1 Reply Latest reply on May 23, 2019 2:09 PM by Rebecca Collier

    Rescue operation for 418th Night Fighter Squadron, July - August 1944


      On 27 July 1944, 1Lt Ira M. Barnett flying a B-25H of the 418 N(ight) F(ighter) S(quadron) 5th AF, was hit in the left engine during an attack on a Japanese barge and had to make a crash landing in a sago swamp some 60 miles inland on the Vogelkop peninsula of Netherlands New Guinea. This was 350 miles behind enemy lines.


      5th AF Air Sea Rescue organised a rescue party of USAAF personnel, RAAF (Australian) soldiers, 41st ID troops and Dutch East Indies Army soldiers as guides and translators. The rescue team was commanded by 2Lt Louis B. Rapmund of the Dutch NICA service. They were flown in by Catalina of the 2ERS (Emergency Rescue Squadron) to the mouth of the Kais river. Rapmund there organised canoes and Papua rowers to bring them upriver. In this 3 week rescue, Japanese soldiers were ambushed and captured and the crew was brought out alive.


      I am researching this rescue mission to write a book on this remarkable misson. In January of 2019 with a small team I have retraced the footsteps of the rescue team over the Kais river in West Papua, hoping to find the B-25 in the swamp it landed in. We were (unfortunately) not successful in finding the plane, we did however met a 90+ year old Papuan who was part of the rescue team in 1944!

      B-25 crew and rescue team - kampung Baroe August 1944

      Picture of a note as dropped to the crew in the swamp

      Meeting Papuan Paulus in kampung Baru January 2019


      I am searching for information on a number of things and hope people can point me in the right direction for my search:

      - Records of the 5th AF (Air Sea Rescue command?) where records of this rescue could possibly be found

      - Pictures of the crashed plane and it surrounding area (as described in the dropped note above).

      - A report on the loss and rescue of the crew in the 418th NFS records (in the Operational Record Book is a series on the mission of 27 July itself)

      - Possibly records of the operations of the 2ERS who flew the Catalina's to and from the Kais river


      More information on this spectacular mission can be forwarded if you email me.


      Thanks, Bas Kreuger

        • Re: Rescue operation for 418th Night Fighter Squadron, July - August 1944
          Rebecca Collier Ranger

          Dear Mr. Kreuger,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located a file unit titled V Fighter Command: 418th Night Fighter Squadron Unit Narrative Combat Reports 1944 - 1945 part of the series titled World War II Combat Operations Reports, 1941 - 1946 in the Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18). For access to and/or copies of the file unit, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


          Additional historical and operational records of the 418th Night Fighter Squadron have been microfilmed by the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA). The National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) has a copy of the microfilm. For access to the microfilm, please use the index to the Air Force History microfilm available at http://www.airforcehistoryindex.org/


          To conduct your search for the 418th Night Fighter Squadron records, please enter SQUADRON/0418/NIGHT FIGHTER in the search window of the index and narrow your search by including 12/7/1941 in the Start Date and 12/31/1945 in the End Date before clicking the Search button. The results should be 37 records. Read the brief Abstract to determine which records you are interested in and click on the specific PDF icon. In the PDF listing, the IRISREF is the microfilm reel number and note the FRAME and FRAMELST numbers for the location on the reel. If the reel number begins with A, B or C, please contact RDT2 via email at archives2reference@nara.gov for access to them. Please repeat the search for the 5th Air Force and the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron.


          If the reel number begins with D - Z, the microfilm is still security classified and RDT2 will not be able to make the reel available to you. The original paper copy from which the film was created is still in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA) and has been declassified. For access to these records, please contact AFHRA, 600 Chennault Circle, Building 1405, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL  36112-6424. The web site is https://www.afhra.af.mil/.


          For records of the Dutch NICA Service, please contact the National Archives of The Netherlands via their website at https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/en.


          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

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