During June, the 42nd Bombardment Group (M) continued to keep three air combat squadrons in the forward station at Stirling Island for sixty days and then move them back to Banika Island in the Russells for rest and training. Each squadron flew missions on two successive days and rested on the third day. This allowed the Group to put two squadrons, i.e., 24 planes over an enemy target each day.
The 75th Bombardment Squadron’s combat crews were replaced by those of the 390th on June 18. At month’s end, the combat crews of the 69th, 100th, and 390th squadrons were on active duty on Stirling Island along with the ground echelons of the 69th, the 70th and the 100th squadrons..
The Group’s combat activity continued to decline. It flew 30 missions in June, 37 during May and 76 during April. No enemy interception was experienced by the strikes. The percentage of sorties damaged by anti-aircraft fire during June was 2.3% as compare to 3.6 % during May, 5.7% in April and 13% in March. Japanese anti-aircraft defenses continue to disintegrate but remained dangerous.
Principal targets for the month were anti-aircraft positions along with personnel and supply areas. Unfavorable weather conditions and enemy camouflage continued to make target identification difficult. In June, 1,343,760 lbs of bombs were dropped on targets, a slight increase over May. Some 74,800 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunition were fired into enemy areas during low-level strafing attacks. No 75 mm cannon rounds were fired in June. No rounds of either caliber had been fired into enemy areas in May. The Group flew no anti-shipping missions in June.
Fourteen planes were damaged by anti-aircraft fire with most of the damage minor. Two crewmen received minor injuries during June. Two planes failed to return from missions with 11 men missing in action. These losses was attributed to bad weather as the aircraft were last seen near areas of extreme weather.
In anticipation of a move, the building up of base areas tapered off. More time was allocated to sports and entertainment with several softball and volleyball leagues running. Moving pictures in the evening continued to be the primary form of entertainment.
During June, leaves to Auckland, New Zealand were ended. Nine crews were given rest leaves in Sydney, Australia during June.
42nd Bomb Group Historical Report for June 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 6 July 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1650 – 1652.
Periodic Activities Summary, 1 June 1944 – 30 June 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 1 July 1944, microfilm B0131, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 1654 – 1661.
This is a wonderfully summarized report of the combat actions of that time period, down to the ordnance used. Thank you.
Wayne’s combat missions during May and June, as evidenced by planes damaged and injuries sustained by the flight crews, were a far cry from those experienced over Rabaul in late 1943/early 1944. That is not to discount the danger inherent in his missions. It is simply to observe that the worst may be yet to come.
Hi, My Uncle Howard Myers was flying 1 of the 2 planes that went missing in June. The 5th of June he was last seen upsidedown in a storm going in the water. We are always trying to lean more. Thank you for this article. Mark Stacy
The entry for June 5, 1944 contains information from the official records on this event. In those times, weather was a significant factor in aircraft losses. I hope you will read Wayne’s Journal in its entirety. It will provide you with information about the lives of those who served with the 42nd Bombardment Group in the Southwest Pacific.