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  B-25D-5 "Jelly Belly" Serial Number 41-30013 Nose 134
5th AF
345th BG
499th BS

Click For Enlargement
G. Short August 3, 1943
Pilot  Lt. Alden W. Thompson, Jr., O-727804 (survived) WV
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt George W. Cagle, Jr., O-734189 (survived) TX
Bombardier  2nd Lt. John R. Yarborough, O-732479 (WIA, MIA / KIA, BNR) SC
Navigator  SSgt Lawrence B. Davis, 34333036 (WIA, MIA / KIA, BNR) AL
Radio-Gunner  TSgt Walter A. Malone (survived) MT
Engineer-Gunner  SSgt George A. Mottern (survived)
Ditched  July 13, 1943
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5 Mitchell serial number 41-30013. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 345th Bombardment Group, 499th Bombardment Squadron. Assigned to pilot Alden Thompson with crew chief TSgt Aaron B. Croop. Nicknamed "Jelly Belly" with the nose art of a pair of dice showing a "4" and "3". The nickname was a reference to a character in Thompson's hometown. Nose number "134".

Mission History
On July 13, 1943 took off from Port Moresby piloted by Lt. Alden W. Thompson, Jr. leading a medium altitude bombing mission against Salamaua. Over the target at 10,000', a burst of anti-aircraft fire exploded directly under the nose of this bomber, damaging the plane and wounded bombardier Yarborough in the face. The controls were damaged and the pilot glided down parallel to the coastline and made a water landing, escorted by their two wingmen.

Ditched into the sea roughly 10 miles off Salus village south of Tambu Bay near Salamaua. On landing, this B-25 broke into two pieces at the rear fuselage. Yarborough was unable to escape as the bomber sank and went down with the aircraft. When lost, this bomber was the 345th Bombardment Group's first combat loss.

Fates of the Crew
The surviving crew inflated their Mae West life vests and exited the sinking plane. During the crash, Davis suffered two broken legs above the ankles and died six hours later attempting to swim ashore, and his body sank. Joining hands, the crew began to swim towards shore.

Above, the B-25 piloted by Cooper lingered in the area to protect them, and flew towards friendly lines and dropped a message to an Australian Army position about the downed crew and attempted to send a native canoe to the scene, but it got swamped in the heavy seas. When the crew was reported lost when the formation returned back at base, Col. True took off without fighter escort to drop a life raft to them, but was unable to locate them. The crew saw the circling B-25, but had no way to signal it.

After ten hours at sea, the crew managed to swim ashore around dark but found themselves roughly two miles behind Japanese lines. Between the four surviving crew, they had only a single .45 pistol. Together, they avoided the enemy and made their way towards Allied lines before finally reaching an Australian Army outpost and were returned to duty three days later.

Pilot Thompson's replacement aircraft was nicknamed "Jelly Belly 2nd" after the loss of this bomber. On September 9, 1943 three members of this crew: Thompson, Cagle and Malone were killed aboard B-25D "Jelly Belly 2nd" 41-30516.

Yarborough and Davis were both officially declared dead the day of the mission and remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.

NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George Cagle
AWM 015391
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25C Mitchell 41-30013
Warpath Across The Pacific page 30 (map), 33-34 (photos), 365, 386
Thanks to Phil Bradley and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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