On 1 December 1943, at about 1230 hours, B-24J, # 42-73159 (“Tough Baba”), assigned to the 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the 10th Air Force base at Pandaveswar, India, enroute in a formation of B-24 Liberators to bomb Insein, Burma, where the Japanese maintained a railway marshalling and repair workshops. The crew was comprised of:
Pilot 1stLt Granvill B. Stringfellow 0-725549
Co-Pilot Lt.Col. Everett C. Plummer 0-300865
Observer Capt. John W. Lasell 0-219261
Navigator 1stLt Hugh P. MacPherson 0-660875
Bombardier 1stLt Lancer W. Robertson 0-727076
Engineer TSgt Charles C. Bowen 14070288
Radio Operator SSgt Alfonse S. Cieslak 36301984
Asst. Engineer SSgt Henry W. Ley 11045540
Asst. Radio Operator SSgt Henry G. Vanis 37190972
Armorer-Gunner Cpl George W. Tidd 14073599
Armorer-Gunner SSgt Bertram J. Archer 12140538
(All enlisted men were trained and served as gunners)
There were enemy anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters that attacked the formation. The B-24J was last seen by 1stLt Roy M. Shaw, 0-726835 (pilot), F/O Charles E. Lewallen, T-121925 (co-pilot), 2ndLt Henry J. McElderry, 0-1698928 (bombardier). Two parachutes were seen to have been used.
The statement signed by 2ndLt McElderry, F/O Lewallen and 1stLt Shaw says: Lt. Stringfellow’s plane was the lead ship of the formation. My ship flew on his left wing over the target. After bombs were dropped we lost sight of him. He was next sighted on the right wing of ship # 45. The pass by enemy aircraft was not seen but about 15 minutes from target, white smoke was seen coming from the #3 engine. The right wing of Lt. Stringfellow’s ship dropped and slid off in a banking turn to the right. It continued in the opposite direction of the formation or towards Rangoon, losing about 1,500 feet. Two objects came out of the right waist window, one chute opened immediately, and the other object kept falling and disappeared into clouds. It looked like a delayed jump to evade attacking fighters. Between 8 to 10 enemy fighters started to attack the disabled ship, leaving the main formation of B-24s alone. The tail gunner first sighted the ship going into a tailspin. One chute was opened at this time. The ship was smoking badly and dropped for 3,000 or 6,000 feet before bursting into flames. A few seconds after it had burst into flames, it exploded, leaving only burning fragments. About five enemy fighters followed the ship until it exploded. The tail gunner did not see any enemy fighters molest the one open chute.