Looking for info: Crash Landing & Rescue of 418th NFS plane in Dutch New Guinea July 1944

UPDATE:  Added a few photos from this event at the bottom of this post.

I’ve had a quite a number of international visitors to the site in the past month.  Normally, most visitors are looking for photos or details of family  members.    In this case, a visitor from the Netherlands is looking for information on the  418th Squadron B-25H plane  that crash landed in Dutch New Guinea on 27 July 1944.   The plane number was 43-4422.

Here are more details:

“I am writing the story of a crash landing of a B-25H of 418NFS on the Vogelkop of DNG on 27 July 1944. Ira M. Barnett and his crew (Thomas Wright, Pete Whipland and Harold Tantaquidgeon) landed in a huge sago swamp some 60 miles from the coast. An extensive rescue operation by the 5th AF including elements of the 2 ERS (Emergency Rescue Squadron), 41st Infantry Division, 5th AF HQ rescue section, Australian Army Jungle Training School, 25 PRS (Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron) and Dutch NICA (Netherlands Indies Civil Administration) together formed a rescue team that went into the jungle and swamp to bring the crew of B-25H 43-4422 back to safety.
The report of the rescue reads like the script of a Hollywood movie.”

If any of our readers has information related to this rescue or the individuals involved:  2ERS: Harold Manser, Donald C Brickner, Leslie A Lange; 418NFS Norbert J deBoer, Albert R Sorbo, Caroll “Snuffy” Smith, Kerstetter and Barnett and his crew; 25PRS Charlie D Crow; Australian Army William Gillespie, Thomas William Scott, Donald Stanley Riordan, Alexander Sidney Goddard; 41st ID Victor J Krause; NICA Louis B.J. Rapmund, Silas Papare),  then please get in touch via the comments section to this post or drop me an email via the Contact  page.


Caption: B-25 Crew plus rescue team





Caption: Saturday 19 August 1944 around 1330pm the rescued crew flew back to the base:

2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF – A Young Man Went Off to War

Related to my previous post, here is another one of those great connections that this website helps make possible.  In 2019, I was contacted by reader, with the following story:

My uncle, 2LT Thomas E. Cartmell, was a pilot with the 417th NFS in March and April of 1945. I have had the opportunity to read, photograph, transcribe and compile the 343 letters he wrote to his sister, his parents, and his girlfriend (later wife) during his wartime experience. The letters chronicle his training, from preflight through transitioning to the P-61 Black Widow.
He was assigned as a replacement pilot to the the 417th, joining them at LaVallon in March, 1945. He moved with them to St. Dizier, and then to Giebelstadt, Gerrmany.
On April 26th, 1945, Tom and his RO 2LT Hal Anderson were shot down and killed by friendly fire over the Dillingen Bridgehead. It was their first and only combat mission. ”

Dr. Hughey has compiled the collected letters and created a beautiful website  to honor the memories and tell the story of a young man who went off to war, but did not return.  I have placed a permanent link to “2LT Thomas E. Cartmell USAAF-A Young Man Off to War”  on the Letters, Diaries and Tributes page of the 417th-nightfighters website.

Alternative, you can click here, and go directly to Dr. Hughey’s website .

A Happy New Year with a happy ending story

Happy New Year everyone.

One of the things that I get the most satisfaction from when working on this website is connecting people with other people.  This can be a grandkid looking for their grandfather, a son or daughter looking for a photo or memory of a father who passed away too soon.  Sometimes, the web site allows me to connect two strangers.

My story starts in May of 2019.  A visitor  to this web site generated an inquiry on the Contact Us page.  “Buddy”  was looking for relatives of Clarence K. Fuller.  Clarence was one of the original members of the 417th who died in action in 1944.  He was a pilot.

In response to the inquiry,  I posted a plea for any relatives of Clarence to get in touch thru the site.  Nearly six months went by with no response.  Then, on December 20th, I receive an email from Tracey, who is Clarence’s grandchild.  I put her in touch with Buddy.

Buddy’s goal was to return Clarence’s burial flag to his family.   How fantastic is that!

A snippet from the email Buddy wrote regarding the “reunion” with Clarence’s family was:

“A book could be written about the journey this flag has made and the surprises discovered by both sides along the way.  Thank you for your help, it has meant so much to all of us.”

It meant a lot to me too.  It makes the work worthwhile.

Speaking of getting in touch, I’ve seen a few comments about people getting in touch thru the Contact Us page, but receiving no response.  There was an upgrade to this website as well as the Contact us page awhile ago and it’s possible that some inquiries may have been tossed during the transition.   I check the email and contacts page at least once per week unless I am away on vacation, so if you haven’t heard from me please try again  AND please check your SPAM/JUNK folder as the reply address that will be generated when I do write back is a little odd and some email filters might think it’s invalid.





Merry Christmas 1943 and Beyond

Amongst the items in my father’s collection from his time in the 417th NFS were several Christmas related items.  I thought that it would be fitting to post these items for the Christmas holiday.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year.



Northrop’s Unmistakable Black Widow: When Death Waited in the Dark

A friend of mine sent a link to this article about the P-61 Black Widow.     Lots of good stuff in the article including a bit about how the P-61B, Lady in the Dark, was unofficially credited on the night of Aug. 14, 1945 with the final Allied air victory before the war ended. The victory was achieved without a single shot being fired as the opponent, a Nakajima Ki-44 Tojo fighter, went out of control trying to escape Lady in the Dark.  Lady in the Dark was flown by the 548th NFS.

There are also some good photos that accompany the article.

You can read the article, written by Bill Walton by clicking on the following  link.

Northrop’s Unmistakable Black Widow: When Death Waited in the Dark


New Post and request for information

I’ve added a new page with details on the Inactivation and Redesignation of the 417th NFS ceremony that was held in December of 1993.  You can see the post here.

I am also looking for any members of Dick McCray’s family or extended family.  I have a box of photos which look to be originals that I found in my father’s collection and would like to return to them.  If you have any information that would help please get in touch via the contacts page.

William Work – Looking for info

Hi Readers!

Received a request the other day thru this site for information on William Work – a member of the 417th.  This request came from his grandson, but unfortunately, the email contact that he left looks to be incorrect as it bounced.  So, I am posting here in the hopes that Joshua will see this and get in contact again.

I found a few references and a photo on William Work from the 417 NFS Illustrated History Chapter 4 pages 40-87.   It seems William Work joined  the 417th in October/November of 1944 as part of a replacement crew arriving from the 419th(?).  Here is a group photo of crew that arrived.  The caption on the photo indicates that William is 3rd from the left in the front row.

I believe William Work was a radar operator.

Another photo I found was titled “Condon and Willie Work @ LeVallon” and I assume the reference is to Bob Condon and William Work (in back).

That’s it so far, but I will keep searching the archives for any additional info  on William.  If anyone else has anything to add in this story, give me a shout!

Joshua, if you’re reading this, you can contact me directly at 417@fryphone.com.


Interview with John “Woody” Grange – Pilot in the 417th NFS









John “Woody” Grange served in WWII as a pilot in the 417th.  He passed away in 2003, but prior to that, John was interviewed by his nephew about his experience with the 417th and the war.   John’s nephew got in touch with me recently and provided me with access to the video story he created from the interview.

To watch the interview, go to  the Video Stories page, or click on the link below which will bring you directly to the interview on You Tube.

“Waste Not 83”  A Night Fighter’s Story



Thaddeus C. Kulpinski

Another visitor to this site contacted me with some historical information on one of the 417th members, Thaddeus C. Kulpinski.  I got in touch with the reader and he provided me a copy of a Christmas Greeting card that Thaddeus sent to his parents.








Thaddeus, “Ted”, Kulpinski was an RO and an original member of the 417th NFS.  Here he is in a group photo of the original members…


October 1943 – Original 417th NFS Crew





…And a shot of him from when he was in prep school prior to the war.








Enjoy, and keep those photos and memories coming!



Reader looking for relatives of Clarence Fuller

Hello readers – I’ve been away on holiday for a bit and while I was away, I received a request from a reader who is looking to contact any relatives of Clarence K Fuller.  Clarence died in action on 1/20/1944 and was part of the 417th Night Fighter group.

If you can help, please drop me an email via the contacts page on this website and I will put you in touch with the person who made the inquiry.

Kind Regards,



Protecting the night in WWII

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