Operation Plum
The Ill-fated 27th Bombardment Group and
the Fight for the Western Pacific
by Adrian R. Martin and Larry W. Stephenson


They went in as confident young warriors. They came out as battle-scarred veterans, POW camp survivors ... or worse. The Army Air Corps' 27th Bombardment Group arrived in the Philippines in November 1941 with 1,209 men; one year later, only 20 returned to the United States.

The Japanese attacked the Philippines on the same morning as Pearl Harbor and invaded soon after. Allied air routes back to the Philippines were soon cut, forcing pilots to fight their air war from bases in Java, Australia, and New Guinea. The men on Bataan were eventually taken prisoner and forced into the infamous Death March.

The 27th and other such units were pivotal in delaying the Japanese timetable for conquest. If not for these units, some have suggested, the Allied offensive in the Pacific might have started in Hawaii or even California instead of New Guinea and the surrounding islands.

Glenwood Stephenson became a squadron leader after the unit’s deployment and was one of the pilots evacuated by General MacArthur before the fall of Bataan. Stephenson continued to participate in the air war, including two raids deep into enemy territory that preceded Doolittle’s Tokyo raid. While returning from a reconnaissance mission over the Coral Sea in April 1942, he died, along with his crew, when their aircraft crashed on the slopes of Australia’s Mount Bartle Frere.

Based largely on primary materials, including a fifty-nine-page report written by the surviving unit members in September 1942, Operation PLUM gives an account of the 27th Bombardment Group and, through it, the opening months of the Pacific theater.


6" x 9", 416 pages, 34 b&w photos, 8 Maps

5 Appendixes, Bibliography, and Index


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This page first produced 26 July 2008

This page last updated 04 March 2020