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DeLasso Loss 1943
|Pilot Captain Arthur L. Post, O-439653 C. O. 8th PRS (survived) Milwaukee, WI
Crashed June 20, 1943
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Constructors Number 222-7503. Delivered to the U. S. as P-38G-10-LO Lightning serial number 42-13070 and converted into a F-5A-10-LO photographic reconnaissance version. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (6th PRG), 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (8th PRS). No known nickname or nose art.
On June 20, 1943 at 8:15am took off from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby piloted by Captain Arthur L. Post Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 8th PRS on a photographic reconnaissance mission with drop tanks attached to photograph Rapopo Airfield, Simpson Harbor and Rabaul. Inbound to the target 10:15am his radio message was received 10:15 from the vicinity of Wide Bay.
Over the target at 12:30pm at an altitude of 21,000' he first overflew Rapopo Airfield but it was covered by a layer of cloud and he instead flew northwards towards Rabaul when he observed a Japanese convoy including a cruisers, three destroyers and cargo ships zig-zagging to the north approaching the Gazelle Peninsula and widened his turn to photograph the convoy.
Turning back towards Rabaul, he noticed two Zeros on his tail at an altitude of 22,000' and only 300-400 yards to his rear and pulled up into a thin layer of cloud in an attempt to out climb them but felt pings from hits from their bullets before they were unable to keep up as he reached 25,000' and by the time he reached 27,000' they began to fall away. During this maneuver, Post did not release his drop tanks and continued for Rabaul, overflew Simpson Harbor and continued over Vunakanau Airfield.
Having lost the Zeros, he reduced power but the Lightning began to vibrate violently and lost power and oil pressure in the right engine and feathered it and released both drop tanks but began loosing altitude and flying at a speed of 190 mph. About ten minutes away from the Rabaul area at an altitude of 23,000', Post was about to send another radio message when he felt more pings from gunfire and saw traces all around and dove and banked and observed four Zeros in echelon on his tail and began to weave and head for nearby clouds but was hit with several more bursts of gunfire despite weaving to the left and right.
As he approached the southern coast of New Britain, the left engine cut out due to the fuel lines being cut and he attempted to restart it by transferring fuel from the right side. One Zero flew ahead, turned and made a frontal attack and clipped the F-5's left engine causing the Lightning to spin downward until Post regained control but could not see if the Zero was damaged from the collision. At an altitude of 13,000', Post felt heat and flames and while diving at a speed of 275mph bailed out.
Fate of the Pilot
Post landed with burns and cuts on his face and and a leg injury. He managed to link up with friendly natives and was taken to coastwatcher Malcolm Wright and was hidden behind enemy lines on New Britain until his rescue was organized.
On September 28, 1943 rescued by USS Grouper (SS-214) after delivering forty-three coastwatchers and cargo to Coastwatcher Malcolm Wright on New Britain. On October 20, 1943 he returned to Australia.
He earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his courageous service and the June 20, 1943 mission. During late 1943 he was promoted to the rank of Major. On November 21, 1943 reporter Robert Doyle photographed Post at 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) wearing wearing a parachute with seat cushion emergency survival kit identical to the one he used and seated in the cockpit of one of the squadron's Lightnings. At the time, he was not allowed to publish Post's story. It was finally published in the Milwaukee Journal during January, 1947.
On August 25, 1944 he was killed piloting F-5A Lighnting 42-13093 off Biak. Postwar he was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum in Milwaukee, WI.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - F-5A-10-LO Lightning 42-13070
E&E Report No. 1 - Arthur L. Post pages 1-7
8th Photographic Reconnaissance Diary - June 20, 1943 / October 1943
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle "Major Post Dies in Air Accident in S. W. Pacific - Shot down in June 1943, he survived 100 days of Jungle Life" September 15, 1944 page 1 (photo), 10
(Page 1) "He was cited for extraordinary heroism in action near Rabaul, New Britain."
(Page 10) "100 Days in the Jungle - He jumped from the crashing plane, and to avoid being strafed, pulled the rip cord of his parachute at only 500 feet. Landing severely burned, with an injured leg, and in close proximity to the powerful enemy base, he contrived to find native assistance, and eluded enemy patrols."
The Eight Ballers - Eyes of the Fifth Air Force (1999) by Stanaway and Rocker page 50 (photo), 73, 88, 160 (losses in action, commanders of the 8th)
(Page 73) "20 June 1943 - After only a few days as Commanding Officer and an auspicious start in the right direction, Captain Post set out for what may be his last mission. He departed for Rabaul at 8:15 this morning and our last radio message was received 10:15 from the vicinity of Wide Bay. As in Hargy's case, we have no inkling of the trouble but feel quite strongly that our pilots are running into a standing patrol. It is a terrific blow to the squadron as a whole, and coming so close to Lt. Hargesheimer's failure to return, it is doubly hard on the pilots."
(Page 88) "...But who cares! For today Captain Post returned to 8th Photo with his immediate future undecided. Since June 20th the squadron has been without his services. He was on N.B. Island after having been jumped by the Nips on the way home from Rabaul. His experiences are thrilling and interesting... after five months of harrowing experiences, he was picked up and taken to Hawaii on a submarine. He had no orders to follow there, so he came home to 8th Photo. The boys were all ears as he related his story. He had a warm look for Bowers. The Nips were on his tail at 10,000' when he bailed out of his burning plane, so he did not pull the cord until he could see the ground coming up to meet him, so to speak. The chute opened in due course, and all was well for the nonce, at least. Captain Post brought back encouraging news about Lt. Fred Hargesheimer, missing three weeks before he was. He believes Hargie is alive but ill and in not too safe a spot."
(Page 160) Appendix I - Losses in Action - Arthur Post - KIFA [August 25, 1944] in crash off Biak Lagoon.
U. S. Subs Down Under: Brisbane, 1942-1945 page 129
"Almost seven months later on the night of 28/29 September, Grouper (Lt. Comdr M. Hottel) delivered a further forty-three coastwatchers and three thousand pounds of supplies to [Malcolm] Wright on New Britain. It was the largest party to land from one submarine. Wright moved the party, too big and noisy for his taste, off the beach before dawn, and the arrivals disperse to support the Allied advance. Grouper took back Capt. A.L. Post, a shot-down pilot who had been Wright's guest."
The Hall of Valor Project - Arthur L. Post (photo, DSC citation)
"The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Major (Air Corps) Arthur L. Post (ASN: O-439653), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as a Pilot with the 6th Reconnaissance Group, FIFTH Air Force, in action against enemy forces on 28 September 1943, near Rabaul, New Britain. Major Post, in an unarmed and unescorted aircraft, voluntarily undertook a photographic mission over Rabaul. Although attacked by enemy planes, he completed his photographic run and, sighting an enemy convoy, photographed it also. After he had evaded the attacking planes with great skill for some time, and had sheared off the wing top of one of them, both his engines were finally shot out. He jumped from the crashing plane, and, to avoid being strafed, pulled the rip cord of his parachute at only 500 feet. Landing severely burned, with an injured leg, and in close proximity to the powerful enemy base, he contrived to find native assistance, and eluded enemy patrols. During a hundred days of hazardous jungle life, he assembled intelligence information which has proven invaluable in the assessment of enemy strength and in assisting the survival of Allied pilots in enemy controlled territory. Captain Post's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces."
Wisconsin Historical Society - Arthur L. Post (photos)
"1943- Major Arthur L. Post of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was shot down on June 20th, 1943 and rescued on September 28th, 1943 after 101 days in the jungle. Here he is pictured here with Robert Doyle near the tail of a plane similar to his unarmed photo plane, "Limping Lizzie," [sic, likely F-4 "Malaria Mabel" 41-2130 or F-4 "Limping Lizzie" 41-2156]. The airfield where this image was taken was located near Port Moresby, New Guinea (present day Papua New Guinea). Robert Doyle was not allowed to publish Post's story at that time. It was finally published in January, 1947, by the Milwaukee Journal. Major Post intended to write his own story, but was killed in a test airplane on August 25th, 1944, before he had the chance."
FindAGrave - Arthur Lester Post (grave photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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