|Pilot Major Raymond H. Wilkins, O-429531 C.O. 8th BS (MIA / KIA) VA
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Howard R. Bunce, O-800683 (MIA / KIA) CT
Crew S/Sgt George H. Chamberlain, 32382962 (MIA / KIA) NY
Crew T/Sgt Miles L. Rowe, 19010433 (MIA / KIA) ID
Crashed November 2, 1943
Built by North American. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 3rd Bombardment Group, 8th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Fifi" after pilot Wilkin's Australian fiancée.
On November 2, 1943 took off from Dobodura on a low level strike against shipping in Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. Over the target, this B-25 first bombed a destroyer and reportedly scoring a direct hit on it. Then, bombing and strafing a Japanese merchant vessel. Wikins flew in the path of a Japanese cruiser and made a strafing run on it, to distracted its fire. Hit by its intense anti-aircraft fire, the stabilizer was shot off, and left wing outer wing, causing it to crash upside down into Simpson Harbor, south of Lakunai Airfield and due west of Matupi Island.
The MACR adds eyewitness testimony of another 8th BS pilot:
"With no bombs left, Major Wilkins made a determined strafing run over the heavily armed vessel, trying to silence some of the guns, in order to protect his other planes. Immediately passing over the cruiser, his vertical stabilizer and rudder snapped off, followed by his left wing crumpling. The aircraft hit the water on its back and disintegrated.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on November 2, 1943. All are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. Wilkins has a memorial marker at Olive Branch Cemetery in Portsmouth, VA, section F. Bunce has a memorial marker at South Burying Ground in Kensington, CT.
Kathleen Wilkins (niece of Raymond Wilkins)
Missing Air Crew Report 1458 (MACR 1458)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-25D-1 Mitchell 41-30311
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Raymond H. Wilkins
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Howard R. Bunce
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - George H. Chamberlain
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Miles L. Rowe
FindAGrave - Raymond H. Wilkins (tablets of the missing, photo)
FindAGrave - Capt Raymond Harrell Wilkins (memorial marker)
FindAGrave - Howard R Bunce (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - SSgt George H Chamberlain (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - TSgt Miles L Rowe (tablets of the missing photo)
Warpath Across The Pacific page 88
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 14, 2020