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  B-24J-125-CO Liberator Serial Number 42-110000  
USAAF
5th AF
22nd BG
408th BS

Pilot  1st Lt. Robert C. Stone, O-888789 (survived) Martinsville, VA
Co-Pilot  1st Lt. Harry G. Franklin, O-747247 (MIA / KIA) MA
Bombardier  1st Lt. Truman T. Henderson, O-673164 (survived) Dalton, GA
Navigator  1st Lt. Carroll G. Henry, O-673673 (survived) San Angelo, TX
Engineer  SSgt John R. Clayton, 12010685 (survived) Atlantic City, NJ
Assistant Engineer  Pfc Americo G. Picucci, 12066198 (MIA / KIA) Long Island City, NY
Radio  SSgt Ronald C. Stein, 12062423 (survived) New York, NY
Assistant Radio  Sgt James E. Egan, Jr., 11105746 (survived) NH
Gunner  SSgt Joseph H. Sharp, Jr., 13014441 (survived) Lynchburg, VA
Gunner  Sgt James W. Richmond, 35426861 (survived) Mullens, WV
Crashed  April 16, 1944 "Black Sunday" at 4:30pm
MACR  8378

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 3796. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-80-CO Liberator serial number 42-110000. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
During April 1944 assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 408th Bombardment Squadron (408th BS). No known nickname or nose art. Possibly assigned an unknown tail letter. Also known as "000" for the last three digits of the serial number.

On April 13, 1944 this B-24 flew its first combat mission. Flew a second mission between April 14-15, 1944. When lost engines R-1830-65 serial numbers BP-432840, BP-435163, BP-435551 and BP-428555. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns makers and serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 8378 (MACR 8378).

Mission History

On April 16, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 1st Lt. Robert C. Stone on a bombing mission against Hollandia. Returning, the formation returned via Annanberg then turned towards Madang and the weather encountered a severe weather front roughly two hours into the return flight. At 2:34 this B-24 was observed to leave formation making a steep bank in the poor weather over Astrolabe Bay roughly 20 miles northeast of Bogadjim. Visibility was reported to be only 75'. When this B-24 failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24J 42-100225 (11 MIA).

In fact, pilot Stone left formation to avoid an aerial collision in the poor weather. At that moment, the storm and rain was so intense, Stone later reported he could not see his own wingtips due and was being buffeted by up drafts and down drafts that caused the B-24 to rise or fall 1,000' at a time. In the cockpit, the compass and gyroscope tumbled and the bomber was on the verge of going out of control.

After flying in the storm for an hour and forty-five minutes, this B-24 ran low on fuel and was lost at a position estimated to be roughly 20-25 miles south of Saidor over the Finisterre Range (Finisterres) of New Guinea. Climbing to 18,000' Stone ordered the crew to bail out at 4:30pm and bombardier Henderson opened the bomb bay doors to allow the crew to jump out with pilot 1st Lt. Robert C. Stone the last to exit the bomber.

Missing Air Crew Report 8378 (MACR 8378) page 10 statement by 1st Lt. Robert C. Stone:
"On returning from a mission to Hollandia, 16 April 1944, in ship #42-110000, we were forced to bail out about 25 miles south of Saidor at approximately 1630. I was the last person to leave the ship and am certain all crew members had left the ship. Lt. Harry O. Franklin, co-pilot left the ship from two to three minutes before I did, but being occupied with the ship, I did not see whether his chute opened or not. I have no idea what subsequently happened to either Lt. Franklin or Pfc Picucci after they left the ship."

Search
On April 17, 1944 at 8:30am search missions were flown (Mission 108C-Q) for this missing bomber by fifteen B-25 Mitchells plus eight B-24 Liberators from V Bomber Command without results. They searching the area between Port Moresby, Dobodura, Aware, Cape Gloucester and off the coast of New Guinea including the mouth of the Sepik River, Ramu Valley, Markam Valley, Kerema and Yule Island.

Fates of the Crew
Three of the crew likely bailed out but were never seen again: Franklin and Picucci. Their fates are unknown, possibly their parachutes failed to open, they sustained injuries or died of exposure. Both remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Seven of the crew successfully bailed out and had different fates but all eventually found friendly local people and reached Allied lines on the coast and returned to duty.

Stone bailed out at roughly 18,000' above Yupakadap mountain in the Finisterre Range and landed at an elevation of 13,000' in a snowstorm then followed the Kewieng River Valley and both observed evidence of damage to native villages and gardens and past dead bodies of Japanese soldiers retreating in the same area. By the time he found native people, he was so weak he was crawling on his hands and knees and had to be carried to Saidor and flown aboard a C-47 from Saidor Airfield back to Nadzab Airfield.

Richmond landed at a waterfall and was carried over the edge of a 10' falls and walked alone towards the coast. He was later found by local people and taken to Saidor then flown aboard a C-47 from Saidor Airfield back to Nadzab Airfield.

On April 27, 1944 Stone and Richmond were interviewed about their experiences by a reporter from the Associated Press (AP) and released on the wire service on April 27, 1944.

Sharp landed in the jungle and walked toward the coast alone until he was found by locals and taken to Saidor then flown aboard a C-47 from Saidor Airfield back to Nadzab Airfield.

The three other survivors: Stone, Sharp and Richmond each made their way to the coast alone before they located friend natives. Stone was so weak he was found crawling and had to be carried the rest of the way to safety.

Three of the crew landed further inland in the jungle: Henry, Clayton, Stein but found each other on the second day and together walked for six day before they were found by friendly natives who helped them reach the coast. On April 24, 1944 they were reunited with Henderson on the coast.

Henderson bailed out of the bomb bay and while descending saw several other parachutes and landed between two trees. After freeing himself, he spent the afternoon searching for the other crew, fired his pistol three times and ignited flares but got no response the slept in a naturally sheltered spot. The next day he followed a stream and attempted to head to the northeast but estimated he only traveled a few miles and sheltered under a tree for the second night. On April 18, 1944 he found a trail and followed it to a garden, called out then ate some of the vegetables and spent the night at this location. The next morning he took vegetables in his parachute and he continued down the trail and found two native people armed with bows and arrows that fled when he neared. He crossed a river but was nearly swept away by the current, too weak to pull himself free. The next day he found a village with a woman and children who fled. Remaining at the hut, men later arrived that he communicate with in broken Pisin English and was taken to their chief. On April 21, 1944 the locals with a native police officer escorted him on a three day walk via an abandoned mission station to the coast. On April 23, 1944 they came to a village with a U. S. Army patrol led by 1st Lt. Everett N. Baxter with two enlisted men tasked with locating missing air men. After rewarding the local people and asking them to search for the rest of his crew, he was taken to Australian Army WO William Osborn from Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU). On April 24, 1944 joined by Henry, Stein and Clayton.

On April 25, 1944 the four survivors: Henry, Clayton, Stein and Henderson were transported by barge to Saidor and debriefed. On April 26, 1944 the four survivors were flown aboard a C-47 from Saidor Airfield back to Nadzab Airfield and returned to duty.

Memorials
The two missing crew members remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA): Franklin and Picucci. Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Franklin was officially declared dead on February 25, 1946. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.

Picucci was officially declared dead on February 25, 1946. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Afterwards, 1st Lt. Robert C. Stone was pilot aboard B-24J Liberator 42-110005 and went Missing In Action (MIA) October 10, 1944 on a bombing mission against Balikpapan. He earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Afterwards, 1Lt Carroll G. Henry was navigator aboard B-24J Liberator 42-110005 and went Missing In Action (MIA) October 10, 1944 on a bombing mission against Balikpapan. He was officially declared dead on October 10, 1944. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

Afterwards, TSgt Ronald C. Stein was radio operator aboard B-24J 42-100324 and went Missing In Action (MIA) on October 14, 1944 a bombing mission against Balikpapan. He was officially declared dead on March 21, 1946. He earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert C. Stone
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Carroll G. Henry
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John R. Clayton
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Americo G. Picucci
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ronald G. Stein
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph H. Sharp, Jr.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - USAF Serial Number Search Results 42-110000
"110000 (22nd BG, 408th BS) lost Apr 16, 1944, New Guinea during infamous Black Sunday mission to Hollandia. MACR 8378"
Missing Air Crew Report 8378 (MACR 8378) created April 19, 1944
Missing Air Crew Report 4512 (MACR 4512) created April 19, 1944 page 10 (map Lt. Stone last sighted)
The Arizona Daily Star "Japs Starving In New Guinea: Jungle Mopping Up For Troops Trapped By Allied Forces" May 1, 1944
"Fifth Air Force Headquarters, New Guinea, April 27 - (Delated) - (AP) - The jungle is oing the mopping up for Allied soldiers who cut off the Japanese in New Guinea. Death overtook many of the enemy before the Americans and Australians got to them.
Seven American fliers, who were forced to abandon their Liberator [B-24J 42-110000] high over the rugged Finnisterre Mountains on the Huon Peninsula and who wandered for eight days to the coast, gave a good picture of the enemy's plight today."
Lincoln Nebraska State Journal "Isolated Japanese dying of starvation and disease in New Guinea mountains" May 1, 1944, page 1
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-24D Liberator 42-110000
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harry C. Franklin
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Americo G. Picucci
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert C. Stone
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Carroll G Henry
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ronald G. Stein
FindAGrave - 1Lt Harry Chapman Franklin (photos, obituary, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - PFC Americo G Picucci (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Robert C Stone (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1st Lt. Robert C. Stone (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Carroll G Henry (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Ronald C Stein (tablets of the missing photo)
Black Sunday (2000) mentions this loss
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 222 (map), 240-243 (April 16, 1944 bail out), 480 (casualty list), 507 (42-110000), 621 (index Stone)

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Last Updated
June 3, 2020

 

Tech Information
B-24

Map
Map
April 16, 1944

MIA
MIA
2 Missing
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