THURSDAY, 30 DECEMBER 1943
CENTRAL PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Seventh Air Force): Seventeen B-24's, flying
from Tarawa bomb Kwajalein Atoll and
nine B-25's from Tarawa hit the town of Jabor. A-24s from Makin escorted by 24 P-39 dive-bomb gun
positions on Mille. Advance HQ, Seventh Air Force,
is moved from Funafuti to Tarawa, where it remains until
the completion of the main campaign in the Gilbert and Marshalls.
BURMA-INDIA (Tenth Air Force): 20 B-24's pound Monywa, Burma, hitting railway
facilities and the area in general.
CHINA (Fourteenth Air Force): In China, 8 Japanese fighters strafe Suichaan
Airfield while 12 others provide cover; 2 US airplanes are destroyed on the
ground; 8 P-40's intercept the formation after the attack and shoot down
USN: Lost returning from a search mission is PV-1 Ventura 33346 (crew rescued).
USMC: Marines completely secure Cape Gloucester Airfield.
SOUTHWEST PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Fifth Air Force): A-20's hit positions in the Cape Gloucester area. B-24's and B-25's
bomb the Alexishafen and Madang areas, Sio, and targets of opportunity along the coast of the Huon Peninsula; P-39's
strafe barges along the Huon Peninsula; and P-47's strafe the Madang area
and huts between Sio and Vincke Point. Lost is F-4 "Alice the Goon" 41-2209 (MIA).
SOUTH PACIFIC THEATER OF OPERATIONS (Thirteenth Air Force): 16 B-24's and 35 B-25's bomb Kahili and the bivouac and
supply areas in the vicinity and 6 B-25's bomb the Korovo area.
Twenty-four B-24s from the 5th Bombardment Group "Bomber Barons", 72nd Bombardment Squadron and 394th Bombardment Squadron at Munda Airfield make a maximum effort air raid targeting Tobera Airfield near Rabaul. Flying at 18,000', the formation experiences bad weather inbound to the target and four aborted the mission. The formation was escorted by 25 fighters including F6F Hellcats from VF-33 and F4U Corsairs from VMF-214.
The remaining twenty B-24s (other sources state nineteen B-24s) found Tobera Airfield was obscured by bad weather. Instead, the formation diverted to bomb Rabaul town and four bombs were dropped on Lakunai Airfield.
Over the target, the formation was intercepted by 60-90 aggressive Japanese fighters. During the combat, B-24 gunners claim 12 fighters shot down plus 9 probables. Escorting U.S. fighters claim 4 shot down.
As a result, two B-24s were damaged by a combination of anti-aircraft fire, aerial bombs and gunfire from the intercepting fighters. Lost was B-24D "Pretty Prairie Special" 41-24186 (3 MIA / 9 POW, 1 survived) pilot Colonel Marion D. Unruh (C. O. 5th Bomb Group) was the only member of the crew taken prisoner to survive the Pacific War. B-24J 42-73268 took off late due to a supercharger problem and bombed the alternate target of Maleai on Magusaiai Island in the Shortland Islands.
AirComSols Intel Summary - December 30, 1943
Japanese Monograph 142 - does not have information on December 30, 1943
History of the Fifth Bombarment Group: The Story of 5th Bombardment Group (Heavy) (1946) page 56
"Colonel Unruh Shot Down - December 30: In a maximum 5th Group effort Liberators of the 72nd and 394th Squadrons from Munda bombed Rabaul. Approximately 60 to 70 enemy fighters intercepted our formation. Despite two dozen friendly fighters who were covering the strike, nearly every Liberator in the formation was credited with downing one or more Zekes.
On this day the group suffered a terrible loss Colonel Unruh and crew were shot down. The next day search planes reported sighting eight of the missing men, including Colonel Unruh, on the east beach of New Ireland. Emergency rations were dropped. However a sucessful rescue was never effected.
When this news arrived in the group, morale slumped, Colonel Unruh had endeared himself to all his men. A deathly quite hung over the New Year's celebration: and newcomers to the group, a year later, heard all about the wonderful leader, officer and man that Colonel Unruh represented to the men of the 5th Bomb Group. On December 31, 1944 Lt. Col. Joseph E. Reddoch assumed command of the group."
SOPAC December 30, 1943 Research Notes by Richard Dunn
Thanks to Richard Dunn, Donna Esposito and Edward Rogers for additional information