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|Pilot 2nd Lt William B. Graham, O-693130 (MIA / KIA, BR) NC
Crashed April 11, 1944 at 11:25am
Built by Republic at the Indiana Division of Republic Aviation in Evansville, IN. Constructor Number 704. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt serial number 42-22953. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 58th Fighter Group, 311st Fighter Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. When lost, engine R-2800-63 serial number 42-125745. Aboard were eight .50 caliber machine guns serial numbers KM 660814, KM 660614, S 915482, S 907656, KM 660518, KH 658405, A 915397 and S 907682.
On April 11, 1944 took off from Saidor Airfield piloted by 2nd Lt William B. Graham as one of sixteen P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron on a mission to escort B-25 Mitchells over Wewak. The weather was scattered clouds from 1,000' to 10,000' with 6/10 cloud coverage.
Over the target, the American formation was intercepted by six Ki-68 Tonys from the 68th Sentai and four Ki-43 Oscars of the 77th Sentai. The Japanese fighters claimed twelve P-47s shot down, five P-47s probables and a B-25 uncertain. In fact, three P-47s failed to return from the mission.
This aircraft was last seen flying with P-47D 42-75289 south east of Boram Airfield in the direction of Brandi Plantation near Wewak. At the time of last sighting, neither P-47 appeared to be under attack by enemy aircraft or anti-aircraft fire.
This aircraft failed to return from the mission and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA). Two other P-47s from the 311th Fighter Squadron were also lost including P-47D 42-75291 (MIA) and P-47D 42-75289 (MIA).
Afterwards, two pairs of 58th Fighter Group P-47 pilots were sent to search for the three missing aviators. One pair was Lt. John Rowland and Lt Clement Theed, Jr., both from the 310th Fighter Squadron. During the search mission, P-47D 42-76059 piloted by Theed crash roughly ten miles southwest of Wewak.
This P-47 crash landed wheels up in kunai grass near Urimo Mission to the south of Wewak.
Recovery of Remains
In July 1945, Australian Army soldiers visited the crash site and found his remains near the crash site. His remains were recovered and turned over to the Americans and transported to Manila for permanent burial.
Graham was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After his remains were recovered, Graham was buried at Manila American Cemetery Plot F Row 3 Grave 25.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records William B. Graham
USAF Serial Number Search Results - P-47D-11-RA Thunderbolt 42-22953
"42-22953 (311th FS, 58th FG) crashed from unknown cause SE of Boram airfield, Sepik, Papua New Guinea Apr 11, 1944. MACR 5081. Pilot killed."
Missing Air Crew Report 5081 (MACR 5081)
58th FG, 311th FS Casualty Report on frame 226 microfilm 80155
No Glamour... No Glory! The Story of the 58th Fighter Group of World War II page 127
"Graham was considered a new pilot having joined the 311th Squadron in February at Dobodura. Lt. Graham's remains were recovered by Australian troops in July 1945, before the end of the war. Lt. Tom Bullington's remains were recovered in 1949. His body had been found near his downed plane by local natives, who buried him in their village."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - William B. Graham
FindAGrave - 2LT William B Graham (tablets of the missing)
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22953
248th Hiko Sentai: A Japanese “Hard luck” Fighter Unit - Part 3 by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Kenneth D. Wilson for constructor number
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