As with yesterday, Wayne made no journal entry for November 16, 1944. In the afternoon, he flew on a ground support mission in support of the invasion of Mapia Atoll.
Note & Commentary
On November 16, 1944, three B-25Js of the 100th Bombardment Squadron, in one-plane shifts starting at 0545, furnished on-call air support to the ground commander of the invading forces of Mapia Atoll. As they did on the preceding day and aircraft orbited southwest of Pegun Island at 4,000’. The first B-25J was on station at 0545 and remained on station until 1000 when it was relieved by the second B-25J. The last B-25J was on station from 1400 to 1800.
At 0645, the first B-25J on station was directed to bomb and strafe a target on Bras Island. At 0700, it made a bombing and strafing run at minimum altitude dropping two 500 lb general purpose bombs near two huts in the southeast village of Bras Island. Approximately 1,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were expanded during this strafing run which covered the full length of the island. A second strafing run was made at 0705 at the same altitude, again dropping two 500 lb general-purpose bombs. On this strafing run approximately 900 rounds of ammunition was expended. At 0710 a third run was made at minimum altitude again strafing the entire length of the island. 600 rounds of ammunition were expanded during the strafing run. The indicated airspeed on each of these strafing runs was 270 mph.
At 0730, naval bombardment of the south end of Bras Island commenced. This was followed at 0821 by 12 Alligators which went ashore on the island’s west coast, 300 yards north of its south end. The Alligators were followed at 0845 by 10 DUKWs loaded with men and equipment.
This aircraft landed at Mar Air Field at 1102.
As the second aircraft was coming on station the ground station on Pegun Island to investigate possible boats northwest of Bras Island. A search of the area out to 90 miles northwest of Bras Island was made at 4,000 feet from 0958 to 1120 with no sightings. About the time the second B-25J arrived to replace the first B-25J, the invasion task force’s cruiser and destroyers headed north around Bras Island and then west toward Fanildo Island.
The second B-25J on station was directed by the ground commander, about 1200, to bomb and strafe Finaldo Island. The first pass was at 1215, at minimum altitude, with the B-25J starting to strafe at the reef on the south side of the island and continuing north across the island, dropping two 500 lb general-purpose bombs. At 1220 a second run was made exactly as the first, and at 1225 a third pass was made at the same altitude but strafing only. During this last strafing pass, the lone hut on Fanildo Island was set afire by the tail gunner. At 1245 naval bombardment of Fanildo Island started. Shortly prior to be being relieved by the third B-25 from the 100th Bombardment Squadron, the second aircraft crew observed a concentration of friendly troops on the beach at the north end of Bras Island.
This aircraft recovered at Mar Air Field at 1500.
The third B-25J, on which Wayne was flying, came on station at about 1400. The plane’s crew observed Alligators shuttling back and forth between Bras and Pegun Islands between 1400 and 1600. On Pegun Island, they observed washing being hung on lines to dry. At 1700 they observed four LCIss bombarding Fanildo Island in preparation for the landing of troops.
Despite the first two aircraft on station during the day being in communication voice communication with the ground station of the invading forces, the third aircraft was unable to obtain establish contact with the ground control and no authority to attack was received during its mission. It’s only communications were made by CW, i.e., Morse code.
This aircraft recovered at Mar Air Field at 1910.
Final Mission Report, Mission No. 162, 16 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 16 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1473-1476. See also Consolidated Mission Report #748, 16 November 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 16 November 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 105-107.
Wayne flew on B-25 #105 piloted by 1st Lt. Norman B. Erbert. The other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt. Helmuth W. Mahnke; 1st Lt. Ralph H. Stem; S/Sgt Stanley L. Seehorn; and S/Sgt Donald T. Downs. Taking off from Mar Air Field at 1250, Wayne’s plane was the last B-25 of the 100th Bombardment Squadron on station over Mapia Atoll ready to provide ground support.
Operations Order No. 100, 16 November 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 16 November 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1467-1468.