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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
02.04.1944 459th Fighter Squadron P-38H Lightning 42-67014, 2nd Lt. John T. Whitescarver

Operation: Fighter Sweep, Heho landing ground, Burma (Myanmar)

Date: 2nd April 1944 (Sunday)

Unit No: 459th Fighter Squadron, 80th Fighter Group, 10th Air Force

Type: P-38H Lightning

Serial: 42-67014

Code: Unknown

Base: Chittagong, India

Location: 3 miles west of Heho landing ground, Burma (Myanmar)

Pilot: 2nd Lt. John Thomas Whitescarver O-749155 AAF Age 27. PoW *

* Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail)

Above: John Thomas Whitescarver from the Pittsburg High School Year book 1934


On the morning of the 2nd April 1944 the 459th Fighter Squadron took off from Chittagong in India on a mission to bomb the Heho landing ground in Burma (Myanmar)

After mission statements by fellow pilots described what they witnessed regarding the loss 2nd Lt. Whitescarver’s aircraft:

Capt. Verl D. Lueuring:

‘I was leading the squadron on a fighter sweep over the Heho landing ground, April 2, 1944, with 2nd Lt. Whitescarver flying on my wing. Time of attack was approximately 12:10 hrs. We made a strafing run on the target with 2nd Lt. Whitescarver on my left. As I pulled up from about 75 feet he flew toward and under me. Thinking that they might be an enemy aircraft on my tail, I pulled to then left and did not see my wing man again’.

1st Lt. William G. Broadfoot Jr.:

‘While leaving the target area at Heho, on the raid of April 2, 1944, I saw a P-38 aircraft do a wing-over and crash into a hill approximately 3 miles due west of the Heho runway. I was then 500 feet above the terrain. The plane started from below my level, reached approximately 300 feet above the terrain at its highest point, then crashed down in vertical bank. The ship exploded in flames. Almost simultaneous with the explosion a chute fully opened less than 100 yards from the burning plane, then immediately collapsed on the ground. My point of observation was one mile north of the crash. I do not believe the chute opened in time to save the pilot’s life’.

2nd Lt. Robert A. Hargis:

‘On the raid on Heho, April 2, 1944, as I was pulled up on my second pass, I saw a plane, definitely a P-38, with about three feet of yellow flame coming out of the left engine. He passed under my wing out of sight. When I lowered my wing and looked back I could not see the plane. I presume it to be the plane of 2nd Lt. Whitescarver, missing in action on this mission’.

2nd Lt. Paul A. Jarvis:

‘We crossed Heho landing ground on April 2, 1944 and held a course to the west for about two or three miles when I saw a P-38 cross just above and in back of Lt. Broadfoot in a south-easterly direction. I took my eyes of him and was attracted almost immediately by a flash and the silk of a parachute which I had glimpsed where the P-38 should be. I turned to the left when I saw the chute open and flew directly over it at approximately 100 feet. The plane had landed in a small wooded area and was burning. The chute was hanging on a small tree and the harness was on the ground to the north. There was no apparent sign of anyone in the harness and there was no movement that was visible in the small clearing where it had landed’.

The circumstances leading to the capture of 2nd Lt. Whitescarver are unknown. He was eventually incarcerated at the Burma #5 (Moulmein & Rangoon Jail) where he an his fellow PoWs were brutality treated.

The circumstances leading to the brutality and mistreatment of 2nd Lt. Whitescarver 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:

None. He survived his ordeal.

John was adopted. His biological parents were Thomas Emmet and Hazel Christina (née Hamilton) Northington.

Lt Col. John T. Whitescarver DFC, Purple Heart, 10327A, USAF

Above: Grave marker for John T. Whitescarfer (Courtesy of Jon & Joy FindAGrave)

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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Last Modified: 05 September 2023, 12:41

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