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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
27.11.1943 9th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24J 42-73245 ‘Maxwell House III’, 1st Lt. Richard W. Meredith

Operation: Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar)

Date: 27th November 1943 (Saturday)

Unit No: 9th Bombardment Squadron (H), 7th Bombardment Group (H), 10th Air Force

Type: B-24J Maxwell House III

Serial No: 42-73245

Code: Unknown

Location: 150 miles NW of Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar)

Base: Pandaveswar, India

Pilot: 1st Lt. Richard Wade Meredith DFC O-728902 AAF Age 23. KiA

Pilot: 2nd Lt. Thomas Allen Stephens DFC O-683542 AAF Age 25. KiA

Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Edward F. Ryan O-672445 AAF Age 26. KiA

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Royal Duane Butterfield O-728565 AAF Age 26. PoW */ DED (1)

Navigator: 2nd Lt. Joseph Cosmo Rich O-739054 AAF Age 28. PoW */ DED (2)

Engineer: S/Sgt. Thomas Courtney Smeal 33253233 AAF Age 22. KiA

Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Ewell Coleman Temples 34444337 AAF Age 22. KiA

Asst Engineer: Sgt. Joseph Conway McClung 38288140 AAF Age 23. PoW *

Asst Radio Operator: S/Sgt. Fred William Hart 32437482 AAF Age 22. KiA

Gunner: Sgt. Charles Edwin Pero 12168305 AAF Age 26. KiA

Gunner: Sgt. John Floyd Cook 12168305 AAF Age 20. KiA

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail)

REASON FOR LOSS:

This crew and aircraft were originally assigned to the 375rd Bombardment Squadron (H), 308th Bombardment Group (H),14th Air Force. In November 1943 the crew and aircraft were detached to the 9th Bombardment Squadron (H), 7th Bombardment Group (H) of the 10th Air Force.

Over the target, the aircraft was last seen with one engine on fire. According to Sgt. McClung eight of the crew successfully baled out. However, 1st Lt. Meredith, 2nd Lt. Stephens, S/Sgt. Temples, S/Sgt. Hart and Sgt. Cook were seen to be strafed in their parachutes and were killed or died when they hit the ground.

Sgt. McClung, 2nd Lt. Butterfield and 2nd Lt. Rich survived the bale out and became PoWs of the Japanese at PoW camp Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail).

2nd Lt. Ryan, S/Sgt. Smeal, and Sgt. Pero were either killed aboard the aircraft or perished when it crashed approximately 150 miles NW of Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar).

(1) The circumstances leading to the death of 2nd Lt. Butterfield 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 second count Capt. NAGAHARA, Capt. YAMAZAK and 2nd Lt. YOKOTA were also charged that between the 1st April 1943 and the 1st April 1944, they were concerned with the ill-treatment leading to the deaths of 1st Lt. Robert F. Angell, 2nd Lt. Butterfield, 1st Lt. Joseph F. Zizlavsky, Fg Off. Kenneth E. Herbert and Fg Off. Kenneth M. White.

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.

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 was found not guilty.

On the second count all three of the accused were found not guilty.

(2) 2nd Lt. Rich died whilst being held as a PoW at the Burma #5 camp known as the New Law Courts Jail, Rangoon, Burma. No-one was directly charged with causing his death. However, one Japanese officer was sentenced to death for the ill treatment leading to the deaths of two American officers at the camp. Also another two Japanese officers were jailed for the ill-treatment of several other PoWs at the camp.

Burial Details

The remains of 2nd Lt. Rich, 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 their 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.

1st Lt. Richard Wade Meredith. DFC, Air Medal, Purple Heart. Repatriated and laid to rest in Block D Section, Lot 1 at the Masonic Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa. Born on the 2nd March 1921 in Kansas City, Missouri. Son of Dr. Loren K. and Elizabeth Ruth (née Luman) Meredith of Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

2nd Lt. Thomas Allen Stephens. DFC. Repatriated and laid to rest in Section 34, Site 1331 at the Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Born on the 28th October 1918 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Son of Harry Edward and Flora (née Duckett) Stephens. Husband to Nina A. Stephens of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

Above: 2nd Lt. Edward F. Ryan grave marker (Courtesy of the Hawaii, US, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), 1941-2011)

2nd Lt. Edward F. Ryan. Repatriated and laid to rest in Section P, Site 471 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii. Born on the 3rd April 1917 in New York. Son of Ann M. Curyan of New York, New York USA.

Above: 2nd Lt. Royal D. Butterfield, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing (Courtesy of the ABMC)

2nd Lt. Royal Duane Butterfield. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 22nd April 1918 in Fremont, Nebraska. Son of Kenneth Woodward and Edyth Maude (née Defrates) Butterfield of Davey, Lancaster, Nebraska, USA.

2nd Lt. Butterfield was Declared Dead (DED) on the 24th June 1944.

Above: 2nd Lt. Joseph C. ‘Joe’ Rich, Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing (Courtesy of the ABMC)

2nd Lt. Joseph Cosmo ‘Joe’ Rich. Purple Heart. Manila American Cemetery, Walls of the Missing. Born on the 10th August 1916 in Maine. Son of Joseph Benedict and Charlotte (née Gamble) of Portland, Maine, USA.

2nd Lt. Rich was Declared Dead (DED) on the 13th September 1944.

Above S/Sgt. Thomas C. Smeal grave marker (Courtesy of PA - FindAGrave)

S/Sgt. Thomas Courtney Smeal. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Crown Crest Memorial Park, Hyde, Pennsylvania. Born on the 8th February 1921 in Curwensville, Pennsylvania. Son of Samuel Alfred and Sara Ethel (née Evans) Smeal of Pike, Pennsylvania, USA.

S/Sgt. Ewell Coleman Temples. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Old Canoochee Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Twin City, Georgia. Born on the 18th November 1921 in Emanuel County, Georgia. Son of Dent Rountree and Gertrude (née Durden) Temples of Vidalia, Georgia, USA.

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

S/Sgt. Fred William Hart. Air Medal, Purple Heart. Repatriated and laid to rest in Section Q, Site 221 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii. Born on the 17th June 1921 in Troy, New York. His Next of Kin was listed as a Mr. Oscar Hartstock, a friend, of Highland Park, New Jersey, USA.

Above: Sgt. Charles E. Pero grave marker (Courtesy of Paul R - FindAGrave)

Sgt. Charles Edwin Pero. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Chenango Valley Cemetery, Binghamton, New York. Born on the 28th February 1917 in Binghampton, New York. Son of Clifford Bart and Mabel Clare (née Carter) Pero. Husband to Margaret Ann (née Steele) Pero of Johnson City New York, USA.

Above: Sgt. John F. Cook grave marker (Courtesy David Luders - FindAGrave)

Sgt. John Floyd Cook. Purple Heart. Repatriated and laid to rest at the Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane, Washington. Born on the 24th March 1923 in Ashton, Idaho. Son of Elias and Rebecca Rosena (née Beck) Cook of Butte, Montana, 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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