1 December through 7 December, 1944

Patrol Bombing Squadron SEVENTY-ONE operated from Morotai, N.E.I. during the subject period flying long range night anti-shipping patrols to southern Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Borneo and north Celebes. A total of 22 such flights were made averaging 12.7 hours in duration and covering an average sector of 640 miles.

Dumbo operations in conjunction with the Second Emergency Rescue Squadron were continued and a total of four such missions were flown. On December 4 this joint operation was discontinued, the Second Emergency Rescue Squadron having meanwhile procured replacements for their aircraft which had been out of service.

On December 6 Lieutenant (jg) SHELLEY on a night patrol to southern Mindanao and Davao Gulf failed to return to base. He departed Morotai at 1734 Item on December 6 and after being seen approximately fifty miles out by Lieutenant (jg) MACKAY, also on a night-patrol mission, was not seen or heard from again. The crew of this plane, Bureau No. 46512 was as follows:

Lieutenant (jg) R. W. SHELLEY, Patrol Plane Commander
Ensign J. M. KERN, First Pilot
Ensign W. B. SPRING, Second Pilot
STAFFORD, Carl (n) AMM2c
BRESLIN, Arthur James ARM2c
MASON, Robert Lisle ARM3c
ALLEN, James Knox AOM2c
AUBURN, William Harry AOMB2c

Special searches were conducted for the missing plane and crew on December 6 with three planes and December 7 with three planes. The area along and adjacent to Lieutenant (jg) SHELLEY's proposed flight track including the numerous islands was thoroughly covered with negative results.

On December 4 all flights were cancelled due to the unfavorable weather conditions prevailing over the search area.

Action highlights of the period were as follows:

December 1- Commander GILLETTE made two bombing runs on an enemy freighter (Sugar Baker) and an oiler or large barge at Kudat, Borneo dropping three 250 pound G.P. bombs on each run. No hits were observed on the freighter but one hit and one near miss on the oiler or barge were followed by a large explosion. Docks, barracks and barges were also strafed.




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