New England Air Museum
Robinson Billings
 
Recent Address:  

 

Email:  

 

Family Information:  

Parents: Harry and Beatrice

Hometown:  

Hopedale, MA

Date Entered Service:  

1939

Service Number:  

O-388871

Bomb Group:  

468th

Squadron:  

793rd

Location of Unit:  

Salina, KS

Missions Flown:  

 

Hump Missions Flown:  

 

Targets:  

 

Awards/Decorations:  

 

Service Schools Attended:  

Parks Air College, St Louis; Randolph Field, TX; Kelly Field, TX; Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD

Military Specialty(ies):  

Pilot

Rank Upon Discharge:  

Lieutenant Colonel

Crew Type:  

Flight

Airplane Serial No.& Name:  

42-24704 - Gear Box

Were you a POW?  

No

Were you interned?  

No

Date Transferred from the 58th:  

 

Date Discharged from the 58th:  

 

Comments:

Killed in action January 11, 1945.

He was co-pilot on a bombing run from India to the Malay Peninsula near Singapore when his plane took fire from about 20 Japanese fighter planes. The attacks disabled the guns and damaged 2 of the 4 engines on the aircraft. A shot through the nose of the plane hit Billings in the left thigh. (“Colonel, are you all right?” Billings nodded yes and said with a snicker, “Hope I don’t lose that leg, it’s a damn good leg.”) The fire in the engines was quickly weakening the wings and the crew prepared to bail out. (“Check your parachutes, they should include your jungle survival pack, and make sure you have your web belt around your waist. Keep an eye out for one another, so you have an idea where others are touching down. Once we hit the jungle floor, it will be impossible to see each other, so we need to get our bearings before hand. Don’t go shouting for one another, because we have no way of knowing if the Japs will be waiting. We’ll push east, deeper into the jungle, and hope for a rendezvous. This may be the last time we see each other. I don’t know what to say. I haven’t rehearsed anything. Good luck. May God be with us!”) Before they could jump, the wing collapsed and the plane went into a dive. Sgt Kundrat, who was working on Billings' leg, and Billings did not survive the crash. Sgt Spratt survived the crash but died soon after from his injuries. The other members of the crew survived and hid in the jungle, but Captain Hansman was captured by the Japanese and executed in February 1945. Four others were captured and spent the rest of the war as POW’s. The three remaining crew members eluded capture with the help of guerillas.

For reference, read "Destiny Ours" by William F. Duffy, Jr, one of the surviving crew members.

 


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