General Walker’s Last Mission to Rabaul

Seventy-five years ago today, Gen. Kenneth N. Walker boarded Maj. Jack W. Bleasdale’s B-17 SAN ANTONIO ROSE, thereby ignoring a direct order from Gen. George C. Kenney not to fly on combat missions. Kenney feared losing an excellent commander and what could happen if the aircraft Walker was on was shot down and its passengers, especially Walker, were captured by the Japanese. If you’ve read our previous post on the subject, you might recall that this mission was particularly dangerous because it was a raid on the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul in broad daylight. Still, it caught the Japanese by surprise and several ships sitting in Simpson Harbor were either damaged or sunk. The 43rd Bomb Group lost two B-17s that day. One was SAN ANTONIO ROSE, the other was B-17F #41-24538, piloted by 1/Lt. Jean Jack. Jack and his crew ditched their B-17 off the coast of Urasi Island and all were rescued the following day. SAN ANTONIO ROSE has never been found.

Last year, Pacific Wrecks uploaded a video taken from the January 5th mission. While it’s available to watch below, we recommend you watch it on YouTube so you can read through the excellent notes about different points of the video provided by Pacific Wrecks. For even more information on the day’s events, buy a copy of Ken’s Men Against the Empire, Volume I.

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13 thoughts on “General Walker’s Last Mission to Rabaul

  1. Thanks for the film on Rabaul.

    I was wondering if anyone out there had any information on the 5th Combat Camera Unit, which is referred to in the film.
    The reason I ask is that I am trying to reconstruct my father’s WW2 service record and there’s a chance that he was part of this unit. Lacking his service record (burned up with millions of others), I have established that he was some kind of 5th AF photographer and that he went out to the Pacific on the same Queen Mary voyage as part of the 43rd BG. As a staff sergeant he had wings but as far as I know was not a member of any 43rd BG crew; Combat Camera personnel also had wings. He had the same Distinguished Unit Citation as the 43rd and the same campaigns. Also, I have several ‘out of the window’ low level combat shots of the bombing of Rabaul, which I am guessing he shot himself.

    I tried a Google search for the 5th Combat Camera Unit and found virtually nothing…

    Like

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