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July 2, 1942
|Pilot 1st Lt. Ralph L. Schmidt,
O-403818 (MIA / KIA) Greenville, IL
Co-Pilot F/O Edward Tompson Mobsby, 407799 RAAF (MIA / KIA, BR) Toorak Gardens, SA
Bombardier T/Sgt. Robert L. Barlow, 6922345 (MIA / KIA) OH
Turret Gunner Cpl. Walter N. Cook, Jr., 6973551 (MIA / KIA) GA
Radio Cpl. Richard M. Wallace, 7002908 (MIA / KIA) TX
Crashed July 26, 1942
Built by North American in Inglewood. This aircraft was the 37th B-25C Mitchell built by the factory. On February 17, 1942 delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-12437.
Purchased by the Netherlands for the Militaire Luchtvaart (ML-KNIL) Army Aviation Corps of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army for use in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) as B-25C Mitchell serial number N5-127. After being test flown at Inglewood Airport, flown to the Chicago & Southern Airlines modification center in Memphis, TN for final outfitting and had the NEI national insignia and ML serial number were painted.
On February 26, 1942 flown to West Palm Beach. On March 5, 1942 at McClellan Airfield (Sacramento Air Depot). On March 9, 1942 scheduled to be flown to Australia but remained in California. On March 26, 1942 at Hamilton Field.
On April 12, 1942 took off from Hamilton Field piloted by a by a Royal Air Force (RAF) Ferry Command aircrew flying via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia but was delayed en route before arriving in Australia on May 6, 1942 and was requisitioned back to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF).
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 3rd Bombardment Group (3rd BG), 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS). No known nose art or nickname.
On July 25, 1942 during the afternoon took off from Charters Towers Airfield on a flight to 7 Mile Drome, to stage for a bombing mission the next morning.
On July 26, 1942 took off 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph L. Schmidt armed with twelve 100 pound bombs leading the formation of five B-25s on a strike mission against enemy seaplanes anchored off Gasmata. This B-25 was leading the formation of five B-25s from both the 13th Bombardment Squadron (13th BS) and 90th Bombardment Squadron (90th BS).
Meanwhile, nine A6M Zeros from Tainan Kōkūtai from the Sasai Chutai took off from Lae Airfield on a patrol mission over Buna. The first Chutai was led by Lt(jg) Jun'ichi Sasai with wingmen FPO1c Toshio Ota and FPO3c Masuaki Endo. The second chutai WO Tora'ichi Takatsuka with wingmen FPO3c Noboru Sato and F1c Yoshio Motoyoshi. The third chutai was led by FPO1c Saburo Sakai with wingmen FPO2c Masayoshi Yonekawa and FPO3c Yoshio Mogi.
At 8:15am, the Zeros spotted the B-25 formation and attacked. The B-25s believed they were under attack by approximately 10-15 enemy fighters and immediately jettisoned their bombs, aborted the mission and turn back for Port Moresby. This bomber was last seen going down on fire from nose to tail with F/O Mobsby attempting to escape from the top hatch. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was B-25C "Aurora" 41-12792 (two survived, four killed).
The other three B-25s were damaged and chased by Sasai, Ota and Sakai back to Port Moresby. Over 7 Mile Drome, Sakai strafed a P-40 Kittyhawk from 76 Squadron before the trio withdrew at 8:50am. Afterwards, all nine Zeros landed safely at Lae Airfield and claimed three enemy bombers shot down.
During early 1943, American Graves Registration (AGRS) located the wreckage of this aircraft and B-25C "Aurora" 41-12792. The American units field report (undated) is somewhat confusing, but it appears that Mobsby's remains were located about 1/4 mile north of Usogi. The report mentions five other cadavers located in the vicinity of Higitura.
Afterwards, they notified the 15th Australian Graves Registration and Engineering Unit of their find and the fact that they recovered the remains and identity disc of F/O Edward Thompson Mobsby, as well as three other sets of remains in aircraft wreckage over a distance of 800 yards. In the final section describes B-25C 41-12792 but doesn't clarify which remains it is associated with. The report appeared to have been prepared by SSgts Halpin and Seaton, who were to go from the site to Popondetta for extraction. Australian authorities contacted Fifth Bomber Command in late May 1943 to inquire about their classification of the American crew members of Mobsby's aircraft and received an emphatic response that they were still considered MIA.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on the day of the mission. The Amercian crew members Schmidt, Barlow, Cook and Wallace are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
After the recovery of remains from the crash site, Australian Mobsby was buried at Soputa Cemetery on May 7, 1943. On November 11, 1946 he was permanently buried at Bomana War Cemetery at grave A.7.B.26.
Likely, the four American crew members were recovered by the U. S. Army during 1943 when this area was under Allied control. Today, all four remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Schmidt earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Barlow earned the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Cook earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery in Barrow County, GA.
Wallace earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously.
William W. McCollum (nephew of Walter N. Cook):
"I am the nephew of the gunner cpl Walter N. Cook who remains MIA. In a newspaper article about a May 15 mission in which my uncle's gun jammed and it was discovered after landing that a Japanese bullet had gone down the barrel of his 50 caliber and fused with a bullet."
Individual Aircraft Record Card (IARC) - B-25C Mitchell Serial Number 41-12470
Missing Air Crew Report 00752 (MACR 00752)
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai July 26, 1942 [Action Report, Tainain Air Group]
National Archives of Australia Mobsby Casualty File, 57 pages, using the search term "Morbsby" [sic] The file was indexed under the incorrect spelling of his surname, but has since been corrected (NAA: A705, 163/45/182).
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua New Guinea page 8
"#294 | 08.15-147.54 | Buna Area | USAC Mitchell B-25C 41-12470 | Wreckage recovered approximately 40 miles N.W. of [Buna area]"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-12470
"Early NAA B-25C Mitchells of the ML/KNIL, February 1942-June 1942" by Dr. P.C. Boer 2009, rev 2014 page 1-3, 26
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25C Mitchell 41-12470
"12470 to Netherlands East Indies AF as N5-127 Feb 17, 1942 but ferried to Australia and retained by USAAF (3rd BG, 90th BS) shot down 40 mi NW of Buna, New Guinea Jul 26, 1942. All 5 crew KIA."
B-25 Mitchell in Dutch Service
"In late June , another five (N5-122, N5-124, N5-125, N5-126, and N5-127) were delivered, apparently replacing the first five B-25Cs which had "disappeared" into USAAF service during the interim."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph L. L. Schmidt
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Barlow
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Walter N. Cook Jr.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard M. Wallace
CWGC - Edward Tompson Mobsby
FindAGrave - 1Lt Ralph L L Schmidt (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Robert L Barlow (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Walter N Cook, Jr (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Walter N. Cook, Jr (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Corp Richard M Wallace (tablets of the missing photo)
Eagles of the Southern Sky pages 213-214
Thanks William McCollum, Edward Rogers, Larry Hickey and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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