John Philip "Jock" Henebry RIP

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by Kyt, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

    American war hero - a master of 'skip bombing',1,4735097.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

  2. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    I think he was part of the 345th BG, the Air Apaches (if you've seen the B-25s with the bats and falcon heads on their hard noses, these are the Air Apaches!)

    Overview of B-25 ops in the Pacific:

    According to this link in a book I own, I've got reference to Henebry's aircraft in my library. Will follow it up.
  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    From this good site:

    Maj. Henebry, 90th Sq. Commander

    The attack squadrons that had so effectively shellacked the Japanese air fields on the northern New Guinea coast in August now called the technique of low-level strafing and parafrag bombing "Wewaking." On October 12, in one of the largest raids yet mounted on the Gazelle Peninsula, the 3d Attack Group Wewaked the major airfield at Rapopo.
    [​IMG]Major John Jock Henebry (right) led the 90th Squadron over Rapopo in his B-25 Notre Dame De Victorie. Even at low altitude, Rabaul was clearly visible in the distance. Its sheltering Simpson Harbor was filled with enemy ships. They were "juicy, off-limits targets," he recalled. "Top priority for us then remained the destruction of the enemy air capability."
    Joining Jock and his crew of four in Notre Dame De Victorie was an extra passenger. INS correspondent Lee Van Atta had hitched a ride for this mission and then described it vividly in the story he filed.

    Eye Witness Story of Rabaul Smash
    International News Service (Oct. 1 2, 1943)
    Rabaul, key Jap bombardment base in the Southwest Pacific, was devastated today by a mighty Allied air assault, rivaling the enemy's Pearl Harbor raid. The smoking, flaming ruins of the bombardment base seared an unforgettable, crimson impression into our minds as we hurtled our way off target.
    Caught apparently with only the briefest warning, the Rapopo Airdrome--nesting ground for Nippon's Western Pacific heavy air craft strength--learned in all its devastating intensity the power of an American warplane attack.
    Even as our forward guns began cutting a swath across Rapopo, other strafing Mitchell bombers could be seen racing against Vunakanau Airdrome. Seconds later the scene was etched with billowing clouds of black smoke and towers of fire.
    To coin a word, Rabaul was "Wewakized." The impossible has been done again--and with accomplishment of the impossible, months of planning and preparations and hours of tense anticipation have come to an end.
    It was the first time in the history of the Pacific warfare that escorted assault and bombardment units had been sent to penetrate the Japs' fortress-like ack-ack defenses around Rabaul.
  4. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Great description here of Henebry's involement in Bloody Tuesday, the attack on Simpson Harbour, Rabaul November 2nd 1943.

    Part here and the rest at:

    November 2, 1943[​IMG]
    Bloody Tuesday

    Major John Jock Henebry sat impatiently in the cockpit of his B-25 Notre Dame De Victorie. The commander of the 90th Attack Squadron was a seasoned veteran. With 79 missions behind him, he was second in longevity only to Major Raymond Wilkins.
    This was the third straight day in a routine that had twice ended in a mixture of emotions: both disappointment and relief. The pilots of the 3rd Bomb Group had risen each morning at 4 a.m. for a breakfast of canned grapefruit juice, french toast (made with dehydrated eggs and powdered milk,) some peanut butter and cheese, and coffee. By 6:30 a.m. both pilots and crew were in their aircraft to begin the long wait for the signal to start engines and takeoff to hit Rabaul. As the hours dragged on the interior of the planes warmed with the rising sun, making them insufferably hot. Men, nervous about the mission they both feared and anticipated, became impatient to launch if for no other reason than to find cooler air.
    Jock had been involved in virtually every major mission of the previous year: the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, Wewak, Lae, and the previous two weeks of assault on the airfields near Rabaul. He knew however, that if the weather improved, this would be his most important mission to date, perhaps of the entire war. If the weather didn't improve the American ground forces that had landed the previous day at Empress Augusta Bay at Bougainville would be at the mercy of an armada of enemy aircraft based out of Rabaul.
    [​IMG]The mission itself was to be an all P-38/B-25 effort, 84 strafer/bombers from three bombardment groups including the 3rd Attack Group, covered by an equal number of P-38 fighters. Prepared to launch from a dozen airfields on the north coast of the Papuan Peninsula, the aerial armada was to assemble over the Solomon Sea and proceed northward, skirting New Britain to slip into Rabaul from the east via St. George's channel. The tactical plan called for two fighter squadrons to sweep Simpson Harbor three minutes ahead of the second wave to neutralize enemy ground defenses. Read more at the link above....
  5. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Wow, didn't know Van Atta flew with Henebry.

    That's the pic I was looking for, Geoff, nicely done. Not one of the later 8-gun noses on the B-25Js, Notre Dame's nose is most likely a field mod with the guns replacing the bomb sight and bombadier's position.
    Although the B-25 was originally designed to bomb from medium altitudes in level flight, it was used frequently in the Southwest Pacific theater (SWPA) on treetop-level strafing and parafrag (parachute-retarded fragmentation bombs) missions against Japanese airfields in New Guinea and the Philippines. These heavily-armed Mitchells, field-modified by Major Paul Irving "Pappy" Gunn, were also used on strafing and skip-bombing missions against Japanese shipping trying to re-supply their land-based armies.
  6. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    You are correct! From:

    General Kenney's rare insight into the importance of a name went beyond the air group based at Charters Towers. One month later the Far East Air Force became the U.S. Army's FIFTH AIR FORCE. For many war-weary, demoralized airmen, that new sense of identity provided a fresh start. They took advantage of it with a vengeance that, in a few short months, ripped aerial superiority from the Japanese.
    Kenney's visit to Charters Towers turned into both a reunion and an introduction. It was a return to his roots, the unit he had commanded in his own early days. It also introduced him to the man who would bring to life some of Kenney's own radical and innovative ideas--Captain Pappy Gunn.
    [​IMG]The first Douglas A-20 Havoc dive bombers that had been promised to the 3rd Bomb Group had arrived in May. Well-suited to low-level attack, their light armament however was too meager for the demands of war in the Pacific. Implementation of the new aircraft was delayed while Pappy Gunn and Captain Bob Reugg began experimenting with design changes.
    In August the 89th Squadron began getting its first shipments of new A-20 Havocs. These too, required modification. With General Kenney's eager support Pappy began installing four, forward firing .50-caliber machine guns in the bombardier's compartment (nose) to add massive strafing power. Two 405-gallon fuel tanks were installed in the bomb bay to increase their range, and special racks were invented so the dive-bombers could carry parafrag bombs, one of General Kenney's most innovative weapons.
    While Pappy was rebuilding dive-bombers, Colonel Davies began sending home the few remaining, battle-weary veterans of the old 27th Bomb Group. Lieutenant Wilkins elected to stay and was transferred to the budding 89th Squadron. Most of the other surviving 8th Squadron pilots and ground crews were relegated to status as support to the other squadrons. Their only combat missions resulted from TDY (temporary duty assignment) to the 89th Squadron. Since July 29 the 8th Squadron had ceased to exist as little more than a resource for the other squadrons.
    On September 2 the first six modified A-20s flew to Port Moresby to begin operations. Four days later Lieutenant Wilkins arrived at New Guinea with six more modified Havocs. For the next six months Wilkins flew repeated missions as a member of the 89th Squadron, many of them missions against Japanese ground troops crossing the Kokoda Trail to within 30 miles of Port Moresby. Additionally, again and again he returned to bomb and strafe Lae, Salamua, and other targets north of the high mountains.
    When Big Jim Davies turned command of the 3d Attack Group over to Lieutenant Colonel Strickland in October, 1942, and returned home, Ray Wilkins was one of the few remaining pilots from the old 27th. Only a few, like Davies, had lived to claim the well-deserved rotation home. Far too many had simply vanished into deep waters or dense jungle, their fate forever unknown.
    [​IMG]In November Pappy Gunn's remarkable talent for turning A-20s into formidable staffers was turned towards the B-25s that were the staple of the 3d Attack Group's assault on enemy air fields and shipping. First, the bomb sights were removed. In a low-level, diving attack from only a few hundred feet, they were unnecessary. In the bomb sights vacant cavity in the nose of the bombers Pappy mounted four, forward-firing .50-caliber machine guns to augment the two 50s on either side of the fuselage.
    The prevailing theory was that with such formidable a fusillade, the bombers could come in fast and low with guns blazing to clear the deck of a ship moments before skipping a 500-pound bomb into its side. When used against enemy airfields, such formidable incoming fire power could drive anti-aircraft gunners for shelter while the B-25s made their low-level pass to drop parafrags. These small, 23-pound parachute-deployed explosives in turn would explode on impact or with only a brief delay, shredding enemy fighters and bombers on the ground.
    [​IMG]Pappy's skills left 5th Air Force pilots wondering what he would come up with next. One cartoon featured a Pappy Gunn creation that was part bomber, part tank, and part battleship. Indeed, if the modified B-25s hadn't proved so successful on their own, Pappy might have actually built such a contraption. His skill attracted not only General Kenney's attention but that of North American's field representative Jack Fox. (North American was the company that built the B-25 Mitchell.) With the help of Fox, Pappy's proto-type, christened Margaret, began field tests in December.
    Despite the success of these initial tests, and despite Pappy's legendary reputation, the men who would be tasked with flying the modified B-25s remained skeptical. Captain Jack Jock Henebry recalled the sales job Pappy had to do to convince the pilots:
    "This airplane is too dangerous," someone said. "With all the guns and ammunition in the nose, you'd have too much weight forward, too far ahead of the designated center of gravity. Where's your center of gravity?"
    "Center of gravity?" Pappy answered. "Hell, we took that out to lighten the ship and sent it back to Air Corps Supply."
  7. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

  8. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    This might be a book for you to pick up Andy!

    Henebry, John P., The Grim Reapers-At Work in the Pacific Theater, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Missoula, MT, 2002

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    The Grim Reapers at Work in the Pacific Theater: The Third Attack Group of the U.S. Fifth Air Force (Hardcover)
    by John P. Henebry (Author)

    List Price: $24.95 Price: $24.95 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
  9. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Yes, I'm a sucker for low-level twin-engined bombers! One day, Geoff!

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