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

 

 

On 6 Dec 1941, sixteen B-17 Flying Fortresses were due to leave Hamilton Field, San Francisco to fly 2,400 miles to Hawaii – a 13 hour trip. They were on their way to Clark Field, Philippines as part of a 10 Squadron two year deployment to the Philippines. They were stripped of all non-essential equipment including ammunition and they were fitted with two long range fuel tanks in their bomb bays. Due to red tape at the Air Depot their guns were still stowed in crates for the first leg of their journey, still lathered in Cosmoline gel. They were to fly from Hamilton Field, California to Luzon in the Philippines via Hawaii, Midway, Wake Island, Port Moresby and Darwin.

Major General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold travelled especially to Hamilton Field to see the aircraft off on their long 10,000 mile journey to the Philippines. Prophetically he told the assembled crews that "War is imminent. You may run into a war during your flight." A bit later he added:- " Good luck, and good shooting. It looks as if you might get to do some of that."

Three of the sixteen B-17s were not able to leave Hamilton Field due to mechanical problems and a fourth B-17 piloted by Lieutenant Richard F. Ezzard of the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron had to turn back due to engine problems. The remaining twelve flew in two groups of six B-17s, six from the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron, 19th Bomb Group and six from the 88th Reconnaissance Squadron, 7th Bomb Group.

Six B-17Es of these twelve B-17s went on to make up the twelve B-17Es of the 435th Bomb Squadron, the “Kangaroo Squadron”.

The following twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses arrived over Hawaii from California on the morning of 7 December 1941. See the diagram below.

 

The 8 B-17Es and 4 B-17Cs that arrived over Hawaii on the morning of 7 December 1941

The blue outlines were 38th Recce Sqn, 19th BG. The green outlines were
88th Recce Sqn, 7th BG. The six highlighted in the red rectangle went on
to become members of the 435th Bomb Squadron. Note the tail stripes
may have been added by the Hawaiian Air Depot after they arrived in Hawaii.

 

Below are the stories of the six B-17Es that arrived over Hawaii in the middle of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and eventually went on to become members of the 435th Bomb Squadron:-

 

1. B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2408 of 38RS, 19BG

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2408 of 38RS, 19BG, which later became a  member of the 435BS arrived over Hawaii piloted by 1st Lt. Karl T. Barthelmess. After correcting an earlier navigational error, B17E #41-2408 arrived over Oahu from the north at 8:00am. A group of twelve to fifteen Japanese Aichi D3A dive bombers overtook him from behind and flew on all sides of their aircraft.

Thinking they were being escorted, the crew waved to the Japanese aircraft and started to remove their life jackets. They noticed the big red circle on the wings but decided they were markings being used for training maneuvers. S/Sgt. Lee R. Embree took a photo of the Japanese aircraft which then broke away and flew ahead of the B-17E. Shortly later another group of Japanese aircraft passed their B-17 with their pilots grinning from ear to ear.

They saw thick black smoke from Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field as they approached Hickam Field. Crew member 2nd Lt. Charles Bergdoll thought it was the most realistic maneuver drill he had ever seen!! They called the tower for landing instructions

 

 

 

 

When they landed, Bergdoll saw a smoking wrecked B-24 Liberator. He then realised it was not a drill.

 

B-17E #41-2408 of 38RS, 19BG

 

Key locations on Oahau

 

2. B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2416 "San Antonio Rose of 88RS, 7BG

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2416 "San Antonio Rose of 88RS, 7BG, piloted by 1st Lt Frank P. Bostrom was the last B-17 to leave California for Hawaii. Bostrom was amongst the first of his squadron (88RS) to arrive over Hawaii. Bostrom contacted Hickam tower but was not informed of the Japanese attack that was under way. He circled above Pearl Harbor and saw a ship on fire. An anti-aircraft shell exploded off his right wing. Bostrom contacted Hickam tower and demanded to know what was going on. Hickham tower finally told him that they were under attack. He dropped down to 700 feet and was fired on by a few American ships. Bostrom then headed for some clouds. Two minutes later he was attacked by a Japanese fighter from the rear. He managed to shake offthe  lone Zero but was then attacked by three other fighters. He sustained bullet holes in the tail, wings and in the fuel transfer line, flap rod and electrical wiring. Bostrom managed to outrun the Zeros but was now very low on fuel. He made a forced landing on the fairway of the Kahuku golf course on the north east tip of Oahu.

 

3.  B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2429 "Why Don't We Do This More Often" of 88RS, 7BG

Capt. Richard Carmichael, the Commanding Officer of the 88RS, 7BG was the first of his unit to arrived over Oahu in B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2429 "Why Don't We Do This More Often". They rounded Diamond Head and noticed:-

After seeing unidentified aircraft flying through flak and several bombs exploding in the channel and harbor they realised that a war had started. Carmichael headed for Bellows Field and arrived there while it was under attack. Unable to land at Bellows and low on fuel, he headed for Wheeler Field, a small fighter field in the middle of Oahu. Carmichael spotted a Zero near Wheeler Field so changed direction and landed at Haleiwa Field 5 minutes after Lt Chaffin in #41-2430.

 

4. B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2432 "The Last Straw" of 88RS, 7BG

As 1st Lt Robert E. Thacker’s B-17 approached Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field in B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2432 "The Last Straw" of 88RS, 7BG, they noticed a large oil fire in the harbour and a B-17 on fire on the ground. They headed back towards Honolulu initially. Thacker then received a clearance to land. He landed hard and fast at Hickam Field and blew a tyre. He did a ground loop at the end of the runway to stop the B-17 which caused the blown tyre to catch fire. Crew members extinguished the fire while being strafed by two Japanese aircraft.

 

5. B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2434 of 88RS, 7BG

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2434 of 88RS, 7BG piloted by 1st Lt David G. Rawls saw AA fire and a burning B-17 beside the runway as he arrived over Hickam Field. He immediately knew something was wrong. As he followed another B-17, possibly Bostrom, he ran into AA fire from some American warships. He made a 180 degree turn and climbed quickly. He flew towards Wheeler Field but found it burning as badly as Hickam Field. Low on fuel, he turned back to Hickam Field. As he was about to land he was attacked by a Japanese fighter aircraft. Bullets hit No 2 propeller and the main spar on the left wing. Crew member Sgt Robert K. Palmer fired his .45 calibre automatic pistol at the Japanese aircraft. Three Japanese aircraft strafed the crew as they ran from their B-17. Luckily they all made it safely to cover.

 

6. B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2430 "Naughty But Nice" of 88RS, 7BG

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2430 "Naughty But Nice" of 88RS, 7BG, piloted by 1st Lt. Harold N. Chaffin, was not far behind Carmichael when they saw:-

Realising that a war had started, he headed north and landed at Haleiwa Field, a short emergency airfield on the northern coast of Oahu. Carmichael and Chaffin contacted the Hawaiian Department who ordered them to relocate to Hickam Field. Carmichael and Chaffin removed their empty bomb bay gas tanks and put 200 gallons of fuel in their wing tanks. They both installed and loaded their guns with ammunition and flew safely to Hickam Field.

The surviving B-17E Flying Fortresses were attached to the Hawaiian Department and carried out many patrols looking for Japanese ships or submarines.

Some time later on 8 February 1942, twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses were detached from the Hawaiian Department defence forces to form "Southern Bomber Group attached to the US Navy. They comprised six B-17s from 88th RS, one from 38th RS and five from the 22nd BS. They were released to CINCPAC (Adm. Chester W. Nimitz) for operations in the South Pacific Area in anticipation of possible Japanese offensives against New Caledonia and Fiji. Although attached to the US Navy as Southern Bomb Group, on paper they had become the 14th Reconnaissance Squadron, USAAF.

Admiral Nimitz assigned these twelve B-17s to Naval Task Force 11 on 9 February 1942. These are the 12 B-17’s that eventually travelled to Garbutt airfield, Townsville in mid to late February 1942.

 

Southern Bomber Group

 

Southern Bomber Group received orders to proceed from Oahu to Nadi, Fiji by 13 February 1942. On 10 Feb 1942, these twelve aircraft left Hickam field under the command of Major Carmichael.  Due to limited parking space on the small Pacific island airfields, parts of the group flew to Christmas Island and the rest to Palmyra Atoll for an overnight stay.

"A" Flight of the ex 88RS under Carmichael, comprising Carmichael, Chaffin and Brandon left Hickham Field on 10 February 1942 and headed for Christmas Island.

"B" Flight of ex 88RS under Faulkner, comprising Faulkner, Bostrom and Rawls left Hickham Field on 10 February 1942 headed for Palmyra Atoll.

The six B-17s of ex 22BS under Lewis, comprising, Lewis, DuBose, Roberts, Swenson, Eaton and Spieth  left Hickham Field at around the same time.

"A" and "B" Flight of ex 88RS flew to Kanton Island on 11 February 1942. "A" Flight arrived at Nadi on 12 February and "B" Flight arrived there on 13 February 1942 and metup with "A" Flight.

 

Southern Bomber Group's journey to Australia

 

By the 14 February 1942 the other two flights of B-17s of ex 22BS had also arrived at Nadi Airfield. All 12 B-17s of Southern Bomber Group then arrived in Fiji where they flew 16 missions over a 4 - 5 day period. They were under command of Admiral Wilson Brown of “Task Force 11 (TF-11)” which comprised:-

USS Lexington – Brown’s Flag ship
USS Minneapolis
USS Pensacola
USS Indianapolis
10 destroyers 

The six ex 88RS B-17s left Fiji on 17 February and the six ex 22BS B-17s left on 18 February 1942 and flew to Plaine De Gaiacs, New Caledonia.

On 18 February 1942, the six B-17s of the ex 88th RS saw that weather reports for Townsville were bad and as they were only able to obtain an extra 800 gallons of fuel per B-17, Carmichael decided to fly to Brisbane that day rather than Townsville. Due to the uncertainty of the French population’s loyalties, New Caledonia was considered too vulnerable a place to stay for too long.

The six B-17s of the ex 88RS arrived at Archerfield Airfield on 18 February 1942. Carmichael had wanted to refuel and leave straight away for Townsville, but Townsville was being buffeted by cyclonic winds. Later that evening, B-17E #41-2430 “Naughty But Nice” (Chaffin) was damaged at Archerfield, when it was hit by a taxying DC-3 VH-ACB piloted by Keith Virtue. The B-17 suffered damage to its starboard wing, the tail and part of its fuselage. B-17 #41-2430 finally re-joined its unit in Townsville nine days later on 27 February 1942. The DC-3 also damaged Lodestar LT-922 - see photo below.

 


Photo:- Alan Bovelt

Lodestar LT-922 after being hit by DC-3 VH-ACB in 1942

 

The men of Southern Bomber Group camped the night in the tents of the nearby American camp at Archerfield. On 19 February 1942, due to the wet airfield and their aircraft being overloaded. They trucked their baggage and most of crew members to Amberley Airfield as it had paved runways and stayed there overnight. The remaining five B-17s took off from Amberley on 20 February 1942 and arrived at Garbutt Airfield, in Townsville, north Queensland.

The men of the ex 88RS found three crews of the ex 22BS already in Townsville when they arrived on 20 February 1942. One record shows that B-17s piloted by Bill Lewis and Harry Spieth had arrived at 10am on 19 February 1942 after flying direct from New Caledonia. Plans were in place for them to take off that same night from Garbutt Airfield at 10:30pm to attack the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul. The US Navy called the attack off at 8pm that night.

After their arrival in Townsville, the twelve B-17s of Southern Bomber Group were still under US Naval control, and partly under the control of Area Combined Headquarters (ACH) Townsville.

 

School Atlas and Shell Oil Road maps
were used for navigation within Australia

 

On 21 February 1942, the B-17s and crews were dispersed from Townsville to Cloncurry (approx 400 miles west – population 300). Lt Roberts stayed behind to wait for Swenson (ex 38BS) who had engine trouble in Fiji. Lt. Roberts also had to dig his tail wheel out of the mud off the edge of the runway at Garbutt. They took over the 8 hotels in Cloncurry. They hired drivers and trucks to haul men and equipment the 2 miles to the airfield. 2nd Lt Walter H Johnson described Cloncurry as a “hot dry place of half a million flies per cubic foot of air”.

The B-17s relocated back to Townsville on 22 February 1942. In the absence of ground crews, aircrew removed two of the four 600-pound bombs and replaced them with four 300-pound bombs. Lt Roberts had freed his B-17 tail wheel from the mud but damaged the tail wheel and the fuselage in the process. They were now down to 9 aircraft. Whilst taxiing for the mission at Garbutt on 22 February 1942, the left wing tip of 1st Lt. David G. Rawls' B-17 #41-2434 was swung into the No. 4 engine & right wing of 1st Lt Frank Bostrom's “San Antonio Rose” #41-2416.

 

Supposed to be #41-2416 “San Antonio Rose” piloted by Frank
Bostrom at the left and #41-2434 piloted by Rawls

There is some doubt about the above photo. One source identified this photo as captioned above. It would appear from the photo that the incident in the photo involved the left wing of both aircraft rather than right of one and left of another. There also does not appear to be a red circle inside the star on the wing at the right meaning this photo was taken some time after about 15 May 1942.

Though there appeared to be no damage to “San Antonio Rose”, it was felt that the engine could have been stressed & might not last the long mission. The B-17 was scratched from the mission to Rabaul. Its wingtip was used to repair Rawls' B-17. From then on, “San Antonio Rose” #41-2416 became a source of spare parts and was eventually dismantled. DuBose’s B-17 had water in its fuel lines. So they were now down to six aircraft.

The B-17s were to proceed from Townsville area in two flights just after midnight on 23 February 1942 to bomb Japanese ships at Rabaul Harbour between 6:45am and 6:50am and then refuel at Port Moresby before returning to Townsville. The six B-17s assembled above Magnetic Island at 00:50 hours on 23 February 1942. The two flights were as follows:-

Maj. Richard H. Carmichael (probably #41-2429)
Capt. Raymond T. Swenson (probably #41-2447)
1st Lts Harry N. Brandon (#41-2408)
 

Capt. William Lewis, Jr.
Lt. Frederick C. Eaton (#41-2446 “Swamp Ghost”)
Lt. Harry E. Spieth, Jr. (#41-2440)

Approximately 90 miles north of Townsville they encountered heavy cumulus clouds & thunderheads. The two flights became separated 120 miles out. Harry Spieth in #41-2440 got lost in bad weather and returned via Port Moresby to Townsville around Noon . Spieth and DuBose dispersed their B-17s to Cloncurry. Capt. Lewis and Lt. Eaton reached the target at 6:47am but found cumulus clouds and smoke and steam from the volcano hiding the target. After circling for 25 minutes, Lewis dropped his bombs towards a 10,000 ton cargo vessel.

 

Target Rabaul

 

Eaton’s aircraft #41-2446 had trouble releasing its bombs and had to make a second pass. Eaton then dropped his bombs towards a Japanese transport ship. His B-17 was hit by an AA shell which passed through right wing w/o detonation. Lewis headed back to Port Moresby. Eaton was attacked by about a dozen Zeros over Gasmata. Eaton took evasive action and his gunners shot down 2 Zeros and crippled another one.

 


Profile by Michael Claringbould

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2446 - later known as "Swamp Ghost" well after WWII

 

Cannon fire had pierced the rudder of Eaton’s B-17 and somehow inflated the life raft on the port side of the B-17. The raft popped out of its compartment & wrapped around the port tail plane.  Eaton was not able to get his damaged B-17 over the Owen Stanley Ranges. Low on fuel due to a fuel leak, he made a forced landing in the Agaiambo Swamp.

The other flight of three B-17s had arrived over the target area a short time after Lewis and Eaton. Bad weather prevented them from finding the target. They were attacked by 5 Japanese fighters and badly shot up. Three men were wounded with one “Zero” shot down. They returned to Port Moresby not releasing their bombs at Rabaul.

The four surviving B-17s then refuelled at Port Moresby and arrived back in Townsville around 2:30pm on 23 Feb 1942 where they heard news that Eaton’s B-17 #41-2446 had crash landed on the north coast of New Guinea in the Agaiambo swamp.

Fred Eaton and the other crew members survived the forced landing. Sgt Richard E. Oliver removed the “secret” Norden bomb sight and shot it with his pistol and threw it into the swamp. For just over 5 weeks they battled malaria, heat exhaustion and the jungle to make their way to safety. An RAAF helicopter spotted the B-17 wreck in 1972 and landed on one of the wings and found the machine guns were still fully loaded. The B-17 was in remarkable condition. Sometime after this the B-17 acquired the nickname “Swamp Ghost". The near perfect wreck was recovered in 2006 and is now on display in the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

On 14 March 1942, the B-17s were reassigned from the USN to the 19th Bomb Group, USAAF as the 14th Reconnaissance Squadron. This was just in time to take part in the evacuation of General Douglas MacArthur from the Philippines. MacArthur had earlier refused to be evacuated by the very same B-17s as he had been told they were USN aircraft.

 

These two B-17s evacuated General Douglas MacArthur
and his family and staff on 17 March 1942

 

This B-17 evacuated the remainder of
MacArthur's staff on 18 March 1942

 

Three B-17s of the 14RS piloted by Faulkner, Spieth and Dubose were used to evacuate President Quezon, Vice President Osmena and their family and staff from the Philippines on 25 March 1942.

Late in March 1942, Lt. Gen. Wainwright, Commander of Forces in Philippines, requested a squadron of bombers be sent to try to break Japanese blockade long enough to allow movement of supplies from Cebu to the American Garrison on Corregidor. On 11 April 1942, the following aircraft took off from Darwin for the 1,500 mile flight to Mindanao exactly one week before the Doolittle Raid:-

11 B-25 Mitchell's (3rd BG) equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks
3 B-17 Flying Fortresses (2 from the 14th RS)

 

The above two B-17s from the 14RS were used for the Royce Mission

 

The B-17s and B-25s were involved in over 20 sorties during the Royce Mission. They sank a Japanese transport and possibly two others. They also shot down three Japanese aircraft. Aircraft were dispersed to various abandoned airfields to minimise damage from Japanese bombing raids. The Japanese managed to destroy one of the three B-17s at Del Monte during a bombing raid. The remaining aircraft returned to Australia loaded with evacuees after their daring raids.

 

B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2435 of the 40RS made an emergency
landing at Decker Park, Sandgate, near Brisbane on 18 Apr 1942.
 

B-17 #41-2440 accidentally “bombed” HMAS Australia on 7 May 1942 but fortunately their aim was not so good.  This B-17 was later transferred to the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bomb Group by 11 July 1943.

On 21 April 1942 the 14th Reconnaissance Squadron became the 40th Reconnaissance Squadron. It was still the only active heavy bombardment Squadron in Australia. Finally on 16 May 1942, the 40RS became the 435th Bombardment Squadron, known as the “Kangaroo Squadron”.

 

These two B-17s returned to the USA

 

The war weary 435th Bomb Squadron was withdrawn from combat in November 1942 and returned to the USA.

 

Men of the 435BS having drinks served at a picnic at
Rowes Bay, near Townsville on 10 November 1942.

 


 

The 435th Squadron flew a 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 (Group) (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 evacuate 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 outstanding 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 Guinea, 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 unforgettable 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 Tucson 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 great 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 cemetery 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 humour 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 soon 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:      Harold Tanquary

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 Tanquary

 

REFERENCES

"Kangaroo Squadron - American Courage in the Darkest Days of World War II"
by Bruce Gamble

 

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This page first produced 16 July 1998

This page last updated 14 February 2019