USAAF B-17’s in Java – Part 8 – “Shuttle Bombing”

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.

Banner_The Bombers

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.

ShuttleBombing Malang DavaoThe 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.

B17E-ZHis 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.



A 19th Bomb Group B-17D being bombed up at Mindanao – Date unknown

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.


[1] 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);

[2] Hobson and Hughes returned to base with engine trouble. Hillhouse landed at Samarinda II with engine trouble and returned to Singosari next day

[3] 1st Lt. Basye, 2nd Lt. D. Skandera (Navigator) and S/Sgt Roy J. Wilhite (bombardier). Oldfield and Chopping were still in a Macassar hospital.



About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
This entry was posted in Dutch East Indies, Java Campaign 1942, US Army in Java 1941, USAAF Java, USAAF Pacific, WW2 Pacific and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to USAAF B-17’s in Java – Part 8 – “Shuttle Bombing”

  1. Pingback: USAAF B-17’s in Java – Part Eight | My Forgotten Hobby II

  2. GP Cox says:

    Thank you for returning. I hope all is well, we missed you and your informative posts.


  3. Pierre Lagacé says:

    You have been missed!


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