serviceman have been located at map reference WEWAK WEST 346054 (Netherlands East Indies Grid I-inch to I Mile).
2. The particulars on the crosses erected identify the deceased as follows; -
T/S Edward M. Tierney, US Air Force
Lt. Robert Feehan, " [US Air Force]
T/S Mont Power, [S/Sgt Mont O. Bower], " [US Air Force]
Particulars on cross illegible
3. The area appears to have an extensive burial ground and portions of clothing of clothing of US patter which have been found indicate the possibility that bodies of other US personnel are buried in the vicinity.
4. Investigations are proceeding and any further information will be forwarded in our course."
293 File Unknown (X-File) X-13 (Finschhafen No. 4) remains identified as Bower
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John L. Stiles
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank P. Baker
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John D. Elliott
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dale R. Lawyer
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - W. R. Hatcher Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Edward M. Tierney
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Virgil R. Harmon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wilson F. Harmon
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ernest R. Huff
FindAGrave - Lieut John Douglas Elliott (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt John D Elliott (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Mont Otto Bower (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Dale R Lawyer (tablets of the missing photo)
Japanese Radio Broadcast - Tokyo in English to Western United States April 3, 1944 names Lawyer and Baker
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group page 74 (reference to 1945 grave)
The Jolly Rogers page 196
MacArthur's Eagles: The U.S. Air War Over New Guinea, 1943-1944 pages 75-77, 346, footnote X
"Seven months later, a Japanese radio broadcast named two of the crew as prisoners, but when Australian troops captured Wewak in 1945, no trace of them could be found and some of the crew were located buried in the local cemetery. On 10 February 1944, 4 Air Army officially notified its higher headquarters in Staff Message #2079 that 2nd Lt. John Lawrence Stiles, dob 23 November 1920, from Philadelphia, had died malaria at Wewak on 30 January. Stiles had joined the unit on 30 July."
Jolly RogersWeb.com - Jolly Roger Details - Stiles, John L.
Daily Journal "Memories of WWII: After kamikaze attack, pilot's body never found" November 10, 2007 reports B-24 struck by kamikaze / ramming
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 41-24207
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MIA / POW
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