|Pilot 1st Lt. Richard M. Meredith, O-728902 (KIA, BR)
De Moines, IA
Pilot 2nd Lt. Thomas A. Stephens, O-683542 (KIA, BR) Indianapolis, IN
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Edward F. Ryan, O-672445 (KIA, BR)
New York, NY
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Royal D. Butterfield, O-728565 (POW, died June 24, 1944)
Navigator 2nd Lt. Joseph C. Rich, O-739054 (POW, died September 13, 1944) Portland, ME
Engineer SSgt Thomas C. Smeal, 33253233 (KIA, BR)
Radio SSgt Ewell C. Temples, 34444337 (KIA, BR)
Asst Engineer Sgt Joseph C. McClung, 38288140 (POW, survived)
Asst Radio SSgt Fred W. Hart, 32437482 (KIA, BR)
Highland Park, NJ
Gunner Sgt Charles E. Pero, 12168305 (MIA / KIA) Johnson City, NY
Gunner Sgt John F. Cook, 12168305 (MIA / KIA) Butte, MT
Crashed November 27, 1943
Built by Consolidated. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-25-CO Liberator serial number 42-73245.
Assigned to the 10th Air Force, 308th Bombardment Group, 373rd Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Maxwell House III", after B-24D "Maxwell House II" 42-63770. The nose art depicted two birds releasing a cup and a bomb. Below the nose turret was a shark mouth marking with the phrase "I HEAR..."
During November 1943, this crew and aircraft were detached to the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group, 9th Bombardment Squadron
for service operating from Pandaveswar Airfield in India. This bomber flew at least sixteen bombing missions and claimed at least four fighter aircraft before it was lost. When lost, engine and weapon serial numbers were not noted in Missing Air Crew Report 15125 (MACR 15125).
On November 27, 1943 took off form Pandaveswar Airfield in India on a bombing mission Insein north of Rangoon in Burma. Over the target, last seen with one engine on fire. At least eight of the crew successfully bailed out of the damaged bomber. The rest presumably went down with the aircraft which crashed approximately 150 miles northwest of Rangoon. Also lost was B-24J Liberator 42-73312.
Fates of the Crew
Before reaching the ground, five of the crew: Cook, Temples, Stephens, Meredith and Hart were reportedly strafed in their parachutes and were killed or died hitting the ground, according to surviving crew member McClung.
Butterfield and Rich were captured by the Japanese was transported to Rangoon Prison. Butterfield died from beri-beri in captivity on June 24, 1944. Rich died from dysentery in captivity on September 13, 1944.
McClung survived Japanese captivity and was liberated on May 1, 1945 by the British Army when they liberated Rangoon.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of Rich were recovered from Rangoon prison. On May 17, 1946, the remains of Rich were being transported aboard C-47 Dakota 43-48308 on a flight from Rangoon bound for Calcutta but crashed en route.
Also postwar from the crash site, the remains of the other members were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Butterfield and Rich remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Both are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Butterfield was officially declared dead on June 24, 1944. Rich was officially declared dead on September 13, 1944.
The rest of the crew that died in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission.
Meredith is buried at Masonic Cemetery, Des Moines IA at block D.
Stephens was buried on July 15, 1949 at Arlington National Cemetery at section 34, site: 1331.
Ryan is buried at at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section P grave 471.
Rich also has a memorial marker at Brooklawn Memorial Park in Portland, ME.
Smeal is buried at Crown Crest Memorial Park in Hyde, PA.
Temples is buried at Old Canoochee Cemetery in Twin City, PA.
Hart is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) at section Q, grave 221.
Pero is buried at Chenango Valley Cemetery in Binghamton, NY.
Sole survivor McClung passed away December 19, 1989. He is buried at Burney Cemetery in Burney, CA.
Lisa Phillips (niece of 2nd Lt. Joseph C. Rich)
"I am looking for information on my uncle 2nd Lt. Joseph C. Rich. His remains
were placed aboard C-47 43-48308 that went missing carrying 38 remains on board
from that prison."
Some references incorrectly state this aircraft was "Maxwell House II".
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-25-CO Liberator 42-73245
Missing Air Crew Report 15125 (MACR 15125) was created retroactively
World War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph C. Mc Clung
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Joseph C. Mc Clung
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Royal D. Butterfield
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph C. Rich
FindAGrave - 1LT Richard W Meredith (grave photo)
2LT Thomas A Stephens (grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Edward F Ryan (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Royal D Butterfield (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Joseph C Rich (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2LT Joseph C. Rich (photo, memorial marker)
FindAGrave - SSGT Thomas C. Smeal (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Ewell Coleman Temples (grave)
FindAGrave - Joseph Conway McClung (grave)
FindAGrave - SSGT Fred W Hart (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Charles E. Pero (grave photo)
FindAGrave - SGT John F Cook (grave photo)
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February 14, 2020
POW / MIA