Christmas – Monday
Early Christmas morning, two B-25Js, aircraft #087 and #013, were scheduled to conduct a weather reconnaissance and dawn shipping sweep over the north coast of Ceram west of Cape Hewal, the northeast coast of Boeroe, the south coast of Ceram west of Haroekoe Strait, and Amboina, Haroekoe and Saparoea Islands, with particular attention being paid to Laoet Island, the area between Kajeli Bay and Wapotih, around the Lacet Islands and west coast of Amboina Island. The condition of enemy runways as well as ground activity was to be noted and reported. Each plane was armed with twelve 100 lb. general purpose bombs and a full load of ammunition.
The mission plan called for two aircraft to take off about an hour before sunrise and fly the search area together. Aircraft #013 took off from Mar Airfield at 0440. The takeoff of mission’s second aircraft was delayed by a short circuit in the radio of the originally scheduled aircraft. The crew finally transferred to aircraft #087 and departed Mar Airfield at 0535.
The crew of aircraft #087, in the search area from 0743 until 1028, reported Laha and Amahai runways, from 2,000’ and a distance of a mile, appeared to be serviceable. They also reported approximately 200 small native canoes at Laoet Island. No unusual shipping activity was noted at Boeroe and no ground activity was observed. No submarine was observed on approach to Sansapor. The second mission aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield at 1205.
The first mission aircraft, #013 was never heard from after takeoff at 0440 and failing to return was listed as missing. 1 The crew of #013 consisted of 2nd Lt. Frank E. Hendrick’s, Pilot, and the following men: 2nd Lt. Jack A. Wilson, Co-pilot; 2nd Lt. Thomas E. Dail, Navigator; Cpl. Roscoe W. Chapman, Radio Operator; Cpl. Richard J. Hocking, Armorer/Gunner; and Cpl. Joseph S. Farrar, Engineer/Gunner. B-25J #013 never established radio contact with the ground station at Mar Airfield. It was believed that it ran into a thunderhead in Dampier Strait and crashed in that vicinity.2
A search missions was put together and at 1425, a four-plane search mission took off from Mar Airfield. They flew through Dampier Strait searching the south side of Waigeo Island before turning left to the Kofian Island group. Then they went south to Misool thence southwest to Cape Tandoeroe Besar, Ceram where the formation turned back at 1639, returning to the west tip of the Misool Islands. Two planes returned through Sagewin Strait while the other two returned across Vogelkop, West New Guinea near Sele Strait to Doro Bay direct to base. The search altitude was below 1,000’.
Wayne participated in the four-plane search for B-25J #013. He flew on B-25J #087 which had been used earlier in the day for the shipping sweep with plane #013. During the search mission, #087 was piloted by 1st Lt. Kenneth E. Miller. In addition to Wayne, the other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt. Ward D. Rae, 2nd Lt. Harold L. Wagner, and S/Sgts Rama O. Holder and Harold T. Crawford.3
One mission aircraft sighted a wharf with fuel drums 10 miles north of Cape Sele during its return to base. It strafed the wharf and fuel drums from minimum altitude expending 500 rounds of ammunition. There was no apparent damage to either the wharf or fuel drums.
One of the search aircraft recovered at Mar Airfield at 1745, just before sunset, while the other three recovered at 1830. The search for aircraft #013 and its crew was negative.4
Searching for friends. That’s how Wayne spent Christmas Day 1944. Some of the men missing on aircraft #013 were men that he had flown missions with in the past, men with whom he had shared danger and fear. At the end of his day, he made no entry in his journal.
In England, Verne, would record his Christmas in his diary:
Spent a wearisome day about the base. Had a darn good turkey dinner tonight. No mail call. Have been out of coke5 for two days & all well nigh froze. A heavy frost gave us a white Christmas.
Notes and Commentary
1 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 218, 25 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 25 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1725-1726.
2 Narrative Mission Report, Mission No. 218, 25 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 25 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frame 1723.
3 Operations Order No. 138, 25 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 25 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1712-1713 & 1717.
4 Final Mission Report, Mission No. 221, 25 December 1944, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Intelligence Officer, 25 December 1944, microfilm A0576, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 1709-1710.
5 Coke – a fuel usually made from coal. “Coke (fuel),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,( http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Coke_(fuel)&oldid=636043671 : accessed 24 December 2014).