November 15, 1944

Wednesday

Wayne made no journal entry for November 15, 1944. He did, though, fly on a ground support mission in support of the invasion of Mapia Atoll, i.e. the Mapia Islands.

Notes & Commentary

Two groups of small islands, one, the Mapia Islands at 00°50’N 130°15’E, and the other, the Asia Islands at 01°05’N 134°20E, were occupied by Japanese forces and had been used as observation posts in the paths of Allied aerial and shipping lanes to Morotai and the Philippines. When it was decided that the Mapia Islands. which consist of Pulau Pegun and Pulau Bras, were to be occupied with November 15 as D-Day, the 42nd Bombardment Group was selected to do the pre-invasion softening up and ground support. On November 11, pamphlets were dropped to the natives on Pegun Island telling them to leave the area as it was to be bombed. The natives left the island and none were killed. The four days preceding D-Day were spent in bombing and strafing the island. On D-Day, four B-25s were kept over the area in radio communication with the ground command post. They attacked specific targets on request. This close cooperation by the 42nd Bombardment Group with the invasion force, the 31st Infantry Division, was warmly commended by the division’s commander.

Historical Records and Histories of Organizations. 42nd Bomb Group, November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 9 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 8.

Twelve B-25Js from the 100th Bo mbardment Squadron in four-plane shifts provided on-call air support, starting at 0530 and ending at 1800, over Mapia Atoll. Four B-25Js were on orbit over Mapia and Bras Islands from 0530 until 1800. The first four planes were to rendezvous at an altitude of 4,000’ about 3,000 yds southwest of Mapia Island at 0530 and remain there until 1000 or until relieved by the second shift. The last section of four planes was to be on station from 1400 until 1800.

At 1700, Pegun Island was completely occupied. Troops were observed on the beaches and swimming north and south of the island.

During the day, the first shift four planes recovered at Mar Air Field at 1120. The next shift to four planes landed at 1450. The final shift of four planes landed at 1905.

Final Mission Report, Mission No. 161, 15 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 15 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1491-1493.

The first four planes rendezvoused about 3,000 yds southwest of Mapia Island at 0530 at an altitude of 4,000’. On the way to the rendezvous, the aircraft sighted the invading forces in convoy 15 miles off the southern tip of Pegun Island. As the planes rendezvoused southwest of Mapia Island at 0530 the Naval bombardment of Red Beach began.

At 0630, the initial invasion started on Red Beach with DUKWs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DUKW) and Alligators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Vehicle_Tracked). Troops using flamethrowers were noted. At 0700, supply DUKWs hit the shore. At 0720, voice contact with a ground radio station was established.

At 0745, a message was received from the ground commander for one plane to bomb and strafe Bras Village. This communication was with ground station A-299. The P-38s escorting the B-25s were asked to drop oil bombs on Bras Village. This request was relayed to the P-38s through the B-25s as the radios used by the P-38s were not compatible with the systems employed by the ground station. At 0802, one B-25, from a minimum altitude, dropped four 500 lb. general-purpose bombs and expended 1,500 rounds of ammunition on the village.

At 0900, the Navy shelled Bras Island. At 1200, DUKWs and Alligators were using the east and west beaches as far north as the village on the east side of the coast. Ground troops were observed on the trail one-fourth the way up the island from the south. The aircraft also sighted a convoy consisting of one Australian light cruiser, one destroyer, three destroyer escorts and 17 or 19 LCIs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Craft_Infantry) and LCMs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_Craft_Mechanized).

Prior to returning to Mar Air Field, the three planes of the first shift that had not yet dropped their bombs were asked to attack Bras Village. The three planes attacked Bras Village at 1015 from a minimum altitude. Three strafing passes were made expending approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

The second four-plane shift was on station from 1000 until 1400; however, they expended no bombs or ammunition. At 1100 the second set of four planes attempted to check in on the air-to-ground radio network but could not establish voice contact with the ground station. At 1215, ground station A-299 went off watch because of receiver trouble. No radio or voice contact was made after that.

The last four-plane shift was asked to bomb the center of the island and to strafe Bras Village. With the radio contact with the invading forces out of order, this request and target information was relayed to the four B-25s through blinker signals originating from a destroyer escort. From 1800 to 1810 the four planes made individual passes on Bras Village expending approximately 6,900 rounds of ammunition strafing the island from a minimum altitude. They also dropped 16 500 lb general-purpose bombs.

During the course of the day, 32 500 lb. general-purpose bombs were dropped and 10,900 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition expended.

Consolidated Mission Report #739, 15 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 15 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 96-98.

Wayne flew on B-25 #126 piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Miller. The other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt.  Helmuth W. Mahnke; 1st Lt. Zygmunt S. Turonowski; S/Sgt Stanley L. Seehorn; and S/Sgt Lewis H. Miller. It is supposed that plane #126 was the lead aircraft of the first four-plane shift over Mapia Atoll.

Operations Order No. 99, 15 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 15 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1494-1496.

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5 Responses to November 15, 1944

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I know I keep saying this…

    I am amazed by your research.

    Like

  2. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Who has ever heard of Bras Village?
    It’s now in the history books!

    Thanks for sharing Wayne’s Journal

    Like

  3. Mustang.Koji says:

    It makes you think of magnitude of destructive forces absorbed by such a small atoll… and since I am unaware of the native life, what language were the leaflets in? They certainly heeded the warning. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mustang.Koji says:

    ps As learned as you are, are you aware of the Pacific Wrecks website? I’m thinking you do. ☺ http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/veterans/garrett/part7.html

    Liked by 1 person

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