This is a story of a B-29 crew of the 6th Bomb Group, 313th Wing, which reached Iwo minus part of its crew after the night incendiary mission to Tokyo on 23-24 May.
Just after bombs away while the B-29 was over the target, at 7,000 feet, a heavy flak burst hit under the No.1 engine between the turbos. The plane was jarred severely, causing loss of control. The engine burst into flames and the aircraft plunged downward crazily.
The interphones still worked and the airplane commander, Ist Lt. J.K. Anderson gave the word to stand by. He was feverishly engaged in trying to right the aircraft and didn't give any more commands. Some of the crew, probably fearing the worst, bailed out.
The pilot pulled the plane out at about 2,300 feet over Tokyo Bay still out of control, and finally righted It. Along the coast the plane received more intense flak, both heavy and medium, as it was caught in numerous searchlights.
The pilot decided to try to clear the coast for a ditching if the burning engine caused them to abandon ship. However, as they got through the AA, he decided to try to reach Iwo. He asked the navigator for a course and discovered the navigator was gone.
The pilot and copilot, F.O. J. Hansen, tested the controls and examined the instruments, finding the flux compass was inoperative and the mag compass acting up. About this time the interphones went out. The bombardier. 2nd Lt J.L. Hays became a messenger between the pilot and the remaining crewmen.
They had a new Loran set which the bombardier attempted to operate. He couldn't figure it out so the radio operator, Sgt. J.R. Creek, began to play with it, finally getting a fix on Iwo.
Bombardier Computes Course
The bombardier In the meantime had hastily scanned the navigator's log and, using the figures the navigator had used to compute winds on the route up, estimated the drift and gave the pilot a course.
The radio was Inoperative and it was discovered that all antennas were shot away (except for the top Loran antenna), so the line antenna was put out.
After two and a half hours the engine burned down and finally went out. After waiting' a while, fuel was transferred to other tanks. The engineer, Sgt. H.R. Brenholtz, made a computation of the fuel left and figured there was just enough to reach Iwo.
Radio reception was very poor although continuous attempts were made to contact someone. Finally they were able to contact an Air-Sea Rescue plane and get a fix. The Dumbo told them they were 200 miles from Iwo.
Iwo Closed In
Next Iwo called and told them the weather had closed in. About then they sighted a Navy Dumbo, which escorted them to the island. Iwo called again saying it would be open for about five minutes.
In that time the pilot landed the B-29 perfectly, despite a left flat tire, which wasn't known until the landing was made. On inspection of the plane it was discovered that the No. 2 engine also was practically shot.
The five crewmen named in the story are the only ones, who stayed with the plane,
NOTE: Lt. Harold J Anderson - F/O, William A Mitchell, Sgt. Michael Boyko, Cpl. Albert P Lounsbury, Cpl. Joseph E Costello , Cpl. Ralph G Sasser all mistook the command, " Stand by to bail out" , and left the Plane over enemy territory. Fortunately they were found as prisoners of war. They were liberated on V J Day. A/C Jay K Anderson received the SILVER STAR for this action.
[In 1944, Jay K. Anderson was an cadet instructor pilot at Columbus Army Airfield, MS when he met his future wife, Margaret, who worked in Base Operations. They were married before he went overseas in January 1945.
During the past fifteen years Jay was an active member of the 6th B. Group Association. In 1995 Jay met up with his crew members who had bailed out and had been POWs until the end of the war. This was the first time they had seen each other since they were with him on his plane over Tokyo on the night of 23 May, 1945.
J K Anderson took his last flight August 14, 2000 In St.Petersburg FL, 56 year after Flying the Last mission of the WAR, August 14, 1945.
H. George, Historian 6th B. Group Association]
thanks to Bill Santavicca for sending me this story and to Harry George
for his contributions.