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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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321st bomber sqad usaaf

Bryant E Poulsen and Crew of 'Hot Garters'

Lost Without Trace 10 April 1944


Date: 10 April 1944

Mission: Attack AA Battery Hansa Bay, Papua New Guinea

Base: Nazdab Air Base, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea

Crew:



◼William Daniel Bernier: Bombardier 1st Lt O-670067 Born Lewis and Clark County, Montana USA November 11, 1915











◼John Earl Copeland Sr: Waist Gunner Staff Sergeant 37230355 Born Montgomery County, Kansas June 7, 1922














◼Donald C Crotteau: Gunner Staff Sergeant 36292455 Born Portage County, Wisconsin














◼Charles Arthur Gardner: Observor Sergeant 39844574 Born Carlinville, Macoupin County, Illinois March 21, 1912













◼Donald P Greenman: Navigator 1st Lt O-671425 Born Washington County, Rhode Island February 3, 1923










◼Wlliam M Handleman: 12033724 Photographer Sergeant Born New York County, New York






◼William T Hyler: Gunner Staff Sergeant 12150690 Born Westchester County, New York February 3, 1923















◼Charles L Johnston Jr: Radio Operator Technical Sergeant 13156292 Born Allegheny County, Pennsylvania October 17, 1923













◼Charles J Jones: 14066262 Gunner Staff Sergeant Born Clarke County, Georgia















◼Hugh Francis Moore: 33204872 Engineer Technical Sergeant Born Cecil County, Maryland



















◼Bryant Edward Poulsen: Pilot 1st Lt. O-743204 Born Sanpete County, Utah September 8, 1921

















◼Herbert Vernon Young: O-737927 Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Born Yavapai County, Arizona June 8, 1920













Reason For Loss

It was April 10, 1944, and 1st Lt. Bryant E. Poulsen, a 22-year-old from Salt Lake City, was the pilot of one of a dozen B-24s that took off from Nazdab Air Base, Papua New Guinea on a mission to attack a Japanese anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. Poulsen was shot down while flying his 51st mission of World War II.

23 Augut 1943 attack hansa bay B-25

Earlier attack on Hansa Bay by B-25s. 23 August 1943

Liberator B-24D #42-41188 'Hot Garters' (321st Bomber Squadron Heavy, 90th Bomber Group) was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Madang, Papua New Guinea.

B24D Hot Garters

Hanasa Bay Papua New Guinea

Hansa Bay and Madang, Papua New Guinea

Four of the 12-member crew exited the aircraft after it had been hit and those captured by the Japanese were murdered. Donald Crotteau was one of the men who bailed out, along with fellow crew members Hyler and Handleman. They were likely injured and managed to evade capture for two days. On April 12, 1944, however, they were captured and ultimately were murdered or died of their injuries. The other crew members went down with the plane and the entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission.

Donald Greenman was another of the four who bailed out. He was likely captured on April 10, 1944 by a Japanese Army patrol sent to investigate a report of an enemy aircraft being shot down. Japanese records say a patrol captured an 'American pilot' (likely Greenman) and the next day took him to Diri and later he was walked or transported to Hansa Bay.

The Japanese report says on April 16, 1944 four PoWs from the crash were transported to Bogia. According to the Japanese, two of the prisoners - Greenman and Handleman - 'died on route'. Possibly, this was a Japanese euphemism meaning they were murdered or otherwise killed. The fact is when Leading Private Oshina returned to Hansa Bay he had only two prisoners with him and Greenman was not one of them.

William Hyler was reportedly captured by Japanese troops and murdered about 2 weeks later.

Paulsen's remains were recovered and identified by American authorities on July 16, 2014 and he and the others identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours.

Hot Garters Crew

Poulsen (top left) with crew of 'Hot Garters'

The Defense Department had spent years trying to find and identify Poulsen and his crew.

The events came as a surprise to Jim Johnstun, a Poulsen nephew who had been in contact with the Defense Department. He said his maternal grandfather was a sheepherder near Fairview, Utah, and his mother, Poulsen and another aunt and uncle were born there. The family later moved to a home in Salt Lake City.

Johnstun remembers meeting his uncle once while Poulsen was wearing his uniform. Johnstun, now a 76-year-old resident of Caldwell, Idaho, assumes Poulsen must have been about to ship out.

Johnstun doesn't remember his mother or her two other siblings talking about Poulsen after his death. He doesn't remember his grandparents saying much, either.

'They essentially hated the Japanese,' Johnstun said, 'and that was it.'

A military agency conducted an investigation of the wreckage after the war and recovered three of the missing airmen's bodies. Then, in 1949, the agency decided the remaining nine crew members were not recoverable.

Hot Garters Tail WreckageTail wreckage (courtesy pacificwrecks.com)

In 2001, a new team returned to the site and found the B-24 with the correct tail number. After several surveys, teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and nonbiological material evidence, according to the news release.

Poulsen's three siblings had all died by the time a genealogist working for the Army contacted Johnstun about thee years ago. She and asked if Johnstun was a relative of Poulsen. He said yes.

'I was wondering what in the hell she was calling me for,' Johnstun said. 'She didn't really say.'

The genealogist said someone from the Army would be contacting him. Sometime later, a woman from the Army called Johnstun. She explained about the wreckage and asked if she could visit Johnstun. She brought a book of photographs from the wreckage and took a DNA sample from Johnstun.

The DNA sample apparently was not helpful.

To account for Poulsen, scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used circumstantial evidence that placed him on the aircraft and accounted for him as part of the group, according to the news release.

Johnstun said the photos showed how little was left of the wreckage. He is surprised the military was able to find any remains there.

'I was kind of astounded that they were still doing this,' Johnstun said, 'and that they had possibly found him.'

Burial Details

Poulsen and another crew member, Staff Sgt. John E. Copeland, of Dearing, Kan., were buried together in the March 18 ceremony. The whole B-24 crew will be honoured, as well.

Bryant Paulsen Grave Marker

First Lt. William D. Bernier was buried Sept. 19, 2014, in Augusta, Montana.

The other officer from the plane, Herbert V. Young Jr., was buried Oct. 15 in Prescott, Ariz.

Arlington

Arlington, USA

Tech Sgt. Hugh F. Moore was buried November. 11 in Elkton, Md.

Sgt. Charles A. Gardner, of San Francisco, was buried on December 4 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Staff Sgt. Charles J. Jones was buried in Athens, Ga.

Tech Sg. Charles L. Johnston, of Pittsburgh, was buried March 2 in Arlington National Cemetery.

Manila

American Cemetery, Manila, Phillipines

Donald C Crotteau is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

John Earl Copeland Sr is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

Charles Arthur Gardner is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location. His remains were recovered and identified in 2014. Those identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours along with the identified remains of other members of his crew.

Donald P Greenman is buried or memorialized at Plot C Row 11 Grave 70, Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

William M Handleman is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

Long Island National Cemetery USA

Long Island National Cemetery USA

William T Hyler is buried or memorialized at Long Island National Cemetery. This is a National American Cemetery administered through the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

Charles Johnston's remains were recovered and identified in December, 2014. Those identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours along with the identified remains of other members of his crew.

Charles J Jones is buried or memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location. His remains were recovered and identified in December, 2014. Those identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours along with the identified remains of other members of his crew.

Cherr Hill United Methodist Church

Cherry Hill United Methodist Church, USA

Hugh Moore's remains were recovered and identified in 2014 and interred in the Cherry Hill United Methodist Church Cemetery, Cherry Hill, Maryland on November 11, 2014.

Bryant Poulsen's remains were recovered and identified on July 16, 2014. Those identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours along with the identified remains of other members of his crew.

Herbert Young's remains were recovered and identified in 2014. Those identified were interred on March 18, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honours along with the identified remains of other members of his crew.

Sources: honorstates.org, Salt Lake Tribune, private correspondence, pacificwrecks.com

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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