On 23 January 1944, B-24J, # 42-73067 (“Rangoon Rosie”), departed Madhaigunj, India, on a bombing mission to Merguy, Malayan Peninsula. It was assigned to the 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 436th Bomb Squadron. It was seen to crash at about 1610 hours at 12º30’ North - 95º 30’ East, in Malaya, shot down by enemy aircraft. It was noted to be a battle casualty. Its crew were killed in action, except TSgt Grant L. Butcher, who was wounded and captured by the Japanese:
Pilot Capt. Benjamin P Joy 0-791444
Co-Pilot 2ndLt James W Birchett 0-745592
Navigator 1stLt Charles S Huppmann 0-564313
Bombardier 1stLt Charles W Grotte 0-724235
Engineer TSgt Grant L Butcher 19055617
Radio Operator TSgt Bjarne N Nelson 19050002
Gunner SSgt Andrew J Gillespie Jr 33054101
Gunner SSgt Robert C Connolly 16084426
Gunner SSgt Leonard C Reynolds 19059187
Gunner SSgt Bernard A Baumgartner 16021719
The witnesses who saw the crash were: 1stLt Edward J Weaver, 0-735213, SSgt Kenneth L Stocker, 39375498. No parachutes were used.
1stLt Edward J Weaver wrote: Shortly after coming off the bomb run, Captain Joy’s ship was attacked from the front by a Zero. His plane started down and smoke was seen to come from the tail, although the plane seemed to be well under control until it crash-landed on a strip of beach and slid into the water. When it hit the water, the plane began to disintegrate and the forward part of the ship was enveloped by flames.
SSgt Kenneth L Stocker wrote: After bombs were dropped and we were on our way out from the target the second element was out ahead and as they passed an island about 200 feet high, a Zeke came from behind the island and made a deflection shot. Capt. Joy’s ship made a belly landing on the edge of the water. The ship was under control but on fire inside. When it hit the ground everything was burned except the wings and engines.
MSgt Grant L Butcher, 19055617, survived and added that the mission was to bomb shipping at Mergui, South Burma. At 1600 hours, at 200 feet altitude, they were on their return course, five minutes from Mergui, east of the air field among the coastal islands. He did not bail out. No other crew bailed out. The bomber struck the water among the coastal islands. All crew were at their stations, except Lt. Huppman, navigator, who was on the flight deck. He said that Lt. Huppmann and he were thrown clear of the wreckage. After that, he saw only one other crew member, perhaps Capt. Joy, but unsure. He took Lt. Huppman to shore where Lt Huppmann died.