13th AF c1944
Shane Elliott 2008
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert A. Robbins, O-679120 (MIA / KIA, BR) MI
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Lawrence R. Purvis, Jr., O-684772 (MIA / KIA, BR) MA
Navigator 2nd Lt. John A. Grant, O-685594 (MIA / KIA, BR) SC
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Lionel A. Wolpin, O-679270 (MIA / KIA, BR) IL
Engineer SSgt Lynn C. Warner, 32491528 (MIA / KIA, BR) NY
Asst Engineer SSgt Jacob B. Clemmer, 14134750 (MIA / KIA, BR) Blount County, TN
Radio SSgt James M. McNutt, 39844564 (MIA / KIA, BR) CA
Radar SSgt Dominick A. Moccia, 32466190 (MIA / KIA, BR) NJ
Gunner Sgt George D. Charette, 31163876 (MIA / KIA, BR) MA
Gunner SSgt Samuel Morrell, 13031083 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Weather Observer Major Samuel Conway, O-090035 (MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed April 1, 1944 at 1:55am
Built by Consolidated at Fort Worth, Texas. Constructors Number FW-54. On May 21, 1943 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24D-5-CF Liberator 42-63805. Modified into a a radar equipped SB-24 Liberator at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Afterwards, flown to Langley Field in Virgina for further conversion then flown overseas via Hickam Field to the South Pacific.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 868th Bombardment Squadron "Snooper Squadron", directly under the command of 13th Bomber Command. Nicknamed "Sergeant Stripes... Forever!" (with quotes) with the nose art of a woman yawning wearing a white dress and high heels.
When lost, engines R-1830-43 serial numbers: 1) CP-303540 2) CP-303731 3) CP-803839 4) CP-303809. Aboard were .50 caliber machine guns serial number 233602, 452479, 457912, 228864, 496043, 474819, 24075, 232064 and 474556.
On March 31, 1944 took off from Munda Airfield (APO 717) on New Georgia piloted by 2nd Lt. Robert A. Robbinsflying via Bougainville (APO 706) to refuel then took off again on a bombing mission against Truk. The weather and visibility were reported as excellent. Returning from the mission on April 1, 1944 at 12:55am, then an explosion was observed from Munda Airfield to the southeast at a heading of 160° roughly two miles inland about two-thirds up a ridge on Rendova. The cause of the crash was undetermined. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
This bomber crashed into Rendova Island killing everyone aboard on impact. Afterwards, a search by twenty men from the U. S. Army 369th Infantry, departed for the site at 1:00pm and Company S of initiated a search at 10:00pm. On April 2, 1944 at 11:00am the crash site was located by the patrol.
The crash site was rediscovered and visited in the early 2000s by Ronnie Day and again during 2008 by Shane Elliott.
Shane Elliott adds:
"According to locals I talked to in 2008, another mysterious American had visited the crash site several years before, upon my return to the United States I found this American to former Professor Ronnie Day, whom I reckon would have been the first American to visit the wreck since WWII and myself being some years after in 2008."
Recovery of Remains
The remains of the eleven crew were buried at the crash site and marked by American Graves Registration Service (AGRS). Postwar, their remains were transported to the Philippines and United States for permanent burial.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. All crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.
Four of the crew are buried at Manila American Cemetery. Grant at Plot D Row 16 Grave 94.
Clemmer at Plot L Row 4 Grave 114. Charette at Plot L Row 6 Grave 104. Moccia at Plot D Row 13 Grave 93.
Robbins has a memorial marker at Edwardsburg Cemetery in Edwardsburg, MI.
Purvis is buried at Grove Hill Cemetery in Darlington, SC.
Wolpin was buried July 28, 1948 at Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge, IL.
Warner is buried at Middleburgh Cemetery in Middleburgh, NY.
McNutt is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery at Section C Site 6.
Morrell is buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery at Section 2, Site 680.
Conway has an unknown burial, likely in his hometown in the United States.
Robert J. Robbins (son of pilot Robbins)
"My father, Robert A. Robbins, was the pilot of the plane."
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24D-5-CF Liberator 42-63805
"63805 (868 BS) lost Apr 1, 1944, Rendova. MACR 4102."
Missing Air Crew Report 4102 (MACR 4102) created April 6, 1944
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - John A. Grant
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Jacob B. Clemmer
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George D. Charette
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Dominick A. Moccia
FindAGrave - 2LT Robert A. Robbins (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Lawrence Ruy Purvis, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT John Anelons Grant (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Lieut Lionel A Wolpin (obituary, grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Lynn C. Warner (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Jacob B. Clemmer (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - James M McNutt (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt Dominick A Moccia (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt George Delphis Charette (grave)
FindAGrave - SSGT Samuel Morrell (photo, grave photo)
Thanks to Ronnie Day and Shane Elliott for additional information.
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June 4, 2019
April 1, 1944