The 6th Bomb Group

Mission 16. Shimonoseki Straits  (Mar 27)

This was a night mining mission involving 29 planes from the 6th Bomb Group:

Thirty aircraft flew to the Straits, the western entrance to Japan's Inland Sea, and dropped mines at night by radar. Two crews were lost on this mission.

Both crews were from the 40th Squadron. The airplane and crews of Lt William C. Grounds and Lt Paul A. Steel were lost over the target. Very little information is available concerning the loss of Lt Grounds' plane, however, since V-J day the entire crew has been found in a prisoner of war camp and liberated. Five minutes after "Bombs Away" Lt Steelís crew sent a distress message telling of "one engine out", but this was the last report received. Twelve search sorties were flown by the Sixth with only negative results.

[Pirate's Log, pp. 34-35]

Those were not the only losses on the mission:

Capt. Booth & crew of the "Trigger Mortis" - Mining mission - was hit over target. Two men were wounded and they crash landed on Iwo. Aircraft was scrapped.

[Bill Santavica]

According to the DFC Citation for Crew #4012:

For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight 27 March 1945. These individuals, were combat crew members of a B-29 aircraft based in the Marianas Islands on a mine-laying mission to the Shimonoseki Straights between the main islands of Kyushu and Honshu, Japan. The purpose of this mission was to tighten the blockade of Japan by closing the Shimonoseki Straights to shipping. The flight involved crossing the main islands of Japan on the way to the target and on the return, in each case exposing themselves to attacks by fighters and flak from the ground, as well as anti-aircraft defenses of enemy naval units in the inland sea. Despite engine failure at the approach to the mine field, this crew continued toward the target through searchlight-directed flak, but a malfunction prevented the mines from being released. The trouble was remedied, and they made a second run over the mine field. The mines were dropped in the exact location specified, and this crew, by skillful evasive action, flew their bomber from the area without damage. During the entire mission each of these veterans of repeated combat missions against the homeland of Japan displayed professional skill, teamwork and devotion to duty, thereby contributing materially to the successful blockade of the Japanese homeland. Their actions reflect great credit on themselves and the Army Air Forces.

First Lieutenant LEROY L. ARANT JR, as Pilot
First Lieutenant NORMAN S. CANNON as Navigator
Master Sergeant WENDELL G. MCFARLIN as Flight Engineer
Technical Sergeant GEORGE R. FONDRIE (then Staff Sergeant) as Central Fire control Gunner
Staff Sergeant JOHN J. COLEMAN (then Sergeant) as Right Gunner
Staff Sergeant WILLIAM W. HAGUE, JR as Radio Operator
Staff Sergeant MAYNOR C. SAFFORD (then Sergeant) as Tail Gunner
Staff Sergeant JACK SALE (then Sergeant) as Left Gunner
Staff Sergeant EDWARD J. STECKER (then Sergeant) as Radar Gunner

[Transcribed by David Wilson, son of Sgt Bernard E. Wilson (Gunner, "Anonymous IV")]

A separate DFC Citation was prepared for Captain CECIL E. PATTERSON, Aircraft Commander of Crew #4012 on this mission.


The planes shot down may have been laying mines in the dangerous areas close to land.
Excerpt of figure from XXI Bomber Command Tactical Mission Report, Field Order No. 16, Mission No. 47, 313th Bombardment Wing, May 19, 1945.


20th AF Mission 47

Date:  27 March 1945
Code Name:  Starvation #1
Target:  Shimonoseki Straits
Participating Units: 313th Bombardment Wing
Number A/C Airborne:  102
% A/C Bombing Primary: 92% (94 primary 0 secondary and 0 last resort and 0 opportunity)
Time Over Primary: Mike - 272337K - 260106K / Love -  280010K - 280142K
Altitude of Attack: Mike - 4900 - 5400 / Love - 6000 - 8000
Weather Over Target: Mike - 0/10 - 5/10 / Love  -  2/10 - 8/10
Total A/C Lost:  3
Resume of Mission:  Mining mission - estimated results excellent.  Western approaches to Shimonoseki Straits closed for two weeks or longer.  Eight aircraft non-effective.  Three aircraft lost to unknown reasons.  Enemy air opposition weak  - 7 attacks.  One enemy aircraft destroyed with none probably destroyed or damaged.  AA heavy- meager to intense, inaccurate to accurate.  Average bomb load: 12,157 lbs, average fuel reserve:  976 gallons.