GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
The Japanese Navy had Corregidor surrounded. On 22 February 1942, General Marshall advises MacArthur that the President had directed MacArthur to leave Fort Mills and proceed to Mindanao. Finally on 9 March 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt tells General Douglas MacArthur that he must leave Corregidor. MacArthur agrees to leave by 15th March 1942.
Japanese patrols are heavy and "Tokyo Rose" brags to her audience that MacArthur will be captured within a month. Some US Navy officers give MacArthur only a one-in-five chance of escaping.
MacArthur decides to escape Corregidor by PT boat to Mindanao and fly to Australia from Del Monte on a B-17 Flying Fortress. MacArthur arranges for himself and his family and military entourage of 13 officers, two naval officers and a technical sergeant to travel on four decrepit PT boats of Lt. John Bulkeley's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, based at Bataan. He also ordered three B-17's to fly from Australia to Del Monte airfield on Mindanao.
MacArthur and his party left Corregidor at dusk in the PT Boats on 11 March 1942. At 6:30 am on 13 March 1942, PT 34 sights Cagayan Point on Mindanao Island.
On 11 March 1942, 1st Lt. Harl Pease piloted B-17 Flying Fortress #41-2452, from Batchelor airfield to Del Monte. The aircraft was loaded with emergency supplies for the US Army Forces in the Philippine Islands. After he took off from Batchelor airfield, a failure of the hydraulic system rendered the supercharger and wheel brakes inoperative, which meant a low altitude flight of 1,500 miles and a landing without brakes. The aircraft had to be ground looped to stop it in time.
There has been a story that suggests that General Douglas MacArthur had been at Del Monte when 1st Lt. Harl Pease arrived. The story goes that the nature of Pease's arrival did not impress MacArthur, and he was even less impressed when he saw the young pilot of the B-17, 1st Lt. Harl Pease, slide out of the forward hatch of the aircraft. MacArthur was reported to have muttered "He's only a boy". The citation for Pease's medal confirms the date for Pease's flight from Batchelor to the Philippines as the 11 March 1942. MacArthur had not arrived there until 17 March, so perhaps the story about MacArthur's statement regarding Pease is untrue.
1st Lt. Harl Pease unloaded the emergency supplies, had his aircrafts serviced and took off at night with 16 Air Corps passengers. Pease had to perform another ground loop when the aircraft landed back in Australia.
When they arrived at Del Monte on Mindanao on 13 March 1942, MacArthur found only one crippled B-17 at the airfield. A few weeks earlier, several mechanics had arrived at Del Monte to repair the war weary B-18's and B-17's that scattered the "graveyard" at Del Monte airfield. Once repaired they were flown back to Australia with as many of the spare parts that were possible.
MacArthur and is party waited on a muddy airfield at Del Monte for three B-17C Flying Fortresses. These aircraft were the remnants of those that managed to escape from Clarke Field when the Japanese made a surprise attack.
list for Pease's B-17
Only available on "Australia @ War" CD-R
Another B-17 Flying Fortress, #41-2507, piloted by Captain Godman, had left Batchelor air field on 13 March 1942. In total darkness and low cloud Godman was forced to fly on instruments. With the altimeter reading 1,200 feet and the air speed on 170mph, the B-17 struck the water. Two crew went down with the plane. Five crew members swam ashore in the Philippines after four hours in the water.
MacArthur was furious, and he would not allow anyone to board these "dangerously decrepit" aircraft which had been sent to rescue him. He then demanded the "three best planes in the US or Hawaii," manned by "completely adequate, experienced" airmen.
Major General George Brett, who was then responsible for the rescue plans for MacArthur, was in a quandary. He had more B-17's that he could send for the rescue, but they were US Navy aircraft based in Townsville. Apparently MacArthur had made it very clear that he did not want to be "rescued" by US Navy aircraft. Brett at the time was the Commanding General of the US Forces in Australia.
Fortunately for Brett, on 14 March 1942, the B-17E Flying Fortresses of the Naval Task Force, Southern Bomber Command (ex 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Bomb Group) based in Townsville were transferred to the 19th Bombardment Group, USAAF. He dispatched three B-17's (of the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron - later to become the 435th Squadron), but one of the B-17s ditched off Mindanao.
The three B-17's left Townsville loaded full of sulphur drugs, quinine and cigarettes for the military forces in the Philippines. Dick Graf told me that Lewis's aircraft (#41-2429) was fitted out with 25 parachutes, 25 life vests and 25 oxygen masks. Mechanics had to fit special tee pieces in the aircraft to cater for a larger number of oxygen masks. Each of the crews had their regular co-pilots replaced with pilots who were familiar with the airfield at Del Monte.
When they arrived at Batchelor airfield they were advised for the first time of the details of their mission. They were to evacuate MacArthur and his party from a small airfield on a plantation on Mindanao Island in the Philippines owned by the Del Monte Company. Bomb bay fuel tanks were installed while they were at Batchelor airfield for the 1,425 nautical mile flight. During this time there was a false alarm air raid warning at Batchelor and they took off for a short period until the "all clear" was given. They landed again to finish their preparations for the long flight to Del Monte.
Two of these B-17's took off from Batchelor airfield on 17 March 1942, piloted by Lt. Frank Bostrom and Captain William Lewis, Jr. The flight path to Del Monte, some 1,500 miles away, took them between two large Japanese airbases which were only 30 miles apart.
The two B-17's arrived at Del Monte at approximately midnight. The runway was lit with two flares (one at each end) to help them to land. The B-17 flown by Lt. Frank Bostrom, #41-2447, landed first followed by the B-17, #41-2429, flown by Captain William Lewis, Jr. Later that night General Sharp arrived at the airfield with General MacArthur and his family and a large group of senior officers.
lists for the MacArthur Rescue
Only available on "Australia @ War" CD-R
The senior pilot, 1st Lt. Frank P. Bostrom drunk eight cups of coffee to ready himself for the return flight to Australia. Dick Graf from Lewis's crew had a midnight lunch of pineapple and coffee. In the mean time, mechanics worked feverishly to repair Bostrom's defective supercharger. Bostrom told MacArthur that his party must leave their luggage behind. Dick Graf told me that MacArthur's party had arrived with an amazing amount of luggage. Captain Lewis also told his passengers that they could only bring one bag each. Jean MacArthur boarded Bostrom's B-17 carrying only a silk scarf and a coat with a fur collar. MacArthur gave his wife's mattress to Lt. Bostrom.
Not long after midnight on 17 March 1942, St Patrick's Day, two B-17's taxied out onto Del Monte airfield, which was again lit by two flares. MacArthur sat in the radio operator's seat in Bostrom's aircraft. MacArthur's chief of staff, General Richard Sutherland, was squeezed into the bomb bay. Bostrom's overloaded B-17 Flying Fortress staggered into the air from Del Monte airfield with one engine spluttering. A large number of General MacArthur's staff returned to Australia in Capt. Lewis's aircraft.
One of the little known stories about the rescue mission was the fact that each aircraft had one stowaway on board.
MacArthur's four year old son, Arthur MacArthur, was initially excited about his first air flight, but after some turbulence he soon became air sick. Arthur's Chinese amah, Au Cheu also travelled with MacArthur to Australia.
Their five hour flight took them over the captured enemy islands of the Celebes, Timor, and the northern part of New Guinea. Somehow they managed to avoid enemy Zero fighters.
When they reach Darwin, they found that it was under Japanese attack, so they diverted to Batchelor airfield, about 50 miles away. They eventually disembarked from the aircraft at Batchelor at about 9 a.m. They are all very weary after their last few days of adventure. MacArthur told Sutherland "It was close, but that's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die -- and the difference is just an eyelash."
On 18 March 1942, another B-17 Flying Fortress, #41-2408, piloted by 1st Lt. Harold N. Chaffin took off from Batchelor airfield loaded with more emergency supplies. They landed at Del Monte and took on board the remainder of General MacArthur's staff along with a number of valuable records.
list for Chaffin's B-17
Only available on "Australia @ War" CD-R
A six man detail lead by Lt. Julian from Battery "A" of the 102nd Coastal Artillery (AA Separate) Battalion was selected to greet General Douglas MacArthur when he arrived at Batchelor. MacArthur came directly from the aircraft to the small group of American soldiers, before turning to the other waiting groups. Apparently the welcome went something like this:-
Julian - "Glad to have you here Sir."
MacArthur - "Glad to be here Lieutenant. So these are the new helmets."
Three minutes later the 102nd CA Bn honour guard were back in the gun pits or unloading the battalion's incoming planes. They were in the process of moving from Brisbane to the Northern Territory.
MacArthur asked an American officer about the build-up of troops in Australia to reconquer the Philippines. The officer told him, "So far as I know, sir, there are very few troops here." MacArthur was shocked by this and he said to Sutherland "Surely he is wrong."
The weary group ate a breakfast of canned peaches and baked beans. The General demanded a motorcade to the nearest train station. Unbeknown to MacArthur, the nearest train was at Alice Springs, a thousand miles away.
Jean, his wife, was totally exhausted and her son Arthur was so exhausted that he was on intravenous feeding. The doctors recommended against such a long desert drive with inadequate shelter and food.
Once MacArthur and his party arrived at Batchelor, they transferred to two Australian National Airways DC-3's. One source reports that there was an unexpected Japanese air raid warning as they left Batchelor. This reportedly lead to a rather bumpy and dramatic departure from Batchelor. It was reported that again MacArthur was not happy and demanded to know the pilot's name from Sid Chamberlain. The pilot was Captain R. Carmichael, the Commanding Officer of the 435th Squadron. The exhausted party landed at Alice Springs some hours later.
M/Sgt. George R. "Dick" Graf was the radio operator on Lewis's B-17, #41-2429. Dick advised that there was no unexpected Japanese air raid warning when MacArthur left aboard the DC-3's.
MacArthur and his party must have thought Alice Springs, resembled an Old West town complete with saloon, wooden boardwalks, and flies. MacArthur watched a double feature film at the local movie theatre. He had not seen a film since leaving Manila. They slept on cots on the hotel's verandah.
On 18 March 1942, MacArthur sent his staff officers south by aircraft. His wife refused to fly any more, so MacArthur ordered a special train for himself and his family. They travelled the 1,028 miles of narrow gauge track to Adelaide in South Australia, in a three car wooden train pulled by a steam locomotive. The journey took 70 hours. They sat in a carriage with two hardboard seats running lengthwise along the carriage. The second carriage was a diner with a long wooden table. It also had some washtubs full of ice and an Aussie army stove. The train had to be stopped to allow the passengers to move from one carriage to the next.
MacArthur's train left Alice Springs on Wednesday morning. They were looked after by two Australian sergeants and an Army nurse, Sister H. Geisler. (Does anyone know the names of the two Australian sergeants?). Sister Geisler accompanied Mrs. MacArthur during the journey. At one stage the train is pulled up by some sheep farmers who were after medical assistance from a doctor for one of the farmers. Initially MacArthur thought they were after a speech from their "war hero".
The train arrived at Terowie Railway Station about 220 kms north of Adelaide at 2 pm on 20 March 1942. Much to MacArthur's surprise his "secret" arrival in Terowie was not so secret. A huge cheer went up from the locals who had gathered when he left the train. General MacArthur responded by striding towards an opening between a line of railway carriages and saluted the people of Terowie on the other side of the carriages and some passengers on a nearby train. MacArthur was dressed in a loose hanging jacket and slacks and wore no decorations or insignia except for a laurel wreathed peak on his cap and another emblem.
On being asked if this would reach the United States he said:- "The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines and proceed to Corregidor to Australia for the purpose, as I understand it, of organising an American offensive against Japan, the primary purpose of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return."
It was here that MacArthur made his first statement to the Australian Press. It was here that his most famous statement was made "I came out of Bataan and I shall return".
Mrs Jean MacArthur, 4 year old son Arthur MacArthur and General Douglas MacArthur
General Douglas MacArthur being greeted by Major Claude Rogers, the CO of the Terowie Staging Camp at Terowie Railway station on 20 March 1942.
While at Terowie, MacArthur inspected a guard of honour of Australian soldiers under the command of Major G.A.S. Rogers who had served in WW1. MacArthur and his party changed trains at Terowie before continuing his journey southwards to Adelaide. Mrs Jean MacArthur spoke to Major Rogers briefly and entered the train with her son Arthur. She was simply dressed and did not wear a hat.
Late in the afternoon of 21 March 1942, their train reached Kooringa, 80 miles north of Adelaide. One of his staff officers, Col. Dick Marshall, who had flown ahead, boarded the train. He has bad news for MacArthur who had thought that a huge army awaited him in Australia. He was told that their were fewer than 32,000 Allied troops, American, British, and Australian, in the whole country. There were fewer than 100 aircraft, many primitive Australian Gypsy Moths, with fabric-covered wings, and propellers that have to be started by spinning them by hand. "God have mercy on us," MacArthur whispers. It was his greatest shock and surprise of the whole war.
During the journey to Adelaide, MacArthur received a Priority Telegram from Colonel John A. Robenson, the Commander of US Base Section No. 5 (Adelaide) saying that information had been received that the General and his party would be in Adelaide at 1p.m. on 21 March 1942 and would leave for Melbourne at 7.35pm The telegram asked MacArthur to advise his pleasure by return wire. It went on to say "The whole of Australia, especially Adelaide, wishes to welcome you and anything they can do to comply with your desires they feel cannot be enough."
General MacArthur sent the following reply to Colonel Robenson from Maree:-
"Appreciate greatly your thoughtful message and sentiments you express. Our train is at present running hours behind schedule and the time of arrival is doubtful. For this reason and because I wish absolutely no ostentation I request as much privacy as possible in my passage through Adelaide. The general circumstances of the entire situation are such that I would appreciate a minimum of display. I send my personal regards to you."
Their train arrived in Adelaide on the evening of 21 March 1942. Their special train was then attached to the Melbourne Express for the trip to Melbourne. News of the General's arrival spread like wildfire and civilians and soldiers rushed to Adelaide Railway Station to catch a glimpse of the General. Military and civil police kept the crowds back from the area.
On his arrival MacArthur was greeted by Brigadier-General Patrick Hurley of the US Army and other high ranking officers including Base Commander Brigadier H.L. Bundock. General MacArthur introduced his wife to a number of American and Australian officers describing her as "the best soldier I have."
Once in Adelaide, MacArthur moved into a luxurious private carriage provided by Australia's Commissioner of Railways. The press clamoured for a statement from the General and MacArthur scrawled on the back of an envelope, "The President of the United States ordered me to break through the Japanese lines ...for the purpose, as I understand it, of organizing the American offensive against Japan, a primary object of which is the relief of the Philippines. I came through and I shall return."
The Adelaide Express arrived at Melbourne's Spencer Street station on 22 March 1942 at about 9.30am. Travelling in a special carriage, he was accompanied by his wife, 4 year old son Arthur MacArthur and Brigadier General Richard H. Marshall, who was a member of his staff in the Philippines. They were welcomed at Spencer Street station by a guard of honour of 360 American troops, an Australian Army band, and more than 6,000 locals. The honour guard were mostly signalmen and engineers wearing white tropical helmets.
Herb Jacobs was a Sergeant X-ray technician at the 4th General Hospital in Melbourne. He took some routine x-rays of Jean MacArthur and Arthur MacArthur during their short stay at the hospital for a medical checkup. Shortly after doing these x-rays, Herb was asked to do routine X-rays on 2 US soldiers, who were brought to the hospital under Military Police guard. Herb asked them why they were under guard and they told Herb that they had been in the Philippines when General Macarthur gave the order to leave ..... "FEND FOR YOURSELVES". They said that MacArthur then boarded his plane with his wife, son and Filipino maid, together with all his furniture, and departed for Australia. These 2 enterprising soldiers said that they had stowed away on the planes, and were then charged and incarcerated for overloading the aircraft.
MacArthur and his party travelled to the Menzies Hotel in a Wolsley limousine where they occupied the entire 6th floor of the hotel. MacArthur commandeered the Trustees Executive & Agency Co. Ltd building at 401 - 403 Collins Street, Melbourne to establish his Headquarters. His staff worked frantically to turn a hurriedly emptied building into an operational HQ. They commandeered and "acquired" furniture and typewriters from a variety of locations.
Jean MacArthur's first task was to summon a dressmaker to prepare her something to wear on Monday morning, for her shopping expedition in Melbourne. Her entire wardrobe was left behind in Manilla.
On Wednesday 25 March 1942, Jean MacArthur went shopping at Myers Emporium in Melbourne. The sales assistant looked at Mrs. MacArthur and said "SSW. Well, I don't know whether we've got anything."
Mrs. MacArthur asked "What does SSW mean?"
The sales assistant said "Small-sized woman. They're hard to fit."
Another shopper recognised Mrs. MacArthur, and said, sympathetically, "Won't your clothes soon be arriving from Manila?"
In April 1942, General Brett became the Commander of Allied Air Forces in Australia. The Allied Air Headquarters, SWPA was established on 20 April 1942 and was located in Victoria Barracks, in Melbourne. Bostock was appointed as Brett's Chief of Staff. Air Commodore Hewitt was appointed as Director of Allied Air Intelligence.
General Brett established two US Air Commands on 4 May 1942 to enable flexibility of control of offensive operations. No. 1 U.S. Air Command was established in Darwin under the command of Colonel (later Brigadier-General) Albert L. Sneed. No. 2 U.S. Air Command, under the command of Brigadier General Martin F. Scanlon, established itself in the Operations and Signals Building at 3 Ramsay Street in Garbutt in Townsville.
In about June 1942 General MacArthur advised Washington DC that he wanted General Brett replaced. The problems with MacArthur's rescue and some other events such as the failure to reinforce Bataan, had led to MacArthur's decision. Little did he know that it had been Brett who had recommended to Washington that MacArthur become the Supreme Commander of the SWPA (South West Pacific Area). This command was formally assumed on 18 April 1942.
General Brett flew back to the USA in his B-17D, Flying Fortress "Swoose" piloted by Major Frank Kurtz on 4 August 1942. General Bretttook Brigadier General Perrin back to the States with him. On that same day General George C. Kenney officially took over as Allied Air Force Commander of the Southwest Pacific Area.
Beryl Sivell told me that her boyfriend during WW2, Harold Tichman was a bodyguard for Mrs. MacArthur and her son Arthur MacArthur IV. Harold had been camped at Yeronga Park in Brisbane for a while and then stayed at Lennon's Hotel. Harold advised that Arthur was a bit of a terror of a kid and he showed Beryl a mark on his leg which he still has which is where he stated that Arthur had kicked him. Tichman later accompanied Mrs. MacArthur and her son back to the States.
On 26 March 1942, Gen. Douglas MacArthur received the citation for his Medal of Honor at a formal dinner in Melbourne. He told the audience, "I have come as a soldier in a great crusade of personal liberty as opposed to perpetual slavery. My faith in our ultimate victory is invincible, and I bring you tonight the unbreakable spirit of the free man's military code in support of our joint cause."
The audience was delighted. MacArthur continued that the medal was not "intended so much for me personally as it is a recognition of the indomitable courage of the gallant army which it was my honor to command."
From then on, liberating the Philippines was his personal obsession.
On 20 July 1942, General MacArthur moved his Headquarters to Brisbane. He set up his headquarters in the AMP building on the corner of Queens and Edward Streets in the heart of the city a few doors away from the General Post Office. There was a communications centre established in the basement of the AMP building. Colonel Johnston, General MacArthur's personal physician lived in nearby "Montpelier" in Wickham Terrace for a number of years while MacArthur was based in the AMP building.
One of his intelligence groups, Central Bureau Intelligence immediately relocated to Brisbane, establishing its headquarters in a huge house at 21 Henry Street, high on a hill in the suburb of Ascot, not far from the new American airfield at Eagle Farm.
Photo: via Steve Schaffer
Australia, April 1943. General Douglas MacArthur and Lt.
inspect the 542nd Regimental Area. Colonel Fowlkes and Lt. Colonel Simpson escort our distinguished visitors.
Bill Bentson told me that Jim Larkin was MacArthur's 2nd Secretary from Brisbane to Manilla.
MacArthur's regular driver while he was in Brisbane was Sgt. John J. Ulrich ("Blackie"). (Is he still alive?). Technical Sgt. Clarence E. Hensley (Red) was the driver for MacArthur's Chief of Staff, General Richard Sutherland. They went by their nick names of "Red" and "Blackie".
The military always used the Edward Street entrance to GHQ SWPA in the AMP building. They never used the Queen Street entrance to the building. Note the registration No. U.S.A. 1 for MacArthur's staff car. Mrs. MacArthur's car registration was U.S.A. 2.
General Douglas MacArthur's staff car outside the Edward St. entrance to GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building in 1942. This was the normal entrance to GHQ
Technical Sgt. Clarence E. "Red" Hensley and Sgt. John J. "Blackie" Ulrick
The four stars on MacArthur's car indicates the grade of General. Later on, he was promoted to a five star General of the Army
While he was in Brisbane, General MacArthur used the motor yacht Shangri-la. The dinghy that MacArthur used from the "Shangri-La" is now located in the Queensland Maritime Museum near South Bank Parklands in Brisbane. It was donated to the Museum by Mr. Alan Campbell.
The dinghy is of unusual construction. It has a quite heavy frame and a thin timber skin. This was then covered with canvas and painted. Sister ribs were also then installed between the normal rib structure to strengthen it. A small inboard motor which was in use during WW2 was removed after the war.
Dennis Burchill of Bulimba described the location of the mooring for a motor boat used by General Douglas Macarthur as follows in his April 2004 "Wartime Memories of Bulimba". Dennis lived approximately 100 yards from the Brisbane River at 33 Cowper Street, Bulimba. Perhaps this motor boat was the "Shangri-La":-
In front of our property was a large area of land with a house right on the river bank shaped like a railway carriage with a curved iron roof. The Wakefield family lived there. Outside their property, in the river, were two lovely motor boats. One was for General Macarthurís use and the other for some other top brass. They had a permanent Filipino crew on each boat. As the front yard of the property was vacant land the yanks set up a sawmill there.
General MacArthur had his own personal B-17 Flying Fortress called "Bataan" for travelling around his theatre of war in the South West Pacific area.
There was a farm house near Beaudesert, where MacArthur and his family would spend some time for relaxation, to get away from all the tumult of city life and official business. (Can anyone tell me which farm this was?)
MacArthur and many of his staff were honorary members of the Brisbane Club which was located in a building adjacent to Anzac Square.
General Douglas MacArthur is reported to have visited "The Incholm" at 73 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane to visit his personal physician during WWII. For many years "The Incholm" was a Medical Chamber full of specialist doctors.
The 813th Military Police Company and the 814th Military Police Company were responsible for providing security for General Douglas MacArthur while he was based in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Photo:- NAA Image no. : A11663, PA189
Military Policeman PFC John Link of
the 813th MP Co carrying a Thompson
machine gun, Admiral ?, General Douglas MacArthur and John Curtin, Prime
Minister of Australia at Sydney Railway Station on 22 July 1942
When General Douglas MacArthur was in the Philippines in early 1945, he was planning for the expected invasion of Japan and he decided that he needed a special Army unit to protect him, his family and key aides. He sent a directive to all U.S. Army units in the South West Pacific Area looking for a specific number of men, at different stated ranks to be selected for an Honor Guard Company.
Silhouette and Character Analysis
Douglas MacArthur in Brisbane on 16 June 1944
by S. John Ross, the "Silhouette Man"
Stage 1 of the MacArthur Museum Brisbane was officially opened by Peter Beattie, the Premier of Queensland on 15 August 2004, the 59th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific. The Museum is located on the 8th Floor where General Douglas MacArthur and his senior staff were located. MacArthur's office (Room 806) and that of his deputy, General Sutherland (room 807) have both been restored as part of the Museum.
MacArthur Museum Brisbane
Stage 2 Opens
A display at the MacArthur Museum Brisbane
MacArthur Museum Brisbane
A PIECE OF HISTORY - 2 SEPTEMBER 1945
This message announced the signing of the formal surrender by the Japanese on that day on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay
This message came into the Signal Center used by the 832nd Signal Service Company on the 7th Floor of GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building in Queen Street, Brisbane. It was received at the overseas radio station (probably the one at Capalaba) and was transmitted to the Signal Center via teletype. It was received in "Clear" Classification.
It was the first message to pass between Japan and the United States over an Army Circuit since Pearl Harbor. It was sent from Radio Station WVLX on USS Teton in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945. It was a message from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Forces, General Douglas MacArthur.
"Wynnum B Graham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, who lives in Cairns, passed on the following information to me:-
On 5 April 1942, General Brett issued General Order No 37, wherein "By direction of the President" DFCs were awarded to five crews who took part in "an aerial flight against the enemy".
1 1st Lt Pease and six other crew. On 11 Mar 42, flew Batchelor Field to Philippines, landed without brakes, took off at night with 16 Air Corps passengers, landed safely in Australia, again without brakes.
2 Captain Godman and six other crew. On 13 Mar 42, flew from Batchelor field, bound to Philippines. At dusk, during letdown for landing, the B-17 struck the water. Two crew went down with the plane. Five swam ashore Philippines after four hours in the water.
3 1st Lt Bostrom and seven crew. On 17 Mar 42 [sic] flew from Batchelor field, to Philippines, returning to Australia with Gen MacArthur and his personal and official families.
4 Capt Lewis and seven crew. On 17 Mar 42 [sic] flew Batchelor field to Philippines, returned safely to Australia with a large number of MacArthur's staff.
5 1st Lt Chaffin and seven crew. On 18 Mar 42 flew from Batchelor field to Philippines, and returned safely to Australia with the remainder of MacArthur's staff, and a number of valuable records.
Ralph M. Knox says he was one of the servicemen to help load the B-17's which evacuated MacArthur, his family and his entourage of 18 other senior officers. Knox's book "The Emperor's Angry Guest" says that three B-17's actually left that night from Del Monte for Australia, not two as reported by other historians. He remembers that the B-17 that had crashed on 11 March 1942 was repaired using the remaining spare parts left at the airfield. They then filled that B-17 with "footlockers, crates of clothing and fur coats, pipe tobacco, several straight back chairs, little Arthur MacArthur's toys, one rocking chair and two particularly heavy mattresses".
Knox's story also differs from the historians in that he states that there were four B-17s in the first rescue attempt not three. They were rumoured to have flown from Darwin, Australia. One of these arrived on 11 March 1942. He reported that it was in such bad shape that it was grounded. One of the others had crashed into the ocean off Mindanao and the other two had turned back midway.
According to Knox there were a number of American nurses that could have been also evacuated instead of "Mrs. MacArthur's fur coats and the General's pipe tobacco."
1st. Lt. Frank Bostrom
MacArthur's secret unit for interception and
cryptanalyzing of Japanese intelligence
Allied Intelligence Bureau
Douglas MacArthur and the "Battle of Brisbane"
Douglas MacArthur in Townsville
The Facts and the Myths
Were you amongst the crew of
the two B-17's
that rescued MacArthur and his party?
Or are you related to one of the crew members?
If you are, I'd love to hear from you.
I'd like to thank Bill Bentson for his assistance with this home page, in particular for providing the above photographs of MacArthur's staff car, etc.
I'd like to thank Marina Gray for her assistance with information on MacArthur's arrival at Terowie.
I'd like to thank Beryl Sivell for the information on Mrs. MacArthur's bodyguard, Harold Tichman.
I'd like to acknowledge the late "Dick" Graf for his assistance with this home page. "Dick" was the radio operator on Captain Lewis's aircraft. Dick went on to be the radio operator in B-17 "Sally", General Kenney's private aircraft.
I'd like to thank Douglas Walker for providing the above photographs.
I'd like to thank Herby Jacobs for his assistance with the story about X-raying Jean and Arthur MacArthur and the two stowaways.
by Wilbur Besanko, 1977
"The News" (Adelaide Newspaper), of 21 March 1942
© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 6 June 1999
This page last updated 21 March 2013