Chapter 4 - 90th Bomber Squadron 1942- 43
April 1 - Our crew flew back to Wards Strip at Port Moresby in the morning. Lt Alex North and I hitch-hiked into town and back in the afternoon. Lt. Menge and McNair crews went on air strike to Kavieng strip on north end of New Ireland Island.
April 2 - Lt Coolidge and Lt. Pelander on reccos. The reccos during this period were as follows: The first was across the Owen-Stanley's to Buna, then east and north until just west of the top end of the Solomons then west toward Rabaul and down the east side of New Britain to Buna and back to Port Moresby. The Second route was also across to Buna, north to Admiralty Islands, east to west side of New Britain Island, then south off it's west coast to the Gasmata area, across to near Madang Strip, then southeast passing north of Lae and back to Buna and Port Moresby. We were to look for Japanese shipping and usually had an assignment to check certain harbors and/or airfields for activity. We usually had four 500 lb bombs which we dropped on any shipping we found. If no ships then the bombs were dropped on some Japanese runway. Our pick was always (we hoped) one without zeros like Gasmataor Finschhafen strips. On occasion we were assigned native villages to strafe in-order to drive natives away who were helping the Japanese.
April 3 - Our crew on alert today (staying by the plane in the revetment and ready for immediate take-off). No flying for us as the Recco planes did not spot any Japanese shipping.
April 4 - Our crew had bombing practice off Port Moresby harbor in # 720. Practice bomb wouldn't release. Took some pictures of Port Moresby and shot 2 practice landings. Rained at night.
April 5 - Got electricity to our tent.
April 6 - Started raining at 11 AM. Crew went to radar lecture at the 321st Squadron area.
April 7 - McNair, Menge, and Almond on alert today.
Apri 9 - Our crew on alert today. Off alert in afternoon and test-hoped #903. It seemed rather weary and slow getting airborne. We will use this plane for our mission tonight.
April 10 - B-24 # 903. We took off at 2:30 AM for individual aircraft strikes with other 90th planes to hit the Wewak Airdrome area. We arrived before daylight and had lots ofack-ack but not too close. Mission was 6:30 hours. Slept all afternoon. McNair's crew failed to return from Wewak strike. McNair(p) Tingley(cp) Orr(n) Weinberg(b)-Our Roommate
April 11 - left at noon today for Brisbane to ferry a new B-24# 359 back to the 400th Sq. Spent night at Charters Towers Air Base. Charters Towers is a replacement training center for newly arriving crews from the States.
April 12 - Off in morning to Brisbane. Spent the night at Amberly Field. We hear that they have given up search for McNair.
April 13 - Engine mag check has 300rpm drop so another day here while they change plugs. Went to show at nearby town of Ipswitch.
April 14 - Off at 8:45 and landed at Townsville. Told we're to go to Charters Towers again. Spent night there.
April 15 - Off at 8:45 and arrived Ward Strip, Port Moresby at12:30. Going on mission to Rabaul tonight but latter Changed to Wewak. The 90th Bomb Group is one year old today. This evening they had a dance band for entertainment. General Kenney gave a talk. Said we will have more bomber groups assigned here in a few months. Our crew on alert today. Off alert in afternoon and test-hoped #903. It seemed rather weary and slow getting airborne. We will use this plane for our mission tonight.
April 16 - Friday B-24 # 043. Took off at 00:15 AM on bomb strike to Wewak. Weather in-route was terrible and we would have never found Wewak if the Japanese hadn't turned on the searchlights looking for us. They caught us once in the lights but we slipped out of them easily. Out ship dropped 20100 lb bombs wrapped with steel cable and 3 ft long nose fuses. These were called "daisy cutters" for an obvious reason. We didn't observe results and there were no explosions other than our bombs. According to a small map I drew in my diary, our bomb string started between their two runways that were laid out almost end to end in a SE to NW direction. The string of bombs marched towards the NW and ended on the SE end of the northerly runway. We landed at6:15 AM after being on oxygen at altitude to get over the Owen Stanley mountains and back to Port Moresby. Slept rest of day.
April 17 - Our crew is assigned # 363 a new 42-series B-24D. I wrote in my diary that there is a lot of new gadgets on it.
April 18 - Almost all the crews are on alert except ours. Threenew crews arrived for the 4 00th today. We are scheduled for a mission tomorrow.
April 19 - Took off in AM for Kavieng, New Ireland in our new B-24 (#363). We had a prop governor malfunction after crossing the Owen-Stanley mountains close to Lae. We returned to Wards Strip and got the spare plane # 289. Complete cloud cover after passing west end of New Britain to Kavieng. Finally could see the town after flying in area for half an hour. We continued our recco south along west coast of New Britain. We sighted no shipping anywhere along our recco route so we dropped our bombs on the Cape Gloucester strip. Weather was solid over central New Guinea and we had to climb to 30,000 feet to get across to Port Moresby. Our crew has166 combat mission hours. This is highest for our squadron. 1:50 and 7:45 hrs on this mission.
April 20 - Worked on our plane in the morning. Our tent caught on fire (small section) due to an electrical short.
April 21 - On alert at our plane while another crew is out on recco. I noted that mosquitoes are getting quite bad.
April 22 - Alert this morning and are scheduled for strike at Rabaul tonight. Too much rain to take-off so will be re-scheduled later. Our tent almost washed away.
April 23 - Fixed tent this morning. We had lots of leaks from the rain.
April 24 - On alert this morning. Rumor is that Menge's and our crews will be rotated back to the states first. Word is that they are going to request the co-pilots to stay on as first pilots to fly with the new crews. Some pilots, navigators and bombardiers have been promoted to 1st Lts. All co-pilots are still 2nds. Supposedly we would be promoted if we stay. I don't think I'll stay for this if I have a choice.
April 25 - B-24 # 363 Went on mission to Kavieng. Finally got pictures of harbor. We saw two Japanese twin engine fighters along west side of New Britain Island. We were gong south and they were going north. We dropped our un-used recco bombs on Finschhafen strip, landed at Dobadura Strip. 8:15 hours
April 26 - Took off at 6:10 and returned to Wards Strip at Port Moresby.
April 27 - On alert all morning. Our 90th Bomb Group now has a PX with few canned goods, ink, combs, etc.
April 28 - No one woke us to go on alert this AM.
April 29 - We're to go on alert at 12:00 today. Another new crew assigned to 400th. Lt Fetter back from hospital and has moved into our tent with Sully, North and me.
April 30 - Up at 5:30 for alert all day. We're called in at noon pending a strike on Rabaul. Strike cancelled because of weather.
May 1 - Had gas attack lecture this morning. We now have 15crews in our squadron. Scheduled to fly escort for General Krueger(?) tomorrow.
May 2 - Escort mission cancelled because of weather. Worked on revising our living quarters (tent). Lt Alex North back. 3 May No flying-no alert . Went into Port Moresby this AM to see about getting some laundry done. A little about the local weather this time of year. In the morning hours the cloud cover is generally scattered over the Owen-Stanley range. These mountains require 10000-15000 flight altitude to clear. With day time heating and the moist flow of air the clouds start building rapidly and by mid-afternoon it takes 30000 ft. flight level to get back across to Port Moresby. So often The alternative is to land at our base at Dobadura and return to Wards strip the next AM. Operations say they(?) have found Shavonic's(?) plane near Bena Bena in the mountains north of Port Moresby and that he may be alive.
May 4 - B-24 # 363 Six 400 Sq ships off at 3:00PM for Wewakarea to bomb shipping (probably sighted by earlier recco flight). On departure from Ward, Hatfield's B-24 lost a 500lb bomb through the bomb-bay doors very near 13 mile Air drome and they had to return to base. No one hurt and bomb did not explode.
May 5 - B-24 # 363 Recco in formation with Col Rogers but returned after 2:15 hours because of solid clouds. Col Rogers was flying a new Nose turret ship named "Connell's Special".
May 6 - B-24 # 363 Recco to Kavieng (7:45 hrs) and landed at Dobadura on return.
May 7 - Returned to Wa rd Strip in AM. Dry wind came up today similar to our Southern California "Santa Anas". Strike on Wewak was scheduled but was canceled when Lt Almond's plane got stuck and blocked the rest of the 400th Sq planes.
May 8 - Worked on our new officers club. Saw show in evening9 May Alert this morning to 10:00 AM. Scheduled for strike onRabaul tonight. Didn't get off after trying two B-24s withboth having excessive RPM drops on their engines. Rest ofships made it and reported an easy mission. Major Bulli s leaving for Melbourne tomorrow.
May 10 - No duties. Scheduled for shots tomorrow. Told to conserve water as there is a shortage.
May11 - On alert this AM. A.P.news (?) took moving pictures ofWhitlock's crew on alert. May strike Wewak as a couple of Ja panese ships are reported there.
May13 - We were assigned B-24 # 3716 (a 321st Sq ship). Off at6:00AM as weather and shadow ship, but returned after 1:15because radio became inoperative. Japanese air raid on Port Moresby. They dropped 3 flares in our area but no damage. It was reported that their bombs were dropped over and beyond 17 mile Airdrome.
May 14 - Got Cholera and Typhus shots.
May 15 - Alert AM. Recco ship reports shipping but turns out tobe some islands after they send the 90th planes out to bomb. We take off at 6:00 PM in B-24 # 363 for ACK-ACK city, Lakinia airdrome near Rebaul. While we were gone there was a Japanese raid (or over fly) of Port Moresby but no bombs dropped.
May 16 - back from Rabaul at 3:00AM. We were worried about ground fog on our return, but it was no problem. Now have 198:35 hours combat time. I'll add a little here of what I remember about Rabaul. As we approached Rabaul, probably near10-12000 feet, we encountered lots of searchlights. There was quite a bit of anti- aircraft fire but I don't ever remember any being close enough to hear or feel. The one thing I remember were their Phosphorous anti-aircraft shells, exploding into brilliant yellow trails and blossoms like fireworks. I think they were more for effect as no plane that I know of was ever damaged by them. We had to slip out of the search lights at one point. We made our bomb run on one of Rabaul's airdromes and were glad to clear the area. All the strikes were individual ships so as we approached you could see the planes ahead getting "serviced" by the Japanese anti-aircraft so we could see what was ahead for us. This was the worst part of the mission. (10:00 hour mission)