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  B-25 "Careless" Serial Number 4?-?148  
13th AF
42nd BG
70th BS

Pilot  Lt. James H. Dickinson (rescued) Bishopville, SC
Co-Pilot  F/O Charles R. McCurry (rescued) Denton, TX
Navigator  Lt. Leslie J. Callahan (rescued) Topeka, KS
Gunner  S/Sgt Millard V. Bills (rescued) Sechlerville, WI
Gunner  Sgt William R. Fort (rescued) Fortville, IN
Gunner  S/Sgt Nelan L. Guner (rescued) San Antonio, TX

Ditched  November 24, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by North American. U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) model and serial number unknown. The last three digits of the serial number or tail number was possibly "148".

Wartime History
Assigned to the
13th Air Force, 42nd Bombardment Group, 70th Bombardment Squadron. Nicknamed "Careless".

Mission History
On November 24, 1943 took off from Renard Field piloted by Lt. James H. Dickinson on a bombing mission against Kahili Airfield. Over the target, this B-25 suffered a direct hit by anti-aircraft fire, causing the left engine to burst into flames, that swept up into the bomb bay and navigator and radio compartments, causing the crew to move rearwards into the tail.

Pilot Dickinson made a successful and ditched into the sea off Maifu Island and deployed a life raft. The crew in the tail exited through the bottom escape hath and rescued crew member SSgt Guner who was caught in the waist window. As all the crew climbed into the raft, the B-25 sank. Only Sgt Fort sustained minor wounds to his legs and face.

Friendly B-25 circled overhead and dropped another raft, but then departed when their fuel ran low. The crew spent three hours in the raft, until two friendly planes appeared but failed to spot them. An hour later, a PBY Catalina piloted by Milton Cheverton from VP-23 escorted by ten P-40 Kittyhawks located their raft. As the Kittyhawks strafed nearby gun positions, the Catalina landed to rescue them. During the landing, shore batteries from Ballale and Kahili began firing at them but failed to damage the plane or disrupt the rescue.

Black Cats and Dumbos:  WWII’s Fighting PBY’s page 253
Milton Cheverton, PBY Catalina pilot of VP-23:
“I was on patrol on November 23, 1943 supporting a B-25 raid on Bougainville.  The Army raiders had bombed their targets but one of their planes had been shot down and the Japs left the crew in their raft as decoys, I guess.  We were ordered to go in and get them. Twelve Australian [sic New Zealand] P-40s went with us and strafed the hell out of the enemy shore batteries and small arms fire Man!  They were something.  I sat the Cat down in Shortland Harbor and without knowing it, found we were right at the end of a Jap landing strip [Ballale Island].  They opened up with every gun they had.  At least it seemed that way. When we pulled up alongside the raft, it seemed to be taking an extremely long time to get the all-clear to taxi for takeoff.  So I went aft to the blister and found some of the B-25 crew arguing to bring their raft aboard.  Well, it took only a short time to convince them that those were real bullets splashing ever closer and that rubber rafts were quite expendable. As we taxied out of the harbor, the Japs began firing ‘four inchers’ and cannons and the works at us but never touched a man or the plane. The B-25 skipper said 'I've always thought the PBY was the ugliest airplane I had ever seen until I saw you coming in to pick us up – then I decided it was the most beautiful craft in the world!' I got a 'well done' from Admiral Halsey, a Distinguished Flying Cross and went to the top of the ‘good list’."

Thanks to Ted Darcy and Ewan Stevenson for additional information
The Crusaders: A History of the 42nd Bombardment Group page 54-55
Black Cats and Dumbos:  WWII’s Fighting PBY’s page 253

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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