December 21, 1944

Thursday

Wayne did not enter anything in his journal on December 21; however, during the day he did fly two missions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The morning mission was to bomb and strafe supply and gun positions at Goeroea Bay. The afternoon mission involved the bombing and strafing of the Lolobata and Hatetabaco Airdromes. The mission aircraft included nine B-25Js from the 100th Bombardment Squadron led by Capt. Charles W. Wolfendale, the squadron commander, in B-25 #893. Wayne flew in B-25 #131 piloted by 1st Lt Kenneth E. Miller. The other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt William R. Florance and S/Sgts Louis H. Miller and James Higgins. 1

The plan of attack for the morning mission was for the nine B-25Js to bomb and strafe Goeroea (Gurua) Bay Supply Area #2 from a minimum altitude at exactly 0815 on a generally south to north heading. This attack was to be in elements of three aircraft at 20 second intervals. Each aircraft carried twelve 100 lb. general purpose bombs and a full load of ammunition.

The aircraft departed at Mar Airfield between 0620 and 0625 and traveled on a direct route to Goeroea Bay. The aircraft commenced their attack at 0814 at a minimum altitude. The pilots of the wing ships of each element released their bombs on the lead bombardier’s release. 84 bombs were dropped in the target area. 24 bombs were returned to base due to mechanical failure. At the conclusion of the attack, the mission aircraft retired to the left over Wasile Bay then turned north over Kao (Kau) Bay to land at Morotai. 2 Only bomb smoke was observed by the tail gunner’s as the planes retired from the target area.

Light and medium antiaircraft fire emanating from known gun positions was intense and accurate throughout the bomb run and retirement. Tracers were seen passing through the formation but only two planes were holed in their tail assemblies. No personnel were injured. Two large fires with black smoke up to 1,000 feet were observed near the western part of Goeroea Bay near the gun positions.3

After refueling, re-arming and lunch at Pitoe Airfield on Morotai, the nine mission aircraft took off between 1510 to 1515 to bomb and strafe personnel areas and antiaircraft gun positions between Lolobata and Hatetabaco Airfields on Halmahera Island.4 Two planes carried twelve 100 lb. general-purpose bombs, six of the planes carried six 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs while one plane carried seven 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs. All the aircraft carried a full load of ammunition.

After takeoff from Pitoe, the mission aircraft encountered an impenetrable weather front north of Lolobata. This caused the mission aircraft to change course for Andai village on Waigeo Island, their alternate target. Two three-plane elements and one-two-plane element attacked Andai village at 1700. At Andai, 24 100 lb. general-purpose bombs and 39 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs were dropped. Four 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs hung up in one of the aircraft on its run over the target and were returned to base.

The last plane dropped with the 390th Bombardment Squadron which was attacking Kabarei village. This aircraft had lost the formation due to the weather encountered north of Lolobata and joined the 390th Bombardment Squadron on its mission to attack Kabarei village. This 100th Bombardment Squadron aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield with the 390th Bombardment Squadron.

Of the bomb hits observed, 24 100 lb. general-purpose bombs and 33 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs covered the cleared area at Andai. Six 100 lb. parachute demolition bombs exploded 200 feet west of the village of Kabarei. Approximately 22,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were expanded strafing Andai and Kabarei. There were no observed results from the bombing or the strafing.

Slight light and accurate antiaircraft fire was received over the targets. Two planes were holed causing minor damage. There were no personnel injuries. Photographs were taken during the bombing and strafing with the K-24 cameras.

The mission recovered at Marr airfield between 1745 and 1750.5

Notes & Commentary

1 Operations Order No. 134, 21 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 21 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1755- 1757

2 Wasile Bay is located only 60 miles south of Moratai Island. Three months earlier, in September, Wasile Bay was the scene of a dramatic daylight rescue by two PT boats, PT 489 and PT 363, of Ensign Harold A. Thompson, a Navy fighter pilot shot down while on a carrier borne fighter sweep over Halmahera Island. Throughout the rescue of the wounded pilot, the PT boats were under fire from shore batteries. In charge of the rescue was Lt. A. Murray Preston, USNR, commander of Squadron 33 aboard PT 489 commanded by Lt. Wilfred B. Tatro, USNR. Commanding PT 363 was Lt. jg. Hershel F. Boyd, USNR. For this action, Lt. Preston received the Medal of Honor, and four other participants each received the Navy Cross. Robert John Bulkley. At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy. Naval History Division. Washington: GPO, 1962. pp. 368 – 369.

3 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 211, 21 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 21 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1753-1754.

4 “Lolobata Airfield.” PacificWrecks.com. (http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/indonesia/lolobato/index.html : accessed 20 December 2014). See also “Halmahera Island.” PacificWrecks.com. (http://www.pacificwrecks.com/provinces/irian_halmahera.html : accessed 20 December 2014).

5 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 212, 21 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 21 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1750-1751.

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