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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

We seek additional information and photographs. Please contact us via Helpdesk
10th Air Force
15.05.1944 Fighter Section P-51B 43-6872, Capt. William R. Gilhousen DFC (OLC)

Operation: Weather and Reconnaissance Mission

Date: 15th May 1944 (Monday)

Unit No: Fighter Section, 1st Air Commando Group, 10th Air Force

Type: P-51B Mustang

Serial: 43-6872

Code: Unknown

Base: Hailakandi, India

Location: 5 miles west of Kawlin, Burma (Myanmar).

Pilot: Capt. William Richard Gilhousen DFC (OLC) O-667062 AAF Age 24. PoW * /Murdered

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail)


Capt. Gilhousen took off in the early morning of the 15th May 1944 from Hailakandi in India on a Weather and Reconnaissance mission to the north of Kawlin, Burma (Myanmar).

He was last heard on the radio at 07:30 hrs at a position 5 miles west of Kawlin before baling out after his Mustang was hit by AA fire.

The circumstances leading to the capture of Capt. Gilhousen after he baled out is not known. He was eventually incarcerated at the Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail) where he and his fellow PoWs were brutality treated.

The circumstances leading to the death of Capt. Gilhousen were determined by a British Military Court convened in Rangoon, Burma between the 18th and 24th April 1946.

Two members of the Imperial Japanese Army were charged with committing a war crime in that they, at the New Law Courts Jail Annex, Rangoon, Burma, between the 1st March 1944 and 27th July 1944, being in violation of the laws and usages of war, were together concerned in brutality towards and ill-treatment of American and British PoWs, resulting in the physical suffering of thirteen PoWs and the deaths of five of the thirteen.

The accused were:

Capt. (Rikugun-tai-i) UYENO Masakaru who was the former Commanding Officer (CO) of Futo Buntai, Rangoon, Burma and also the CO of the Futo Buntai prison;

Capt. (Rikugun-tai-i) YAMAZAKI Kaname was the Medical Officer (MO) of the prison.

Note: the Japanese word Rikugun preceding a rank indicates that it relates to the army.

Both were also members of or attached to the Kempeitai who were the military police of the Imperial Japanese Army and functioned much like the Gestapo in Nazi Germany.

Capt. UYENO was in post at the Futo Buntai prison, also known as the New Law Courts Jail Annex, from 1st March 1944 until 31st December 1944. Capt. YAMAZAKI was in post during the same period, and was responsible for the sanitary conditions of the Annex and the health and physical well being of its inmates.

During the period they were in charge a number of American and British airmen were incarcerated in the Annex where they were kept in confinement under harsh and oppressive regulations without proper or adequate food, covering, sanitation facilities and medical attention.

On or about the 5th or 6th July 1944, the following thirteen airmen were brutally beaten with clubs, iron pipes, belts and were kicked to such an extent that at least two of them were seriously injured:

Capt. John H. McCloskey; Capt. Wayne R. Westberg; Capt. William R. Gilhousen; 1st Lt. Louis W. Bishop; FO. Gene Gambale; 2nd Lt. John T. Whitescarver; 1st Lt. Amel Boldman Jr.; T/Sgt. Edward F. Niland; S/Sgt. James M. McKernan; S/Sgt. Norman L. Snyder; S/Sgt. Leland W. Waltrip; T/Sgt. Tyman H. Wells Jr. and Sgt. John G. Parker, Royal Air Force.

The treatment meted out to the PoWs directly contributed to the deaths of Capt. Westberg, Capt. Gilhousen, FO. Gambale, 1st Lt. Boldman Jr. and Sgt. Parker.

The court found YAMAZAKI not guilty of the charges.

However, UYENO was found guilty of causing the deaths of Capt. Gilbousen 1st Lt. Boldman Jr. and Sgt. Parker. He was found not guilty of causing the deaths of Capt. Westberg and FO. Gambale but guilty of the brutality inflicted upon them.

UYENO was sentenced to death by hanging which was carried out on the 19th June 1946 at the Rangoon Central Jail.

Burial details:

Capt. Gilhousen’s remains were recovered on the 5th May 1946 from the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery. His remains were amongst 37 other recovered personnel, 29 passengers and 3 crew that were lost when the C-47B #43-48308 transferring his remains went missing in a heavy storm on the 17th May 1946 during the return flight to Barrackpore in India. An extensive airborne search of a flight path 300 miles wide from Calcutta to Rangoon and a special search as far south as the Andarman Islands, failed to locate any evidence that the aircraft crashed on land and no floating wreckage was found to indicate that the aircraft had crashed into the Bay of Bengal.

The wreckage of C-47B #43-48308 was discovered by Clayton Kuhles of MIA Recoveries, Inc. on the 10th November 2009

Above: Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing for Capt. Gilhousen (Courtesy of the ABMC)

Above Memorial rites for Capt. Gilhousen – Courtesy of the Des Moines Tribune, dated 16th November 1945.

Capt. William Richard Gilhousen. DFC (OLC), Air Medal, Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 23rd January 1920 in Des Moines, Iowa. Son of Lawrence Eugene and Della Luella (née Harden) Gilhousen of Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 05.09.2023 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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