5th BG, 23rd BS c1944
|Pilot 1st Lt. Martin Roth, O-759305 (MIA / KIA) Hinsdale, IL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Harry N. Elgee, O-764203 (MIA / KIA, BR) Arlington, MA
Navigator 2nd Lt. Albert Klein, O-707392 (MIA / KIA) Brooklyn, NY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. John M. Wylder, O-762980 (survived) Chicago, IL
Engineer TSgt Donald J. Kabisch, 15080513 (MIA / KIA) Fort Wayne, IN
Asst. Engineer SSgt Bradford R. Galbraith, 32838486 (MIA / KIA, BR) Pulaski, NY
Radio TSgt Dominic R. Perri, 38723501 (survived) Chicago, IL
Asst. Radio SSgt Harold A. Douglas, 39294761 (survived) Louisville, KY
Gunner SSgt Dennis C. Jones, 39207755 (survived) Kent, WA
Gunner SSgt Nicholas Mascetta, 13011785 (survived) Monessen, PA
MIA November 1, 1944
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. At the factory completed with an aluminum finish. Constructors Number 4898.
Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-190-CO Liberator serial number 44-40962. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacifthe South West Pacific Area (SPWA).
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group, 23rd Bombardment Squadron. Also known as "137" for the last three digits of the serial number. On the left side of the nose nicknamed "Lil Jo Toddy" in a bubble font outlined in a dark color with the nose art of a female with black hair wearing a nightgown seated with her right leg extended wearing high heels and arms around her left left. Below the female was the phrase "All Ass & No Body".
Also on the left side of the nose was a scoreboard with three rows of bomb markings indicating missions flown (row 1: ten bombs, row 2: twenty bomb marks, row 3: twenty bomb marks). Also four Japanese rising sun flags indicating enemy aircraft claimed by gunners. Above the scoreboard was the 5th Bombardment Group motif of a skull wearing flight gear inside a circle.
This B-24 flew at least fifty combat missions before it lost. When lost, engines R-1830-65A serial numbers BP-446254, BP-445343, R-1830-65 BP-423999 and BP-445307. Aboard were twelve .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 10016 (MACR 10016).
On November 1, 1944 took off at 3:54am from Pitu Airfield (APO 719) on Morotai Island piloted 1st Lt. Martin Roth armed with forty 100 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Alicante Airfield on Negros Island in the Philippines. This bomber was one of seven B-24s from the 23rd Bombardment Squadron plus other B-24s from the 394th Bombardment Squadron, 72nd Bombardment Squadron and 31st Bombardment Squadron.
The weather was overcast at 10,000' to 12,000' with cumulus clouds 18,000' to 20,000' and unlimited visibility. This bomber was part of the second element flying in the no. 5 position.
Over the target area, between 9:10am to 9:45am the bomber formation was intercepted by fourteen Zero and one Tony that made a total of twenty-nine firing passes on the formation with coordinated attacks from different directions. Three attacking fighters were claimed as shot down by the bomber's gunners.
After the bomb run, this B-24 was intercepted by enemy fighters and hit in the no. 1 engine. The crew began bailing out and afterwards the bomber exploded over the Guimaras Strait at roughly Lat 10° 25' N Long 11° 0' Long.
As the crew bailed out, their parachutes were strafed by enemy aircraft. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-24J 44-41174 (MIA) and B-24J 44-41382 (MIA).
Statement of 2nd Lt. Eugene J. Ulrich via Missing Air Crew Report 10016 (MACR 10016) page 4:
"On the mission of 1 November 1944 to
Alicante Airdrome, Negros Island, Philippines Islands, I was the bombardier on the lead airplane #962 piloted by Lt. Van Galder. During the breakaway immediately after the bombing run, I observed airplane #137 piloted by Lt. Roth to be hit and burning in the #1 engine. Shortly afterwards, I observed three (3) parachutes open, and than the airplane exploded and crashed into the sea."
Statement of 1st Lt. Cloyce D. Foote via Missing Air Crew Report 10016 (MACR 10016) page 5:
"I was the navigator in airplane #536, piloted by Lt. Campbell, on the mission to Alicante Airdrome, Negros Island, Philippine Islands, 1 November 1944. We were flying the left wing position in the second element (#6) and Lt. Roth flying airplane #137, was in the right wing position (#5). After the breakaway, I observed Lt. Roth fall behind the formation with the #3 engine feathered. Six (6) parachutes opened and then the airplane crashed in flames into the water. The position was 10 deg 50 min N - 122 deg 50 E."
Statement of SSgt Clifford R. Nelson via Missing Air Crew Report 10016 (MACR 10016) page 6:
"I was the tail gunner on airplane #536, piloted by piloted by Lt. Campbell, on the mission to Alicante Airdrome, Negros Island, Philippine Islands, 1 November 1944. We were flying in the #6 position in the 23rd Bombardment Squadron formation, and Lt. Roth in airplane #137 was in the #5 position. About three (3) minutes before 'bombs away' we were attacked by fifteen to twenty enemy fighter planes. I observed the airplane to be hit and afire. Eight (8) parachutes opened and were strafed by enemy fighter planes. Airplane #137 then made a steep left bank and hit the water."
"Daylight 21" an air-sea rescue PBY Catalina was contacted to rescue the crew but was attacked by two Zeros, badly shot up and forced to turn back due to determined attacks. During the night, navigators who flew the bombing mission brief air-sea rescue about were to search the next day but no trace of the downed crews were found.
On November 5, 1944 B-24s from the 23rd Bombardment Squadron flew another mission in the vicinity and observed a crashed B-24 on the eastern side of the Guimaras Strait on the shoreline.
On November 6, 1944 Lt. Plaswirch who saw the crashed B-24 flew with an air-sea rescue PBY Catalina to the area but was unable to relocate the wreckage at low altitude of 100' they were flying to avoid detection by Japanese fighters and because the flying boat could not fly within a half mile of the coastline but observed native canoes and villagers in the vicinity. It was presumed that any survivors were rescued by Filipinos. Afterwards, no further searches were planned for the missing air crews.
On December 19, 1944 five surviving crew were rescued by submarine USS Hake SS-256.
Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, the remains of two of the crew: Elgee and Galbraith were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.
The three missing crew members were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All three are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Elgee was buried at Advent Cemetery in Limestone, ME.
Roth earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Klein earned the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Kabish earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Saint Johns Lutheran Cemetery in Fort Wayne, IN.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-190-CO Liberator 42-110137
"110137 (5th BG, 23rd BS) shot down on mission to Alicante Airdrome on Negros to support invasion of Leyte Nov 1, 1944. MACR 10016"
Missing Air Crew Report 10016 (MACR 10016) created November 7, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Martin Roth
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Albert Klein
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Donald J. Kabisch
1Lt Martin Roth (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Harry N Elgee (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Albert Klein (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Donald J Kabisch (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSGT Donald J. Kabisch (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Bradford Ralph Galbraith (grave photo)
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February 24, 2020