BRIGGS, EVERITT E. JR., continued.


On 27 November 1943, 2ndLt Everitt E. Briggs, Jr., was flying a P-51A-10, Mustang, # 43-6284, on a bombing escort mission with numerous other fighters, from RAMU, India, to Rangoon, Burma. Over Burma, the entire mission was set upon by enemy fighters and was engaged with anti-aircraft fire. 2ndLt Briggs' aircraft was last seen at 1320 hours twenty-five miles West of Rangoon. Another fighter pilot, 2ndLt Robert F Mulhollem, 0-666435, wrote in his statement: "We were returning from an escort mission over the Rangoon area and were being pursued by enemy fighters at approximately 12,000 feet, 25 miles West of Rangoon, 1300 hours, 27 November 1943. When I last saw Lt. Briggs, a Zero was on his tail at close range and I observed his right flap flying off. I did not see him crash."


1stLt Edward A. Willner, 0-61824, 311th Fighter Group, 530th Fighter Squadron, was flying a P-51A-10 when he was shot down 27 November 1943, was shot down about 40 miles west of Rangoon after the escort mission. His fighter crashed in the Irrawaddy delta region. While a prisoner of war in the Rangoon Cantonment, he said he witnessed the following: "I positively know the following died in the prison: 1stLt Robert Angell, 2ndLt E. E. Briggs, 1stLt James M. Grey. I was an eyewitness to these deaths. They all died of diseases. I was informed that Robert Lockett was killed, approximately 25 November, in the same area. I was told this by a Jap officer. These men were all of my squadron . All were pilots of the P-51 fighter.


2ndLt Briggs' was a witness to an earlier crash. On 25 November 1943, at 1310 hours, he had departed the Rangoon area after a bombing mission for which he was escort . He saw Colonel Melton, flying a P-51A-10, Mustang, flying full speed. His speed began to drop a distance from Rangoon and 2ndLt Briggs throttled back to stay with him. Col. Melton asked Briggs to throttle back more. He asked Col. Melton what was wrong. He replied only to head home and not circle . A trail of black smoke trailed Col. Melton's aircraft. He saw him slide back his canopy and bail out at about a 1,000 feet above the trees. He waved after his parachute opened. His fighter crashed about a half mile away and exploded. His parachute disappeared in the trees. He circled but saw no more of Col. Melton. 


MACR: Colonel Harry Ripley Melton, Jr., 0-20283, was flying P-51A-1 # 43-6069. He was listed as killed in action but was a POW. Colonel Harry R. Melton, Jr., was the commanding officer of the 311th Fighter Group. He participated in numerous combat missions between 16 October and 25 November 1943. The flights included escort duty, bombing, strafing and offensive reconnaissance over Burma. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart posthumously. A search was not productive.

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