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  B-29-45-BW "Rover Boys Express" Serial Number 42-24769 Tail V□-27
USAAF
20th AF
499th BG
878th BS


USAAF October 1944


Artwork via Halloran


Artwork by Ohnishi


Japan News Jan 28, 1945
Pilot  1st Lt. Edmund Gilbert Smith, O-424690 (POW, survived) Chicago, IL
Co-Pilot  2nd Lt. James W. Edwards, O-815110 (POW, survived) High Point, NC
Engineer  2nd Lt. William T. Franz, Jr., O-866991 (KIA, BR) Irvington, NJ
Bombardier  2nd Lt. Robert L. Grace, O-703239 (MIA / KIA, BNR) San Leandro, CA
Navigator  2nd Lt. Raymond F. "Hap" Halloran, O-703246 (POW, survived) Cincinnati, OH
Radar  Sgt John P. Nicholson, 18163306 (POW, survived) Bartlesville, OK
CFC  SSgt Robert B. Holladay, 13120169 (MIA / KIA, BR) Salem, VA
Radio  SSgt Guy H. Knobel, 17063259 (POW, survived) Buchanan, ND
Left Gunner  Sgt Vito C. Barbieri, 17060993 (MIA / KIA, BR) Kansas City, MO
Right Gunner  Sgt Anthony Lukasiewicz, 36890499 (MIA / KIA, BR) Detroit, MI
Tail Gunner  Sgt Cecil T. Laird, 39327992 (MIA / KIA, BR) Portland, OR
Crashed  January 27, 1945
MACR  11555

Aircraft History
Built by Boeing. Constructors Number 4430. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-29-45-BW Superfortress serial number 42-24769.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 20th Air Force (20th AF), 499th Bombardment Group (499th BG), 878th Bombardment Squadron (878th BS). Nicknamed "Rover Boys Express". Engine and weapon serial numbers are not listed in Missing Air Crew Report 11555 (MACR 11555).

Mission History
On January 27, 1945 took off from Isley Airfield on Saipan piloted by 1st Lt. Edmund G. Smith on a bombing mission against the Musashiho and Nakajima aircraft factories near Tokyo. The weather was visibility unlimited wit 6/10 cloud coverage.

Fifteen miles west of the target near Mount Fuji, this B-29 was attacked by Ki-45 Nick pilot 1st Lt. Kashiide who opened fire head on and 37mm cannon rounds hit the nose destroying the electrics, intercoms, perspex and lost cabin pressure. Damaged, Smith ordered the crew to bail out with seven of the crew managing to bail out successfully. The four other crew went down with the bomber.

Wreckage
This B-29 crashed at Ikisu near Konoike Airfield in Ibaraki Prefecture. When it crashed, the wreckage and burning debris destroyed several houses in the village and killed seven civilians on the ground. The next day, a photograph of the wreckage being examined by Japanese forces was published in Japanese newspapers.

Fates of the Crew
The seven crew that bailed out landed safely but were quickly located by the Japanese.

Franz was detained by angry Japanese civilians and killed in retribution for the damaged the B-29 crash caused to their village.

Grace was officially declared dead January 17, 1945 but remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Possibly, he was captured and alive until March 10, 1945 but his fate afterwards is unknown.

Smith, Edwards, Halloran, Nicholson and Knobel were also captured and became Prisoners Of War (POW) and were detained until the end of the Pacific War then were liberated and returned to the United States.

Smith last report date was October 29, 1945 at Omori Headquarters Camp (Ofuna) Tokyo 35-139.

Edwards last report date was November 21, 1945 at Omori Headquarters Camp (Ofuna) Tokyo 35-139.

Halloran was detained as a prisoner at Kempei Tai in Tokyo then taken to Ueno Zoo and put into a cage and exhibited like an animal. Afterwards, detained at Omori POW Camp and lived in a barracks with Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington and other Allied POWs. Halloran last report date was September 5, 1945 at Tokyo POW Camp (Shinjuku) Tokyo Bay Area 35-140.

Nicholson last report date was January 27, 1945 at Omori Headquarters Camp (Ofuna) Tokyo 35-139.

Knobel last report date was November 21, 1945 at Omori Headquarters Camp (Ofuna) Tokyo 35-139.

Recovery of Remains
At the crash site, four crew members were found inside the wreckage and another body was found in a field to the north. Postwar, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) recovered remains were identified as Franz, Holladay, Barbieri Lukasiewicz and Laird and transported to the United States for permenant burials.

Memorials
The four crew killed in the crash or on the ground were officially declared dead on January 27, 1945.

Four of the crew remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and were officially declared dead on January 27, 1945.

Grace earned the Air Medal and Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7.

Lukasiewicz is buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) at Plot C Grave 1506.

Franz is buried at Honolulu Cemetery (Punchbowl) at Plot M Grave 740.

Holladay is buried at Sherwood Burial Park in Salem, VA.

Barbieri has an unknown burial in the United States, likely in his hometown.

Smith passed away on August 30, 1972 at age 52. He is buried at Northfield Oakwood Cemetery in Northbrook, IL.

Halloran passed away on June 7, 2011 at age 89 in Menlo Park, CA. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery at the columbarium court 7, section UU, column 8, niche 4.

The B-29 Memorial Plaza in Great Bend, Kansa includea a plaque that reads: "Rover Boys Express 21st Bomber Command 73rd BW 499th BG 878th BS, Edmund G Smith POW • James Edward POW Ray "Hap" Halloran POW • Robert Grace* William Franz* • Guy H Knobel POW John P Nicholson POW • Anthony Lukasiewicz* Vito C Barbieri* • Robert Holladay* Cecil T Laird*"

References
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Edmund G. Smith
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ray F. Halloran
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John P. Nicholson
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Guy H. Knobel
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Vito C. Barbieri
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Cecil T. Laird
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-29-45-BW Superfortress 42-24769
"24769 (499th BG, 878th BS) shot down by Ki-45 nedar Konoike, Japan Jan 27, 1945 while on mission to Musashiho and Nakajima aircraft factories at Tokyo. MACR 11555. 4 crew killed, 7 bailed out of which 2 killed on ground and 5 became POW."
Missing Air Crew Report 11555 (MACR 11555) created January 28, 1935
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Edmund G. Smith
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - James W. Edwards
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Ray F. Halloran
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Philip J. Nicholson

NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Guy H. Knobel
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Edmund Gilbert Smith

NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - James W. Edwards
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Ray F. Halloran
NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Philip J. Nicholson

NARA World War II Prisoners of the Japanese Data Files - Guy H. Knobel
FindAGrave - Lieut William J Franz, Jr (grave photo)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Robert L. Grace
FindAGrave - 2Lt Robert L Grace (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - Robert B Holladay (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Sgt Anthony S Lukasiewicz (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Edmund Gilbert Smith, Sr (photo, grave photo)
FindAGrave - Raymond F “Hap” Halloran (photo, grave photos)
The Historical Marker Database - Rover Boys Express (photos)
Pacific Air Combat WWII (1993) pages 70 (photo), 71-73
Hap's War The Incredible Survival Story of a P.O.W. Slated for Execution (1998) by Ray F. "Hap" Halloran with Chester Marshall
B-29 Hunters of the JAAF (2000) pages 79-81, 121
Hap Halloran Hero A Story of Heroism in B-29s Over Tokyo by Mofak
B-29.org "January 27, 1945 Time Heals Everythin... Almost" (2003)
Tribute to Robert D. Cookson Sr. and B-29er's of the Marianas - Raymond "Hap" Halloran of V-27, "Rover Boys Express" (2011)
The Daily Courier "Chivalry over Tokyo: The WWII story of Hap Halloran and Hideichi Kaiho (Part 1)" by Richard Haddan June 21, 2017
The Daily Courier "Chivalry over Tokyo: The WWII story of Hap Halloran and Hideichi Kaiho (Part 2)" by Richard Haddad June 22, 2017
HapHalloran.com personal website of Ray Halloran
Thanks to Raymond F. "Hap" Halloran for additional information

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Last Updated
January 27, 2020

 

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