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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
20.05.1944 434th Bombardment Squadron (M) B-25J 43-3896, 1st Lt. John W. McCloskey

Operation: Bombing mission at Mawlu (Maw Luu) in Burma (Myanmar)

Date: 20th May 1944 (Saturday)

Unit No: 434th Bombardment Squadron (M), 12th Bombardment Group (M), 10th Air Force

Type: B-25J

Serial: 43-3896

Code: Unknown

Base: Kurmitola, India

Location: Mawlu, Burma (Myanmar)

Pilot: 1st Lt. John Henry McCloskey O-796848 AAF Age 23. PoW *

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Thomas William Snee O-677300 AAF Age 25. KiA

Navigator/ Bombardier: Capt. Wayne Robert Westberg O-732792 AAF Age 23. PoW */DED (1)

Radio Op/Gunner: T/Sgt. Edward F. Niland 32251492 AAF Age? PoW *

Engineer/Gunner: S/Sgt. Norman Lee Snyder 39828641 Age 22. PoW *

Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Leland Hershal Waltrip 39251861 AAF Age 23. PoW *

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail).

Above: Thomas W. Snee. Class Book for 43-C. "Wings Aloft", Lubback Army Flying School, Coleman, Texas. 1943

REASON FOR LOSS:

1st Lt. McCloskey and his crew took off from the forward airstrip at Furmitol in India on a mission to bomb targets at Mawlu (Maw Luu) in Burma (Myanmar).

The aircraft was last sighted at 07:20 hrs by 1st Lt. John N. Walker while making his bomb run over the target. While on his bomb run he had encountered enemy ground fire from small calibre type weapons. After that 1st Lt. McCloskey’s aircraft was not seen again.

The Japanese informed 1st Lt. McCloskey after he had been captured that they had found 2nd Lt. Snee’s body and that he died when his parachute failed to open.

(1) 1st Lt. McCloskey also reported that Capt. Westberg had survived the bale out but had died of dysentery on the 22nd August 1944 and that he personally prepared him for burial.

A British Military Court convened in Rangoon, Burma between the 18th and 24th April 1946 determined that his death was deemed to be a war crime.

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:

2nd Lt. Thomas William Snee. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York. Born on the 20th March 1919 in the Bronx, New York. Son of Thomas Michael and Elizabeth Margaret (née Houlahan) Snee of Tottenville, Staten Island, New York. Husband to Ruth (née Yobs) Snee of Arlington, Virginia, USA

He is also remembered along with his brother and cousin on a memorial plaque in Guadalcanal airport in the Solomon Islands.

Above: Capt. Wayne Robert Westberg, Walls of the Missing (courtesy of the ABMC)

Capt. Wayne Robert Westberg. Air Medal (7 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Remembered at the Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 9th January 1921 in Washington, Minnesota. Son of Harry Lawrence (died in September 1936) and Velma Katherine (née Schmidt) Westberg of Moline, Rock Island, Illinois, USA.

Capt. Westberg was Declared Dead (DED) on the 21st March 1945.

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 04.09.2023 - 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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