Lanna-ww2

Japan in Northwest Thailand during World War II

N18°02.53 E99°54.96 Kaeng Luang Bridge (Th: แก่งหลวง / Jp: ケンルン)
Phrae Province
Page 2 of 2
RR Bridge
Northern Route
Sta 551.55

 

Text Notes
 


The shootdown of an Allied B-24 bomber on 21 November 1944


While the USAAF Chronology lists no 10th Air Force activities in Thailand for the period 20-22 November, on 21 November, one B-24 was shot down while making a bomb run on Kaeng Luang Bridge. The entire crew perished in the crash. A passenger, a British war correspondent, was also killed.


Relevant portion of page 1 of USAAF missing crew report (MCR) 10050:[26]

Mead MCR page 1

A larger image is available here.


The flight originated in Madhaiganj Army Air Base, India; passed over Sagu Island, Burma; then Sop Prap, Thailand; to arrive finally at Kaeng Luang:

[27]
Mead route from India to the bridge


Of the several descriptions in the MCR of the shootdown by other pilots in the raid, the following by 2LT John J Probst is the most informative:[28]

2Lt Probst descrip of Mead crash

A larger image is available here.

Transcription:

I observed ship #82, Lt Mead's ship, as we were lining up for our run on the target. Just as ship No 82 crossed the target, a puff of white smoke came off the No 2 engine, and for about a second or two after, trailed a thin line of white smoke. Then flame became visible on the bottom of the engine nacelle too. Up to this time ship No 82 kept on a straight course climbing slightly. As the flame grew larger, ship No 82 started a slight turn to the left and appeared to be trying to climb. Then the bank began to increase and No 1 engine started to burn. Ship No 82 came to nearly a vertical bank and started slipping toward the ground with both engines (No 1 and No 2) in flames. Just before ship No 82 hit the ground, it nearly raised the left wing up to level flight. It hit the ground almost a level attitude at 1647 a little bit east of due south of the bridge, about 2-1/2 miles from the target. Ship No 82 exploded on impact and burned. About ten minutes later the bombs exploded.


A rough map locating the crash point was also included in the MCR:[29]

Mead MCR shootdown map 

However roughly the crash was located in this markup, it was sufficient to allow recovery of the bodies after the war, for all are now interred at Fort Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St Louis, USA.


Detail: at Meade's recorded crash time, 1650 hrs, sunset was only an hour away: 1751 hrs.[29a]  

[30]
DoD Meade MIA Report

Thai Aviation's Thai Air Accidents records:[31]

Thai Aviation report part 1

Thai Aviation Report part 2


As the only B-24 downed in the general area of Lampang, it would appear that the shootdown is described in this retrospective from the ground:

Aujan Sak's article on Mead shootdown [32]

Translation of an accompanying story by a Sgt Tieb Chanphan:

I heard the remarkable story of a sergeant in an anti-aircraft battery who shot down a B-24 which was making a bombing run on Mae Ta Bridge. Because the battery had no anti-aircraft cannon in that time of severe shortages, the sergeant used an anti-tank gun on the four-engined plane when it appeared at low altitude one moonlit night. He hit the plane and it lost altitude, disappearing in the hills. Early the next morning, the sergeant found the plane wreck. He was able to get some souvenirs and then revealed the location of the downed plane and how he had shot it down with an anti-tank cannon."[33]


21 November 1944

Allied reporting picked up the loss of 21 November:

adf[33a]

Transcript:

SOUTH BURMA AREA:
Bridges on the Bangkok-[Chiang Mai] rail line were attacked by 15 B-25s - results unobserved. 1 plane believed hit by machine gun fire crashed and burned. All crew killed.


07 December 1944

asdf[33b]

 

Appendix

Statement by Sgt Tieb Chanphan: translated from the Thai:[34]

FLYING FORTRESS B24 CONQUERED BY ANTI-TANK CANNON IN 'MEATAR'
LAMPANG UNDER JAPAN OCCUPATION DURING WORLD WAR II
by SAK RATTANACHAI

DATE OF ARRIVAL IN LAMPANG: 22 OCT 1941

08 Oct 1941, The Greater East Asia War-16 Aug 1945 (Day of Peace)

Sergeant Tieb Chanphan: born 14 Feb 1917 (Valentine's Day), owner of a writing material shop, "Phanphen", located opposite Lampang Vocational College on Phahonyothin Rd (Thai Route 1), Arch of Victory Intersection, Lampang 52000, Tel: 217159

In Dec 1941, Japan came ashore from the Gulf of Thailand.

On 10-14 Dec 1941, Field Marshal Phibun signed orders.

On 22 Dec 1941, an anti-aircraft unit was relocated to Lampang.

"On 22 Dec 1941, the anti-aircraft battalion of the northwest arrived at Lampang train station. We marched to the city along a road where there was a sawmill. On the way to the city, we walked past a group of wealthy people, judging from their all riding bicycles. I was in charge of a medical unit under Lt Col Sawas Sawasronnapak as a commander in chief and Capt Praman Adireksarn as a division commander. We installed an anti-aircraft cannon beside the Lampang City Hall along the beltway road of the city. At that time the ruins of the old city wall, the arch of victory, and a canal still remained. We set up camp in a field at Boonyawat School and installed more anti-aircraft cannons and the tanks there.

"I was stationed at Lampang for one year; then I was switched to a sub-unit in Chiang Rai, Chiang Tung. I travelled there by military car, a Dodge. There we were lodged on Meu Hill where there were a racecourse, football field, and a beautiful pool. Our battalion put an observation post on the hilltop to watch for approaching aircraft. With the equipment used back then, we could only spot planes when they were already over our heads. My sole task was to report approaching aircraft to the commander via a field phone.

"Because I was head of a medical unit, I was sent many places, but eventually I returned to Lampang. There I heard the remarkable story of a sergeant in an anti-aircraft battery who shot down a B-24 which was making a bombing run on Meatar Bridge. Because the battery had no anti-aircraft cannon in that time of severe shortages, the sergeant used an anti-tank gun on the four-engined plane when it appeared at low altitude one moonlit night. He hit the plane and it lost altitude, disappearing in the hills. Early the next morning, the sergeant found the plane wreck. He was able to get some souvenirs and then revealed the location of the downed plane and how he had shot it down with an anti-tank cannon."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26.^ "Individual Report of Downed Aircraft", Missing Air Crew Report" No. 10050, Report Date: 22 Nov 1944, p 2 (extract).
Source:
      Accident-Report.com.

Miscellaneous links:

7th Bombardment Group

492nd Bombardment Squadron

A photo of the crew is available on-line at Mead's Crew.

Relatives seek photos of Albert Sita here.

AG (Bill) Duff, British War Correspondent was ranked on the flight manifest as a "P/O". Years later this led to confusion: see "Help with rank in RAF". The RAF has a rank of "Pilot Officer", abbreviated "P/O". However, neither the title nor the abbreviation were used in the USAAF and presumably here referenced "Press Officer", which probably showed on his "British Forces Identification Card".

Duff was buried with the crew at St Louis (Jefferson Barracks) National Cemetery, St Louis MO, USA on 22 Nov 1949.

27.^ "Terrain" map from  Nations Online Project: Searchable Map and Satellite View of Thailand using Google Earth Data. Annotations by author.

Madhaiganj Airfield:
         N23°39.14 E87°20.70
Sagu Island: N18°48 E93°58
Sop Prap: N17°53.5 E99°13.13

"BanSabprap" in USAAF context probably refers to the peak of the prominent mountain ridge (53 air-km SSW of Lampang) directly west of modern day (Ban) Sop Prap, which is located in the Wang River valley downstream of Lampang (40 air-km SSW). The coordinates of the peak are given above.

 

28.^ "Missing Air Crew Report" No. 10050, p 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29.^ ibid, p 9. Original annotation reads:
(49285-4M-7-6) (11 16 16:10)(6 3/8"-4000)0(18°04N 99°56E) GEANG LUANG BRIDGE A/C #87 (RESTRICTED)

Image rotated with PhotoShop so that north points to top of this webpage; enhanced with IrfanView; annotated in red using Microsoft Publisher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29a.^ Per NOAA ESRL Sunrise/Sunset Calculator.

 

30.^ Accident-Report.com. Geang Luang: N18°01 E99°57 per Geographical Names. While a B-24J had a crew of 11, no other names were listed missing for this incident.

Further research is needed.

31.^ Thai-Aviation's Aircraft Accidents compilation, p 2, dated 02 Sep 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

`

32.^ รัตนชัย, สักดิ์, ปาะวัติศาสต์ศึกษายุทธเวหาลำปาง [Rattanachai, Saksern S, Japan in Lampang during World War II (Lampang: (self-published), undated)] Ch 70, p 114.

In an alternate account, Young, Edward M, in B-24 Liberator Units of the CBI (Oxford: Osprey Combat Aircraft-87, 2011), p 37, states that Japanese machine gunners brought down Mead's plane. See Google preview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33.^ Translation of the entire interview with Sgt Tieb Chanphan as published is here.

While the use of an anti-tank gun for anti-aircraft duty seems innovative, note that the IJA Model 98 20mm (p 217), the Model 96 Type 2 25mm (p 230), and the 40mm single and dual mounted (p 230) automatic cannons were all titled "antiaircraft antitank", per Chapter 9, TM-E 30-480 Handbook on Japanese Military Forces (Washington: War Department, 1944). [Note added 05 Sep 2014]

33a.^ India-Burma Air Force, Brief of Principal Air Operations (24 Nov 44), no page no, Item (2) of 21 Nov 44 (USAF Archive microfilm reel A8202 p0343).

33b.^ CBI-Roundup of 07 Dec 1944; reprinted from: New Delhi: New Statesman, 07 Dec 1944, no page no.

Note that the article incorrectly interpreted Duff's rank as "pilot officer" (see above for clarification). This would have been a reflection of the UK-orientation of the staff of the New Statesman.

34.^ รัตนชัย, สักดิ์, ปาะวัติศาสต์ศึกษายุทธเวหาลำปาง [Rattanachai, Saksern S, Japan in Lampang during World War II (Lampang: (self-published), undated)] Ch 70, p 114. This appendix added 04 Jul 2014.

 

 

Thing to do: photograph current bridge site, showing piers still standing from the old bridge.