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|Pilot F/Sgt James Jarman Richards, 418466 (MIA / KIA) Armadale, VIC
Navigator/WAG F/Sgt Leslie Stewart, 418197 (POW, executed March 1944, MIA) Brighton, VIC
Ditched March 5, 1944
Built by Vultee in Los Angeles. This aircraft was built as a model 72, line number 683 under contract number RFDA-2648. Constructor Number 4196. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as A-31-NO Vengeance serial number 41-31014 Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number EZ962. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia as part of defense aid.
On May 20, 1943 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Vengeance Mark IA serial number A27-82. Assigned to 1 Air Depot (1 AD) and reassembled. On October 1, 1943 assigned to 23 Squadron.
On November 10, 1943 assigned to 2 Air Depot (2 AD). On November 14, 1943 assigned to 3 Air Depot (3 AD). On December 22, 1943 assigned to 21 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On March 5, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by F/Sgt James J. Richards as one of six on a bombing mission against Madang. Flying as the no. 3 aircraft in formation, this aircraft began emitting smoke from the exhaust near Gusap and lagged behind then rejoined formation with black smoke and ditched into the sea roughly 5 miles east of Madang.
From above, the formation observed it make a heavy landing and no movement was observed in the cockpit and the plane disappeared seconds later. At the time, the loss was deemed to have been caused by anti-aircraft fire. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
In fact, F/Sgt Stewart survived the ditching. The fate of F/Sgt Richards is unknown, likely he died in the ditching or at sea and remains listed as mission.
While Stewart was attempting to swim to shore, he was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). Transported to Amron he was detained by the Kempeitai (Military Police) and interrogation. During the middle or end of March 1944, Stewart was executed using a pistol in the vicinity of Amron with F/Sgt Frank Graeme McDonald pilot Vengeance A27-276 who crashed ten days previous to him.
Richards was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial on panel 7.
Stewart was officially declared dead on March 31, 1944. He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial on panel 6.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - A-31-NO Vengeance 41-31014
ADF Serials - Vengeance A27-82
CWGC - James Jarman Richards
CWGC - Leslie Stewart
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