435TH THE "KANGAROO SQUADRON"
19TH BOMB GROUP - USAAF
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

 

The 435th Squadron of the 19th Heavy Bombardment Group arrived in Townsville on 1 March 1942.  On the same day 3 Squadrons  of B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 19th Heavy Bombardment Group moved to Cloncurry.

The 435th Squadron flew their first mission out of Garbutt airfield at Townsville on 10 March 1942. Two flights of B-17 bombers, lead by Major Carmichael, attacked the Lae and Salamaua areas in combination with A-24 Dauntless dive bombers from the USS Lexington and the USS Yorktown.

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, USAAFMajor General George Brett dispatched three B-17's of the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron (later to become the 435th Squadron), to rescue General Douglas MacArthur from the Philippines. One B-17 was ditched off Mindanao. The other two B-17's arrived at Del Monte at approximately midnight on 16 March 1942. One was flown by Lt. Frank Bostrom and the other by Captain Lewis.

The 435th Bomb Squadron of the 19th Bomb Group played an effective part in the Coral Sea Battle. Crews of this squadron had seen the Japanese fleet gathering in Rabaul area nearly two weeks before the battle actually took place; because of the Reconnaissance activity of the 435th Bomb Squadron, the US Navy was prepared to cope adequately with the situation. The squadron was commended by the US Navy for its valuable assistance not only for its excellent reconnaissance work but for the part played in the battle.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, the 435th Bomb Squadron operated mostly out of Townsville. They flew missions on the 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th of May 1942.

On 6 May 1942, pilot Harry Spieth, co-pilot W. Fields and their crew had spotted the Japanese fleet and they made a bombing run on an aircraft carrier. "Hotfoot" Harlow, who was in the same flight, bombed a Japanese heavy cruiser. Wilbur Beasley was also in the same flight. They received heavy anti-aircraft fire, but encountered very few fighter aircraft. The Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft were too busy with the Allied Navy and their aircraft rather than get involved chasing high level bombers.

On 7 May 1942, nineteen B-17's from the 435th Bomb Squadron were returning from a bombing raid in New Guinea when they spotted what they thought was the Japanese fleet. They had just witnessed some other aircraft carrying out a low level attack on these ships. They assumed that these aircraft were the B-26 Marauders that had accompanied them on their mission. It turned out they were Japanese torpedo bombers which had just attacked HMAS Australia and the rest of the Allied Naval Task Force. Harry Spieth and his flight dropped their bombed on HMAS Australia which returned fire with its anti-aircraft guns.

The 19th Heavy Bombardment Group moved from Garbutt airfield to Longreach on 18 May 1942.

 

Crash of an LB-30 Liberator, AL 508, of 435th Squadron
at Essendon airfield on 18 May 1942

 

The B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 28th, 30th and 93rd Bomb Squadrons of the 19th Heavy Bombardment Group (minus 435th Squadron) moved from Longreach to Mareeba on 24 July 1942.

The 435th Bomb Squadron had modified two B-17 Flying Fortresses into Photo Reconnaissance aircraft. Lt. Ralph Watts indicated in a letter in June 2001, that the B-17's were far superior as Photo Recon aircraft to the F-4 Lightnings he had flown when he was attached to the 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron stationed at the Stock Route airfield in Townsville.

 

RAAF Co-Pilots with 435th Bomb Squadron

 

2nd Lt George B. Munroe Navigator of
B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2446
(aka "Swamp Ghost")

 


 

I'd like to thank Allisen Schrock for providing me with a copy of the following document:-

 

HEADQUARTERS ARMY AIR BASE
Office of the Public Relations Officer
Pyote, Texas

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Attached is the saga of the "Kangaroo Squadron"--the 435th, 19th Bombardment Group. It is the last in the series of stories of the four squadrons which comprise this famed group.

The 19th Group has only recently returned from Australia with more that a year of action to its credit in the various Pacific war theaters. It is now here at Texas' "Rattlesnake Bomber Base" where its experience, gained the hard way, can be taught those not yet combat-tried.

Personal data of interest to your circulation area is included. Failure to receive the previous stories in the series meant that no men from your area were mentioned.

Any or all of this story may be used as your paper may require.

Sincerely,

Boerne M. Robertson

Boerne M. Robertson
2nd Lt., A.C.
Public Relations Officer

 


 

HEADQUARTERS ARMY AIR BASE
Office of the Public Relations Officer
Pyote, Texas

RELEASE SUNDAY AM FEBRUARY 21

THE "KANGAROO SQUADRON"

By 1st Lt. Walter H. Johnson

PYOTE, Texas, Feb ___  --Hopping kangaroo-like over the islands of the Southwest Pacific in search of the enemy since Pearl Harbor has been the special task of the 19th Bombardment Group's "Kangaroo Squadron"--the 435th Bombardment Squadron.

The story of this squadron's accomplishments during the more than a year of fulfilling its special assignment was revealed at Texas's huge new "Rattlesnake Bomber Base" today for the first time since the 435th returned to the States. It was the fourth and final installment in the history of the 19th Bombardment' Group's first year of fighting in World War II.

______'s heroes of the "Kangaroo Squadron" include ___ officers and me--who now wear the 19th Group's exclusive four-in-one battle ribbon. The new decoration, indicating participation in four major phases of the war in the Pacific, was pinned on the breast of each man at impressive ceremonies here Friday, Feb. 12.

The ______ heroes of the 435th are:

(SEE ATTACHED SLIPS)

The 435th Bombardment Squadron represents only four hundred men among the millions fighting the battle of all the United Nations. Yet, in this squadron are men from all but three of the forty-eight states, as well as one native of each Norway and Siberia.

On Dec. 6t, 1942, one half of the combat crews of the 435th took off from the mainland of the United States and landed at Hawaii during the Japanese bombing and strafing attack. The first glimpses of Oahu and Pearl Harbor gave them a quick, bitter insight into the realities of modern war. When asked about this first experience recently, one Kangaroo bomberman remarked, "No, I was not afraid--I was too busy and too tired to be afraid." Another added: "We were not afraid; we were horrified. We understood what was ahead for all of us, and for everyone in America."

The "Kangaroo Squadron" got its unofficial designation because it was organised in Australia, after the fall of the Philippines and Java.

Its exploits during the past year were so many and so varied that it is impossible to recount them all. It was the 435th, for example, which was chosen to evacuate General Douglas MacArthur, President Quezon, their staffs and families to Australia while the Philippines were in Jap hands.

Fundamentally, the 435th was a reconnaissance squadron. Its planes were the eyes of all armed forces in the area. Through the accurate observation of enemy movements and the photographing of his equipment, the enemy was robbed of his most dangerous weapon--surprise. All aerial reconnaissance work in the Southwest Pacific was done by this squadron.

The combat crews of this organisation have flown the equivalent to 383 times around the world at the equator; this record was made where enemy interception could be expected at all times. Reconnaissance planes fly alone, without benefit of pursuit escort, and must depend entirely upon their own fire power and cloud cover for protection.

In combat thirty-six enemy fighters were seen to crash, or disintegrate in mid-air; twenty-eight others were seen to go down in flames or streaming smoke, but are listed as probably destroyed because weather conditions prevented accurate observation. Forty other Zero fighters are known to have been damaged by 435th gunnery.

During a period of two months when the squadron operated primarily as a bombardment squadron a heavy toll was taken on Japanese shipping. In Rabaul harbor alone two heavy cruisers and one 10,000-ton transport were sunk, and another transport was damaged; on the same missions the main dock installations at Rabaul were destroyed. Also listed as sunk are two heavy cruisers and two destroyers; listed as damaged are four transports and three cargo vessels. Not included is an 8,000-ton troop carrying Japanese transport sunk while landing troops at Buna on July 21, 1942. This transport was sunk when the squadron was presumably operating entirely as a reconnaissance organisation. A lone reconnaissance plane after sighting a Buna invasion convoy returned to Port Moresby, loaded up with bombs and returned to sink the transport.

Aerial photographs showed bombs of the 435th, destroyed 38 Jap aircraft. In addition to this an unknown number of enemy aircraft were destroyed on missions where photographs were not taken. This squadron also flew effective missions purely designed to destroy ground installations, such as wharehouses and docks.

The 435th played an effective part in the Coral Sea Battle. Crews of this squadron had seen the Japanese fleet gathering in Rabaul area nearly two weeks before the battle actually took place; because of the Reconnaissance activity of the 435th, the Navy was prepared to cope adequately with the situation. The squadron was commended by the Navy for its valuable assistance not only for its excellent reconnaissance work but for the part played in the battle.

At no time during the nine months of operations in the Southwest Pacific were the Japanese able to slip any ships into New Guinea area without being observed. The first Buna-Gona invasion fleet was spotted south of Kavieng two days before any Japanese troops landed. Also, the enemy which landed at Milne Bay was sighted twelve hours before landing.

Probably the proudest accomplishment of the 435th was the photographs made of beach-heads and enemy positions at Guadalcanal. On June 18th, 1942, the first reconnaissance mission of Tulagi Island in the Solomons was made, but it was not until July 6th, that daily photographic reconnaissance missions over the area were started. These photographs supplied the knowledge necessary for the Marine landings. On July 17th, two US Marine Corps Officers, Lt. Col. Twining and Major McKean, accompanied the 435th plane on one of these flights. While scanning the Japs at work building Guadalcanal Airport, Col. Twining remarked "I hope they build a good one. We are going to use it."

For this work the squadron received an individual citation. It reads; "For oustanding performance of duty in action during the period September 10 to October 10, 1942. Performing repeated long-range reconnaissance and photographic missions over hostile areas in New Guniea, New Britain, New Ireland, and the Solomon Islands despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, interception, and attacks by enemy fighter airplanes and extremely difficult weather, which necessitated low flying for observation, this squadron successfully located and sent accurate information on enemy shipping, enroute and anchored, made valuable photographs of important enemy held bases and areas, and inflicted extensive damage on enemy aircraft, ground installations, and shipping. Efficient work by the ground echelon contributed materially to the success of the operations. Groundmen kept in combat condition 80 per cent of the airplanes of the squadron at all times. They did this in spite of the many hours of flight and repeated damage from air combat during this period."

Among the lessons learned in combat were these. Early in May of 1942 when the Japanese fighters first adopted the head-on attack, 435th armament personnel designed and installed the first twin-50 caliber machine guns in the bombardier's compartment of the nose. After these installations were adopted by other squadrons in the war theatre, the Japanese were soon searching for another, less dangerous method of attack. The 435th was the first to mount motion picture cameras in the gun positions of heavy bombardment aircraft, thus acquiring films for gunnery training, aircraft identification, and a method for verifying enemy aircraft destroyed.

Individual combat men of this squadron have received a total of 178 decorations. This included one Distinguished Service Cross, 52 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 8 Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of the Distinguished Flying Cross, 80 Silver Stars, 15 Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of the Silver Star, 18 Purple Hearts, 2 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Purple Heart, 2 Airmens Medals, and 82 Good Conduct Medals. All members of the organisation are entitled to wear the special 19th Group ribbon, which was pinned on in ceremonies at the Pyote Army Air Base February 12 of this year. Individual decorations have not yet caught up with all deserving members of the squadron.

Since arrival at the "Rattlesnake Bomber Base", the 435th has compiled a technical directive, giving a summary of the lessons learned during one full year in combat against the Japanese. This book is dedicated to "those who are about to enter a combat zone for the first time."

Into training schools all over the country will go 19th Group men to teach lessons based on experience. Around them will be assembled eager young men of new squadrons and other groups. The new men will be taught the lesson of "Bombs for Venom" in order that the enemy may be hit again and again with ever increasing power.

 

435th BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON

PART II

There is also a human interest side to the 435th's story. Never did the severe problems nor the anxiety of war destroy the humor and harmony inherent in the organisation.

The first planes to leave Hawaii did so to become part of a Naval Task Force which was moving forward in defence of the supply line. This flight of planes under the command of Col. Richard H. Carmichael (then Major) left Hawaii without ground troops and was forced to carry on operations in the Fiji Islands and to operate the first month in Australia without trained ground personnel. Combat personnel flew by day and worked nights on maintenance, briefing, and bomb-loading. In Australia, one aircraft was grounded and used for spare parts, so acute was the shortage of supplies.

The inadequately equipped and manned Carmichael flight acquired unforgetable experience in preparing for their first mission from Australia. The planes were badly in need of mechanical attention and as a result, only six were available for their first mission on February 23rd. The planes took off at midnight in bad weather; the target was to be Rabaul at dawn. Three of the planes returned badly shot up and three crew members were wounded. Only two bullets had entered one of the aircraft; yet it was this ship that brought home two wounded men. The most severely damaged ship, carried no wounded personnel.

One ship had trouble releasing its bombs and was forced to make a second run over the target. Shortage of gasoline necessitated a crash landing in a jungle swamp 220 miles from Port Moresby. The malaria-thinned crew did not return to the squadron until the last of April; for them it was a long first mission, one lasting more than five weeks. This first mission had been planned on the basis of peace time fuel consumption tests, which proved to be wrong and all the ships landed with only a few gallons of gasoline remaining. Results of the mission were three Zeros shot down, and another damaged.

It was not until March 26th, 1942, that ground troops evacuated from Java joined the flight of Flying Fortresses, bringing relief to over-worked combat crews. It was then that this squadron was organised under its present name and made a part of the 19th Bombardment Group, which had been withdrawn from the Philippines and Java. The new 435th squadron was made up largely of members of the former 7th Bombardment Group, whose history dates back to the First World War. A picture of a kangaroo floating on a cloud, holding a spy-glass to his eyes, and a bomb wrapped in his tail was adopted as the squadron insignia and the 435th became known as the "Kangaroo Squadron." It was placed under the command of Major William Lewis, Jr. Col. Richard H. Carmichael becoming the 19th Group Commander.

For the first two months the home base of the embryo 435th, was not protected by adequate anti-aircraft installations or fighters; therefore the planes were dispersed into the interior of Australia. In order to go on a mission, two flights, one from the interior of Australia to the coast, and one from the coast to the advanced base, were required before a take-off could be made. The squadron was operating without supplies at three different bases.

The 435th was the only American Bombardment unit in operation from Australia until April. The only joint operations planned were the navy. The crews returned filled with praise for the navy pilots, having observed four burning and two sinking ships. In addition, the 435th bombers scored hits on a transport.

New Guinea was virtually cleared of enemy zeros by the end of March but ground troops to push forward were not available. The Japs built back up to even a greater scale. During July alone a single 435th reconnaissance plane fought seven air battles against  anywhere from 3 to 15 zeros. Eleven of the attackers were seen to crash, seven were damaged. Battles such as these and the success of Allied straffing made the Japanes suffer heavily. Also information gained by 435th "recce" ships was instrumental in the destruction of many enemy aircraft. For example, one ship returned in mid-September with pictures which showed the camouflaged position of 18 Jap fighters on the ground. As a result, P-40's and A-20's had a field day. In an early dawn raid they destroyed 17 of the eighteen aircraft.

The Dutch who fought so well with so little in Java were not forgotten. A 435th pilot and crew carrying in their aircraft a Dutch officer, Capt. Jesserun, made a 2,200 nautical mile trip to the Celebes on July 14 and dropped medical supplies and ammunition to Dutchmen still carrying on the battle in the hills. The distance flown through enemy patrolled skies was approximately the same as   that from Hawaii to the United States.

Of the six original pilots who successfully landed at Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, five now have important positions outside the 435th. Col, Richard H. Carmichael is now attached to Headquarters Army Air Force, Washington, D.C. Lt. Col. Ted S. Faulkner is C.O. of a Tuscon training unit. Major Harry Brandon became Military Attache in New Zealand. Major Frank Bostrom is now a Group Commander. Three more of the original 435th pilots are squadron commanders.

On August 14th one 435th plane took off for a recce mission over Gasmata and Rabaul. It was the only one which didn't return. Not a word was broadcast by radio. No sign of wreckage has ever been located. The plane flew alone as do the reconnaissance planes and there was no one to come back and tell the story. The plane was "Chief Seattle" and was purchased by the nickles and dimes of Seattle's citizenry. On board was a crew famous for its service to country. Most of the crew were in the Dec. 7, 1941 disaster at Hawaii. One, the engineer, was wounded there that day. Most of the crew were in the MacArthur evacuation.

The members of the crew, listed "missing in action" include:-

Lt. Wilson L. Cook Edmunds, Oklahoma Pilot
Sergeant Pilot George S. Andrews Brisbane, Queensland Co-pilot
Lt. Hubert S. Mobley Tampa, Florida Navigator
Lt. Joe. E. Cunningham Traveler's Rest, South Carolina Bombardier
Sgt. Elwyn O. Rahier Effie, Minnesota Engineer
Sgt. Irving W. McMichael Lincoln, Nebraska Radio Operator
Sgt. Charles M. Hartman Gettysburg, South Dakota Assistant Radio
Sgt. John W. Dunbar Tujunga, Calif. Assistant Engineer
David B. Beattie Flint, Michigan Special Radio
Richard K. Pastor Lynbrook, Long Island, New York Gunner

These men are America's real heroes. They gave everything.

On Friday October 9, 30 aircraft of the 19th Group bombed the wharves and the town of Rabaul just at dawn.This was the first time the town of Rabaul was bombed although intelligence reports showed that many Japanese officers and men lived in the town. The raid was a geat success, and Radio Tokyo complained the next day that a bomb hit the hotel at Rabaul and 50 Geisha girls were killed. Actually, damage was of greater military importance.

The 435th reconnaissance ship went over Rabaul just after dawn, to survey and photograph the damage, and it was intercepted by three zeros which pressed home their attack. Sgt. David Sinclair, Aussie co-pilot of Adelaide, was seriously wounded in the chest and leg by shrapnel. Corporal Ralph Fritz of Detroit, Michigan, the tail gunner on his fourth mission with the 435th, was hit in the back by a bullet and killed. Two of the three attacking zeros were shot down in flames.

Corporal Fritz, always up to fly before dawn, smiling and eager to go, was buried at the Port Moresby cemetary before the sun had set. A cross on the hill beside the airport marks the grave of this American hero.

The battle of the supply lines seemed strangling for a while, but America is forging ahead. Now that the 435th is back in the States other men are carrying on in a front line Americans didn't ask for, carrying on with tested and improved equipment, fighting on the basis of plans which should be realised. It will take time, but America has time, and there are 130,000,000 people to carry on the fight. Equipment and men are getting to the places where their value doubles and trebles. The record of the 435th however great is not one which can't be equalled. Its record is but the preface for greater things to come.

Today when a plane lands at the old home base of the 435th several automobiles go out to meet it. There's a man who wants to know about the weather. Another soldier will make inquiries about radio contacts made. Crews are on hand wanting to know how much gas to load.

Veteran 435th fliers are inclined to smile. They remember that when they first came to the home base the Aussies had a Tiger Moth or two, two or three Wirraways, a shot-up Hudson. There weren't any modern anti-aircraft guns within hundreds of miles. There weren't any ground crews to repair the aircraft, nor any parts to repair them.

Despite all the difficulties of pioneering the men didn't lose their balance or their sense of humour. One of the features of the squadron was a daily bulletin of quotations from members of the squadron, little stories about them. A few quotations from the bulletin should be convincing proof of 435th character.

Overheard at a combat meeting: "War makes men of little boys. Already I'm in my second childhood."

The Commanding Officer: "Learn self control. Excitement cancels brain power."

From the bull session: "Morale is the chief factor in victory and victory builds morale."

"There's a time for work and a time for play. War time is not play time."

"My sense of hunour has been warped. I laugh when I should be crying" (Quotation from the operations officer)

"We serve poorly who serve only ourselves."

"That one who lives on reputation will sonn be disappointed in his reputation."

Today, scanning the past year from a continental United States viewpoint, members of the 435th find it hard to relive the experiences. The record of the organisation is a matter of pride for each of its members and yet there is hardly a man who does not emphasise the job to be done over and above that which has been done. There is little doubt the wealth of experience of these men will be spread through the battle fronts of the world in the near future.

AAB PYOTE, TEXAS                                                 15 February 1943

 

"CHIEF SEATTLE"

 

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Subject:    435th
Date:             Sat, 20 Feb 1999 14:59:21 -0600
From:            schrock@cp-tel.net (Allisen Schrock)

My dad was in the 435th "Kangaroo Squadron" 19 Bombardment Group. I have a unit history printed after they got back to the states. I will be glad to share a copy with you if you would like. I am trying to gather all the information that I can on the unit and there is not very much written that I have found. Do you have any artifacts or information on the unit that you could share????

Allisen

 


 

Subject:   435th
Date:       Fri, 15 Jun 2001 11:42:14 EDT
From:      HalTanq@aol.com

My name is Harold "Spud" Tanquary with the 435th from the beginning out of Java to Garbutt field until Nov looking for other 435th. Originally from 22nd Bomb Group with only memories no pictures.

Very nice web site.

Harold

 

Can anyone help me with more information ?

 

 

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