Barnett immediately noticed his B-25 had been hit by Japanese anti aircraft fire from the barge. He lost power in his left engine and had trouble with his rudder.

Ditching (landing on water) was not an option as the Japanese airbase at Babo was nearby and from there a fast patrol boat could reach the ditching location within an hour or so while requesting a Catalina rescue flying boat would take at least two hours to reach them. Being taken prisoner by the Japanese would entail an almost certain death, by execution or beheading.

He therefore set course to an open area he had spotted on their way in, some 60 kilometres from the coast and not within easy reach of Japanese troops.


After 5 - 10 minutes of flying he saw the open area, which proved to be a swampy area with some sago palm trees. Barnett told his crew, navigator Thomas R Wright, radio operator Peter P Whipland and air gunner Harold A Tantaquidgeon, to brace themselves and he put the B-25 down, wheels up, in the mud of the swamp.

It was a near perfect landing, with only an unlucky tree standing in their way in the last few metres of their slide through the mud.

This tree caused the fuselage to break, just after the wing area. The jolt threw Tantaquidgeon and Whipland out of the plane, into the mud, with bruises and minor injuries.


They came to a full stop and the silence was only broken by their squadron mates in the B-25 flown by Lt Sorbo circling above their heads.

The crew realised they were on their own, in a swamp in the jungle of New Guinea. Possibly with head hunting Papua's around them, maybe also fresh water crocodiles, with Japanese troops out for their blood once they knew there were allied air men around and certainly with mosquito's and leeches out for their blood!


Would they have to walk out? Could they reach safety? Would the 5th Air Force send help?