November 24 through November 30, 1944

In compliance with orders of Commander Aircraft, SEVENTH Fleet, Patrol Bombing Squadron SEVENTY-ONE, led by Commander Norman C. GILLETTE, Jr., with ten planes and sixteen crews, reported to Commander, Fleet Air Wing SEVENTEEN (Captain C.B. JONES, USN - Commander Task Group 73.4) at Morotai, Netherlands East Indies on November 24, 1944 prepared to begin Black Cat operations.

Night offensive reconnaissance missions were started November 25 with five planes each night covering assigned sectors in the sea lanes, coastal waters and harbors of southern Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Borneo and Celebes. During the remainder of the month a total of 27 Black Cat missions were flown, the average duration of those flights being 15.1 hours and the average length of the sectors 625 miles.

Commencing also on November 25, and by direction of Commander, Fleet Air Wing SEVENTEEN, the squadron loaned two PBY-5A's and two crews to the Second Emergency Rescue Squadron of the THIRTEENTH Army Air Force. These planes and crews were used to provide Dumbo coverage for Army strikes and for special rescue and evacuation missions. Between November 25 and November 30, nine such missions were flown. All of these flights were made with one Army and one Navy pilot at the controls and the remainder of the crew evenly divided between Army and Navy personnel.

Action highlights for the period were as follows:

November 26-27 - Lieutenant Arcia O. TURNER, USN bombed, strafed and sank a medium sized enemy freighter-transport (Fox Tare Charlie) west of Job Island in the Sulu Archipelago (Latitude 06-00 North, Longitude 121-40 East). Making effective use of land cover, Lieutenant TURNER scored two direct hits with 250-pound bombs, following which he made a strafing run raking the vessel with his four .50 calibre wing guns and twin thirties. The target was seen to blow up and when the plane returned for further observation it had disappeared. Anti-aircraft fire from five shore gun positions and one on the ship was received during the attack.

November 27-28 - Ensign Paul H. ORRIS, USNR, returning from Dumbo coverage of an Army strike on northern Cebu, landed at sea off Baliango Point on northern Mindanao and picked up three Army intelligence officers and another passenger returning them to Morotai.




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