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  B-24J-170-CO Liberator Serial Number 44-40603  
USAAF
13th AF
307th BG
372nd BS

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Scannon 1993

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Watkins 2009

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Mikita March 20, 2015
Pilot  Captain William G. Dixon, O-406718 (KIA, BR) Silver Springs, MD
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt Arthur D. Wilson, Jr., O-687504 (KIA, BR) PA
Navigator  1st Lt Paul K. Duncan, O-685560 (KIA, BR) Joliet, IL
Bombardier  Captain Max C. Tenton, O-662313 (KIA, BR) Columbia, SC
Observer  1st Lt John E. Sarles, O-432683 (KIA, BR) OH
Engineer  TSgt George M. Feeney, Jr., 34425385 (KIA, BR) Vicksburg, MS
Asst Engineer  SSgt Herbert L. Farnam, Jr., 16161806 (KIA, BR) Morton, IL
Radio  TSgt Donald W. Elliott, 17042750 (KIA, BR) Mason City, IA
Asst Radio  SSgt Robert J. Mansell, 15076710 (KIA, BR) East Palestine, OH
Gunner  SSgt Roger W. Holt, 11057788 (KIA, BR) Worcester County, MA
Gunner  SSgt Clifford Biggerstaff, 34386040 (KIA, BR) Spartanburg, SC
Crashed  August 28, 1944 at 11:52am
MACR  15302

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-170-CO Liberator serial number 44-40603. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 307th Bombardment Group, 372nd Bombardment Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. Also known as "603" the last three digits of the serial number.

Mission History
On August 28, 1944 took off from Wakde Airfield (APO 719) piloted by Captain William G. Dixon armed with 100 pound bombs leading a bombing mission (307-319) against Koror Town on Koror Island in Palau. Inbound to the target there was weather at 13,000' ten miles east of Peleliu Island. The formation made two circles to assemble then proceeded to the target area.

Over Koror Town while on the bomb run at 11:52am, this bomber was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the main fuel cell near the no. 3 engine causing it to burst into flames. Damaged, this B-24 went into a shallow dive for about 200' then leveled off and salvoed its bomb load then the right wing broke off in flames as the rest of the bomber fell downward on fire. One body was seen thrown clear when the wing broke off but the parachute did not open. The bombs from this B-24 landed off shore in Koror Harbor to the east of the power plant at Koror Town. No parachutes were observed and the wreckage crashed into Koror Town. The left wing landed upside down in shallow water offshore. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Wreckage
The wreckage of this B-24 landed in Koror Town. The seporated right wing landed upside down in shallow water in a tidal area and is exposed above the waterline at low tide. The wing has the attached no. 3 engine with propeller and the no. 4 engine is missing and likely broke off before the impact. To this day, the right wing and no. 3 engine remain in situ.

Patrick Scannon adds:
"I found this wing in 1993 which ignited my interest in MIAs in Palau."

Recovery of Remains
Postwar, American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) located the crash site and recovered the remains of the crew. The remains were transported to Manila American Cemetery and stored in the mausoleum then were transported to the United States for permanent burial.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. Each earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

On January 23, 1951 the remains of Biggerstaff, Duncan, Farnam, Holt, Sarles, Dixon, Elliott, Feeney, Mansell and Tenton and Williams were buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in a group burial at section I site 226-227.

Dixon also has a memorial marker at Mount Hope Cemetery in Florence, SC at section F.

Wilson also has a memorial marker at Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA.

Relatives
Ted Mikita (cousin of Herbert Lee Farnam, Jr.)
"I am the cousin of Herbert Lee Farnam, Jr., the waist gunner of this wreck. On 3/20/2015 I took a great photo of the right wing of this wreck at low tide. I I have even better ones taken with a drone during my 2017 visit.  This is the same prop that was sticking out of the water that Dr. Scannon found in 1993 and began this great man’s quest.  Your website was 'my bent propeller' and brought me to the realization that my cousin was a hero who died on foreign shores in combat."

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Arthur D. Wilson
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Paul K. Duncan
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Max C. Tenton
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John E. Sarles
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George M. Feeney, Jr.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Herbert L. Farnam
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Robert J. Mansell
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Roger W. Holt
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records -Clifford Biggerstaff
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-170-CO Liberator 44-40603
"40603 (307th BG, 372nd BS) lost at Palau, date unknown. All 11 on board killed."
372nd Bombardment Squadron - Standard Mission Report No. 63 (Group Mission 307-319) 28 August 1944
Missing Air Crew Report 15302 (MACR 15302) created postwar circa 1945-1946
FindAGrave - CPT William Gordon Dixon (group burial photo)
FIndAGrave - Capt William Gordon Dixon (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Arthur Dorrance Wilson, Jr (group burial photo)
FIndAGrave - Lieut Arthur Dorrance Wilson, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT Paul Kenneth Duncan (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Max C Tenton (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - 1LT John E Sarles (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT George M Feeney (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Herbert L Farnam, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - TSGT Donald Weston Elliott (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Robert J Mansell, Jr (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Roger W Holt (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - SSGT Clifford Biggerstaff (group burial photo)
Last Flight Home (2007) includes the story of this bomber
Thanks to Ted Mikita and Patrick Scannon for additional information

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Last Updated
August 10, 2019

 

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