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  B-26 Marauder Serial Number 40-1426  
USAAF
5th AF
22nd BG
19th BS

Click For Enlargement
Charles Darby 1974

Click For Enlargement
Richard Leahy 1982
Pilot  2nd Lt. Christian I. Herron, O-406130 (KIA, BR) Bellefonte, PA
Co-Pilot  S/L Charles R. Gurney, 160 RAAF No. 33 Squadron (KIA, BR) Edgecliffe, NSW
Navigator  2nd Lt. Noel A. Wright (survived)
Bombardier
 2nd Lt. George D. Barnhill, 14008532 (survived) Mecklenburg County, NC
Engineer  Pvt Nelson V. Donaldson (survived)
Radio  Sgt Robert F. Jordan (survived)
Gunner  Pvt Fred J. Mikels (survived) FL

Crashed  May 2, 1942
MACR  none

Aircraft History
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Constructor Number 1291. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1426.

Wartime History
During February 1942 assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 19th Bombardment Squadron (19th BS). Assigned to pilot Powell. Flown overseas to Australia by 1st Lt. Perrie G. Powell. On March 24, 1942 arrives at Archerfield Airfield. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On May 2, 1942 took off from from 3 Mile Drome (Kila) near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt. Christian I. Herron with co-pilot S/L Charles R. Gurney on a bombing mission against Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. This was the bomber's first combat mission. Over the target, damaged by anti-aircraft fire and returned on one engine but gradually lost altitude over the Solomon Sea.

Although damaged, this B-26
reached southern Kiriwina Island and the pilots elected to lower the landing gear in an attempt to land. When the wheels touched swampy ground, the landing gear collapsed causing the bomber to flip upside down and crash. Inside the cockpit, both pilots were killed on impact. The rest of the crew survived without serious injuries.

Recovery of Remains
After the crash, the surviving crew recovered the remains of both pilots.

Rescue
Afterwards, the five survivors were rescued by RAAF Catalina and flown back to Port Moresby and returned to duty.

Memorials
Gurney and Herron were both officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the crash, Both were recovered and temporarily buried in the cemetery at Milne Bay, with Gurney at grave no. 1. On September 14, 1942 No, 1 Strip (Fall River) at Milne Bay was officially renamed "Gurney Field" in his honor. Postwar, both dead crew members were permanently buried. Postwar, he was buried at Bomana War Cemetery at A3. D. 14.

Herron earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with Oak Leaf Cluster and Purple Heart, posthumously. Postwar he was buried in Manila American Cemetery at Plot A Row 12 Grave 203.

Wreckage
This B-26 remains in situ upside down where it crashed.

Relatives
Chris Mikels (relative of Fred Mikels)

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Christian I. Herron
WW2 Nominal Roll - Charles Raymond Gurney
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George D. Barnhill
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George D. Barnhill
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George D. Barnhill
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George D. Barnhill
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - George D. Barnhill
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1426
"1426 (22nd BG, 19th BS) damaged during attack on Rabaul May 2, 1942 and forced down in Trobriand Islands between Rabaul and New Guinea. Plane flipped over on its back. 2 of the crew killed, other 5 survived and were rescued. Reported recovered from Trobriand Island ca 1974."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Christian I. Herron
FindAGrave - Christian I. Herron
CWGC - Charles Raymond Gurney
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1426
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (1979) page 41 (upper)
Honour Roll World War II Qantas Staff Casualties (Gurney) via Wayback Machine October 23, 2009
Diaries of Eddie Allan Stantton (1996) pages 27-29
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 13, 39-45, 63, 66-67, 70-72, 79-80, 82, 87-88, 472, 495, 547
S/L Gurney via Wayback Machine October 27, 2009

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Last Updated
April 29, 2021

 

Tech Info
B-26

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