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Patrol Wing 10
|Pilot Lt(jg) Richard Bull, O-081658 (MIA / KIA) New York, NY
Co-Pilot Ensign William W. Hargrave (survived)
Crew ACMM(NA) Oliver (KIA, BR)
Radio RM1c C. S. Nelson (survived)
Radio RM3c Muller (WIA, died)
Crew AMM2c Bean (KIA, BR)
Gunner RM2c Ralph R. Cusack, 3721484 (WIA, died, MIA) WY
Crew AMM3c Cliff Alton Sharp, 3561822 (MIA / KIA) TX
Landed February 5, 1942
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PBY-5 Catalina bureau number 2309.
Assigned to Patrol Wing 10 (Pat Wing 10) to squadron 101 (VP-101). Formally assigned squadron number "22-P-6", later assigned squadron Number 16. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 5, 1942 at 6:45am took off piloted by Lt(jg) Bull from Saumlaki Seaplane Base at Saumlaki Bay off Yamdena Island (Jamdena) in the Tanimbar Islands on a patrol over Ceram Island then planned to bomb Ambon.
Flying at 17,000' off Ambon Bay, this Catalina spotted a cruiser and was unable to see inside the Ambon Harbor due to clouds then flying further saw the harbor was full of Japanese vessels including what they believed were two aircraft carriers and many other ships totaling roughly twenty vessels. Spotting the force, this Catalina radioed their sighting to Patrol Wing Ten their sighting.
During the bomb run, pilot Lt(jg) Bull decided there were too many ships and aborted the bomb run and headed for cloud cover and dove to 12,000' and was targeted by anti-aircraft fire and observed seaplanes taking off to intercept them. Just before reaching the clouds, intercepted by Zeros that opened fire and was hit by gunfire hitting the wings and tail. Reaching the clouds, the left engine quit and was feathered but fuel began pouring into the hull and doused the crew.
During the aerial engagement or before landing, Sharp bailed out and was never seen again. He remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Damaged, this Catalina attempted to landed in the sea near Hila village on the north coast of Ambon Island. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
Bull was never found and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA) to this day.
Oliver and Bean were killed and their bodies later washed ashore.
Four of the crew survived the landing: Nelson, Cusack, Muller and Hargrave. After landing, the survivors realized Sharp had bailed out sometime during the aerial engagement and was never seen again.
Cusak and Muller were badly injured and required medical attention. Cusak was wounded in his right arm, left leg and suffered shrapnel wounds and was given first aid treatment by Hargrave. Muller suffered burns from head to toe. Nelson and Hargrave also had sustained minor injuries.
Before abandoning the Catalina, the surviving crew destroyed the Catalina's radios, codes and bombsight to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Next, the crew got ready to paddle ashore in the plane's two life rafts.
While getting into their life rafts, a Japanese single engine seaplane spotted and attacked and the crew took cover under the Catalina's wing and dove into the water. The seaplane made a second attack and caused the Catalina to explode and sink almost immediately. Afterwards, the same seaplane made two more strafing attacks at the men in the water then flew away towards Ambon.
Nelson, Cusack, Muller and Hargrave reached shore safely and met friendly natives and asked for a doctor but learned none were in the area but brought coconut oil and bandages for the wounded crew.
On February 7, 1942 native people reported they had found a dead body washed ashore and it was identified to be Oliver and he was buried at sea by the natives.
On February 8, 1942 another body washed ashore and was identified as Bean who was also buried at sea.
Learning there were Australian (AIF) soldiers further along the coast, Nelson departed to try to find help while Hargrave remained with the two wounded crew members, both of which were deteriorating. On February 17, 1942 Nelson returned with a soldier from the Australian Army but he had no medical supplies.
Hargrave decided both men were too injured and needed to be hospitalized and asked the natives to take both injured men to Ambon where they planned to turn themselves over to the Japanese in hopes of getting medical attention. During the trip, Muller died and his body was buried by the Japanese. It is believed Cusak was hospitalized.
Meanwhile, Hargrave, Nelson and the Australian soldier walked along the coast and found another Australian solider sick with malaria and attempted to reach safety together. On February 23, 1942 they obtained a canoe from a rajah and departed with two natives paddling across 15 miles of open sea before reaching Ceram the next morning and found friendly natives and learned there were no Japanese in the area.
Hargrave abd Nelson managed to reach Australia.
Bull was officially declared dead on April 5, 1942. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Purple Heart, posthumously. Bull is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Cusack was officially declared dead on December 4, 1945. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. Cusack is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Sharp was officially declared dead on December 4, 1945. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. Sharp is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Hargrave passed away on May 14, 1959 at age 43. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Newburgh, IN.
Navy Serial Number Search Results - PBY-5 Catalina 2309
NARA "PATWING 10 War Diary - Additional Sheet For War Diary February 5, 1942" pages 1-6 notes take off location as "Saemlocki Bay" [sic Saumlaki Bay] and crew member as "Sharpe" [sic, Sharp]
USN via The Phi Gamma Delta Volume 64, No. 7 May 1942
"Missing In Action - The Navy Department has notified the parents of Ensign Richard Bull (Georgia Tech '39) of Jacksonville Beach, Fla, that their son is missing in action against the enemy. This magazine several months ago received a post card from this naval aviator sent from Suva, Fiji Islands."
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Richard Bull
FindAGrave - LtJG Richard Bull (photo, tablets of the missing)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Ralph R. Cusack
FindAGrave - RM2 Ralph R Cusack (tablets of the missing)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Cliff A. Sharp
FindAGrave - AMM3 Cliff A Sharp (tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - CPT William Walker Hargrave (grave photo)
In the Hands of Fate: The Story of Patrol Wing Ten, 8 December 1941 - 11 May 1942 (2012) by Dwight R. Messimer
Thanks to Lou Dorny / The Baltic Group Archive for this information
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February 5, 2021
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