MISHAPs: 17 SEP 43 A/C PV-1 Location: Ballale Strike: Yes Deaths: 00 BUNO: 33214 Cause: Unknown [08OCT2009]
"...Pilot Lt. Marion D. Trewhitt (rescued) Berkely, CA, Co-Pilot Ensign Edward A. Conlon (rescued) Miami, FL, Radio ARM3C Troy P. Wilson, 6166924 (MIA / KIA) Winters, TX, Crew Chief/Tail AMM2C Carl D. Saunders (rescued) Logansport, IN and Ordinance/Top Turret AOM3C Carl Schaffer (rescued) Portland, OR. Ditched September 17, 1943 at 3:15am. Mission History - Took off at 22:05 on September 16, 1943 from the Russell Islands on a bombing mission against Ballale. Over the target, they dropped six bombs: 2 hitting the woods, one on the beach and three in the water. Leaving the target area, they became separated and proceeded back to base alone, but failed to find it nor were radio calls apparently transmitted. Although some reefs were spotted and Cactus beam were located, at 3:15 on September 17, they were low on fuel and prepared to ditch. On impact, the crash causing the bottom of the aircraft to tear away. During the landing, Wilson was seated on the deck near the navigator's table and was never seen after the crash, and was presumed to have been killed instantly in the crash. The other crew all sustained minor injuries in the crash. The Ventura's door raft and jungle kit were all the emergency gear that survived the ditching. The nose sank first, and the tail went vertical and then quickly sank. Crew's Survival & Rescue - The survivors drifted in the raft for 16 days days at sea, sustaining with water and milk tablets and a fish caught. They survived storms, were trailed by sharks, and ate coconuts found in the sea. Although within sight of several islands, currents prevented landfall. On October 2, they spotted a PB4Y (B-24 Liberator) but it failed to observe them. Also two Zero fighters that same day that also failed ot see their raft. On October 3rd, the 17th day, the raft made landfall on Choiseul Island and found themselves near Kagatarava village with a Catholic mission and spent the night in the abandoned village and a Japanese landing barge nearby, and saw Japanese troops from a distance and fled. The next day they met a native, who agreed to take them to his chief "Levi" and the crew departing on the 5th and finally reaching coastwatcher "Nick", on the 9th, and remained with him, departing on the 12th to the shore again to be rescued. On October 17, the crew was taken by canoe to Nanano Island, an offshore island, and were rescued by a PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. Thomas H. Benton of VP-23 at 15:00. They were flown by back to their base at Halavo "D Base" at 17:05. The next day, the crew was debriefed and give a week's leave in New Zealand before returning to duty....." WebSite: PacificWrecks http://www.pacificwrecks.com/ [08OCT2009]
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