42-24574         B29                  (MACR 10376)

 

On 14 December 1944, a B-29 40BW, # 42-24574, assigned to 20th Air Force, 40th Bomb Group, 45th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Chakulia, India, on a bombing mission at 20,000’, over Rangoon railway yards, Burma, and Bangkok, Siam (Thailand). It crashed about 70 to 80 miles west of Rangoon. The crew were:

                                          Pilot                             Capt. Robert C Shanks Jr                     0-1699413

                                          Co-Pilot                       1stLt Harold E. Fletcher                      0-804317

                                          Navigator                    2ndLt Julian C. Cochran                      0-683118

                                          Bombardier                  2ndL Cameron R. Benedict                 0-684602

                                          Engineer                      1stLt Galpin Mills Etherington            0-863760

                                          Radio Operator            SSgt Farrell T. Majors                          39273801

                                          Radar Operator            SSgt Lewis W. Sommers                      35589579

                                          Senior Gunner             SSgt Nicholas P. Oglesby                    13118906

                                          Right Waist Gunner     SSgt Walter R. Lentz                            34433023

                                          Left Waist Gunner       SSgt Arnold H. J. Basche                     37263497

                                          Tail Gunner                 TSgt Enrico E. Pisterzi                        18069493

Its last known location was near 16º 46’ North & 94º 46’ East. According to 1stLt Etherington, the crew was able to bail out, were captured by enemy Burmese and turned over to the Japanese enemy, who imprisoned them in the Rangoon Cantonment (old British Prison). The pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, engineer, and radio operator bailed out through the nosewheel well. The waist gunners, senior gunner, tail gunner, and radar operator bailed out through the rear door. The co-pilot sprained an ankle upon landing. The rest were uninjured by the jump. Therington, Benedict, Fletcher, Majors, Oglesby, Pisterzi (Pirtirzi?), Basche, and Cochran were marched through the jungle by the enemy for 65 miles when the Japanese abandoned them in a Burmese village about 10 miles NW of Pegu, Burma. By 29 April 1945, they were liberated by the British Army. Shanks, Lentz and Sommers were imprisoned in the Rangoon Cantonment. Upon liberation, they were taken to the 142nd General Hospital, Calcutta, India.

The next-of-kin listed were:

                                               Basche             Ellen M Basche, M, 1116 N. Spring, Sioux Falls, SD

                                               Benedict          Margaret A. Benedict, W, 311 Wolf St, Racine, Wisc.

                                               Cochran           Leona C. Cochran, W, 428 W. 8th St, Fort Scott, Kansas

                                               Etherington     Inga B. Etherington, W, 235 S. Berendo Ave, Los Angeles, CA

                                                                       Also – c/o Ottar Beck, Normana, TX

                                               Fletcher           Juanita I. Fletcher, W, 1309 E. 7th St, Beardstown, IL

                                               Lentz               Jacob D Lentz, F, RFD 1, Stony Point, NC

                                               Majors             Marion Majors, W, 1144 ½ E 84th St, Los Angeles, CA

                                               Oglesby           Ernest J. Oglesby (Sr.), F, Box 1032 University Stn, Charlottesville, VA

                                               Pisterzi            Clementina Pisterzi, M, RFD 2, Box 322, Arvada, CO

                                               Shanks             Letha B. Shanks, W, 208 NW 2nd, Grand Prairie, TX

                                               Sommers          Berosa Sommers, W, 401 Center St, Martins Ferry, OH