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"War Weary" Jack Fellows
Beardsley Sept 12, 1944
Richard Leahy 2000
|Pilot 1st Lt. John L. Fabale, O-799548 (survived) New Britian, CT
Co-Pilot F/O. Harrison T. Beardsley, T-637737 (survived) Du Page County, IL
Engineer SSgt Robert G. Simmons, 33723545 (survived)
Radio Sgt Joe S. Lopez, 38121892 (survived)
Passenger Captain Leroy F. Puthoff, O-669107 (survived)
Passenger 1st Lt Robert F. Kuechler, O-1108791 (survived)
Passenger 2nd Lt Robert A. Prentice, O-765067 (surived)
Passenger 2nd Lt Robert E. Buchanan, O-76003 (survived)
Passenger S/Sgt William M. Collier, 32385394 (survived)
Passenger Sgt William Kelly, 35035859 (survived)
Force Landed September 11, 1944
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-25D-5-NA Mitchell serial number 41-30099. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
On April 5, 1943 Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) "Air Apaches", 501st Bombardment Squadron (501st BS). Converted to a B-25D-1 strafer by the 4th Air Depot at Garbutt Field in Townsville. Nicknamed "The Wolf Pack". In total, this B-25 flew over 100 combat missions in New Guinea before it was lost. Regular pilots included Marston, McKenney and Milton N. Harper who completed his tour of duty flying this aircraft. Assigned to crew chief was Mike H. Juroshek. When lost, engines: left 42-77543 and right 42-77628. Weapon serial number not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 13263 (MACR 13263).
On September 11, 1944 took off from Mokmer Airfield on Biak piloted by 1st Lt. John Fabale with B-25 #014 on an administrative flight transporting a load of laundry bound for Nadzab No. 4 Airfield (Newton Field). Aboard were six passengers from the 501st Bombardment Squadron (501st BS). The weather had a cumulus cloud base at 2,500' to 10,000' with visibility of roughly 30 miles.
During the flight, the pair of B-25 flew at 8,500' until pilot Fabale broke formation in clouds and suffered an engine failure and was last seen over the upper Keram portion of the Sepik River. When this aircraft failed to arrive, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). In fact, Fable made a wheels up force landing into a kunai grass swamp approximately fifty miles from Annenberg at roughly Lat 4° 40' S Long 144° 21' E.
Fates of the Crew
Aboard, everyone survived the landing unhurt and spent the night with the bomber. The next morning, the crew removed as much survival gear and equipment from the B-25 and with the help of native people who found them began trekking to Annenberg.
Before departing, co-pilot Beardsley used his Brownie camera and took a photograph of the downed B-25, the crew and natives preparing for the trek. With the help of native people, the crew walked to Annenberg where they were flown to Madang and later returned to base on September 18, 1944. The crew were missing for seven days before returning safely.
Sometime afterwards, the crash site was located and investigated by Japanese Army soldiers who located Fabale's diary and recovered other materials from the aircraft. Postwar, the diary was recovered from a Japanese Prisoner Of War (POW) and returned to Fabale.
During 1948, visited by a RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle. At the time, he mistakenly believed the crew were still Missing In Action (MIA) and entered the co-ordinates into the records of the New Guinea colonial government as a missing plane in error.
Today, this B-25 remains in situ in swamp it force landed. Over the years, instruments have been taken by visitors. The cockpit canopy frames and top turret are missing or removed.
John Fabale, Jr. (son of John Fabale) adds:
"After the war, we got a package from the U. S. government with Dad's diary in it. Apparently, it had been captured from a Japanese prisoner at the end of the war at Wewak, and he has used some of the paper inside it. Since it had my Dad's name on it, they were able to return it to us."
Linda McMasters (daughter of John Fabale)
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John L. Fabale
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harrison T. Beardsley
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D-5 Mitchell 41-30099
"30099 (498th BG) lost Sep 11, 1944, New Guinea. MACR 13263"
Missing Air Crew Report 13263 (MACR 13263) created April 10, 1945 retroactively
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D Mitchell 41-30099
Warpath Across The Pacific (1996) pages 38, 62 119, 121, 164, 167, 186-187, 397
War In Pacific Skies (2003) page 88 "War Weary" by Jack Fellows
Flightpath "Swamp Mitchell" by Michael Claringbould
Thanks to John Fabale, Jr. and Linda McMasters for additional information
Sept 11, 1944
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