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American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:58 pm
by DavidAmsterdam

I'm looking for information about an American pilot held prisoner in Borneo, Dutch East Indies. My Dutch grandmother was imprisoned with him, probably in the town of Bandjermasin around 1943/1944. She told me his name: David Willfinger (I don't know if this spelling is correct)

Does anybody maybe have tips where I can find information about US air force losses over Borneo, or any additional information?



Re: American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:56 pm
by RSwank
I checked the site for the name David Willfinger, David Wilfinger and soundex searches for any name that would "sound" similar. has the Missing Air Crew Reports for Army Air Force losses in WWII. It also contains info on enlistment records. No matches.

I also checked the POW lists that can be found by digging through the website

The specific data sets are found on this page:

No POW matches on those specific names. (you enter last name, then a space, then a first name if you you wish). Just searching for Willfinger or Wilfinger without a first name does not give any POW matches either.

You can also check on the same linked page above, for the Army enlistment records for those names (the Air Force was part of the Army at the time). I did not find any matches.

So where to go from here? The name may not be remembered correctly, but I am not sure what else to try at the moment.

Re: American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:06 am
by DavidAmsterdam
Hi RSwank, too bad nothing turned up yet but thank you so much for your elaborate search! And for pointing out these archives and sites to me.

I'm aware of the risk that I got the name wrong. Or maybe he wasn't a pilot but a crew member. I figured then the best chance would maybe be to look for a list of aircraft/personnel lost over Borneo. My grandmother was stationed as a nurse (later POW) at Tarakan, Bandjermasin an Kandangan, on the eastern and southeastern parts of Borneo. Between 24 december 1941 an 25 september 1945.

I looked on the the site of the 380th Bomb Group but so far I've found only 1 aircraft lost over Borneo. So there must be more to find.

Re: American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:48 pm
by RSwank

I did a little more searching on the POW data bases given in the link above. It appears the 2nd POW database, labeled WWII Prisoners of the Japanese, is actually a subset of the first POW file. (At least every person I checked in the 2nd database also appears in the first). So using the 1st POW database you can search it in some rather complex ways if you get into the search by field options. The quickest way is to first select the "field glasses" search option for the 1st POW database when it appears on the link I gave. Then, on the screen that opens, select the "field glasses" search option again. That should open a form that allows you to control the search by specific fields and even allows you to add more fields to the form. On that form you can enter a number "2" for the detaining power (Japan) and then in the name field enter "David". That will list all POWs with the name "David" held by the Japanese. (There were 302 of them). If you set the display option for 50 on a page, it is a simple matter to run through the list. I did not see any good matches to the man you seek, but your results may vary. You get Civilians, Navy, Marine and Army people. Also of interest if you explore by holding camp, there is only one camp coded for Borneo, camp 590 Kuching. Most people listed are civilians but there were a few army and navy people. Again the names don't seem to fit.

Re: American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:09 am
by RSwank

As a followup to my post above about the US POW file only showing 6 American military names in the one Borneo camp listed, (Camp 590) I thought it would be interesting to see what units those men were from. The units might give you some further possibilities to search.

Corrin, Phillip R and Nelson, John R were from the 5th BG. They were on B-24 33-40924 shot down on 16 November 1944. Several of the crew of the plane evaded and that story has extensive coverage here.

Stone, Harry and Johnson, Harold Martin were Navy crewmen from the USS Huston, which was sunk early in the war in the Java Sea.

The next name is Morris, John was from the 307th BG, 370th BS. The 307th flew a series of raids against the Balikpapan oilfields and his plane was shot down on one of those raids. Note the 5th BG also flew raids against Balikpapan.

The sixth name is Allison, Kenneth G. He was in the 38th BG, 405th BS (A B-25 outfit). He is listed as being captured on 30 December 1944. On that date the unit did bomb Tarakan and the plane Allison was on (he was a radio operator) was shot down. However it appears he was rescued a couple of days later along with the crews of the two planes lost. Perhaps he was lost on a subsequent mission and his POW record is just incorrect. At any rate, it would appear if you are seeking units that operated over Borneo you can include the 5th BG, the 307th BG and the 38th BG. There are some good websites for some of these.

307th BG ( the first link has crew lists)

38th BG (site has a lot of documents that can be downloaded).

5th BG
There is a Facebook site. ... 2234918726

31st BS of the 5th BG

Re: American pilot POW in Borneo

Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 2:11 pm
by DavidAmsterdam
Great man, thanks for looking all this up! Lot of stuff i didn't know yet...

I read the 90th BG also did a lot of missions against Balikpapan. I'm still surprised that so few appear to be lost over Borneo because so many missions were flown, especially in '44/'45. Maybe the air superiority was won by then over Borneo? Apart from that, camp 590 Kuching is in the northern part of Borneo, far away from Balikpapan, Tarakan etc...

I found Dutch sources saying they where bombed by accident by lone 'flying fortresses' deep in the interior of Borneo. According to some other Dutch sources P-38's also accompanied the attacks ... Haven't found these units yet.

Anyway thanks again for all the info!