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(44th FS Detachment)
|Pilot 2nd Lt. Joseph W. Hill, O-740420 (POW, executed)
Crashed August 25, 1943
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-40F-15-CU Warhawk serial number 41-19834. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 13th Air Force, 347th Fighter Group, 70th Fighter Squadron. No know nickname or nose art. This aircraft was assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron Detachment (44th FS Detachment) operating from Fighter 2 (Kukum) on Guadalcanal. When lost, engine V-1660-1 serial number 41-19934.
On August 25, 1943 took off from Segi Airfield on New Georgia Island piloted by 2nd Lt. Joseph W. Hill on a mission to escort six B-24 Liberators over Kahili Airfield (Buin) on Bougainville. Leaving the target, this P-40 was seen to be smoking slightly and loosing power at approximately 3:50pm (time unclear on Missing Air Crew Report 465, might be 4:30pm). Last seen to the north of Ballale Island. When this aircraft failed to return, Hill was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Captain Jack A. Bade stated in MACR on August 30, 1943:
"The last I saw of Lt. Hill's plane was near Ballale. We had made the run with bombers over Kahili and were returning to Segi Field. His plane lost power and seemed to be under control as he left the formation. He could have been hit by Jap AA, Zeros or by our own aircraft."
Bailed out or ditched, Hill was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was transported to Rabaul and turned over to 6th Kempei Tai (Military Police). He was detained at Tunnel Hill POW Camp. On March 5, 1944 he was executed during the Talili Bay Massacre (Tunnel Hill Massacre) and his body buried.
Towards the end of the Pacific War, to cover up the executions and war crimes, the Japanese claimed that approximately forty Allied prisoners were killed by Allied bombing during an air raid while at Talili Bay after being evacuated from Tunnel Hill and their bodies were cremated and their bodies were cremated and the ashes placed into a single box. The Japanese rehearsed a story that the prisoners were killed in an Allied bombing when a bomb scored a direct hit on their shelter. This was a lie to cover up the murders.
Recovery of Remains
In September 1945 when the Allies occupied the Rabaul area, they interrogated personnel from the 6th Kempei Tai who claimed the Allied prisoners who died during the Tunnell Hill Massacre (Talili Bay Massacre) were killed by an Allied bomb and turned over the box with their cremated remains.
The Allies divided the cremated ashes the Japanese claimed were those killed at Talili Bay proportionally based on the number of victims (22 Americans and 8 Australians) with 3/4 of the ashes to the Americans and 1/4 of the ashes to the Australians.
Hill was officially declared dead on March 5, 1944. On March 21, 1950 the American ashes were buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in a group burial at section 78 grave 930-934.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-40F-15-CU Warhawk 41-19834
"19834 (70th FS, 18th FG) lost Aug 25, 1943, Solomon Islands. MACR 465"
Missing Air Crew Report 465 (MACR 465) created circa September 1, 1943
NARA Records of World War II Prisoners of War - Joseph W. Hill date of report 8/26/43 Rabaul POW Camp
Diary of Myron Pedersen, 339th Fighter Squadron (339th FS) September 2, 1943 via Mike Pedersen (son)
"Sept 2  - Capt Stratton, Eddy, and [August 25, 1943] Joe Hill - all shot down over Kahili [August 30, 1943] in P-39's. Stratton was best 39 pilot I have yet seen fly."
FindAGrave - Joseph W. Hill (group burial photo)
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida pages 19 (footnote 12 - Tunnel Hill Massacre), 94 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Hill)
Thanks to Henry Sakaida for additional information
MIA / POW
August 30, 1943
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