(continued from No. 1)
We paid attention at information that sometimes comes up in our local newspapers and looks somewhat like this: "The members of joint Russian-American committee on POWs and missing in action will be staying in Vladivostok for a week. They intend to question those citizens who might know something about American servicemen in prisons or concentration camps at Soviet Far East during or after World War II. The subject of special interest is any information concerning the crew of B-29, that got shot down in Vladivostok area on July 29, 1953."
That means that Eric Von Tersch and Kevin Mayer, correspondingly Major and Colonel of US Army, came to Primorye on business trip again. We have already told about their hard and gentle mission - to find American pilots, which is unlikely, or place where they are buried. The relatives of those pilots still hope and believe... in Miracle or the Committee's professionalism - who knows?
On April 18, 1942 sixteen American bombers B-25 Liberator left Hornet aircraft carrier, having committed first bomb attack in Japan after Pearl Harbor aggression. No one of them came back to the ship - 15 got crashed somewhere near China or on our territory. Only one plane (Board No. 40-2242) under command of Captain Edward York landed at war airport Unashi that is in Budennovsk district of Primorye (now - Gold Valley in Partisansk district).
Later on it was moved to Moscow at the airport of Air Research Institute. It was carefully checked and examined. There are some gossips that is was used as a model for new Soviet bomber TU-4. Five crew of the bomber came back to USA through Iran in 1943. Two of them are still alive.
As a matter of fact this is not the only case according to the archives and eyewitnesses. Three more bombers B-29 Super-fortress landed at Vozdvijenka airport in the 1950s. The same kind of Flying Fortress that bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One B-29 fell down to taiga in Khabarovsk Territory. 32 American bombers of various types that got hit during bombing of Japanese fortifications on the Northern Kuril Islands managed to land at Kamchatka.
The Committee officials have one official inquiry: 11 cases of foreign planes flying in prohibited area were registered between November 21, 1941 and May 22, 1942. The fire was initiated several times." All American soldiers who accidentally happened to be at our country were interned. 6 planes' crew were in Vladivostok. Those are 5 people of Edward York's B-25, crew of 4 Super-fortresses (11 people each), and pilots of first B-25 under the command of James Pottenger that landed at Kamchatka on August 12, 1943. Although, a machine gunner Thomas Ring died Petropavlovsk - Kamchatskiy hospital and was buried in that town.
All those unlucky soldiers were gathered in a special internment camp near Tashkent (a big city in one of southern republics of the former USSR) and then they conveyed back home through Tehran. The routes of two crews are really magnificent! York's men got to be at a city of Penza and at a special camp in Kama river upper course, where they met US ambassador Admiral Standley and General Bradley, who worked out a route of airplanes' drive from Alaska to Siberia. James Pottenger's crew were conveyed from Kamchatka on September 3, 1943 by hydroplane to Khabarovsk, then to Vladivostok. Then they flew to Yakutsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Almata and finally arrived to Tashkent. The destinies of those people are known, just their planes got lost somewhere...
Other planes that are considered missing in action since "cold war", basically during hostilities in Korea in 1950-1953. According to archives documents, 10 US Air Force planes got hit in soviet Far East area, five of them - near Vladivostok. Thanks to assistance from local inhabitants, the remains of American bomber, that got hit on November 6, 1951, were found this year in taiga. A retired officer told that four captive American pilots were getting medical treatment in hospital No. 404 (Sysoevka village near Arseniev). This information is being examined and confirmed, which is pretty complicated. The members of the Committee do not lose faith to find out about those people, too.
Not everything has sunk into oblivion yet. Thus, the wife and children found out about John Don, whose plane got hit above the Kuril islands. The member s of the Committee managed to find his grave. The remains of the pilot were taken to America upon request from his family. Hopefully, this is not going to be the only successful investigation of half-century standing.
They say the war is not over until all dead are buried and all missing in action are found.