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USS Hornet (CV-12)
|Pilot Ensign H. W. Barnard / Bernard (survived)
Gunner ? (MIA / KIA)
Radio ? (MIA / KIA)
Crashed March 31, 1944
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger bureau number 25273.
Assigned to the USS Hornet (CV-12) to Torpedo Squadron 2 (VT-2). No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.
On March 31, 1944 took off from USS Hornet (CV-12) piloted by Ensign H. W. Barnard on a mission against Babelthaup Island in Palau. Over the target, this Avenger was shot down by a Zero and crashed into the sea. The radio operator and gunner both died in the crash.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, pilot Barnard was rescued by USS Gar (SS-206).
The radio operator and gunner remain listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Both are memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Michael McAlonie adds:
"Tony Cicchinellli told me that his submarine had picked up a TBF pilot at Peliliu that was from Troy when on lifeguard duty in 1944. Tony said he wouldn’t speak, he was so upset that his radioman and gunner went down with the plane. His name was Ensign Bernard."
Note, the spelling of the pilot's name is unclear. USN Overseas Loss List lists him as "Bernard" and the USS Gas (SS-206) War Diary lists him as "Barnard"
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-1C Avenger 25273
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List March 1944 - TBM-1C Avenger 25273
NARA USS Horney CV-12 War Diary 1-31 March 144
(Page 8) "...At 0730, with Babelthaup I. bearing 262(T), distant 68 miles, launched Strike 1A (12VF, 11VB and 6VT) to destroy enemy shipping in the harbor and enemy aircraft on the ground and in the air and to further mine channels to the harbor. At 0740 went to general quarters to repel threatened air attack, which did not reach this group. At 0930 Strike 1B (5VT and 12VF) was launched. The final mission of the day, Strike 1C (5VB) was launched at 1000. At..."
(Page 9) "1010 one of the VT being launched crashed in the water after take off. Results of the operations for the day are contained in the Action Report for the Period 30 March - 1 April 1944, a copy of which is enclosed herewith. At 1912 changed group disposition to 5-V, force being in disposition 5-T."
NARA USS Gas (SS-206) War Diary March 1944
"31 March 1944
0100(H) On station for second day of life guarding.
0340(H) Made trial dive.
0535(H) Slighted plane. (Plane Contact 26). (Morning search plane from Franklin passed close aboard but evidently didn't see us. Received word of plane down to the north of us. Observed Zero attack TBF circing over man in water. Fighters closed in and shot down Zero. Rescued Ensign H. W. Barnard. His radioman and gunner both went down with plane. Recieved word of pilot down half mile off entrance to Koror Harbor, drifting rapidly for beach. After careful consideration of reefs and currents in close proximity of man it was decided that to attempt the rescue would jeboardize the saftey of the ship. The pilot rescued later by an S.O.C. [Seagull] Received word of plane down southeast of Peleilu Island..."
Save Our Souls: Rescues Made by U.S. Submarines During World War II page 171
Thanks to Michael McAlonie for additional information
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