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USAAF circa 1945
|Pilot 2nd Lt Thomas C. Cartwright, O-831661 (POW, survived) York, SC
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Durden W. Looper, O-2067143 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Huntington, AR
Navigator 2nd Lt Roy M. Pedersen, O-2071822 (KIA, BR) Avees, IA
Bombardier 2nd Lt James M. Ryan, O-785427 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Binghamton, NY
Radio Sgt. Hugh Atkinson, 39214204 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Seattle, WA
Tail Gunner SSgt William E. Abel, 36440823 (POW, survived) Denver, CO
Engineer Sgt Buford J. Ellison, 38368550 (POW, died August 6, 1945) Abilena, TX
Nose Turret Cpl John A. Long, Jr., 33707730 (POW, died August 6, 1945) New Castle, PA
Ball Turret SSgt Ralph J. Neal, 15042164 (POW, died August 6, 1945) KY
Crashed July 28, 1945 at 12:48 pm
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 4616. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24J-175-CO Liberator serial number 44-40680. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to the Central Pacific.
Assigned to the 7th Air Force (7th AF), 494th Bombardment Group (494th BG), 866th Bombardment Squadron (866th BS). Nicknamed "Lonesome Lady" with the nose art of a nude blonde female looking over her shoulder seated on a raft with her bra attached to a pole as a sail. Also known as 680 (last three digits of the serial number). The tail had two vertical stripes with "680" painted in large black digits below the serial number. On the right side of the nose was "Fritz's Roose" in a cursive font below the co-pilot window and "Mary" in block letters below the engineer window. The nose wheel had four tear drops. When lost, engines R1830-65 serial numbers 42-43475, 42-37012, 45-2808 and 45-3021. Armed with .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report 14758 (MACR 14758).
On July 28, 1945 took off from Yontan Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt Thomas C. Cartwright on bombing mission number 139 against Kure. The weather was hazy with lower cumulus clouds. This B-24 flew in the no. 2 position in the formation, behind B-24 #980 at an altitude of 10,000'. Over the target, the formation bombed bombing mission against Battleship Haruna anchored in Kure Harbor.
A few moments after dropping their bombs at 12:48pm, hit by anti-aircraft shell near the pitot tube and appeared to pass through the nose between the pilot and navigator's position and exit from the upper life raft compartment. All the crew were able to bail out successfully except for Pedersen who was not seen to exit the bomber before it crashed. Also lost was B-24J "Taloa" 44-40716 (KIA / POW).
Cartwright recalls in "Date with the Lonesome Lady"
"In quick succession my plane was hit but we could still fly. I did not realize how badly we were damaged and planned to head for the open sea where there was hope that our Naval seaplanes would spot us and pick us up if we ditched and survived. We started losing altitude and the controls were becoming less responsive and I could not head out to sea---the plane flew back toward land on it own."
Although not burning, the B-24 went into a vertical dive and was last seen entering an overcast at roughly 34 degrees 3' N, 132 degrees 9' E. This bomber crashed into a field, near Ikachi village near Hiroshima.
Fates of the Crew
Eight of the crew were captured and became Prisoners Of War (POWs) of the Japanese: Cartwright, Looper, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison, Long and Neal and Able. For unknown reasons, five were not listed as officially reported as Prisoners Of War (POWs): Looper, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison and Long.
Seven of the crew: Looper, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison and Long were transported to Hiroshima and detained at the Chugoku Kempei-Tai Headquarters (Chugoku Military Police Headquarters). On August 6, 1945 this location was near the near the epicenter of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and all were killed in the explosion.
Able were detained initially detained in Kure and later to transported to Tokyo when the Pacific War ended at released from Tokyo POW Camp, Shinjuku, Tokyo Bay Area, 35-140.
Neal was detained at Japanese POW Camp Mukai Shima, Central Honshu, 34-133. He survived captivity until the end o the Pacific War and was liberated.
Cartwright recalls in "Date with the Lonesome Lady"
"All of the crew were able to bail out and were scattered for miles along an area south of Kure Harbor in a mostly wooded, sparsely populated area. We were all captured and after some harassment taken to a city [Hiroshima] We were always blindfolded when out of a prison cell. I saw all of our crew there except Pete [Pedersen] and Bill Abel, the tail gunner."
Abel was captured and taken to Kure where he was interned and survived the war. He was liberated at the end of the Pacific War from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) on September 15, 1945.
On August 1, 1945 Carwright was taken to Tokyo and interrogated and questioned intensely then placed in solitary confinement until the surrender of Japan. When the Pacific War ended, he was marched to Omori POW Camp and was liberated on August 28, 1945 and departed via Tokyo POW Camp Branch #2 (Kawasaki). In 1983, Carwright returned to Japan on a business trip and visited Hiroshima. In 1985 he got a letter from Keiichi Muranaka, who had lived close to where B-24J "Lonesome Lady" crashed and presented him with a small aluminum piece of wreckage from the crash site. In 1999, he attended the dedication of a memorial for the nine Prisoners Of War (POWs) killed on August 6, 1945 by the atomic bomb.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of Atkinson, Looper, Neal, Ellison, Pedersen and Ryan were recovered and transported to the United States for permanent burial.
Pedersen died on July 28, 1945. He is buried at Atlantic Cemetery in Atlantic, IA.
Four of the crew: Looper, Ryan, Atkinson and Ellison died on August 6, 1945. On November 3, 1949 all four were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 82 site 156.
Neal also has a memorial marker at Mill Springs National Cemetery at section G site 81.
Looper also has a memorial marker at Gilliam Cemetery in Witcherville, AR.
Long also has a memorial marker at Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery in Slippery Rock Township, PA.
Long, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison, Neal and Looper are memorialized at the Andersonville National Historic Site / National Prisoner of War Museum.
In 1999, a Memorial for U.S. POWs at site of Chugoku Kempei-Tai HQ in Hiroshima was established due to the efforts and personal funds of Hiroshima resident, and A-bomb survivor, Mr. Shigeaki Mori. The words on the memorial were written by Thomas Cartwright former pilot of B-24J "Lonesome Lady" 44-40680: "The Atomic bomb devastated the city and its people with a force beyond any known before. US Air Force and US Navy airmen interned as POWs at the Chugoku Military Police Headquarters, which was located at this site, near the epicenter, were among the victims of this holocaust. This plaque is placed in the memory of these brave and honorable men. May this humble memorial be a perpetual reminder of the savagery of war."
Abel renained in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War and retired with the rank of Master Sergeant. He passed away September 6, 2006 at age 86. Abel is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Longmont, CO at Block 34 SW1/2 Lot 37.
Cartwright passed away January 11, 2015 at age 90 in San Juan County, UT. Afterwards, he was cremated and his ashes scattered.
Walter Looper Jr. (brother of Looper)
Gary Griffin (relative of Looper)
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24J-175-CO Liberator 44-40680
"40680 (494th BG, 866th BS, *Lonesome Lady*) shot down Jul 28, 1945, Inland Sea of Japan. Crew POW. All except the pilot and the tail gunner killed by atomic bomb at Hiroshima."
Missing Air Crew Report 14758 (MACR 14758) created circa July 1, 1946
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File does not list Looper, Ryan, Atkinson, Ellison and Long
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Thomas C. Cartwright
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Ralph J. Neal
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - William E. Abel
FindAGrave - Durden William Looper (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Durden W. Looper (photo, news, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2LT Roy Marion Pedersen Jr. (grave photo)
FindAGrave - James M Ryan (group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Hugh H Atkinson (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Buford J Ellison (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John A Long, Jr (photos, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - John A Long, Jr (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - Ralph J Neal (burial photos)
FindAGrave - Dr Thomas Campbell "Tom" Cartwright (photos, grave photos)
Date with the Lonesome Lady by Thomas Cartwright
Genbaku Shi: Killed by the Atomic Bomb includes an interview with Cartwright
Griffin Genealogy / page removed as of 2007
An Open Letter to the People of Hiroshima by Thomas Cartwright
Stars & Stripes "Three U.S. POWs added to roster of Hiroshima Deaths" July 17, 2009
The Forgotten Tragic Loss of American Airmen at Hiroshima
Hiroshima Survivor Remembers Lost U.S. Airmen
An American face to the tragedy of Hiroshima
Tribute to Durden W. Looper
The Times "New Castle man was among Hiroshima victims" August 10, 2010
A Date with the Lonesome Lady: A Hiroshima POW Returns by Thomas Cartwright
Thanks to Chris Valgardson and Philip Fazzini for additional information
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MIA / POW
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