|Pilot 1st Lt. Spears R. Lanford, O-401186 (MIA / KIA) AL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Gerald W. McClune, O-427152 (MIA / KIA) OK
Navigator 2nd Lt John T. Moore, O-434996 (MIA / KIA) SC
Bombardier S/Sgt Russell R. Bradley, 6910760 (MIA / KIA) MI
Radio Sgt D. A. Martin, Jr., 18010454 (MIA / KIA) TX
Engineer Cpl Raymond A. Arendell, 17004405 (MIA / KIA) NE
Gunner Pvt Anthony J. Petitti, 12034939 (MIA / KIA) NY
Ditched May 28, 1942
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1467. Disassembled and shipped as cargo aboard a ship from the United States to Melbourne. Reassembled by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
Assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group on May 5, 1942 and flown to Queensland. Operating from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby, this bomber flew a total of three combat missions, the first on May 21, 1942.
This mission was originally planned for May 27, 1942, but was delayed a day due to a Japanese air raid against 7-Mile Drome and bad weather.
On May 28, 1942 one of five B-26s that took off from 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby on a bombing mission against Lae Airfield. Over the target, the bombers observed Zeros taking off from the airfield below. Over the airfield, they were met with accurate anti-aircraft fire. Intercepted by at least six A6M2 Zeros of the Tainan Kōkūtai.
Attacked, this aircraft was hit and observed to have its left engine on fire following which it ditched or crashed into into Huon Gulf roughly two miles off Lae. Credit for the shoot down was given A6M2 Zero pilots PO1 Saburo Sakai and Lt(jg) Jun-ichi Sasai.
RAAF P/O Graham Robertson flying co-pilot with Lt. Burnside witnessed the demise of this B-26:
“Over to the right, one B-26 had three Zeros on him and, at last, his engine caught fire and he turned away towards the land, with the whole of the body alight. The Zeros did not give him any rest but kept on him. ... The last we saw of [Lanford] was on the water, where he made a good landing, and we were able to distinguish, through glasses [binoculars], that some had got out onto the wing. They were a half-mile from land. We turned on the radio and wished them luck.”
When this bomber failed to return, the entire crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA). There is no evidence that any of the survivors were captured by the Japanese.
All crew members remain MIA. All were declared dead on the day of the crash. Memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1467
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1467
Log of P/O Graham Brindley John Robertson RAAF (412717) 1914-1942
Samurai! Autobiography of Saburo Sakai includes a sensational account of survivors eaten by sharks:
"I caught a lone B-26 over Lae, and pursued the enemy plane over the sea, shooting up the fuselage and right wing. The Marauder burst into flames over the water, but before it crashed four men bailed out. Each landed safely in the sea, and, the next moment a small life raft popped up. As I circled the raft, I saw that the men clung to its sides. Since they were only about two miles from Lae Air Base, it was only a matter of time before a boat would pick them up and make them prisoner. Suddenly one of the men thrust his hands high above his head and disappeared. The others were beating fiercely at the water, and trying to get into the raft. Sharks! It seemed that there were thirty or forty of them, the fins out of the water in erratic movements all about the raft. Then the second man disappeared. I circled lower and and lower and nearly gagged as I saw the flash of teeth which closed on the arm of the third man. The lone survivor, a big bald headed man, was clinging to the raft with one hand and swinging wildly with a knife in the other. Then, he too was gone. When the men on the speedboat returned to Lae, they reported that they had found the raft empty and blood stained Not even a shred of the men was visible."
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 99, 473, 500
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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February 14, 2020