June 5, 1944

Monday Went on my 18th mission today. Rain delayed us for two hours and we took off in the face of weather.1 When we hit the weather wall, 12 ships went all over the sky and one spun in, we think, and we’re still searching for the men.2

1st Lt. Howard L. Myers

1st Lt. Howard L. Myers

A swell bunch of boys. Pilot is Myers, copilot Grantham, bombardier Braswell, engineer Hanson, radio operator Campo, John; gunner Sullivan. These boys are all grand fellows, and I don’t feel they’re gone. We are sure to find them tomorrow, God willing. Tall, curly headed (black) Sullivan, short John Campo, a peach of a fellow who has a good line on life, and tall, slender blonde Hanson, handsome, never says much. Cool fellow and with the most musical laugh, I’ve ever heard. Please God, bring them safely home. All good men. This mission is one I don’t want to remember.3 Amen. Thanks Father for bringing us safely home. Received a package of cookies, candy and nuts from Bonnie today. Also a letter from her and one from mom. It’s good to get good things from home. Thank you, darling. Notes & Commentary 1 Twelve B-25s of the 75th Bombardment Squadron took off from Stirling Island on May 5 on a mission to bomb a truck area at Rabaul. The mission plan was for the B-25s to be over the target by 1110L; however, the mission’s aircraft did not begin to launch from Stirling Island until 1112L, two hours late. The mission’s flight route was to take them from Stirling to East Cape, thence north of Duke of York and Waton Island and then to Rabaul. As with other strikes against Rabaul, the mission would retire down St. George Channel then north of Buka Island and then down the east coast of Bougainville, east of the Shortlands Islands and to Stirling. Enroute to Rabaul, the mission encountered a large weather front just south of Motupena Point. The front extended westward about 200 miles with a base at 500 ft. and top of 20,000 ft. The heavy weather encountered at Motupena Point caused the formation to scatter. Over Rabaul, the weather was clear with generally the same conditions at Stirling Island. At Rabaul, heavy and medium caliber, tracking antiaircraft fire was encountered. The antiaircraft fire was accurate as to altitude and received before, during and after the bombing run. Among the antiaircraft guns observed firing was one gun near the radio station, two guns inshore from the wrecked flying boat in north Simpson Harbor, three guns in the cricket field on the east side of Simpson Harbor and the Hospital Ridge guns. Ten of the mission aircraft dropped their bombs over the target at 1321L. As a result of the bombing, one fire giving off black smoke rising to about 500 ft. was observed. Eleven of the mission’s aircraft recovered at Stirling between 1526 and 1700L with two aircraft having first landed at Green Island to refuel. One aircraft failed to return. B-25 #42-64705 was last seen five miles off Motupena Popint at 1200L as it was entering the weather front. Its crew consisted of the following men:

Pilot: 1st Lt. Howard L. Myers, O-672174 Copilot: 1st Lt. Bart F. Grantham, O-675422 Bombardier: 2nd Lt., Jesse O. Braswell, O-722897 Engineer: Sgt. Alvin C. Hanson, 19018784 Radio Operator: Cpl. John (NMI) Campo, 12050651 Gunner: S/Sgt. Jack L. Sullivan, 19174615

Mission Report, Mission No. 147, 5 June 1944 75th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 5 June 1944, microfilm A0565, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 756 – 758. 2 Between 1638 and 1650L, six B-25s of the 75th Bombardment Squadron left Stirling Island to search for the missing plane. Shortly after takeoff, one of the planes returned to base when its landing gear failed to retract. The remaining aircraft searched the area bounded by the southwest coast of Bougainville from Shortland Island northwest to a point opposite Torokina and 30 miles out to sea. During the search, the visibility below 1,000 ft. was described at unlimited. The search aircraft flew at altitudes of from 100 to 1,000 ft. The search results was negative. Scattered debris consisting of barrels, boxes, etc. was observed, but nothing was sighted that could be recognized as being part of an airplane or its contents. The search aircraft returned to Stirling Island between 1817 and 1841L. The aircraft and crews searching for the missing plane and crew were among those dispatched to bomb Rabual earlier in the day. They were searching for their friends. Mission Report, Mission No. 147-A, 5 June 1944 75th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 5 June 1944, microfilm A0565, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 759 – 760. 3 Wayne notes “This mission is one I don’t want to remember.” The aircraft in which he was flying probably encountered conditions similar to that described in the following statement:

Statement of Air Accident On June 5,1944 I was leader of the fourth element enroute to the target, with Lt. Howard D. Myers (O-672174) on my left wing. We took off from Stirly at 1113, joined the formation, and preceded on our climb for altitude. At approximately 1125 I noticed the formation was headed for an opening between two large cumulonimbus clouds. I was about one hundred (100) feet below and one hundred fifty (150) feet behind the third element and climbing at an indicated airspeed of one hundred fifty (150) miles per hour. The squadron leader tried to radio to the flight to turn around as he saw we would not be able to clear the top of the clouds. However, his radio was not operating correctly and no one in the flight heard his warning. When I realized I could not lead my flight through the clouds, I looked to my right and left and saw that Lt. Bever was fairly close to my right wing, and that Lt. Myers was at least one hundred fifty (150) yards to the rear. I motioned for a left hand turn and made a thirty (30) degree bank to the left, which would have given Lt. Myers ample room to follow me. My turn placed me in the outer edge of the cloud and I was on instruments for approximately one and a half minutes before breaking out on the same side we had entered. While in my turn and about ninety (90) degrees to Lt. Myer’s flight course, I noticed that he was below me and continuing straight ahead. That was the last time I saw Lt. Myers. This was about 1135L. After breaking out I climbed about five hundred (500) feet and again attempted to go through the top of the clouds. Immediately upon entering the cloud I was caught in an up-draft, and although I had the stick full forward, I was climbing six thousand (6,000) feet a minute at one hundred forty (140) miles an hour, with the ship vibrating all over. I called the bombardier to salvo all the bombs, but he was in the tunnel unable to move due to the violent maneuvers of the airplane. I was next caught in a donwn-draft which sent me down in a tight spiral, six thousand (6,000) feet a minute at two hundred (200) to two hundred fifty (250) miles an hour. My altitude when entering the cloud was around six thousand (6,000) feet, and varied from eight thousand (8,000) to four thousand (4,000) before we were thrown out of the cloud, the airplane being on its side. It is my belief the Lt. Myers was caught in a violent draft and sent into a tight spiral or spin from which he never recovered. The base of the clouds was four to five hundred feet. Claude B. Simmons 1 Lt., Air Corps.

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947, digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/28632048/ : accessed 02 June 2014), B-25, Aircraft Serial Number 42-64705, “Statement of Air Accident” by 1st Lt. Claude R. Simmons

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21 Responses to June 5, 1944

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I will be reading the March posts later. I was just curious to read today’s post.
    No wonder Wayne never talked that much about the war when he came back from it.

    Like

    • a gray says:

      Wayne talked about the war, but I don’t think it was ever a topic of general conversation. I remember a disagreement he had once with his brother, a combat infantryman in Germany, about who had it worse.

      Like

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        That must have been quite an argument.

        Like

      • a gray says:

        Not much. Just comments between brothers sitting on the porch after dinner drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and bickering about who had it worst. I feel certain that this was not unusual within families.

        Like

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        Thanks for sharing this little piece of history with me. I will continue to soldier on with your blog about Wayne.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Footnote

    As an “amateur” genealogist the name Myers is of interest. This name is in my family tree.
    Do you know where he was from?

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    • a gray says:

      I believe Howard L Myers was from Losantville, Randolph County, Indiana. Randolph County is located in mid-Indiana adjacent to Ohio.

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      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        He is not related then.
        Mine were living in Connecticut in the 1800s.

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      • a gray says:

        In the early 1800s, many from Connecticut migrated westward to Ohio and Indiana.

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      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        That was in the latter part of the 1800s.
        These people were in fact descendants of Chrétien Lemeyere or Brackmeyer who was a Hessian mercenary.
        I wrote about him on my blog Our ancestors when I found the link with him and the Myers connected to my family.

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  3. AZVHV.wordpress.com says:

    Wow… thanks Wayne for “liking” my post, your Like lead me to your blog, which I know will keep me fascinated for hours. And thank-you Sir, for your service. ~Bill

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    • AZVHV.wordpress.com says:

      I just read your about page…. I apologize, I now know that Wayne was your Uncle.

      Like

      • a gray says:

        That is not a problem. I hope you will enjoy Wayne’s Journal. I encourage you to always read the “Notes & Commentary” sections of the individual posts. The “Notes & Commentary” sections contain unique information and, sometimes, amazing videos and music.

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  4. kcastle129 says:

    Lt Howard Myers was my husband’s uncle. He will be so appreciative of knowing more information about what happened to Uncle Howard. Thank you so much for posting this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: August 14, 1944 | Wayne's Journal

  6. Nellie (Morgan) Green-Thurman says:

    Today August 17, 2014 I have just found Wayne’s Journal site pertaining to a mission on June 5, 1944 when a plane was lost during a mission and a weather storm, that had developed, with the loss of 6 young men who did not return. I read every word of this story and the search for
    the crew members lost.

    The gunner, Jack L. Sullivan, was my first love and the news that he was on board that particular plane literally tore me to pieces and he has never been forgotten. I still carry his picture in my wallet and a framed photo in my home some 70 years later.

    I was so glad to learn there had been at least a search made hoping to find this crew, even though none were found.

    My last communication with Jack ended with these words ” No matter what you may hear…I will be home for Christmas”. Oh how I hoped that would be true but sadly it didn’t happen.

    I have married twice in my life and have been Widowed both times Each knew about Jack and never minded that I still had pictures and memories of him. Both of them were also WW II veterans. If any of the veterans who flew on missions with Jack or simply knew him are still living, I would certainly like to hear from you. Or by any chance if Jacks cousin Frances, my high school chum, sees this I would also love to hear from her.

    Nellie

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Kelly Grantham says:

    Bart Grantham was my husbands uncle. My son is named Bart in memory of him. We were told that there was a storm and Bart’s plane was never found. It is wonderful to know what really happened. Bart is still listed as MIA and his name is listed on a wall at the USS ALABAMA battleship in Mobile Bay.
    Thank you for posting!!!!

    The family of Bart F. Grantham

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Martha Patton Jax says:

    Bart Grantham was my mother’s brother and I was raised knowing the family story of his demise in World War II. As Kelly noted, the family was under the impression that he was on a non combat mission, flying as co pilot at the request of his friend the pilot and they flew into a storm. We never thought to look further into this incident and am grateful that a chance encounter with a military historian on Facebook resulted in our being sent this information. thank you Mark O’Neil. It is indeed wonderful to know the full story. When my mother passed a few years ago, I came across a certificate declaring him dead. It was issued in 1945 and signed by Harry Truman, President of the United States. I am pleased to know of another Bart in our family and hope to meet him one of these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mindy says:

      My Dad’s brother was the pilot, Howard Myers. His picture has always been proudly displayed in our house. I am also thankful for this information.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Shari Medsker Flannagan says:

    Thank you so much for posting this journal. Howard Myers is also my uncle.. my Mother’s
    brother. We keep his memory very much alive with pictures and scrapbooks.
    Appreciate your sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pierre Lagacé says:

    The comments made on this post are your reward for sharing Wayne’s journal.

    Like

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