14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 375th Bomber Squadron


Two B-24s departed Kwielin on May 19 to search for and attack shipping in the South China Sea South and East of Hong Kong. It was planned for the planes to follow the same course, but because of very bad weather over the field at Kweilin, they were unable to get into formation, so proceeded separately, along substantially the same course. Lt. Walton’s crew failed to return; as related by Lt. Lowe’s crew, which did return, a convoy of five enemy vessels was sighted and attacked at approximately 20:15 N-114:32E. Plane No. 316 (B-24J-35-CO #42-73316, “Reluctant Dragon”), piloted by Lt. Walton, was shot down while making a bombing run on one of the freighters in the convoy. They had been unobserved during the flight until this point, but were seen circling for position just after Lt. Lowe’s plane made its attack.

Lt. Walton’s plane was then seen to go in at an altitude of 150 feet to attack a 400 foot freighter, upon which Lt. Lowe’s plane had already made one run. Three or four of its bombs were seen to hit in the water, short of the target. Intense fire was coming from the freighter, and Lt. Walton’s plane was clearly hit and on fire before it reached the target. Clouds partly obscured their vision, but Lt. Lowe’s crew report that after the other plane passed over the vessel, the plane was burning badly in both wings, as if gasoline tanks had been hit. The plane banked slightly to the left and glided down into the water. On hitting the water, it appeared to skip, and when it hit the second time, it exploded and disappeared almost immediately. Little hope is held that any of the crew escaped. The crew consisted of the following officers and men:

2nd Lt. Grady G. Walton,
2nd Lt. Harrell D. Finley,
2nd Lt. Charles P. Wassell,
2nd Lt. Robert J. Long,
S/Sgt. Harvey J. Davis,
S/Sgt. Sam C. Sjolander,
S/Sgt. (Harold V.)Kilgour,
Sgt. Odas (NMI) Marsh,
Sgt. James F. Miller,
Sgt. Harry R. Marlowe

Lt. Lowe’s plane sighted and attacked the convoy at 0718 hours. It is believed to have consisted of 1 destroyer and four freighters. Two of the freighters were estimated at 400 feet in length, one about 250 feet, and one about 300 feet. On the first run, 3 X 500 pound bombs were dropped, from an altitude of 200 feet. The first bomb was about 40 feet short, and another was observed just over. The third was not observed. The ship lost motion, was listing, and appeared definitely damaged, though no smoke or fire was seen.

On the second run, the other 400 foot freighter was attacked across the beam from starboard, and the remainder of the bombs (3 X 500 and 6 X 250) was dropped. No direct hits were observed, but three of more were very near misses, and as the plane pulled away, this vessel was smoking badly.

On February 29, 1946 the War Department officially confirmed the deaths of the members of this crew, who were reported missing in action on May 19, 1944. Plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan, south of Hong Kong. Bodies were never recovered.

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