January 15, 1945

Monday

Wayne finally made an entry in his journal on January 15 in which he noted the events that occurred during the 11 days since January 4. He wrote . . .

A hectic period of time to be sure. Flew missions on the 6th to Manado in the Celebes1, 9th to Liang Supply, Amboina Island.2 Almost got killed on this one through sheer carelessness. Nearly shot down one of our planes that flew under us almost taking the ship’s tail with it when three planes tried to go through a gap the width of two.

On the sixth, the 75th lost a plane, exploded over water.3 Some men thrown clear including a buddy, Sewell. Friends Nelson and Sinitiere died in explosion. One of our planes made a water landing also. All men got out. Friends Thurston, McGuire and Vaughn on this one.4

Flew another one on the eleventh to Kendari personnel and supply area. Lost one plane over target with Carl Snyder, another buddy aboard.5 Damn it!

Another mission on the 15th, my 60th mission. Bombed and strafed Malabang airfield and supply on Mindanao Island. Funny thing, just before we hit the target, I believe Stan was with me, and we conversed for several seconds, just as if he were with us. Can’t remember what we talked about but we did. Same old Stan!6

We still have no rotational hopes. Hope we get some breaks soon. It’s no fun going on and on with no hope for the future. Nothing to look forward to. It just isn’t right but we can do nothing about it. We are behind the eight ball to be sure.

All this time has passed with little or nothing to do but work and fly. Have only been able to write one letter until today. Must get some letters off this afternoon without fail. Bonnie has been so wonderful to write to me nearly every day. The one thing that keeps me going is her ever present and wonderful courage. One can’t let down with the backing of a person like that. Thank God! For you, my own darling, I love you; adore you with all my heart! Remember that always!

This is the last entry in Wayne’s journal for some weeks to come. He will begin writing again, but it will be a while.

The war, though, goes on. In England, Verne wrote in his diary . . .

Walked guard four hours last night. Sure was dead tired when I hit the sack. Slept until ten a.m. We flew a practice mission in “Cabin in the Sky”. The Major seems to be a darn good pilot. No mail today. The lights are still out. Sure am good and tired of being over here in the ETO. Praise God when I get back in the States.

Problems resulting from the extremely cold weather was freezing and bursting of pipes which although inconvenienced for the short period experienced, nothing serious developed, the most serious being the main water main in the WAAF Site No. 1 which necessitated shutting off the water in the Communal Site and WAAF Site No. 1 for a period of three hours. The high winds blew down several trees across power lines on several different occasions and on one of these the resulting short circuit burned out the switch channel board necessitating Site 5 and 6 being without electricity for a matter of 48 hours.

The shortage of electricians, plumbers and pipe fitters at this Station was quite keenly felt all during the breakdown of our water and electrical system. This fact was discussed with the Senior Works Officer but apparently the shortage f British labor precludes any chance of obtaining additional help. 7

Notes & Commentary

1 On January 6, 1945, forty B 25 aircraft (eight each from the 69th, 70th, 75th, 100th & 390th Bombardment Squadrons) attacked Mapanget Airdrome in the Celebes. The squadrons attacked independently and successively from minimum altitude. The 70th Bombardment Squadron was over the target 1102, the 75th at 1103, the 100th at 1104, the 390th at 1105, and the 69th Squadron at 1113. The results of the bombing were unobserved as the attack was at minimum altitude. The bombs were toggled at buildings and antiaircraft artillery positions. Over a half hour after the attack, three fires with smoke rising to 1,500’ and five fires with smoke rising to 500’ were still visible in the target area. All planes were off Mar Airfield by 0804 and had returned by 1408, except four which landed at Pitoe on Morotai. A total of 228 250 lb. general purpose bombs were dropped and nearly 87,000 rounds of .50 caliber machine gun ammunitions was expended strafing the target area.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-1000 . Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 6 January 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 845-849.

During this mission on January 6, Wayne flew as the tail gunner on B-25J #126 piloted by the squadron commander, Capt. Charles Wolfendale. Members of the aircrew included 2nd Lt. Thomas Cockrel, 2nd Lt. Eugene Day, and S/Sgt. Francis Dreazy.

Operations Order No. 6, 6 January 1945, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 6 January 1945, microfilm A0577, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 172 – 174.

2 On January 9, Wayne flew as the tail gunner on B-25J #076. Members of the aircrew included pilot 2nd Lt. Harold D. Fincham, 2nd Lt. Richard C. Healy, 1st Lt. Thomas Quinn, S/Sgt. James Wood, and Pvt. John Hanley.

Operations Order No. 9, 9 January 1945, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 9 January 1945, microfilm A0577, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 148 – 149.

Supply and personnel areas immediately east of Liang Village were attacked by 16 B 25’s (eight each from the 100th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons) on January 9, 1945. Both squadrons attacked in a line abreast formation and at minimum altitude. During the attack 26,000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended. Each plane carried six 100 lb. napalm bombs, of which all but two were dropped in the primary target area. Two bombs were returned to base after they failed to release.

The hilly terrain around the assigned target made target identification difficult before the planes had committed themselves to their bombing runs. Slight machine-gun fire was inaccurate and stopped as the aircraft approached the target. Slight to moderate medium antiaircraft fire was low and leading.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-1005 . Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 9 January 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 863 – 864.

3 One B-25 from the 75th squadron, damaged by antiaircraft fire over the target, hit the water and exploded at 1105 at 01⁰48′N and 124⁰55′E. Three crewmembers, all critically injured, were rescued by a PBY Catalina, piloted by 1st Lt. John R. Dickinson, at approximately 1200. One of those rescued was the squadron commander, Capt. Robert Thorndike. Those rescued — Capt. Robert Thorndike, 1st Lt. Dowlin, and S/Sgt. Sewell — were taken to the 155th General Hospital on Morotai.

“Mission Reports – Rescues, 06 January 1945,” 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron (http://www.pbyrescue.com/Rescues/06jan45.htm : accessed 14 January 2015)

The following crewmembers were not picked up and were considered killed in action:

2nd Lt. Edwin F. Fuller
T/Sgt. Elton J. Sinitiere
S/Sgt. Forest S. Nelson

Another 75th Bombardment Squadron B-25 received a direct hit in the tail turret and was left at Morotai. It was considered to be damaged beyond repair. The tail gunner’s left arm was severed above the elbow and he was placed in the hospital at Morotai.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-1000 . Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 6 January 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 845-849.

4 This occurred on January 5, 1945 and involved the crewmembers of B-25 #43-28131. The rescued men – 1st Lt. Howard Shields, 2nd Lt. Richard Mulhern, 2nd Lt. William Nussar, S/Sgt. John H, Vaughn, S/Sgt. John L. Thurston, and Sgt. John J. McGuire — were returned to Mar Airfield at Sansapor.

“Mission Reports – Rescues, 05 January 1945,” 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron. (http://www.pbyrescue.com/Rescues/05jan45.htm : accessed 14 January 2015)

5 Wayne flew on January 11 as the tail gunner on B-25J #087. Members of the aircrew included pilot 2nd Lt. Harold D. Fincham, 2nd Lt. Richard H. Healy, S/Sgt. James Wood, and Pvt. John Hanley.

Operations Order No. 11, 11 January 1945, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 11 January 1945, microfilm A0577, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 141 – 142.

Wayne’s B-25 was one of five from the 100th Bombardment Squadron that participated in a 29 aircraft raid on the Kendari Airdrome. Six B-25s each from the 69th, 70th, 75th and 390th Bombardment Squadrons also participated. The 70th Bombardment Squadron opened the attack at 1205 followed by the 75th at 1206, the 390th at 1207, the 69th at 1208, and the 100th five minutes later at 1213. Each squadron attacked in a line abreast formation at minimum altitude. During the bombing runs, 63,900 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition was expended strafing and 156 300 lb. general purpose bombs dropped.

Four fires were started with black smoke rising to 2,000’. One explosion was noted with a subsequent fire which sent black smoke up to 3,000’. The Kendari Airdrome radio station was noted on fire. One Tony [Kawasaki Ki-61] with a tarpaulin over it was strafed, as were two planes of undetermined serviceability and resembling Dinahs [Mitsubishi Ki-46]. These did not burn. A truck in motion on the Boroboro road was strafed.

Generally, accurate intense light, moderate medium and slight heavy antiaircraft fire was encountered over the target. Seven planes were hit, one of which crashed and exploded about one mile south of the target. This plane caught fire after being hit and slowly lost altitude until it crashed and exploded. Another B-25 crash landed at Morotai with no injuries.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-1009 . Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 11 January 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 870-872.

The following men were killed when their aircraft, B-25 #43-27979, crashed and exploded near Kendari Airfield on southeast Celebes as a result of enemy antiaircraft fire at Kendari Airfield.

2nd Lt. John W. Mangum, Pilot
2nd Lt. Clarence W. Acker, Co-pilot
1st Lt. Thomas F. Quinn, Navigator
Cpl. Philip Arkuss, Radio Operator
Sgt. Carl V. Snyder, Engineer
Cpl. Wallace E. Hough, Gunner

100th Bombardment Squadron Historical Report for January 1945. Headquarters 100th Bombardment Squadron (M), 1 February 1945, microfilm A0577, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 8.

6 On his 60th mission, Wayne flew as the tail gunner on B-25J #076 piloted by 2nd Lt. William M. Meyer. Other members of the aircrew were 2nd Lt. Gerald A. Bright; 2nd Lt. Ernest N. Mattoon; T/Sgt. Joseph Labbe; and S/Sgt. Harold T. Crawford.

Operations Order No. 15, 15 January 1945, 100th Bombardment Squadron (M). Office of the Operations Officer, 15 January 1945, microfilm A0577, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1972, frames 113 – 115.

Wayne’s aircraft was part of an eight aircraft minimum altitude strike on the Malabang Supply Area on Mindanao. The mission departed Mar Airfield at 0555 for Morotai where it landed at 0755 for refueling. After taking off from Morotai at 0930, the mission circled to the north of the target before attacking in a line abreast formation at minimum altitude. After the attack, the mission aircraft retired straight to home base. During the attack, 36 300 lb. demolition bombs were dropped and 18,700 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition expended.

Moderate light antiaircraft fire was leading the squadron during the bombing run. Inaccurate slight medium antiaircraft fire was also encountered.

Only seven planes reached the target after one of the eight mission aircraft blew off an exhaust stack and had to remain at Morotai.

Consolidated Mission Report #42-1024. Headquarters 42nd Bombardment Group (M), 15 January 1945, microfilm B0132, Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 899 – 900.

7 Ground Executive’s Historical Report for January 1945. Headquarters 390th Bombardment Group (H), Office of the Operations Officer, [N.D]. microfilm B0426 Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 968-969.

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11 Responses to January 15, 1945

  1. suchled says:

    This horrible stuff has been going since 1939 and at last we are into the end game. Keep it up Mr Gray and all the other Misters Gray.

    Like

  2. suchled says:

    PS. Did I mention an Uncle of mine in the RAAF flew in the Celebes.

    Like

  3. Oh, poor Wayne! Losing friends left and right, facing death daily. I’m so glad Bonnie is writing him daily to keep his chin up. I remember every letter I received was precious.

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  4. Mustang.Koji says:

    Wayne is incredible resolute and unwavering. Sixty missions would have broken down most young men, no matter how devoted they were. I salute him.

    Like

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