Richard Saunders - 90th Bomb Group

Running time
3 min 48 sec
Date made
Copyright
Department of Veterans' Affairs

Transcript

There were no maps, and no one seemed to know how to live off the jungle, and I made part of my job to learn how to live and eat in a jungle. And I used to train the air crew, and on top of that, if they were going on a bombing raid and there was something for me to do, I was put in the crew as a waist gunner until we got over the target, when I had to go do what it was I was asked to do. Like dispatching letters to the natives about the war, and all that. That continued, but being a heavy bomb group, they were mostly doing strategic bombing, rather than close support bombing.

In May 1943, I was posted from the 90th Bomb Group to the 3rd Attack Group, which was the first bomber unit to be stationed on the northern side of New Guinea at Dobodura. And the 3rd Attack Group was a very precise and accurate group of pilots, flying Mitchell bombers and Boston bombers. Most of their attacks on shipping and such targets was done at 20 feet. And in 1943 they were skip bombing shipping. At times, the targets we were asked to bomb were things like green trees, and it's very hard to identify a single tree in a jungle. And my task in supporting it in the group was to fly with them, and identify the ground position of the unit that needed support, for argument's sake on Shaggy Ridge in New Guinea, they had difficulty in getting accurate bombing, and I arranged for the American chief pilot to go to the front line and see what it was we were trying to do for them. And it was following that Shaggy Ridge was captured.

We also laid the smoke at Nadzab, for the support of the airborne units that landed near Nadzab. Their cooperation and accuracy was never in doubt. I received a report that the biggest submarine in the Japanese Navy was expected to surface in Lae, or off Lae, at 6:00 in the evening on a certain day, and I asked the 3rd Group to attack if in fact, the submarine did rise. The aircraft arrived at three minutes past 6:00 to see the conning tower opening, and so, that was the end of the Japanese large submarine.

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