IRVING MARR WAS MY LATE FATHER'S BROTHER WHO DIED JUST BEFORE WORLD WAR II ENDED. THIS IS HIS STORY!
PATROL BOMBING SQUADRON 18
c/o FLEET POST OFFICE
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Now that the war is over, and censorship has been relaxed, the personnel of V2B-18 wish to pay tribute to some of its members who made the supreme sacrifice, in the Okinawa campaign.
Every member of the squadron knew how vastly important to the war effort the patrol plane had become in the operation. Ours was the job of cutting off the home island of Japan from all outside aid, in the form of raw materials and other supplies which were being shipped in from China and the captured islands to the South. This entailed long arduous patrols through adverse weather conditions , at all hours of the day and night. Strong enemy resistance resulted in bullet riddled planes returning to base day after day, with crews worn out from the terrific pace that was set. True, it was no picnic, but the job had to be done, and how well it was done will live long in Naval history. Ours was a big contribution, but we also had to pay the price which goes with war. We would like to tell the story of two crews who helped make our enviable record possible. Due to losses of personnel in the engagement, the action of each individual concerned cannot be told. We will speak of them as crews, but they, each individually, will be remembered with reverence.
At 0630 on the morning of 15 May, two PBM Mariner seaplanes of Patrol Bombing Squadron Eighteen took off from Kerama Retto, Okinawa, on a routine search and reconnaisance mission of the Tsushima Straits area. The crews of these two planes consisted of:
Lt,(jg)I. E. Marr, Ensign K W Wagner, Ensign H. Robuck, Wahl, J.D. Amm3c, Waite, L. Amm3c, Esler, R.L. Amm3c, Priest, A.F. Amm3c, Arney, C.L. Jr. ARM3c, Barnes, H.D. ARM3c, Carroll, J.V. aAom3c, Taylor, C.W.AOM3c,
Lt. M. Hart, Lt. E. Dixon, Ensign Rumberg, Ensign Hecht, Worley, C.L. Aom3c, Parshall, R.C. Amm2c, Spring, K.E. Amm3c, Day, E.J. Jr. AMMF3c, Decain, D.D. ARM2c, Clark, J.H. ARM3c, Morey, R.F. AOM2c, Armnecht, R.H. AOM3c, Graf, R.G. AOM3c,
At 1045 the flight sighted a 200 freighter off the coast of Kamino Shima in the Tsushine Straits. LT. MARR made the first run staffing the decks with his bow turret, and dropping two bombs, which straddled the ship. Lt. Hart followed close behind and dropped one bomb, also a near miss. They both made several more runs and liberally sprayed the target with their machine guns. At that point, the ship was dead in the water and sinking fast, so they abandoned it to its fate, and continued on patrol.
Some 10 miles north, they encountered a large freighter of about 3500 tons. LT. MARR again made the first run on this choice target. He dropped a string of seven bombs all that remained after his 1st attack. Of these two were direct hits, one forward and the other aft of the superstructure. There followed an explosion, with smoke, flame, and debris rising to a height of 300 feet. The ship lay dead in the water and is LT HART turned to follow up the attack, the entire ship exploded with extreme violence and literally disintegrated.
Almost immediately the flight spotted another, still larger, freighter about ten miles to the north. It was estimated at about 4000 tons. LT HART made the first attack on this target and scored a very near miss with a 500 pound jbomb which rocked the ship violently. Serious underwater damage must have resulted from this and in conjuncture with machine gun fire from both planes, the ship was soon laying helplessly in the water, billowing smoke, and slowly rolling over on its side. As LT. HART started to make a second bombing run, his port engine started cutting out, so he was forced to break away, and start for home. He later discovered that gunfire from the ship had hit his engine, and damaged it. He dumped all spare gear over the side, and all ammunition except 200 rounds per gun, which had to be saved in case of fighter attacks on the way home.
As the two planes came abreast of Kamino Shima again they passed through a rain squall. Coming out of the squall, LT (jg) MARR spotted a group of enemy fighters below him. Both planes started down for the water, a much better place to fight a seaplane, than up high. At about 1000 feet a Jap plane made a bow on run on LT MARR'S plane. The PBM's Starboard engine was hit, and started to flame. His bow gunner, meanwhile was pouring out a deadly fire with his twin 50 calibers. The Jap plane fell off on a wing and was seen to crash into the sea. It is supposed that the Jap's bullets found their mark in the PBM cockpit, as well as hitting the engine, for MARR's plane immediately entered a steep dive from which it never recovered. It crashed near the spot where the Jap had hit, and exploded sending up a column of smoke and water 300 feet high.
At that point, Lt Hart was left alone with 9 Jap fighters to contend with. It must be remembered that he was operating with one engine, and had only 200 rounds per gun. The Japs came in 2 or 3 at a time, and all the turrets pourted out their fire in answer. In the next 45 minutes of the running fight, the crew members saw 5 Japs go down trailing smoke. The remaining four Japs became obviously discouraged at the apparent indestrutibility of the PBM, and their own mounting losses, and discretely withdrew to safer territory.
HARTS's elevator controls had been shot out in the engagement, however, and his plane continued to settle toward the ocean. The waves were 30 to 40 feet high and due to the lack of control, a very rough forced landing was made. Five bounces were made before the plane finally came to rest. The third of these was so violent, that all the instruments in the panel popped out, scattering glass and parts in the pilots laps. On subsequent bounces a wingtip float was carried away. Both pilots later stated that it was little short of a miracle that a safe ditching was made with conditions as they were
Word for abandon ship was passed, and rubber rafts were broken out. All men abandoned ship, but remained in the water approximately 3/4 of an hour holding on to boats, since three of the Jap planes had returned and were buzzing the downed plane, without straffing however.
After the enemy planes left, five men crowded into each of the two remaining 4 man life rafts. They had difficulty in rescuing three other members of the crew, Ensign Hecht, Day and Morey, due to the rough seas, and the high winds. The men in the rafts finally became exhausted by their efforts to fight the 40 knot wind and could not reach the men still in the water. When last seen they disappeared behind a large swell.
The men in the boats all soon developed sickness from all the salt water, and gasoline they had swallowed. The rough sea kept capsizing the boats, sand all in all they spent a bad night at sea. At 6:30 in the evening they were spotted by two planes sent out by this squadron, but it was not until early the next morning that a submarine arrived on the scene. All hands were so sick and weak, they had to be carried on board the submarine.
The rescue was affected two (2) miles off the shore of the enemy held island of Shiro Shima, one of the small islands of Goto Retto, off the west coast of Kyuchu.