Learn More About Our Legend 1st Lt. Frank Doherty
Navigator on B-24 Lucky Strike
5th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 530th Squadron South Pacific
These are the accounts of a mission to Celebes. Late in 1944 the island of Halmaheras was planned for landing by American Forces in the island leapfrogging to liberate the Philippines from occupation. General MacArthur was worried that Japanese planes based on Java could fly to the island of Celebes refuel and bomb the troops landing at Halmaheras. The mission was assigned to the 380thBomb Group flying B-24s to bomb and harass at night the Japanese based on Celebes preceding the scheduled landing at Halmaheras.
The night mission to Celebes in our B-24s was 1,000 miles flown from the northern tip of Australia and were flown five nights in a row. We took off from our base in Australia, fuel tanks topped off and 10 100lb bombs, plus cases and cases of empty beer bottles. We were ordered to orbit over the island at 11:30 and stay there till sunrise creating as much nuisance so the Japanese could not sleep, work on aircraft or use the runway. We arrived over Celebes (Kendari Airport) in total darkness and started our bomb run on the first pass we dropped a 100lb bomb. The searchlights went on and we made another pass on the searchlights and dropped another 100lb bomb to silence the searchlights. We would then drop out beer bottles; the beer bottles when dropped would create the same whistling sound as a 100lb bomb when dropped. Through the night we would mix between a bomb and beer bottles and keep the runway inoperable for landing or taking off Japanese aircraft. This was done till sunrise and we headed back to our base in Australia.