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1st Lt. Math L. English
Missing In Action (MIA) Pilot B-25G Mitchell 42-64835

Interview with Jeff English, the great-nephew of Math English

What is your relation to Math English?
Click For Enlargement "ML" was my great uncle on my Father's side of the family. He was one of two Great Uncles in my family that died on New Guinea during the war the other being Frank Raley who was in the Signal Corps and was killed by a sniper while stringing communications wire in late 1943. Frank was my Grandmothers youngest brother and died about 9 months before "ML". Frank had two other brothers who fought in the European theater and returned home. I am the President and CEO of a natural gas marketing and supply company which is a subsidiary of a major electric power utility on the east coast and I am located in Washington, DC. I am also a farmer and I grew up on a family farm in Georgia. I graduated from college in Georgia and have worked in the Natural Gas industry my whole professional career. Early in my career I worked for several natural gas firms in the southeast in sales and marketing and later as a industrial fuel consultant based in the Washington, DC area.

What did you learned about your uncle growing up?
When I was a child in the 1960's I was told at some point that I had two uncles that died during WWII and that they both died on New Guinea. That they had both been close friends and lived part time with my paternal Grand Parents helping with the family farm operation in rural Southeast Georgia. The brief details of their respective fates in the war were given to me then by my Dad who very clearly remembered both ML and Frank and considered them to be almost like older brothers.

For example, he remembers the family gatherings when both Frank and ML departed for the Army and he remembered when the family got notice on both Frank and ML. As a child it made quite an impact on him. (After my Dad graduated from college he followed ML's footsteps and joined the Air Force and began a career as a fighter pilot and ended up as an instructor pilot in F-100's. He is now a retired businessman, a farmer and a retired State Senator)

Click For EnlargementWhat I learned about ML and Frank growing up, they were both rural Georgia "farm boys" accustomed to a hard work ethic and a simple quiet life and they both got caught up in world history by joining the Army and they both quite literally ended up on the other side of the world in a very short period of time. Literally plowing a mule in the Georgia red clay and a year later they were fighting Japanese soldiers in the Pacific. My Dad remembers the day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and remembers that both ML and Frank were working together with my grandfather building a pond dam on our property on the Sunday that it was announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and remembers the discussion that occurred because of the event. Both of them were young, comical guys and they loved fun and games. They enjoyed fishing and hunting and their farming backgrounds gave them a working background with heavy equipment and mechanics. They both joined the surge of patriotic Americans that volunteered to join the services following the Japanese attack. In ML's case he ended up with other boys on his crew that were literally from across the country from CA, NY, PA and TX. They trained together in the US and then joined the 38th Bomb Group in Australia in 1943. Math English was married but I understand that his wife divorced him after he had arrived in Australia following his stateside training. He had no children.

How did you first become interested in his loss aboard MIA case?
My family had quite a high participation as patriots in the Revolutionary War, as Confederates in the Civil War and as patriots in WWII. I am an amateur military historian because of family research in all three areas. In WWII... One from my Grandfathers family and three from my Grandmothers family. I was told from the beginning that ML and his crew crash landed their plane and that their whole squadron saw them standing on the wing of their plane waving after the crash and that they disappeared and were never found.

Because ML and his crew were never found the family always wondered exactly what happened to him. They all assumed that he and his crew died. But, how? It was simply a case of young American boys lost to a fate unknown during war time. In the case of Frank Raley, the family knew immediately that he had been killed and exactly the circumstances of his death. After the war his body was returned home.

I decided a couple of years ago that when I had time I would thoroughly research ML's case and try to find the answers to the questions that have been asked for almost 60 years. Living in Washington, DC over the last couple of years has given me the exposure and the time to research the information held in the National Archives relating to ML and his crew and the 38th Bomb Group. I was dumbfounded at the beginning of my research to learn that almost 80,000 American service men and women are still listed as Missing in Action from WW2. I still wonder how the United States could lose 80,000 people and not be absolutely angry with our government for not doing more to find them at the end of the war.

B-25G Mitchell 42-64835
Piloted by English force landed April 12, 1944

In ML's case, he and his crew were lost in New Guinea. His squadron moved to another air base on another island and continued to fight the Japanese. ML and his crew were not forgotten by their friends and squadron mates many are still living today and several of whom I have interviewed personally about this case. But at the time they had a war to fight and couldn't dwell on their personal losses as the campaign moved towards Tokyo.

Almost 60 years later I began to look into what is being done today to find them. I found that nothing much goes on unless someone begins to push for information and then it comes in bits and pieces and from all directions and from unexpected locations. I found that most of the effort going into finding them comes from people like Mike Claringbould and John Douglas and family members like myself and Patricia Gaffney and hundreds of others who are willing to take the time to investigate the cases.

The U. S. Government has a great deal of information and is very helpful if one knows the right questions to ask but one quickly finds that their effort on MIA's is focused on soldiers lost in Vietnam and there is no coordinated effort to find all soldiers that are MIA. That is a symptom of time. Many vets from WW2 are dead, most of the immediate next of kin of those missing from WWII are elderly or dead or resigned to the fate of their loved ones during the war, the war was a "popular war" but it is not fresh in our collective national memory like Vietnam. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Although I have to say that the staff at the US National Archives and Records Administration and the US Air Force have been very helpful in steering me in the right direction.

Click For EnlargementMike Claringbould has been a great friend and a great source of information about ML's case. I met him after finding him on the Pacific Wrecks. The same with John Douglas, who I met through Mike. They are world recognized authorities on the 5th Air Force, New Guinea wrecks and MIA cases. They, along with Walt Deas and members of the 38th Bomb Group Association have been instrumental in helping this case along. It has been like putting a puzzle together each of us had part of the information that was part of the whole story. I told Mike about my search for information, he immediately quizzed me about the information I had and realized that it pertained to a case he had been long fascinated with, it is a bit like participating in a treasure hunt, each person finds a clue and compares notes and then we move to the next clue.

We are still working on final identification on the aircraft. I hope the aircraft John Douglas knows about is ML's plane because we have information on the particular crew from that particular aircraft and the events surrounding their capture and probably execution at the hands of the Japanese. If the plane turns out to be ML's then the crew information is most likely to the ML's crew and the puzzle becomes even more complete at that point.

My advice for anyone researching an MIA case is to start asking questions and never turn down free help! Get the name rank and serial number for the missing soldier and send for their Individual Deceased Personnel Form (IDPF) records and then call me or someone else who has been down that road for help, advice and mentoring on the eventual search for further information.

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