DUFF, JAMES CRAWFORD, First Lieutenant, # 0-394690, USAAF
James C. Duff was born 21 September 1918 in Hillsboro, Montgomery, Illinois, to Walter Dillad Duff (1879-1964) and Orilla Pearl (Hope) Duff (1884-1950). Siblings included Dillard Hope Duff (1909-1980) and Forrest Lynn Duff (1912-1965). He was married (4 July 1942) to Marjorie (Pruitt) Whitley nee Duff (1917-2006), a former Army nurse, and had a daughter, Mary Carolyn Duff (1941- ). He was a graduate of the University of Illinois.
He enlisted in March 1940 and was sent overseas to New Delhi, India in July 1942. He was trained as a fighter pilot and assigned to the A-36-A-1 (Avenger), the bomber version of the P-51 Mustang On 4 December 1943, at about 1500 hours, he departed the 10th Air Force base at Sookerating, India, assigned to the 311th Fighter-Bomber Group, the 528th Fighter-Bomber squadron, he was to rendezvous with two B-25 bomber and eight P-40 fighters to attack Myitkyina, Burma. He was to bomb and strafe a designated area in Myitkyina. His aircraft was seen to crash when his left wing tore off in a dive. The aircraft was high enough for him to bail out but, he did not. Witnesses included 2ndLt Raymond H. Dolan, Jr., 0-672578, 2ndLt John E. S. Disney, 0-798263, and 2ndLt Joseph P. Divver, 0-740086. He was awarded the Air Medal and Purple Heart.
2ndLt Dolan stated: In a six-ship formation, Lt. Dolan was flying # 2 position on Lt. Duff’s right. The flight was routine to target. The bombing dive was started from 6500 feet. At about 3000 feet, Lt. Dolan saw the left wing fall away and the remainder of the plane spin and crash into the Irrawaddy River. 2ndLt Disney reported: Lt. Disney was flying 3rd position in the formation. Lt. Duff went into a normal dive followed by # 2, Lt. Dolan. When they were at about 3000 and 5500 feet respectively, Lt. Disney started his dive. Lt. Disney saw a large section of Lt. Duff’s plane tear off and the plane tumbled to the right. Because I started my dive and was concentrating on the target, I could not be sure whether it was his wing or his bombs that I saw separate from his plane. However, it seemed highly improbable that the plane could have pulled away to the right as fast as it appeared to. I did not see the plane hit the ground nor a parachute open. Lt. Divver reported: I was co-pilot of a B-25 photo ship. “I first saw the A-36 in his dive at 4000 feet. It was not too steep a dive. I saw him pull out at under 500 feet. It was still in a normal diving attitude. I saw a piece fall off the airplane immediately after he pulled out of the dive. I thought it was a tail piece. Afterwards, the airplane went into a fast spin and crashed about 50 feet from the bank of the river. Our B-25 was about a mile and a half from the target.