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|Pilot ? (see below)
Gunner ? (see below)
Force Landed September 2, 1942
Built by Aichi completed on December 5, 1940. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 99 Carrier Bomber / D3A1 Model 11 Val manufacture number 3114.
Assigned to 2nd Kōkūtai (2nd Air Group). Tail code Q-219. When lost, engine serial number 185052 manufactured March 19, 1942.
On September 2, 1942 at 12:30pm took off from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul armed with bombs as one of three Vals on a mission to attack Allied shipping in Milne Bay. The formation included this aircraft plus D3A1 Val 3110 and D3A1 Val 3287. The formation was escorted by A6M Zeros. At 3:30pm three hours after take off, all three dive bombers were not seen again and were officially reported as Missing In Action (MIA). The escorting A6M Zero successfully landed at Buna Airfield at 5:30pm.
In fact, all three dive bombers flew to the south coast of New Guinea and force landed in the same area on the beach near Deba bordering Table Bay. Why they landed this location is unknown but likely all three became lost, ran low on fuel and decided to land together. The specific crew aboard each Val is unknown but the crews of the three Vals are known:
Fates of the Crews
All three air crews survived the landings unhurt and removed the rear 7.7mm machine gun and equipment. Afterwards, they set fire to their parachutes and left them in the cockpit of each dive bomber to destroy their cockpit and center sections. The group of six Japanese (two from each dive bomber) began walking inland. Likely, they were attempting to friendly forces or trek to the north coast of New Guinea in hopes of being rescued.
On September 5, 1942 after their aircraft were spotted on the beach, Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) Warrant Officer David Marsh was tasked to investigate the aircraft. He departed Abau Island by launch with Lt. Bilston, four Royal Papuan Constabularies, a boat driver and a cook.
When they arrived at Table Bay, they found all three aircraft roughly 100 meters apart and buried supplies in a camp area. Also, a message from a native pastor stating that he was conscripted by the Japanese to lead them but would take them in circles until Allied authorities arrived.
Dixon called for reinforcements while Marsh moved inland in pursuit. On the second day, they located the Japanese and fired on them and ordered them to surrender. Instead the Japanese fired back with their machine guns and fled into the hills. Giving chase, the Royal Papuan Constabularies killed three of the Japanese while exchanging gun fire.
The other three were caught in the open by two other Royal Papuan Constabularies ordered them to surrender, but they fired back with their pistols. Waiting for them to reload, the police advanced and shot the remaining three with their rifles.
Recovery of Remains
Afterwards, all six Japanese were buried in the locations where they were killed. Afterwards, the Allied group returned to the launch, and took one of the jammed 7.7mm machine gun as a war trophy back to Abau Island.
On September 5, 1942 a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-40E Kittyhawk piloted by Squadron Leader Wright spotted the three dive bombers on the beach on the beach near Deba bordering Table Bay and reported them.
Later that same day, RAAF Tiger Moth with Group Captain Group Captain William H. "Bill" Garing and Flight Lt. Lex D'Arcy Winten landed on the beach near Deba to investigate them. The pair took at least two photographs of D3A1 Val 3287 including Group Captain Bill Garing with the tail Q-218 and photo of F/L Lex D'Arcy Winten holding the recovered gun sight.
Later, a launch with ANGAU Warrant Officer David Marsh, Lt. Bilston plus four Royal Papuan Constabularies arrived and found the aircraft roughly 100 meters apart.
Later during September 1942, all three aircraft were salvaged by a group of Allied personnel including U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) Major C. H. Belvin, 38th Bombardment Group (38th BG) and RAAF Flying Officer Norman O. Clappison, RAAF No. 15 Repair Salvage Unit (15 RSU) plus U.S. Army Sgt Corly and RAAF personnel LAC Bath, Sgt Kelly and Sgt x. With the help of ANGAU personnel and laborers from Abau Island, they camped near the aircraft and disassembled all three and placing them into crates built from vines and moved them 3-4 miles down the beach then loaded them on a boat for transport to Abau Island.
Afterwards, the salvaged aircraft were transported to Port Moresby then shipped to Brisbane. All three were the subject of intelligence report by HQ, Allied Air Forces, SWPA "Enemy Material Report No. 50" dated October 29, 1942. The ultimate fate of each dive bomber is unknown, likely all three were scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Other sources incorrectly list the date of take off as September 3, 1942. One authors has proposed these Vals were on a "secret mission" but there is no evidence to support this theory.
"Serial Number & Production Sequence D3A1 Carrier Bombers" by Jim Long
Kodochosho, 2nd Kōkūtai September 2, 1942
WW2 Nominal Roll - William H. Garing
WW2 Nominal Roll - Lex D'Arcy Winten
FindAGrave - Col Charles Hinton Belvin, III (photo, grave photo)
WW2 Nominal Roll - Norman O. Clappison
FindAGrave - Norman Ostle Clappison (grave photo)
HQ, Allied Air Forces, SWPA "Enemy Material Report No. 50" 29 October 1942
Milne Bay 1942 (1992) pages 293-299
The Hidden Chapters (1995) by Robert Piper pages 76-83
Thanks to Robert Piper for additional information
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August 27, 2021
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