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360th Service Group
Harrison July 8, 1945
|Pilot 2nd Lt. John P. Carter (survived) Dallas, TX
Crashed July 5, 1945
Built by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) in Burbank. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-38 Lightning model and serial number unknown. Disassembled and shipped overseas and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 360th Service Group (360th SrG) part of the Far East Air Force Combat Replacement and Training Center (FEAF CRTC). No known nickname or nose art.
On July 5, 1945 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt. John P. Carter on a training mission over Wewak. Over the Sepik River at 5,000' both engines failed and Carter bailed out successfully. His P-38 crashed into the swamp nearby.
Fate of the Pilot
Carter landed unhurt in kunai grass swamp roughly 250 yards from the Karawari River near the Sepik River approximately 10 miles northeast of Lake Chambri. He was equipped with only a pint of water and a D-ration bar of chocolate.
On the ground, Carter was immediately spotted and buzzed by another P-38s in his flight. Afterwards, a search and rescue mission was planned to recover him.
On July 6, 1945 in the morning, a pair of B-25 Mitchells buzzed him and dropped emergency rations and supplies, but they fell wide and were never located by Carter. Meanwhile, Catalina A24-44 attempted to unable to rescue him, but was too large to land in the Karawari River. Rather, a smaller RAAF Walrus seaplane was needed.
On July 7, 1945 in the morning, Catalina A24-44 returned and dropped supplies that Carter was able to retrieve but was exhausted from the exertion and fell asleep. Meanwhile, a RAAF Walrus piloted by F/O Agnew circled him but was unable to land due to bad weather and a message was dropped to him to wait until the next day and instructed him to walk roughly 250 yards towards the Karawari River, but Carter was unable to reach the river due to the thick kunai grass and swamp.
On July 8, 1945 in the morning, Catalina A24-44 escorting Walrus X9515 by F/O Neil M. E. Agnew with passengers Lt. Johnstone from the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) and two native Polis Bois (native police) to rescue Carter. The area was in Japanese occupied territory, roughly 95 miles west of Wewak.
The pair flew to Carter's location on the Karawari River which was only 40 yards wide with a 4-6 knot current with numerous logs and other debris floating downstream. Meanwhile, Catalina A24-44 circled overhead while in the vicinity Beaufort A9-657 piloted by F/L Thomas and Beaufort A9-680 piloted by S/L Dewar both from 100 Squadron covered the rescue by strafing nearby villages and suspect Japanese positions.
After landing, pilot F/O Agnew remained with Walrus X9515 on the Karawari River while the the rescue party led by Lt. Johnstone with the two native police deployed a life raft, paddled ashore and used machetes to clear a path while carrying a stretcher. After locating Carter, they carried him back to the river and loaded him aboard the floatplane. The entire rescue took two hours. Afterwards, the Walrus successfully took off from the Karawari River and flew to Tadji Airfield.
After returning safely, two photographs were taken of the rescue team with Carter and Polis Bois (native police) with Carter to document one of the most audacious rescued ever carried out by the RAAF.
Later, Carter was assigned to the 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) "Headhunters".
Carter passed away August 5, 2007. He is buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Fort Worth, TX.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - John P. Carter
Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) none
RAAF No. 100 Squadron Unit History Sheet July 1-31, 1945
NAA [RAAF formation and unit records:] Operations Records Book No.8 (Rescue and Communication) Unit, 1 February 1944 to 4 March 1946 (NAA: AWM64, 638208)
NAA [Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) miscellaneous records:] RAAF War History Section - War Stand Reports - No. 111 Air Sea Rescue Flight (NAA: AWM66, 102 B)
"6. Aircraft [Catalina] A24-44 (F/Lt Miller) to locate P-38 pilot forced down approximately 10 miles N.E. of Lake Chambri in the Sepik River area. Survivor located in dense kunai grass but nearest river suitable for alighting situated 2 miles away. The pilot was only 1/2 mile from the Kerawari River in which a Seagull could alight. It was then too late in the afternoon for a Seagull to arrive before dusk so the pilot was led towards the river.
7. Aircraft A25-55 (F/Lt. Miller) covered survivor but due to low cloud base the Seagull was unable to locate him and returned to base. It was not possible to carry out another attempt before dusk. Messages were dropped to the survivor keeping him au fait with the the situation. Emergency supplies of food and water were dropped to him and he was led to within 250 yards of the river.
8. Aircraft A24-44 (F/Lt. Miller) proceeded to Awar to lead the Seagull to the survivor's position. This was done and the pilot led out of the kunai by two native police boys. When the rescue was affected enemy held villages along the Sepik River were strafed."
Flight and Aircraft Engineer "R.A.A.F. Air/Sea Rescue - How an American Pilot was Picked Up from Under the Noses of the Japs by a Walrus of the Royal Australian Air Force" August 30, 1945 page 228
Wings: Official Magazine of the R.A.A.F. "Walrus rescues Yank pilot" September 4, 1945 page 18
WW2 Nominal Roll - Clive William Miller, 255140
NAA Agnew Neil Masson Ewing (NAA: A9300, AGNEW N M E)
WW2 Nominal Roll - Neil Masson Ewing Agnew, 423031
London Gazette page 1076, position 34 - 22 February 1946 [Flying Officer “N.M. Agnew (Aus-42303i)”]
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette - page 490, position 46 - 28 February 1946
RAAF Museum Point Cook - Air-Sea Rescue Units via Wayback Machine January 5, 2018
FindAGrave - John Paul Carter, Sr (photo)
80th Fighter Squadron Headhunters Association - Headhunter Headlines Vol XVIII, No. 7 February 1, 2008
Thanks to Bob Piper and Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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