Senryu : Gremlin’s Journey

Gremlin Special crashed
mountain hid behind the clouds
only three survived

senryu by M. Nakazato LaFreniere

note: running out of time, almost midnight so no pic.  Was hoping to find a government one since it was a big event at the time but no luck on the National Archives catalog although I found a few WWII gremlin posters

Reading K Versus’s post about gremlins, I learned that during WWII pilots thought the little monsters were sent by their enemy to muck up the works.  The government even created propaganda posters against them.

Looking up gremlins, I came across this crash/survival story:

On May 13, 1945, a group of 24 military folks, mostly from the Maintenance Division, took an afternoon sightseeing trip over Baliem Valley in Western Papua Guinea on Gremlin Special,a Douglas C-47 Skytrain.  At that time, the maps marked the area unknown and the valley was nicknamed The Hidden Valley.  These R&R tours would fly over the valley to look at the scenic beauty, and lower to see the villages and the native people, the Dani.

The plane was caught in a downdraft and crashed into the mountain.  In a later statement on June 27, 1945, Corporal Margaret J. Hastings described what happened:

“I think it was about 1515 hours, when the first thing I knew the plane was sort of skimming along the top of the trees for a second or two and then we crashed. I was thrown against the ceiling and the walls of the fuselage and then I was thrown about two-thirds of the length of the fuselage towards the pilot’s compartment. I crawled towards the rear of the plane. The tail had come off at the initial contact and I crawled out of the opening in the rear. Upon reaching the ground, I walked a few feet from the plane and met Lieutenant McCollum. Lieutenant McCollum dragged two WACs from the same hole from which I had crawled out of the plane. Shortly, thereafter, I saw Sergeant Decker coming from around the front of the plane. Gasoline tanks were exploding and the gasoline was burning throughout the plane. Due to the angle of the plane, gasoline was running down towards the tail part of the fuselage and burning. Because of the heat and the flames, there was nothing further we could do to attempt to rescue the remaining occupants of the plane. I was burned about the ankles, my left foot, my right hand, and the left side of my face. The cabin was full of flame when I crawled out and burned until noon the next day.”

The two WACs died shortly after.  Margaret Hastings, Kenneth Decker, and John McCollum were the only survivors. As said Hastings suffered burns.  Decker had a gash in his forehead several inches long and deep enough skull bone was exposed. His legs and backside was also burned. McCollum lost his twin brother in the crash but suffered only minor burns. Decker muttered, “Helluva way to spend your birthday” because that day was his 34th birthday.

The only supplies they could salvage from the burning plane was a signaling mirror, a bright yellow lifeboat, a first aid kit, water and hard candy.  They could hear planes flying overhead looking for them but in the dense jungle, they could not be spotted.  So they headed for a clearing McCollum spotted by climbing a tree. It turned out to be several miles away.  It took days but they got to the clearing.

Upon reaching the clearing, a plane flew over without seeing them.  The spread out the large yellow tarp that had covered the lifeboat that McCollum had carried with him.  The plane spotted the tarp. The plane dipped their wing to signal the sighting and flew back to base.

To be continued:   Senryu : Snippet from a Jungle rescue





2 videos

Rescue From Shangri-La (1945)

Journey to West Papua (The Baliem Valley) (August 2016)

Statement of Corporal Margaret J. Hastings as given to Chester L. Fisher, Jr. on the 27th day of June, 1945
Amos’ Attic discover the rich history of Tioga County, NY

U .8. World War II Army Enlistment Records: 1938-1946 Record about Margaret J Hastings
Amos’ Attic discover the rich history of Tioga County, NY

Lost in Shangri-La (cover up to Chapter 5, after which you have to buy the book to read the rest)
by Mitchell Zuckoff

Review: Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
Good Reads

Lost in Shangri-La
By Carol Muske-Dukes

Who was Corporal Margaret Hastings? (“Lost in Shangri-La”)
The “Conservative Chronicles 24/7” Keeping an eye on what’s important to you!

“Immensely Readable” World War II Survival Tale
BU Today (Boston University)

Impossible Rescue
Airman Magazine, January 26, 2015

Excerpt from “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mitchell Zuckoff ~~Found~~

Gremlin Special / Guinea Gopher
Pacific Wrecks

Richard Archbold


vs. the internal gremlin
k versus

Weekend Writing Prompt: Journey
Sammi’s Scribbles

Daily Prompts, Daily Post