5th BG July 25, 1943
|Pilot Captain Charles K. Frampton, O-727204 (MIA / KIA) CA
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Wilder G. Purdy, O-793169 (MIA / KIA) Gardiner, ME
Navigator 1st Lt. John X. Farrar, Jr., O-792449 (MIA / KIA) Westerville, OH
Bombardier 1st Lt. Charles E. Konkle, 0-735879 (MIA / KIA) Amarilo, TX
Asst Bombardier 1st Lt. Walter A. Shephard, O-730824 (MIA / KIA) Johnson City, TN
Engineer TSgt Leonard W. Shofler, 37135172 (MIA / KIA) Joplin, MO
Asst Engineer Sgt Robert W. Betts, 10100404 (MIA / KIA) Youngstown, OH
Radio TSgt Grady M. Russell, 35256218 (MIA / KIA) Kevil, KY
Asst Radio Cpl Gilbert L. Landerud, 37274371 (MIA / KIA) Minn, MN
Gunner SSgt Earl T. Howard, 37088667 (MIA / KIA) Rowlins, WY
Gunner SSgt John T. Reardon, 11052388 (MIA / KIA) Boston, MA
MIA October 10, 1943 at 11:25am approximately
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-35-CO Liberator serial number 42-40210. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 5th Bombardment Group "Bomber Barons", 72th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "My Baby Bubb". Also known as simply "#210" for the last three digits of the serial number.
When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers 42-45640, 42-42759, 42-45433 and 42-45365. Weapon serial number not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 803 (MACR 803).
On October 10, 1943 took off from Carney Field (Bomber 2) on Guadalcanal piloted by Captain Charles K. Frampton as one of twenty-four B-24s on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield on southern Bougainville. The formation was escorted by more than fifty P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks and P-39 Airacobras. Also participating were fifty U. S. Navy (USN) fighters and dive bombers including eight F4U Corsairs from VMF-214 "The Black Sheep" but two aborted the mission due to mechanical difficulties.
Inbound the weather was 3/10 cloud cover and bad weather enroute. Over the target, the B-24 formation bombed Kahili Airfield and the surrounding areas,
hitting runways, a fuel dump, supply area, buildings, while the Navy dive bombers
attacked gun positions on Malabita Hill. The bombing was not accurate with about half the bombs falling into the sea "killing many small fish" off southern Bougainville.
After the bomb run, the formation was jumped by 10-15 Zeros and targeted by accurate anti-aircraft fire from guns emplaced around Kahili on southern Bougainville and from Ballale Island. During the interception, two B-24s were damaged. US planes claim 15 interceptors shot down, but Japanese records only show the loss of two Zeros from the 201 Kokutai.
This B-24 was attacked by a Zero from the 2 o'clock position between bomber no. 1 and no. 2 and the third element that hit and caused this bomber's no. 2 and no. 3 engines to burst into flames. Damaged, this B-24 continued to hold position for 30-40 seconds then went into a glide, pulled up momentarily and then went into a spin at 15,000' burning with gray-white smoke observed pouring from the waist windows.
Three of the crew were observed to bail out from the rear hatch, followed by two other crew bailing out later. As the five crew descended, they were observed to be strafed by Zeros.
The bomber was seen to crash into the sea between Fauro Island and Choiseul Island and did not immediately break up. Missing Air Crew Report 803 (MACR 803) estimated the position to be 15 miles northwest of Choiseul. This bomber was seen to crash by Lt. Col. Marion D. Unruh, Major Byron Sanson and 1st Lt. Michael A. Lord. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
1st Lt. Michael A. Lord statement via Missing Air Crew Report 803 (MACR 803) page 5:
"Airplane #210 [this bomber], piloted by Captain Charles K. Frampton was leading the second element of three planes and when fifteen miles off the NW tip of Choiseul at about 1130 a Zeke came in from 2 o'clock between planes #1 and #2 of the first element attacking plane #210 and peeling off between planes #1 and #2 of the third element. Engines #2 and #3 of airplane #210 were seen to burst into flames and plane held position for 30 to 40 seconds, then went off in a long glide, pulled up momentarily then went into a spin at 15,000 ft., and was seen to crash into water, but did not immediately break up. Airplane #210 was burning fiercely when it went into spin and heavy greyish-white smoke was seen pouring from waist windows. Three of the crew were seen to bail out of back hatch when plane first went into glide and two other crew members bailed out later, all parachutes opening and the chutes being strafed by the enemy."
That afternoon, a single PBY Catalina was sent to search for this crew, escorted by sixteen F4U Corsairs, eight P-40 Kittyhawks from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and eleven P-38 Lightnings from Munda Airfield at 2:45pm to search for survivors. They searched as far north as Kieta but failed to locate any of the crew.
The entire crew was declared dead on October 10, 1943. All are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Frampton earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Purdy earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Oak Grove Cemetery in Gardiner, ME. He also has a memorial marker at Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery at section GR, site 1. He is also memorialized at the war memorial in Gardiner, ME and the war memorial in Farmingdale, ME. On Purdy also has a memorial marker installed on July 23, 2014 at the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery at section GR (garden of remembrance), site 1. A memorial service ceremony was observed on August 9, 2014 attended by his family members including niece Barbara Purdy Gipson. In the Spring 2019, Purdy will also be commemorated on the The American Legion Department of Maine POW/MIA Memorial in Winslow, Maine.
Farrar earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is also memorialized on his parents grave at Kirkwood Cemetery in London, OH.
Konkle earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has has a memorial marker at Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, TX at section H, lot 101N.
Shephard earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Shofler earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Betts earned the the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Russell earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Landerud earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Howard earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Reardon earned the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Charles E. Russell (nephew of Charles E. Konkle)
"My uncle, Lt. Charles Konkle was a Bombardier in B-24's with the 13th AAF, 5th Bomb Group, 72nd Bomb Squadron. His plane, a B-24D named 'My Baby Bubb' was shot down by Japanese Zero fighters near Bougainville Island on October 10, 1943. The plane and crew were never found. I have a very high level of interest in this aspect of WWII and will appreciate any information that can be provided about the 13th AAF during this period of the war. I was born on 11/06/1943, less than a month after my uncle's loss and I am named in his honor. Obviously, I never actually knew him, but I have always known him and he has been an important part of my life. Thank you again for your interest in my uncle and for all you do at Pacific Wrecks."
Barbara Purdy Gipson (niece of Wilder Purdy)
"On behalf of Wilder's family, I extend extreme gratitude."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-35-CO Liberator 42-40210
"40210 40210 (5th BG, 72nd BS) shot down by fighter NW of Choisuel [sic Choiseul], Solomons Oct 10, 1943. MACR 803."
Missing Air Crew Report 803 (MACR 803)
Warren Tribune "Obituary Sgt Robert William Betts" February 22, 1946
"Sgt Robert William Betts--24: A 1939 graduate from Mineral Ridge High School was officially declared dead in a notice received by his parents, Mr. & Mrs. William Betts Youngstown, from the US Government. His plane was one of a squadron which set out from the Solomons on a mission against Japanese bases 10 Oct 1943. At the southern tip of Bougainville, enemy planes appeared. After a sharp fight, Sgt Betts' plane began going down. Five parachutes opened, but Jap fighter planes machine-gunned them. No survivors were found after an extensive search. He worked for Dean & Best garage at Niles until he went to Patterson Field near Dayton as an airplane mechanic. Also surviving are two sisters: Frances Ruth Tomp-kins-Mineral Ridge & Jayne Reed-Youngstown & a brother: Machinists Mate Richard Betts-in the South Pacific."
The Black Sheep page 248-250
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles K. Frampton
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Wilder G. Purdy
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John X. Farrar Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Charles E. Konkle
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter A. Shephard
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Leonard W. Shofler
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert W. Betts
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Grady M. Russell
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gilbert L. Landerud
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Earl T. Howard
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John T. Reardon
FindAGrave - Capt Charles K Frampton (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Wilder G Purdy (photo, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 1LT Wilder G Purdy (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Wilder G. Purdy (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - 1Lt John Xerxes Farrar, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT John Xerxes Farrar, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Charles Edward Konkle (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Charles Edward Konkle (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1Lt Walter Alfred Shephard, Jr (tablets of the missing photos)
FindAGrave - TSgt Leonard W Shofler (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert William Betts (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Sgt Robert William Betts (obituary, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - TSgt Grady M Russell (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Gilbert L Landerud (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt Earl T Howard (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - SSgt John T Reardon (tablets of the missing)
Scootin' Thunder page 122
Diary of Lt. Robert Houser October 10, 1943: "The Zeros flew by, missing our ship, and raked Captain Frampton's cockpit. His plane My Baby Bubb, slid out of formation then reared into a violent stall and fell away into a spin. I saw three guys bail out. Two of them opened their chutes immediately and were strafed by Zeros and probably killed. One delayed the jump and popped his chute out of the top hatch. It had barely blossomed when the ship crashed into the sea between Bougainville and Choiseul, its nose glowing red hot from the fire within."
Bomber Baron News July 2017 "How and Where to Begin!!" by Barbara Purdy Gipson page 10-11
Thanks to Charles E. Russell, Barbara Purdy Gipson and 5th Bomb Group Association: Rich O'Brien and Joanne Emerick for additional information
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February 14, 2020
Oct 10, 1943