|Pilot Captain William A. Garnett, O-21982 C.O. 33rd BS (MIA / KIA) Gainesville, TX
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Frank A. Corts, O-420576 (MIA / KIA) NY
Navigator 2nd Lt Newell A. Wells, O-433117 (MIA / KIA) TX
Bombardier 2nd Lt William Crooks, O-432968 (MIA / KIA) AR
Engineer Cpl Sanger E. Reed, 6990404 (POW, survived) IN
Radio SSgt Theron K. Lutz, 6833758 (POW, survived) NJ
Gunner Cpl Reese S. Davies, 6991607 (MIA / KIA) OH
Crashed April 18, 1942
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1400.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 22nd Bombardment Group, 33rd Bombardment Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. Assigned to 2nd Lt. James W. Oliver who flew overseas via Hickam Field across the Pacific arriving at Amberly Field near Brisbane on April 2, 1942. This B-26 flew its first combat mission on April 10, 1942.
On April 17, 1942 took off from Antil Plains Airfield and staged through Garbutt Field near Townsville then took off for 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby and spent the night parked at the airfield.
On April 18, 1942 Captain William A. Garnett (C.O. 33rd Bombardment Squadron) intended to pilot this B-26 on a mission against Rabaul but this bomber's engines failed to start. The other five B-26s departed as planned, but on the way to the target, three of the B-26's aborted due to bad weather before reaching the target and returned to base. The two remaining bombers attacked alone, with B-26 40-1486 bombing Lakunai Airfield and B-26 "Shittenengitten" 40-1404 bombing Komaki Maru in Simpson Harbor.
Back at 7-Mile Drome, the crew drained the batteries and attempting to start the engines then hand cranking each engine to finally start them. An hour behind schedule, this B-26 proceeded to the target alone. Arriving after the other two bombers had bombed, this B-26 was intercepted by two Tainan Kokutai A6M2 Zeros around noon and was attacked from the rear by A6M2 Zero piloted by Lt(jg) Junichi Sasai. Hit the left engine and set it on fire, Garnett ordered the crew to bail out. Only Lutz and Reed managed to bail out before the B-26 completely on fire crashed into the sea near shore. The other five crew members were killed in the crash.
Fates of the Prisoners
Lutz and Reed bail out, their parachutes opening just prior to landing, Lutz landed in Coral Sea and were taken ashore by a native in a canoe. Reed landed on land, hid his parachute and reached the shore and ran along the beach. Both were taken prisoner by Japanese Army soldiers and transported to Rabaul where they were interrogated by an officer who shouted at them both and beat them. Later they were held in a cage and interrogated and threated with death.
After roughly two months, they were placed aboard an aircraft carrier, but offloaded when it sortied for the Battle of the Coral Sea. Instead, they were put aboard a cargo ship and transported to Tokyo and detained at Ofuna Camp.
Later, confined at a baseball stadium at Yokohama and later worked at Asano Ship Works and oil pressing plant and brick works. A year later, Reed was transfer and officially listed as a POW and was held in Yokohama and later transfered to Niigata and reunited with Lutz and both worked at stevedores.
At the end of the war, Lutz was liberated from Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku). Reed was liberated from the Yacht Club Camp (Civilian Internment Camp)
along Tokyo Bay. Both were the only 22nd Bombardment Group airmen who were captured and survived Japanese captivity.
The five crew killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Garnett, Corts, Wells, Crooks and Davies are memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Garnett earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Corts earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Wells earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously.
Crooks earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He
also has a memorial marker at Granger City Cemetery in Granger, TX at section 7.
Davies earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He also has a memorial marker at Ferncliff Cemetery in Springfield, OH in the World War II section.
USAF Serial Number Search Results -
"1400 (22nd BG, 408th BS) shot down by A6M2 flown by Lt Jg Junichi Sasai of Tainan Kokutai Apr 18, 1942 in attack on Rabaul. 4 KIA, 3 POW. 5 KIA, 2 POW also quoted."
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1400
NARA WWII POW Data File - Theron K. Lutz
NARA WWII POW Data File - Sanger E. Reed
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William A. Garnett
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Frank A. Corts
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Newell A. Wells
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William Crooks
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Reese S. Davies
Capt William Ames Garnett (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Frank A. Corts (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - 2Lt Newell A. Wells (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Lieut Newell A. Wells (memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - 2Lt William Crooks (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Sanger E. Reed (photo)
FindAGrave - Theron K. Lutz (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Corp Reese S. Davies (tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Corp Reese S. Davies (memorial marker photo)
Revenge of the Red Raiders pages 74, 76, 83 (Garnett photo) 471-472, 499
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February 14, 2020