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USS Hancock CV-19
|Pilot Lt(jg) Richard Lee Hunt, Jr. (POW, died February 25, 1945, BR) Kansas City, MS
Gunner AOM2c Louis W. Gahran, Jr. (MIA / KIA, BR) Boston, MA
Radio ARM3c Eugene W. Barrow (MIA / KIA, BR) Harrison, OH
Crashed January 16, 1945
Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft Division. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger bureau number 73343.
Assigned to the USS Hancock (CV-19) to Torpedo Bombing Squadron Seven (VT-7). Assigned squadron number 124 painted in white on the tail with a lucky horseshoe below the number the squadron's motif. On the left side of the nose was 124. No known nickname.
On January 16, 1945 took off from USS Hancock (CV-19) piloted by Lt(jg) Richard Lee Hunt, Jr. armed with a single 2,000 pound bomb on a strike mission to bomb enemy vessels anchored in Victoria Harbor (Kowloon Docks) off Hong Kong.
Flying to the target at 13,000', this Avenger was leading the second section as the formation began their attack over Mount Parker and experienced heavy anti-aircraft fire. Trying to evade the fire, the Avenger collided with TBM Avenger 73438 piloted by Lt(jg) Richard C. Scobell.
Damaged, pilot Hunt managed to bail out and parachute safely to the ground. The other two crew members died in the crash into the hillside of Mount Parker at Tai Tam Hong Kong. Also lost was TBM Avenger 73438 (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
Hunt was captured and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). Afterwards, transported to Japan and imprisoned at Ofuna Camp. He did not receive medical treatment and died in captivity on February 25, 1945, possibly due to an injection by the camp doctor. Afterwards, he was cremated and buried 166 meters to the north in the rear if Ryuhoji Temple (100 yards East of Ofuna POW Camp) with a cross that read "Lt. Hunt".
This aircraft crashed into the hillside of Mount Parker at Tai Tam Hong Kong. Postwar, the crash site was located and the remains of the two crew aboard were recovered. In 2015, the crash site was rediscoverd in Tai Tam Country Park by Craig Mitchell. He founded "Project Avenger" to further investigate the crash site, including Dr Mick Atha, adjunct professor at Chinese University.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the remains of the Gahran and Barrow were recovered and transported to the United States for permenant burial.
Hunt was officially declared dead on February 25, 1945. Postwar, he was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Kansas City, MS.
On January 7, 1950 Gahran and Barrow plus Scobell, Gelnaw and Walton (crew of TBM Avenger 73438) were buried in a group burial at Keokuk National Cemetery at plot D, grave 20.
George Gerrard diary, January 16, 1945:
"We saw 8 planes in one formation and 5 in another just behind. They appeared like silver bullets in the sky when suddenly we saw the left hand plane in the first formation swing over to the right and strike his companion. A terrific sheet of flame shot out and the first plane came lurching down, but the pilot bailed out and then the second plane made a big effort to get under control but to no avail, the fellow jumped but was caught in his incline and eventually crashed in the region of Mount Parker, also a wing came slowly to the ground."
Navy Serial Number Search Results - TBM-3 Avenger 69066
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List January 1945 - TBM 73343 Lt(jg) Hunt
NARA World War II Prisoners of War Data File - Richard Lee Hunt, Jr
Mansell - Ofuna Dolder Rescue Team Report
"Deaths in camp:
In checking records it was found that 6 men died in Ofuna Camp. They were
1. Lt. (Jg) 1. Richard L. Hunt
Died, 25 Feb 1945
Born, 25 Dec 1921
It was found that when he was brought to the camp he was bandaged from head to foot. This condition was due to burns when the B-29 [sic] he was in crashed. He started to receive treatment in the camp 17 Jan 1945. [Died shortly after an injection by the camp doctor. Assumed to have been murdered by poison]"
FindAGrave - Richard Lee "Joe" Hunt, Jr (grave photo)
FindAGrave - Louis W Gahran (photo, group burial photo)
FindAGrave - Eugene Wilber Barrow (photo, group burial photo)
South China Morning Post "Sifting through the remnants of war / Discovery of US plane wreck sheds light on one of Hong Kong's darkest days" by John Carney May 19, 2013, updated 2015
South China Morning Post "Remains of US airmen killed in 1945 crash 'could still be on Hong Kong hillside'" by Stuart Heaver January 10, 2015
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Do you have photos or additional information to add?
February 18, 2020
MIA / POW
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