Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Something I Need To Do.

**My grandfather posing for a shot somewhere in the Pacific with his flight crew, in front of their very decorated B-17E, "Tugboat Annie," tail number 41-2599. He is the guy in the middle, back row.

This is entirely unrelated to cycling, but it is something I have been working on for decades. I have finally found out what happened to an aircraft (one of three) my grandfather was assigned to during World War 2. Part of a Texas-based bomber school, John H. "Swede" Lindgren was destined for the Pacific Theatre of operation. From what I can gather he was not assigned originally to the B-17E, serial number 41-2599. Knowing that his various crews had been shot down three times, and he was one of only two men to survive from his original crew, it's not unusual to see a man get moved from one plane to the next. Of the three original photos I have of his aircraft, this is the only one with a traceable tail number. '

Some info on this bomber;
It was originally assigned to the 19th Bomber Group, and eventually would also participate in campaigns with the USAAF, 5thAF, 43rdBG, and 65thBS. Nicknamed "Tugboat Annie," she apparently had met with a great deal of luck to have lasted so long.

Built by Boeing, she was flown overseas via Fiji in June 1942 to Australia by 1st Lt Bruce A. Gibson. Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group. Later, she was transferred to 43rd Bombardment Group.

On September 11, (weird, right?) 1942, this B-17 was flown by pilot Jack Thompson with co-pilot Crawford on a bombing mission against two destroyers 20 miles east of Normandy Island. A B-17 scores a direct hit on the stern of the destroyer Yayoi, which sank later.

**Destroyer "Yayoi" at anchor in Japan, February of 1923.
Yayoi had a very decorated history, fighting every conflict from Kwajalein, Wake Island, Rabaul, Gasmata, Kieta, and The Coral Sea battle. Later, as the Allies would begin to see victory, the ship was destined as a troop transport for evacuations. She was hit by the "Tugboat Annie" while on an evacuation mission in September of 1942 on Goodenough Island. She would sink eight miles northwest of Vakuta Island.

**The "Yayoi" under attack from B-17's.

She was "winged" during a second bombing run attempt due to faulty bomb bay doors, and ditched close to shore between Lae and Buna with all hands surviving on January 16th, 1943.

**Aerial view of the airfield on Lae Island, 1943.

Her original crew manifest consisted of these men;

Pilot 2nd Lt Harris N Lean, O-726270
Co-Pilot 2nd It Albert L Fair, O-661822
Navigator 2nd Lt Ruby E Johnston, O-790247
Bombardier 2nd Lt Alfred Retzhy, O-728513
Engineer Pvt Louis A Wells, 19004774
Radio Pvt Minor C Smith, 6960170
Gunner S/Sgt Russel E Owens, 36199496
Assist Engineer Pvt Wendell D Revers, 36336232
Assist Radio Claude W Robinson, 35376879

Sorry to bore you all with this, it's nothing more than some personal closure on info I have been searching for since I was about 16. Thanks to Justin Taylan at Pacificwrecks.org for all the help.


At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Dave Armstrong said...

Hi -

You wouldn't happen to have IDs of the rest of the men in the photo of your grandfather's crew by the B-17's tail?



At 7:46 AM, Blogger Sharpie said...

Sorry Dave...that info died when he did about ten years ago. I have the original photo (and a few more) and none of them have names listed on the back!


Post a Comment

<< Home