December 23, 1944

Saturday

As he had done on December 21, Wayne flew two missions on December 23. This time, both were against Lolobata and Hatetabaco Airdromes and their related facilities. During the morning, the mission was to bomb and strafe the Lolobata River personnel and supply areas. In the afternoon, the mission was to strafe and bomb the Lolobata and Hatetabaco Airdromes’ personnel and supply area. Wayne flew in B-25 #015 piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Miller. The other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt. Jack A. Wilson, T/Sgt. Joseph D. Fabre and Cpl. Howard Fagan.1

Nine B-25Js of the 100th Bombardment Squadron departed Mar Airfield in three flights of three aircraft each between 0720 and 0725. Each plane carried twelve 100 lb. general purpose bombs and a full load of ammunition. The target was attacked at 1000. Six of the planes dropped their bombs. About 17,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended.

During the B-25s’ attack, P-40s, P-38s and Beaufighters were also conducting attacks in the area.

Slight, light and medium antiaircraft fire was received from known positions and from machine gun positions along the east coast of Lolobata Point. Following the attack, the aircraft landed at Pitoe Airfield on Morotai between 1040 and 1045.2

The nine B-25Js from the 100th Bombardment Squadron were part of a 45 plane 42nd Bombardment Group attack on barge hideouts and personnel and supply areas from the mouth of the Lolobata River to a point 1½ miles upstream. The squadron attacks were launched independently and successively at minimum altitude.

At 0950, the 75th Bombardment Squadron commenced the attack. An explosion in Lolobata village was noted but no other results were reported.

At 0953, the 390th Bombardment Squadron dropped bombs near antiaircraft positions east of the Lolobata runway and in clearings between the east end of Hatetabaco runway and the Lolobata River. The Hatetabaco docks were strafed as was a machine gun position near the river mouth. This position was silenced. No other results were observed.

The 69th Bombardment Squadron commenced the attack at 0955 on the north side of the river. Numerous small file numerous small fires were started throughout the area and had the parents of burning and rice supplies or burning buildings.

The 100th Bombardment Squadron commenced its attack at 1000. Four small fires with gray and white smoke rising to 100’ were observed in the target area.

The 70th Bombardment Squadron commenced its attack at 1005. Three fires, two in Lolobata village, were the product of this attack.

Slight, heavy caliber and automatic weapons fire along with intense small arms and machine gun fire was received during the attack. The light caliber fire was effective, holding five planes. One plane took a probable 20 mm hit in the turret slightly wounding the gunner and wrecking the position. One plane was hit in six places by a heavy caliber burst. Four crews reported explosions in the treetops which could possibly be preset charges detonated by remote control but more likely were automatic weapons projectiles bursting on hitting the trees. One of these bursts exploded beneath the plane causing the pilot to lose control momentarily. The plane hit a tree causing severe damage to the left vertical stabilizer but it was subsequently safely landed at Pitoe. The anti-aircraft fire was reported generally from previously plotted positions. Machine gun fire came from locations along the coast north, west and south of the airdrome areas.

Two large fires with billowing, dense a black smoke to an estimated 5,000’ were observed north of the Hatetabaco runway. Stocks of what appeared to be airplane parts were seen in the clearing north of the Northeast taxi loop at Hatetabaco. Roads in the vicinity of Hatetabaco Airdrome appeared to be in good condition and much used.

All of the mission aircraft were off Sansapor by 0745 and had landed at Pitoe on Morotai at 1050. One plane of the 75th Bombardment Squadron turned back at 0909 because of engine trouble and safely landed at Mar airfield at 1025. One plane from the 390th Bombardment Squadron crashed on landing at Pitoe. A punctured nose wheel tire is alleged to have contributed to the accident. The plane was wrecked beyond repair but all personnel escaped with minor injuries none of which required more than first aid treatment.

Each aircraft carried twelve 100 lb. general-purpose bombs. 494 bombs were dropped on the target and 34 were returned to base. Of those returned, 22 were not dropped due to release mechanism failure and the other 12 were not dropped due to personnel error. 81,400 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were fired into the target are area.3

Between 1405 and 1410 after rearming and refueling at Pitoe Airfield, the nine B-25Js of the 100th Bombardment Squadron which had attacked Lolobata River area in the morning took off to strafe and bomb the Lolobata and Hatetabaco Airdromes’ personnel and supply areas. Again, each plane carried twelve 100 lb. general purpose bombs and full load of ammunition. At 1445 in a line abreast formation, the nine B-25Js launched their bombing and strafing run. Slight to moderate generally inaccurate, light and medium antiaircraft fire holed one plane and slightly injured one radio operator. The plane was sent to the repair depot. The mission recovered at Mar Airfield between 1640 and 1650.4

The 100th Bombardment Squadron’s attack was part of a consolidated mission of the 42nd Bombardment Group against the personnel and supply area between the Lolobata and Hatetabaco runways.

At 1445, bombing and strafing runs were initiated by the 75th, 100th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons. Prior to the attack fires started in the morning were still noted to be billowing smoke. The attack of the 75th Bombardment Squadron started numerous small fires throughout the target area. The attack of the 100th Bombardment Squadron caused the same. The 390th Bombardment Squadron thoroughly strafed to the target area and claimed the following targets to of been hit by its fire: A machine gun position with two men operating it east of the Hatetabaco taxi loop, a four gun position with four men operating a 40 mm antiaircraft gun east of the Hatetabaco runway on the edge of the clearing, and a steamroller.

The 69th Bombardment Squadron commenced its attack at 1450. Two strings of bombs were observed to fall in the oil drum area to the north of Hatetabaco. A large explosion was noted in the oil drum area midway between the east ends of each runway. In addition a smaller fire was noted near the road junction east of the oil drum area.

During the attack by the 70th Bombardment Squadron which commenced at 1455, a fire with gray smoke was started East of the Hatetabaco runway. Additionally, two fires were started 3,000’ south of the Hatetabaco. One of these fires developed into a terrific explosion as the 70th Bombardment Squadron pulled off through Kao Bay. The explosion occurred at approximately 1450 and very black dense smoke was seen to shoot skyward to a cloud base at 3,500’.

Moderate, light and medium antiaircraft of varying accuracy was received from known positions and from scattered machine gun positions during the attack. Thirteen planes were holed, one of which was laid up for repairs. One squadron reported splashes in the water on the approach as if heavy caliber fire was used to create waterspouts.

During the course of the attack, one person in uniform was observed in a garden in the attack’s path. In the middle of the garden plot midway between the two runways, what appeared to be a bomb dump was reported.

Each of the attacking aircraft carried twelve 100 lb. general-purpose bombs. 452 of the bombs were dropped in the target area, 28 were returned to base, and 12 were salvoed because of malfunction. 91,500 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition were expanded during the attack. Each squadron attacked at a minimum altitude in a line abreast formation at 240 miles per hour.5

The mission aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield.

Notes & Commentary

1 Operations Order No. 136, 23 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 23 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1735- 1736

2 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 215, 23 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 23 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frame 1739.

3 Consolidated Mission Report #42-947, 23 December 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 23 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 624-627.

4 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 216, 23 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 23 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1732-1733.

5 Consolidated Mission Report #42-948, 23 December 1944. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 23 December 1944, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 628-630.

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