#31 THE LAST MISSION OF CREW 3918
A Prisoner of War Mission to supply 9,000 pounds of
food and medical supplies to the prisoners of war at Peiping Camp #4 near
Weihsien, Manchuria, China.
This is the first POW mission flown by our crew and the
second POW supply mission flown by the 39th squadron. Very little is known
about this camp as well as the territory where it is located. The most
difficult part of the flight will be to locate the camp. Also a possible
shortage of gas could occur.
FIRST LEG….Tinian to Iwo Jima……..September 1, 1945.
We awoke at dawn….. Breakfasted at 06:00…. Were briefed
for the mission at 06:30…. loaded on trucks at 07:15 for travel to the
flight line….engines start at 08:45 and takeoff for Iwo Jima at 09:02.
We leveled off at 8500 feet with an indicated air speed
of 205 mph. At 12.07 we sighted Iwo Jima 40 miles ahead and landed there
at 12:20. We left the plane in charge of the ground crew to be serviced.
We stayed overnight.
Iwo hasn’t changed much since we had landed here for
gas on our 22 mission July 9. It will never rid itself of the drab look.
Dull grey suspended clay dust greets the eye everywhere. The island only
varies in monotony by the dust covered brown tents and the occasional dull
grey of a few Quonset huts.
It is more than ever a beehive of activity. Most of the
island is a commotion, bustling within a pall of brown dust in mixed with
the black dust of the volcanic ash. Fighters are constantly roaring
overhead coming and going since the 5th Air Force moved in.
SECOND LEG….Iwo Jima to China and return……..September
Take off at 03:17…..leveled off at 8,000 feet… 6,800
gallons of gas. Planned reserve 297 gals.
Went to sleep on a blanket on the nose wheel hatch.
Awoke at 06:05. Weather at present ok.
07:04…Sighted the island of Tanega Shima just south of
07:10 …Weather is getting bad ahead and severe to the
right of course. Have turned on the radar to find a path through the
07:30… Turbulence is becoming severe, weather is
closing in. Thunderheads ahead.
07:45…Turned around and are skirting the storm to the
left. Weather is soupier but better
08:15 Back on course. 08:40 Have been flying in heavy
rain for some time. Turbulence is letting up.
08:55… Breaking through the weather. Cold front behind
us. We are on top of an under cast.
Note: We are not sufficiently supplied with food for
this mission. The thought of ten more hours without food is not pleasant.
Back to sleep.
09:40…Am awake. Weather has cleared up entirely.
Expecting land in about 60 minutes.
10:16 Sighted land, (China.) Landmark is about 8
degrees right. Were right on course. Sighted several junks off the coast.
10:35…Coming up on Ch’ing-Tao and its bay. Ch’ing Tao
looks like a nice city of about 70,000. The buildings have rust colored
tile roofs and grey walls. The streets are laid out similar to an American
10:42 We are crossing the bay. The far side of the bay
has no line of demarcation. The water continues in to the flooded rice
fields. The fields beyond resembles logs floating down a river. They are
long a narrow.
10:52…Sighted the railroad which will parallel our
course to Weihsien. It is supposed to be at the junction of the railroad
and the third river. The landscape and towns all look the same; most of
them have walls around them. From the air the country looks beautiful….We
have crossed the first river.
10:59…We are coming to the third river. We have let
down to 2,000 feet. This does not look right. We were told at the briefing
that if we were south of the course we would mis-count the river
junctions. Our navigator said that our ETA made this the second river. We
11:03…Approaching another river the town on the railway
does not seem large enough. We can’t mess around here too long, gas is a
11:08 … This must be it. Now we have to locate the POW
Camp. We were given two possible places. to find it. Then we spotted
another plane dropping supplies just ahead of us.
11:14 …We are now on our dropping run behind the other
plane. Now they have dropped their supplies from the rear bomb bay. What a
beautiful sight. The mission compound is a small compact enclosure. The
foliage is tall trees and shrubbery. All of it is dark green. The red tile
roofs and white walls provide a pleasant contrast. Two story buildings
predominate, but a few are three story and two or three towers stand about
4stories high. Just behind all this at the moment, parachutes of many
different colors, red, blue, green, orange yellow and scarlet. Coming up
on the missionary we see hundreds of people running around on the grounds.
11:17 Cargo away. Had to salvo all of it. Usually on
POW supply missions some kind of damage can be done to the aircraft
because the cargo is set on a large one piece rack. Sometimes when
released it the slip stream sends it toward the tail, where it may hit
part of the plane. However all went well.
11:20….Going around to have a better look and take
pictures. We passed at tree top level . The people on the ground were
running all over. They seem to think we are going to make another drop.
11:28 … As we circled we passed over the city of
Waihsien, a city of 70,000 enclosed within a mammoth wall. The city square
was jammed with people watching the spectacle. I don’t think they had ever
seen a B-29.
12:02…Our job was done. We climbed to 15,000 feet and
headed for Iwo Jima. On the way we were accompanied by two F6F’s Navy
fighters one on each wing. We didn’t like them being there. Our Fire
Control swiveled the guns. The fighters got the message and left. The rest
of our flight to Iwo was uneventful. We hopped we had enough gas.
17:15 …We landed at Iwo. All the crew is tired. We
parked in the gas line. We were 4th in line. I filed a clearance for
Tinian and waited while they gassed up the plane.
THIRD LEG……Iwo Jima to Tinian
18:20 …We left Iwo for Tinian and leveled off at 8,000
feet…. The weather was good. Our ETA was 21:23
21:25 … We landed On Tinian
Total time: 3hrs25 min to Iwo, 14:10 Iwo to China and
back to Iwo, 3:10 Iwo to Tinian. Total flying time 20 Hrs. 45Min we had
flown a total of 4,650 miles
Tari Miller wrote the original story.
Bob Frick made changes to clarify or correct some of the material.
Submitted by Bob Frick 9-8-2011