42-6343

 

On 27 December 1944, a B-29, # 42-6343, assigned to 20th Air Force, 444th Bomb Group, 678th Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Dudhkundi, India, on a ferrying mission to Kwaghan, China. The B-29 was lost at about 0315 Zulu. The crew were:

 

                                                       Pilot                 Capt. Judson C. Forbes                        0-434094

                                                       Co-Pilot           2ndLt Robert D. Mathis                       0-826245

                                                       Navigator        2ndLt Albert N. Allen                          0-809736

                                                       Bombardier      2ndLt Bill Bryant                                0-811543

                                                       Engineer          2ndLt William G. Patterson                 0-864004

                                                       Radio               Cpl Harold Rhode                               13080605

                                                       Senior Gunner Sgt Frank W. Reed                               17145354

                                                       Right Gunner   Sgt Robert C. Sloan                             17127775

                                                       Left Gunner     Sgt Richard F. Madje                           13567257

                                                       Tail Gunner     Sgt Edward W. Stube                           16141354

                                                        Radar               Sgt Robert E. King                              3301909

 

Over Kwanghan at 13,000 feet altitude, 42-6343 was cleared to decend and to report its position every 2,000 feet. At 0310 Zulu, 42-6343 reported southeast of the airfield at 11,000 feet. The tower received no further contact. Chinese troops reported a crash about 25 miles northeast of the airfield. Air searches did not find it. A foot search early on 28 December 1944 located the crash at about the same position as the Chinese report. Chinese witnesses said the B-29 was spinning. It crashed in a small Chinese compound at the foot of a steep cliff. The B-29 was totally demolished and incendiary bombs exploded. The tail section was found ½ mile away. The remainder of the wreckage was in a small area. Nine bodies were recovered burned beyond recognition. Nothing could be found of the two other crewmen.

 

Major Merrill F. Patrick, Operations Officer, 678th Bomb Squadron, speculated that the B-29 spun in from about 11,000 feet, the reason was unknown. The pilot had reported icing and mechanical problems may have distracted the pilot from IFR flight. The tail section separated in the tight spin. Six Chinese, three cows and one pig were killed on the ground. The highest elevation in the vicinity was less than 4,000 feet. The elevation at the crash scene was 2,500 feet, measured by an L-5 Sentinel. There was no evidence of sabotage.

 

Capt. Forbes father, Rev. William H. Forbes, wrote the chaplain requesting information. Letters were forwarded to the address of 512 N. Taylor St, Amarillo, TX. Some were returned. A condolence letter, returned, had been mailed to Mrs. Fern S. Forbes, the wife of Capt. Forbes at 601 W. Pierce St, Amarillo, TX. The correct address was 601 N. Pierce St, Amarillo, TX.