Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Forgotten WWII Plane Crash in Taitung

After WWII a B-24 carrying POWs home crashed in the mountains of Taitung. FocusTw says:

According to Liu, historical records show that just days after the end of WWII, on Sept. 10, 1945, one of two American B-24 Liberator bombers carrying 20 freed allied prisoners of war (POWs) on route to Manila from Okinawa ran into the tail of a typhoon and crashed into the mountains of southeastern Taiwan.

Aboard the plane were five crew members, and 11 American, four Dutch and five Australian POWs. The Liberator, with the serial number 44-42052, had belonged to the 494th Bomb Group.
The crash claimed another 26 lives when would-be rescuers were killed trying to reach it.

Richard Foster posted this to my Facebook. I thank him mightily (click on READ MORE).

(From Richard Foster)
Some notes I made on this a while ago. Would be pleased to learn more.
Exploring the 'Sancha Mountain Incident'

Not far from Jiaming Lake on the way to Sinkang Mountain, about a 3-days hike north of Taiwan's Southern Cross-Island Highway is a location marked on hiking maps as 'Remains of American Plane'. I've been to this site but until recently knew little about the story behind this crash.

Below is some (will add more soon) of what I've found out thus far. It is incomplete and is likely to contain some mistakes. If you have any further information on the subject, or suggestions on the direction I should take this project, please get in touch with me, Richard Foster, at

A short account.
On the 10th of September 1945 two American military planes took off from Okinawa on route to Manila. These converted B-24 Liberator bombers, carrying liberated allied prisoners of war, ran into the tail end of a typhoon. The 'Les Miserables' crashed into the sea; the 'Liquidator' (Serial Number 44-42052) crashed in the mountains of Southern Taiwan. The 5 crew, 11 American POWs, 4 Dutch POWs, and 5 Australian POWs all perished.

The crash was witnessed by local hunters and a recovery mission, which included Japanese military, local Taiwanese, and native tribes, was undertaken shortly afterwards. A second recovery team was caught in a subsequent typhoon, and 26 members of the team died. A third team was sent up in October, 1945, to bury the bodies near the crash site. A further mission several years later, recovered the bodies for reburial in Hong Kong - Sai Wan War Cemetery, and the US - Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Passenger and crew on board the Liquidator.

1) O-715399 - SCRUGGS, Charles C. 1st Lt, Pilot
2) O-925827 - BALCOM, Charles A. 2nd Lt, Co-Pilot
3) T131846 - JONES, William D. F/O, Navigator
4) 34799372 - DENHAM, John D. Sgt, Engineer
5) 37565964 - McFARLANE, George E. Sgt, Radio Operator

6) 19054413 - WATSON, W.J. Pfc
7) 14042312 - THOMAS, William J. S/Sgt
8) 18050020 - DAVIS, Ben F. Pfc
9) 17010090 - WILSON, Robert J. Pvt
10) 18045741 - WADE, Elbert E. Cpl
11) 12007085 - BRILL, Arthur Pvt
12) 16003943 - GABSKI, Hobert J. Pfc
13) 14056710 - WYATT, James R. Pvt
14) 6557283 - CRAMER, Thomas L. Sgt
15) 19010290 - THORNSBERY, Jim M. Sgt
16) 15047583 - HOLLON, Dexter J. Pvt

Dutch POWs
17) V13644 - WINGERDEW, P.H. Sailor
18) V96498 - BELZEN, Job, Kpl. MGD - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 4.N.4
19) 90334 - OUWENS, Antonius Bernardus, Sergt. Art. - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 4.N.6
20) 93362 - DEKKER, Daniel Cornelis, Sld. - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 4.N.5

Australian POWs
21) NX60056 - JAMES, Albert Arthur, Sgt. - 2/19 Battalion - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 6.A.2
22) NX35741 - NOBLE, Richard Thomas, S/Sgt. - 2/30 Battalion - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 6.A.3
23) VX35009 - ROGERSON, Harry, WO2 - 2/29 Battalion - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 6.A.4
24) VX58497 - COOPER, Ronald Simmons, Gunner - 4 Anti Tank Regiment - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 6.A.5
25) SX10013 - GILDING, Jack Livingstone, Cpl. - 8 Australian Division Ammunition Sub Park - buried in Sai Wan War Cemetery, Hong Kong - Grave 6.A.6


August 15th 1945: Japan surrenders.

September 10th: Plane crashes. 25 die.

September 15th: Bunun hunters report seeing the crash to officers at Wulu Police Station.

September 18th: First recovery team of 8 men depart.

September 27th: Second team of 89 depart.

September 30th: Typhoon hits Taiwan. 26 die.

October 5th: Third team sets of, bury the crash victims together, other dead where they were fell.

October 12th: Memorial event held in Guanshan Town.

November 24th: American representatives arrive and confirm victim identities. May have visited crash site.

October 1948: Remains are disinterred.

Australian and Dutch remains reburied in Hong Kong.

22nd February 1950: American remains reburied in Missouri.

Relevant websites. (mostly in Chinese)

Good general intro (Chinese)

Australian 2/30 Batallion

A July 2009 hike passing by crash site.

Professor 施添福's account. (in Chinese)

Missing Aircrew Report (LIQUIDATOR)

Missing Aircrew Report for the other aircraft. (LES MISERABLES)

Another account in Chinese with aircraft pictures, newspaper reports, and the route take by the relevant typhoons.

Clive James on his father.

Richard Noble details. Also link to photos.

Some artifacts are on display at Guanshan Police Station, Taitung County.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

A sad and interesting story Richard/Mike. Unfortunately all the links go to a yahoo homepage and not the articles mentioned.

Anonymous said...

How do you view the links? When I click on them, they just go to