As always, lots of interest in the September edition but one item has caught my attention.
In the article about the hospital ships, on page 43 you show a photo of an aircraft attacking an IJN sub-chaser. The aircraft is identified as a USAAF Liberator. The Liberator was a 4-engined heavy bomber while, although the picture is a little unclear, the aircraft is clearly twin-engined, twin-taiied and almost certainly a Hudson and thus most likely RAAF.
Sorry to nit-pick but the review is usually so precise that I couldn’t help myself!
Thanks for your excellent work in producing such an excellent periodical covering an otherwise much neglected part of our national history.
Thank you for your recent email and of course you are correct the aircraft illustrated is not a Liberator but neither is it a Hudson.
The original photo comes with the following inscription: B-25 aircraft of the 345thBombardment Group, US 500thBombardment Squadron attacking Japanese sub chaser Ch-39 off Three Island Harbor, New Hanover, New Ireland 16 Feb 1944. Looking closely at this photo there appears to be a bomb in flight between the aircraft and the ship’s mast.
The 345thBombardment Group was activated between 8 September 1942 and 19 December 1945. This Group together with its squadrons of B-25 Mitchell medium bombers were used extensively in the New Guinea campaign and most likely operated from the Dobodura Airfield Complex in what is now known as Girua Airport serving the township of Popondetta in the Oro province of PNG. These aircraft were modified with extra fuel tanks to increase their range and with extra 0.50 caliber machine guns installed in the nose of the aircraft.
From Japanese records we learn that on the morning of 16 February 1944 sub chaser CH-39 was escorting the 5,700 ton cargo ship Sanko Maru which was towing a HA-52 Type B midget submarine when they were attacked by B-25 bombers. These aircraft bombed, strafed and sank CH-39and Sanko Maruand damaged the midget submarine. On the same afternoon another flight of B-25’s found the remains of CH-39on a reef and abandoned but the midget submarine was still on the surface which they bombed, strafed and sank. Japanese records indicate that the midget was scuttled by her crew after the raid. A total of 14 Japanese were killed in this action with the survivors being taken to their small base at New Hanover.
From the Melbourne based FRUMEL operation we now know that by this time Japanese naval codes had been broken and the Allies were able to gain advance information on enemy ship movements.
We trust this explanation covers off on our previous errors and we shall publish it as a Letter to the Editor in the next edition of our magazine.
Editor – Naval Historical Review