Knocking out the 403rd

The IHRA historians always have further in-depth information for us ___



On January 17, 1942, four B-17s from the 43rd Bomb Group’s 403rd Squadron had taken off from Milne Bay for a mission to Rabaul. When the crews returned home later that day, they found smoke, a partially destroyed camp, and that the other three B-17s belonging to their squadron had been destroyed as well.

While the four crews were gone, the air raid sirens went off around midday. This was fairly common at Milne Bay and some of the personnel didn’t take it too seriously. For ten minutes men waited in nearby slit trenches. Nothing happened. The crew of FIRE BALL MAIL was getting ready to take the plane up before the alarm, scattered when it went off, then started going back to the plane. They soon heard what sounded like twin-engine bombers and looked up to see 23 Japanese bombers with 48 fighters flying over the base. The crew…

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 17, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. An horrific wartime scenario, only those who experienced it could speak of its devestating effects, to return to a smouldering base must have been unbelievable, not only that but the effect it must have had on the crew of the Fire Ball Mail.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once again, thank you for the reblog! What a nice surprise!

    Side note– the 403rd’s patch is different than the one you posted. Here it is on the 43rd’s official site:


  3. Interesting history. A third out with malaria! How did we survive?


  4. Yep, remarkable. It’s good to know there are people out there who care enough to resurrect these pieces of history. Next, of course, someone has to tie the images to places, dates, situations…what an amazing job that would be!


    • I know what you mean, Frederick. In doing some initial research on my father, I became acquainted with the Camp MacKall historian who was is the process of getting his degree. I sent a number of photos to him, told him what I knew from Smitty and he asked if he could use any of it in his thesis – I nearly went thru the computer to say YES!! I don’t know if he ever used any, but after a few months, he was promoted – so I’ve gotta to smile!!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It takes a long time to track down all the information, but it’s well worth the effort to see these stories told.


  5. Amazing how many don’t take it seriously until too late …


  6. This has nothing to do with this post in general, but World War II in particular. This link will take you to a short film by Rescued Film where a 70 year old batch of undeveloped film was discovered and processed:!rescuedwwii. I thought it might be interesting to you.


    • That was terrific, Dave. What a process he goes thru to develop that old, fragile film and then to see the pictures – like he said – images that no one has seen before and remembered. I am honored that you thought to bring the link here to us! Have a fantastic weekend!!


  7. Really interesting. Thanks for letting us see it.


  8. Thank you for thinking of me.


  1. Pingback: One lovely blog hop | Our Rumbling Ocean

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