HOUGHTON, WILLIAM R., Master Sergeant, # 6716531, USAAF


William R. Houghton was born on 8 June 1914 in Trenton, Mercer Co., New Jersey, to Rodney Janvier Houghton (1892-1946) and Ellen (Smith) Houghton (1892-1971). Siblings included Donald Edgar Houghton (1919-1996 and Harry B. Houghton (1929-2011). In 1920 his father was a building contractor and in 1930 a bottling company salesman for E.L. Kerns Co. He and his wife had two children.


He enlisted in the USAAF in New York. He was trained to maintain and operate the radio equipment on the C-47 Skytrain. He was sent overseas through India to China. On 11 February 1944 a Curtiss C-46A Commando, # 41-24634, assigned to 1st Transport Group, 3rd Transport Squadron (Station 6), departed the airfield at Chabau, India, at 1027 Zulu for Kunming, China, on a cargo mission (Wolmite & 4 mail pouches) on its return flight to Chabau, India, flying through the Himalayan mountain range (the Hump). It crashed enroute. It was about 2 hours out of Kunming, China, in the vicinity of Pimau, Burma, when it was caught in a downdraft (windshear) between mountain ridges, it rapidly lost altitude from 23,000’ to the height of the mountains it was flying through (13,000’). Airspeed was between 105-115 MPH. MSgt. Houghton was the radio equipment operator. The aircraft functioned properly but, the pilot was unable to climb and fearing a crash, the crew was ordered to throw out the cargo and bail out. When 2ndLt Starling reached the open cargo door, he found MSgt Houghton and Pvt Wyatt hesitating to jump. Lt Starling ordered the men to jump and set an example by jumping. He reached British Intelligence quarters and found that Wyatt received medical aid and was being brought there. Five days later they were reunited at a cave. A Japanese 5 man search party were within 50’ of the cave.


Pvt Wyatt reported that he followed Lt Starling out of the C-46. He was not sure but instantly after jumping, the C-46 crashed into a mountain and exploded. Wyatt was so near that his left leg was burnedBoth Starling and Wyatt made it to Fort Hertz. Natives at the crash site there were scattered portions of human remains of two bodies which indicated the pilot and MSgt Houghton were in the C-46 when it crashed. After recovery, his remains and those of Capt. Poppell, indistinguishable, were buried 27 July 1949 in the Raleigh National Cemetery, North Carolina, on 27 July 1949 (Sec. 17, Grave 106).


His brother, Donald E. Houghton, born 27 November 1919, served in the U.S. Army from 7 April 1942 to 1 June 1943. He died 17 May 1996 and is buried in the First Presbyterian Church of Ewing Cemetery, Ewing, Mercer Co., New Jersey.


His brother, Harry B. Houghton, born 16 May 1929, was in the New Jersey National Guard, Master Sergeant, until retirement after 32 years. He served in Vietnam, Lebanon and Grenada. He died 28 January 2011 and is buried in the Washington Crossing National Cemetery, Newton, Pennsylvania.