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No. 18 Squadron
|Pilot 2nd Lt. B. J. Grummels, NEIAF (MIA / KIA)
Co-Pilot C M Fisscher, NEIAF (WIA, survived)
Radio Cpl Van Der Weert, 93888 NEIAF (WIA, survived)
Mechanic Sgt Hoek, 94966 NEIAF (WIA, survived)
W/AG F/Sgt Ronald Stuart Horridge, RAAF 404990 (WIA, survived)
W/AG Sgt Robert Gordon Tyler, 408892 RAAF (MIA / KIA) Ballarat, VIC
Ditched February 18, 1943
Built by North American Aviation (NAA). At the factory painted with olive drab upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces and U. S. markings. Delivered to the U. S. Army as model B-25C Mitchell serial number 41-29717.
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 N5-144. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
In Australia, repainted in Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) markings with serial number N5-144 and the Dutch flag on the rear fuselage and retained the original U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) serial number on both sides of the tails.
Assigned to No. 18 Squadron. No known nose art or nickname. During 1942 until lost at the end of January 1943 this B-25 operated from the Darwin area in the Northern Territory flying combat missions.
On February 18, 1943 took off from Darwin piloted by 2nd Lt. B. J. Grummels as one of six B-25s on a strike mission against Dili on East Timor. At roughly 10:45am the formation was intercepted by five A6M2 Zeros and air combat commenced until 11:30am. During the attacks, this aircraft received a direct hit from gunfire that killed the pilot 2nd Lt. Grummels and knocked out the right engine and damaged the tail. Likely, Sgt Tyler was killed in the same attack because he did not reply when ordered into the center section.
Damaged, the co-pilot ditched the bomber into the Timor Sea approximately 140 miles south of Dili. The bodies of Grummels and Tyler went down aboard the aircraft when it sank.
Fates of the Crew
The rest of the crew sustained injuries in the air combat or ditching but survived the landing and deployed their life rafts and drifted at sea overnight and into the next day awaiting rescue.
On February 19, 1942 at 1:00pm the four crew were spotted and rescued by a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) destroyer and transported to Darwin.
Grummels and Tyler were both officially declared dead the day of the mission. Tyler is memorialized at Adelaide River War Cemetery on the Northern Territory Memorial, panel 10.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-25D Mitchell 41-29717
"29717 to NEIAF as N5-144 - ditched 2/43"
B-25 Mitchell in Dutch Service" N5-144 notes as ditched 2/43 incorrectly also: "The B-25s in India (NEIAF serials N5-139 (sic), N5-143, N5-144, N5-145, and N5-148) were requisitioned by the RAF and were modified to photographic reconnaissance configuration. Two of them were assigned RAF numbers MA956 and MA957, but the other three retained their NEI numbers of N5-144, 145, and 145. All were eventually assigned to No 681 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in India."
WW2 Nominal Roll - Robert Gordon Tyler, 408892
CWGC - Robert Gordon Tyler
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