To all my readers and followers: due to personal reasons it has been a long time since I posted the latest installment in this series. But now I have taken up the thread again and will complete this awesome and tragic story.
Genesis of the “Shuttle Bombing”
The sudden Japanese strafing attack on Kendari II had made it clear that the Dutch ‘secret’ fields were no longer secret; they were in fact becoming far too vulnerable.
The alternative was to mount direct ‘shuttle missions’ from Malang to Del Monte. This would allow for two-way bombing of targets between Java and the Philippines. An additional advantage of this kind of shuttle operation was that ammunition could be carried into Mindanao on the way out, while some of the 19th Bomb Group’s experienced personnel, now marooned at Del Monte, could be evacuated to Java on the return flight.
The downside of this scheme was that a mission would mean a 1,500-mile flight in each direction, over strongly held Japanese areas and through an unpredictable equatorial front.
Yet, after much head-scratching, 5th Bomber Command Okay-ed the proposal and Lt. John B. Connally, one of the 19th Bomb Group’s veteran pilots, led a flight of 9 B-17’s on the first shuttle mission from Singosari to Del Monte.
His orders for the outward leg were to bomb Japanese shipping around Jolo. (1) Three of the bombers had to turn back with engine problems (2), but the remaining six fought their way north through severe thunderstorms.
They had a go at Japanese shipping targets near the island of Jolo in the Sulu Sea, roughly halfway between Mindanao and Borneo. Landing safely at Del Monte by the end of the afternoon, they reported hits on a tanker and what they thought was a cruiser.
Early next morning, Connally’s B-17’s were all bombed up and the flight took off for the ‘return shuttle’. Bad weather made bombing of Jolo or other targets impossible on the return trip. However, when the bombers touched down at Singosari around noon, 23 officers and men of the 19th Bomb Group jumped out of the various bombers, glad for the chance to be evacuated from Mindanao.
Monday January 19, 1942, sure was a busy day for the 7th and 19th Bomb Groups.
Staff Sgt. Wise (19th BG) and Tech Sgt. Harvid Sager (11th BS) were taken by a Patwing 10 PBY to Macassar to help salvage as much as possible from Basye’s wrecked LB-30. The same PBY returned to Surabaya with Basye and part of his crew (3).
To help Wise and Sager strip essential equipment from the downed LB-30, 2nd Lt V.D. Pocnic (co-pilot). T/Sgt FE Paul Flanagan and gunner pfc Robert F Graf remained at Macassar.
At a quarter to ten in the morning, a flight of three additional B-17E’s reached Singosari with Major Stanley K. Robinson, the commanding officer of the 7th Bomb Group at the controls of B-17E 41-2456.
And on that same day, news arrived that the ground echelons of two squadrons of the 7th Bombardment Group had left Australia for Java; finally, more help was on its way.
 This was the first ‘mixed’ operation of the 7th and the 19th Bomb Groups. Pilots were Conally (402062), Tash (40-2419), Keiser (40-3066), Schaetzel (40-3070), Hobson (41-2406), Hughes (41-2419), Key (41-2472) and Hillhouse (41-2480);
 Hobson and Hughes returned to base with engine trouble. Hillhouse landed at Samarinda II with engine trouble and returned to Singosari next day
 1st Lt. Basye, 2nd Lt. D. Skandera (Navigator) and S/Sgt Roy J. Wilhite (bombardier). Oldfield and Chopping were still in a Macassar hospital.