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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.

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10th Air Force
01.05.1943 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24D 41-42513, 1st Lt. Robert L. Kavanagh

Operation: Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar).

Date: 1st May 1943 (Saturday)

Unit No: 492nd Bombardment Squadron (H), 7th Bombardment Group (H), 10th Air Force

Type: B-24D

Serial No: 41-42513

Code: Unknown

Location: 15 miles NW of Bassein (Pathein), Burma (Myanmar)

Base: Panagarh, India

Pilot: 1st Lt. Robert Lloyd Kavanagh DFC O-435791 AAF Age 28. PoW */DED (1)

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Walter Earl Cotten Jr. O-661921 AAF Age 24. PoW * (2)

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Kenneth Porter Moxley O-660885 AAF Age 24. PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Hubert Ross Garrett O-726149 AAF Age 24. PoW *

Engineer: T/Sgt. Edward Raymond Bodell 11031740 AAF Age 23. PoW */DED (1)

Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Jack Kenneth Redmon DFC 19074486 AAF Age 23. MiA/DED

Gunner: S/Sgt. Norman Phillip Dohn DFC 19079988 AAF Age 27. KiA

Gunner: S/Sgt. Joseph Charles Kellner Jr. DFC 12060872 AAF Age 22. MiA/DED

Gunner: S/Sgt. John Evaristus Lavery DFC 19081435 AAF Age 19. KiA

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & New Law Courts Jail Annex)

REASON FOR LOSS:

On the 1st May 1943 B-24D #41-42513 took off from Panagarh in India as one of eight bombers detailed on a mission to bomb Japanese cargo ships in the harbour at Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar).

Immediately after dropping their bombs the formation was attacked by enemy fighter planes. 1st Lt. Kavanagh’s aircraft had three engines knocked out and four of the crew were wounded. The aircraft dropped out of formation and the fighters continued their attacks until they were able to lose them in cloud cover.

Approximately an hour later, unable to keep the aircraft in the air, they force landed in a rice paddy 15 miles NW of Bassein (Pathein), Burma (Myanmar).

The wounded men had to be left behind whilst the remaining crew set out on foot through the jungle in hopes of reaching India.

S/Sgt. Kellner had suffered two machine gun bullet wounds in the hip, a severe injury to his arm from a cannon shell and was in a critical condition. Later information from T/Sgt. Bodell, who had also been left behind, was that S/Sgt. Kellner had died of his wounds that night on the 1st May.

S/Sgt. Lavery had suffered a severe a head wound during the air battle and was in an unconscious state when he had been left near the aircraft. He was taken to Bassein by the Japanese where they claimed he died on the 10th May.

The evading airmen were attacked by Japanese patrols three time over the following week before they were eventually captured and taken to New Law Courts Jail Annex in Rangoon, also known as the Futo Buntai prison.

Information from a native interpreter for the Japanese told them that T/Sgt. Redmon had been killed in a skirmish with a Japanese patrol on the 1st May and was buried in Tawien.

T/Sgt. Bodell also reported that S/Sgt. Dohn had suffered a broken leg apparently sustained after he had baled out. The Japanese claimed that he had been taken to Rangoon for an X-Ray and he was never seen again.

1st Lt. Kavanagh and T/Sgt. Bodell died whilst at the New Law Courts Jail Annex on the 15th May. On the burial party were 2nd Lt. Moxley, 2nd Lt. Cotten and 2nd Lt. Garrett.

Above: Courtesy of The Miami Herald, dated 28th May 1943.

(1) The circumstances leading to the deaths of 1st Lt. Kavanagh and T/Sgt. Bodell were determined by a British Military Court convened in Rangoon, Burma between the 3rd and 21st May 1946.

The following four members of the Imperial Japanese Army were before the court:

Capt. (Rikugun-tai-i) NAGAHARA Kenso 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;

2nd Lt. (Rikugun-Shōi) YOKOTA Masao;

Cpl. (Rikugun-Jōtō-Hei) NODA Masami.

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

All 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.

On the first count all four accused were charged with committing a war crime in that between the 1st August 1943 and 1st April 1945, when members of staff of the New Law Courts Jail, Rangoon, Burma, were responsible for the well-being of the persons interned there, and in violation of the laws and usages of war, were together concerned as parties to the ill-treatment causing a physical suffering to PoWs interned there.

On the fourth count alone Capt. NAGAHARA, when the CO Futo Buntai prison, was additionally charged that between the 5th May 1943 and 15th July, was concerned with the ill-treatment of and resulting in the deaths of 1st Lt. Kavanagh and T/Sgt. Bodell, American PoWs.

Capt. NAGAHARA was in post at the Futo Buntai prison, also known as the New Law Courts Jail Annex, from 1st January 1945 and the 1st April 1945. 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 the first count Capt. NAGAHARA and 2nd Lt. YOKOTA were found guilty and sentenced to four and two years imprisonment respectively. Capt. YAMAZAKI and Cpl. NODA were found not guilty.

On the fourth count Capt. NAGAHARA was found not Guilty.

(2) 2nd Lt. Cotten Jr. remained in the service and reached the rank of Major (Maj) in the post-war formed United States Air Force (USAF).

Note: Several documents spell his name variously as Cotten or Cotton but the USAAF/USAF records spell his name as Cotten.

Maj. Cotten, whilst on active duty, died of a heart attack at the USAF Hospital, Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas on the 6th July 1959 aged 41.

Above: Announcement of death for Maj. Walter Earl Cotten Jr. (Courtesy of the The Kansas City Star, dated 7th July 1959)

He was buried in Section A-H Grave 1354 at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Texas on the 9th July 1959.

Maj. Walter Earl Cotten Jr., Air Medal, Purple Heart
22nd June 1918 – 6th July 1959

Burial Details

The remains of 1st Lt. Kavanagh and T/Sgt. Bodell were recovered on the 5th May 1946 from the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery, Graves 96 and 67 respectively. Their 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: 1st Lt. Robert L. Kavanagh, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Courtesy of the ABMC)

1st Lt. Robert Lloyd Kavanagh. DFC, Air Medal, Purple Heart. Initially buried in the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery, Grave 56. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 14th February 1914 in Tioga, North Dakota. Son of John Russell and Catherine Isabelle ‘Katie’ (née Cannon) of Murdock, Swift, Minnesota, USA.

1st Lt. Kavanagh was Declared Dead (DED) on the 22nd June 1943.

Above: T/Sgt. Edward R. Bodell, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Courtesy of the ABMC)

T/Sgt. Edward Raymond Bodell. Air Medal, Purple Heart (Oak Leaf Cluster). Initially buried in the Rangoon Cantonment Cemetery, Grave 67. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 31st October 1919 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Son of Joseph H. and Mary Ann (née Powers) Bodell of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.

T/Sgt. Bodell was Declared Dead (DED) on the 15th June 1943.

Above: T/Sgt. Jack K. Redmon, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Courtesy of the ABMC)

T/Sgt. Jack Kenneth Redmon. DFC, Air Medal, Purple Heart (Oak Leaf Cluster). Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 17th February 1920 in Seattle, Washington. Son of Kenneth Barclay and Margery Belle (née Peck) Redmon of King County, Seattle, Washington, USA.

T/Sgt. Redmon was Declared Dead (DED) on the 1st May 1943.

Above: S/Sgt. Norman P. Dohn grave marker (Courtesy of the Hawaii, US, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), 1941-2011)

S/Sgt. Norman Phillip Dohn. DFC, Air Medal. Recovered and interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii. Born on the 1st April 1916 in North Dakota. Son of William Joseph and Eleanor M. ‘Nellie’ (née Forrester) Dohn of Burbank, California, USA.

Above: S/Sgt. Joseph C. Kellner, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. (Courtesy of the ABMC)

S/Sgt. Joseph Charles Kellner. DFC, Air Medal, Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 20th July 1921 in Buffalo, New York. Son of Joseph C. and Elizabeth Kellner of Jamaica, New York, USA.

S/Sgt. Kellner was Declared Dead (DED) on the 1st May 1943.

Above: S/Sgt. John E. Lavery grave marker (Courtesy of Romper90069 - FindAGrave)

S/Sgt. John Evaristus Lavery. DFC, Air Medal. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, Los Angeles, California. Born on the 26th October 1923 Long Island, New York. Son of John Evaristus and Anna Estelle (née McCauley) Lavery of Los Angeles, California, USA.

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

Other sources listed below:

RS & TV 06.10.2023 - 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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