I received the following email and information from Kevin Reeder regarding his uncle, Henry Lee Gurley who’s plane and crew went missing during a mission in Japan on August 4th, 1945. I thought it was a nice way to remember Henry so I am reposting for others to see.
This information may help in detailing what happened that dreadful night for Henry and his crew.
Additional information regarding the Intruder missions to Kanoya Airdrome, Kyushu Japan, flown by Henry Lee Gurley and Stanley E. Logan:
(All times Okinawa time) Henry Lee Gurley took off at 9:15 p.m. (2115) on August 4, 1945. He WOULD have returned to base about 2:45 a.m. (0245) on August 5, 1945. Stanley E. Logan took off on August 5, 1945 at 10:30 (2230) p.m.. Mr. Logan RETURNED to Kadena Airbase, on Okinawa, at 4:00 a.m. (0400) on the morning of August 6, 1945. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the morning of August 6, 1945 at 8:15 (0815) a.m.. The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima just a little over 4 hours after Mr. Logan returned to base on Okinawa. See a portion of Mr. Logan’s recap of his missions, copied below.
The second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. (Interesting note: Nagasaki is about 75 miles NE of Kanoya Airdrome, the location of the mission of these two 418th pilots!) The Japanese announced their formal surrender on August 15, 1945. The formal surrender documents were signed, in Tokoyo Bay, on the USS Missouri, on Sunday, September 2, 1945
418th Night Fighter Squadron Night Intruder Missions to Japan
by former 1st Lt. Stanley E. Logan, January21, 2011
Our first of three missions over Japan: Our first Japan mission (as in all missions, my ROcrewmate was Lt. George Kamajian) was the night of August 5/6, 1945. We took off from Okinawa under darkness at 2230 for Kanoya Airdrome, in the southeast corner of Kyushu, close to Kagoshima Bay, and ultimately arrived back at base at 0400. While over the Kanoya target, approximately twelve encircling searchlights swept around looking for us. One twice swept through the cockpit momentarily lighting it up like daylight each time without seeing us (thanks glossy black paint!). One searchlight appeared to be directed by sound as it was stationary @ some one hundred yards or so to starboard, moving with us each time I adjusted course. I did not radio down telling them about their apparent static error… This was of concern because high-altitude photo reconnaissance had revealed some 240 defending anti-aircraft gun emplacements (50 cal up to about 90 mm). We dropped our two bombs during a run through an aiming point on the nearby coastline, counting off the seconds for the intervening distance. This was not precision bombing but the encircling searchlights confirmed our location as interrupting their activities. One of our other planes in the sequence to Kanoya that night, with a three man crew including gunner, was lost. (note by Kevin Reeder – This is Henry Lee’s plane, and crew, that Mr. Logan references here. I think it is obvious, now, that Henry Lee’s plane SHOULD have returned VERY EARLY on the morning of August 5, 1945, which is the very same date that Mr. Logan departed on the EXACT same mission.)
After a couple hours sleep after landing at 0400 on August 6, I arose and heard over armed forces radio sometime around 0900 Japan time, that an atomic bomb, having the explosive power of 20,000 tons of TNT was dropped that morning on Hiroshima. This was our first indication of why five cities were circled on our operations map! I immediately recalled a small article in the Chicago Tribune in the late 30s which included something like: A ship could sail around the world with the energy from an amount of uranium that you could smudge on the end of your nose. I know from later studies in Nuclear Engineering that this was a big overstatement and that it didn’t reveal that some tons of the stuff were needed to make a controlled critical system. Anyway, that morning on Okinawa I thought: WOW, atomic power!!— I was impressed! I attempted unsuccessfully to locate that Tribune article in 2005. It may have been related to the announcement by Neils Bohr on January 25, 1939 at a George Washington University conference that nuclear fission had just been discovered, and that America had first heard the news of splitting of uranium in a talk by a speaker named Rosenfeld at a meeting of the Princeton Physics Dept. Journal Club on January 16, 1939. I was still in my first year of high school at that time. My search of Chicago Tribune microfilm for 1939 did not reveal the article I wanted.
On Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 3:51 PM, Kevin R wrote:
Once again, August 4 has come upon us. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the loss of my mother’s brother.
On this date at 9:15 pm, Okinawa time, Henry Lee Gurley departed Kadena Airstrip B in a P61B-15 NUMBER 42-39591. He was pilot in command of a crew of 3 on a mission to Kanoya Airdrome on Kyushu, Japan. He was in the 418th night fighter squadron with the U.S. Army Air Corps. As you all know, he was never heard from again.
Mr Stanley E Logan flew this exact mission on the night of August 5, 1945. Stan was in a P61B-15 NUMBER 42-39596. Stan was also in the 418th and survived this mission and several others in the Pacific. I am proud to have him as my friend.
One of the most rewarding things about building this website has been that it enables others to find information about relatives, friends and others who were involved in the 417th Night Fighter Squadron and other Night Fighter units.
More recently I received a request from Albert Bettencourt’s family regarding his service in the 417th. It turns out that Albert was part of the original 417th NFS. His family had provided 4 photos of Albert, some of which contain other people who’s full names are unknown. Have a look at the end of the first gallery under the Faces of the 417th page. If you can identify any of the others with Albert, please send us a comment!
Albert’s family is also looking for information on the meaning of the following badges that were part of Albert’s collection.
If you have any information on these badges please contact me or post a comment.
A couple of updates to the website have been posted today. I received links to 4 videos from the presentation that Brick Eisel and Dan Whitney did at the Palm Springs Air Museum. There are 4 videos total, which were shot/edited by Dan’s son Daniel. The links to the videos are on the Video Stories from the NFS page. Head to the bottom of the page under “Misc”. Thanks Dan and Brick for your work on this.
I have also begun to add photos from other NFS squadrons. First up are photos of members of the 548th NFS. These photos come courtesy of Eric Shulenberger who provided me with a copy of his book Deny Them The Night Sky which contained a copy of the photos which are also found in the book. Only 50 photos posted so far. More to come.
If you have photos from other Night Fighter squadrons that you would like to see added to this page, please contact me using the Contact Us page.
Finally, we’ve received two request for information from other readers seeking information on relatives.
Mark L. is looking for information on his father-in-law, Paul R Diehl, who was part of the 547 NFS.
Catherine F. is looking for additional information on her Grandfather, Lt. Col. Donald Flaherty, who was part of the 415th NFS.
If you have any information that might help Mark or Catherine, please contact me via the Contact Us page.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. There have been 2 small updates to the website today. We added another 9 photos to the Faces of the 417th Gallery. The photos were supplied by Bob Brennan’s son Mike Brennan. They have been added to the 1st gallery.
We also received a lovely email from Kevin Reeder with a special photo of a painting he received for Father’s Day. The painting is of Henry Lee Gurley’s plane. To see the photo, click here.
This is a bit unrelated to the Night Fighters, but wanted to share it anyway. As many of you may or (may not) know, I am currently living in Wellington, New Zealand.
A week ago, April 25th was ANZAC Day here in New Zealand. It commemorates New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women. The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915 (WW1). This year’s commemorations were all the more poignant because it is the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
My husband and I attended many of the activities in Wellington, the most memorable being a dawn service at 5:30 AM at the National War Memorial. 40,000 people attended, young and old, most of which had to rise as early as 4 AM to make there way to the service. It was quite moving. I thought I would share a few photos.
In December of 2014, I received 3 transcripts of letters related to Raymond Christensen from his great-niece, Karen. Letters like this help current and future generations to better understand the war by seeing it thru the eyes of those who experienced it first hand. I am so glad that Karen chose to share these letters with me and has provided permission to post them on this site for others to view.
The letters are posted, as links, on a new page called “Letters”. This page is located under the Night Fighter History menu. Or, you can just click on this link and head right to it.
I am interested in hearing from others who have letters that they would like to share on this website. Please get in touch via the contact page!
Hi everyone, I hope you had a good Christmas break and New Year. I have been away from the 417th site for about 3 months and it’s now time for me to get back to work! Stay tuned for updates later in the month!
I noticed that a number of people posted comments to photographs and other items. These comments were in my mailbox, pending approval. I just got around to approving them. Sorry for the delay.
I have just finished posting another gallery of 61 photos on the Faces of the 417th page. Some of them may be duplicates and many of the titles could use more information. If you can identify anyone in the new photos, please let me know and I will update them. The new gallery is at the top of the page. You can still view the older galleries by scrolling down.
I have also added a document containing more photos of the Original 417th squadron. This document is also located on the Faces of the 417th page.
You probably won’t hear from me again until after the holiday season, at which point I will try to tackle adding photos from other NFS squadrons.