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5th AF March 6, 1943
AWM March 25, 1943
November 10, 2010
|Pilot 2nd Lt Harold L. Massie, O-421276 (POW/MIA, October 8, 1942, BNR) Toledo, IL
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Eugene D. "Gene" Wallace, (survived) Los Angeles, CA
Navigator 2nd Lt Marvin C. Hughes (survived) Baird, TX
Bombardier 2nd Lt Arthur C. King, O-432982 (POW/MIA, October 8, 1942, BNR) Cuyahoga County, OH
Engineer Cpl Stanley A. Wolenski, 6909325 (MIA / KIA) Chester, PA
Radio Cpl Dale E. Bordner, 15017025 (survived) Ross County, OH
Photographer S/Sgt Jack B. Swan, 6976748 (WIA, died October 23, 1942) Chemung County, NY
Gunner Pvt Joseph C. Dukes, 33129192 (MIA / KIA) Philadelphia, PA
Ditched May 24, 1942 at 10:54am
Built by Martin in Baltimore, Maryland. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-26 Marauder serial number 40-1474. Ferried overseas by pilot 1st Lt. Marvin C. Hughes via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia arriving on April 22, 1942 at Amberley Field near Brisbane.
Assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 18th Reconnaissance Squadron (18th RS). On April 22, 1942 redesignated 408th Bombardment Squadron (408th BS). Nicknamed "Imogene VII". Assigned to pilot 1st Lt. Marvin C. Hughes. This B-26 flew two combat missions: May 13, 1942 and May 24, 1942 when lost.
On May 13, 1942 first combat mission bombing Rabaul.
On May 23, 1942 took off from Garbutt Field at Townsville piloted by 2nd Lt Harold L. Massie as one of six on a flight northward to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Three aborted the flight due to mechanical difficulties and only three including this bomber arrived to stage for a bombing mission.
On May 24, 1942 in the morning, took off 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby piloted by 2nd Lt Harold L. Massie armed with 100 pound bombs on a bombing mission against Rabaul. This was Massie's first combat mission. Co-pilot 2nd Lt Eugene D. "Gene" Wallace had only flown one mission prior. Inbound, the formation encountered an overcast but found a hole in the weather and descend to an altitude of 1,500' over the target area and made a low level bombing run over Vunakanau Airfield with their bombs heavily damage a G4M1 Betty and causes damage to three others and burns the Genzan Kokutai (Genzan Air Group) headquarters building.
During the attack, anti-aircraft fire damaged the right engine of this bomber, that was feathered and the crew jettisoned equipment to reduce their weight. Over Wide Bay, Massie transmitted a final radio message then was never heard from again. When this aircraft failed to return it listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
In fact, this B-26 ditched roughly a mile off shore from Wide Bay. Two of the crew: Wolenski and Dukes were not seen after ditching and were presumed to have gone down with the bomber.
The rest of the crew sustained injuries: Swan suffered a broken shoulder, Hughes had a badly gashed leg and cut feet. Bordner had a puncture wound below the knee and King was bashed up. All had cuts on their faces and heads. Massie and Wallace were the least wounded and Massie swam ashore to Sampun village which was roughly 3/4 of a mile away.
Fortunately for the survivors, it was Sunday and a church service was being held in the village. As the survivors neared the beach villagers came out in a canoe and helped them ashore. They were fed stewed bananas and chicken and blankets and cloth supplied for bandages. The two watches they possessed had stopped at 10:54am the moment the plane ditched. Bordner, Hughes and Swan were not able to stand up.
On the fourth day Massie departed to find help and was gone fourteen days. He returned June 10, 1942 after locating New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) Pvt John Leslie Stokie, who provided him a mosquito net, twist for trade, three razor blades and scissors so that they could keep clean and shave to keep the respect of the villagers.
In the middle of June 1942 Massie, Wallace and King were able to bathe and shave and on June 21, 1942 and Swan was able to walk. Food was running short in the village so Massie, Wallace and King left the village. Because of their wretched physical condition Hughes, Bordner and Swan were allowed to stay.
Next, the crew was escorted to Australian Army Pvt James A. Stokie, 2/21 Infantry Battalion who had a hideout and had evaded capture. During the trek, Massie collapsed on the trail, unable to eat and his leg wounds were ulcerous and he had to carried on a blanket litter. Moving inland by the end of July, the crew found the natives less friendly and at the next village they were ordered to leave.
On July 27, 1942 Massie and King left a village and that was the last time they were ever seen again. In fact, both had been betrayed by natives to the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POW) and were transported to Rabaul. On October 8, 1942 in the morning, both were removed to perform work and were never seen again. In fact, both were executed and both remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
During September 1942 Hughes, Wallace and Bordner left the village with Swan now being carried by natives in a blanket stretcher. During October, Wallace found a doctor boy at Ubili who agreed to let him build a hut and gave him space to plant a garden. In about a month a native boy brought Wallace a verbal message that Swan had died in his sleep on October 23, 1942. The three remaining airmen survived for the remained of 1942 eating caterpillars, grubs, toads, snakes and lizards.
A message arrived from Pvt Stokie inviting them to his hideout, and were taken by canoe on February 10, 1943 to a nearby village and then walked to his location. Twice, Japanese patrols passed nearby and sometimes American aircraft were seen overhead, and the crew attempted to signal them unsuccessfully.
On March 6, 1943 a B-24 Liberator flew low over their hideout and their signals were seen. Next day another B-24 dropped food, Atabrine tablets, cigarettes, matches, a gallon of black paint, a brush and four white sheets with instructions to paint on the sheets the serial number of the ranking airman and the name of their squadron commander. On March 17, a B-17 buzzed them at low level and photographed the group on the beach. Three days later another B-24 dropped flashlights, batteries and instructions to use a secret code that a Catalina flying boat would come to pick them up from Open Bay.
On March 25, 1943 at 1:15am, the three survivors plus Pvt Stokie and three loyal natives were by a RAAF No. 11 Squadron PBY Catalina piloted by F/L Reginald Burrage that landed in Open Bay and transported them to Port Moresby, where their arrival was photographed and filmed.
Several days later, the crew was flown to Australia and reunited with their unit at Reid River Airfield. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart and Silver Star. In addition Massie and Wallace were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Massie, Wallace, Hughes, King and Bordner were also awarded The Soldiers Medal. Afterwards, Wallace went on a War Bond Tour in the United States, telling his survival story. Their story was featured in an issue of LIFE magazine on June 28, 1943.
Wallace retired from the USAF with the rank of Colonel. In 1997, he revisited New Britain and also met RAAF pilot Burrage in New Zealand.
Hughes died on May 18, 1994 and is buried at Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Pecos, TX.
Wolenski was officially declared dead on May 25, 1942, he more likely died the day of the ditching May 24, 1942. He earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Dukes was officially declared dead on May 25, 1942, he more likely died the day of the ditching May 24, 1942. He earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Massie was officially declared dead on December 15, 1945. He is officially listed as a Prisoner Of War (POW) of the Japanese whose ultimate fate is unknown. Massie earned the Silver Star, Soldier's Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing. He also has a memorial marker at Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery in Toledo, IL on his parents grave Clemmie Coleman “Doc” Massie and Alice Williby Massie.
King was officially declared dead on December 15, 1945. He is not officially listed as a Prisoner Of War (POW) of the Japanese. King earned the Silver Star, Soldier's Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Swan was officially declared dead October 23, 1942. He is buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) section P, grave 621.
Hughes was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. He earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He passed away on May 18, 1994 at age 74. He is buried at Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Pecos, TX.
Wallace earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Postwar, he continued in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and served in the Korean War and Vietnam War. He retired with the rank of Colonel. He passed away on May 4, 2014. On September 26, 2014 he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery at section 55, site 917.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Harold L. Massie
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Eugene D. Wallace
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Marvin C. Hughes
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Dale E. Bordner
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Jack B. Swan
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Joseph C. Dukes
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-26 40-1474
"1474 (22nd BG, 408th BS, 5th AF) ditched 1 mi offshore from Wide Pay, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea May 25, 1942 due to flak damage on attack"
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - B-26 40-1474
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Harold L. Massie
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War does not list Arthur C. King
LIFE Magazine "Jungle Adventure: Three survivors of a ten month ordeal in the wilds of New Britain tell their story" by Sidney James June 28, 1943 page 86-101
Impact June 1943 issue includes the story of this crew
E&E Report No. 41 - Swenson / Brooks, 29th March 1944 pages 5
"[Circa January 25-31, 1944] Traces of Allied Soldiers: A new house was made for us, and we stayed at this new location about three weeks. While there, I noticed that one of our natives, Topenki, had an Australian-style billfold. I asked him where he had got it, and he said that Father Mayrhofer, a German Catholic missionary had told him to hide it and give it to an American. He let me examine it and It contained letters written by Australians and American soldiers to their folks at home, dated May, 1942. The letters stated that the writers had been in the bush for two months, were disgusted and sick and intended to give themselves up as prisoners of war to the Japanese at Rabaul. Some of the Americans were from the 18th Photo Recon. Group. There were letters from at least five persons, Australian and American.
I did not keep these letters because I did not know whether or not we would be captured. When we were rescued, this information was passed on to Sgt. Gilmore and Capt. Bates, both of AIB (who promised to pick up the letters). We later learned that the luluai [chief of village] of this place had his throat cut by the Japs for befriending us. From native sources we also heard that Father Mayrhofer had been captured by the Japs and taken to Rabaul for befriending Allied personnel."
World War II Nominal Roll - Pvt James A. Stokie, VX27259
AWM "Rescued airmen from New Britain" film footage 1:16 F01815
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) pages 96-97, 177, 178 (photos), 177, 179, 473 (May 24, 1942 408th BS), 504 (18th RS/408th BS 40-1474), 605 (index Massie)
Execution of Aviators at Rabaul October 8, 1942 - NARA RG 331 Box 943- Rabaul documents & cannibalism
OC Register "WWII vet survived 10 months on enemy island" November 10, 2010
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Harold L. Massie rank listed as 1st Lieutenant
FindAGrave - Harold L. Massie (photos, tablets of the missing)
FindAGrave - Harold Lloyd Massie (photos, memorial marker photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Arthur C. King rank listed as 1st Lieutenant
FindAGrave - Arthur C. King (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Stanley A. Wolenski
FindAGrave - Sgt Stanley A Wolenski (tablets of the missing photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Joseph C. Dukes
FindAGrave - Corp Joseph C Dukes (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Jack B. Swan (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Marvin Crawford Hughes (grave photo, photos)
FindAGrave - Col Eugene Dye Wallace (photos)
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC Explorer) - Eugene Dye Wallace (grave photos)
Thanks to Eugene D. "Gene" Wallace, Edward Rogers and Larry Hickey for additional information
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