Lt. Roscoe G. Booth was the co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress attached to the 11th Bombardment Group (H), 431st Bomb Sq. that took part in the battle of Midway and Gaudalcanal. Lt. Booth was stationed at Hickam Field when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
On one bombing mission they ran into a heavy storm at night and had to ditch at sea. They ended up about a mile and a half off of an uninhabited Japanese Island. They spent three days and four nights on the beach before being picked up by a Navy PBY. The only serious injury was a broken leg suffered by the navigator.
Photos submitted by Alyson Pincock granddaughter of Lt. Roscoe G. Booth.
The following story is from the book "Grey Geese Calling" as told by Capt. Willard G. Wookbury pilot.
Lost at night in a storm over the Solomons, out of gasoline, no land in sight. This was the plight of a U.S. Army Flying Fortress crew as told here by its handsome pilot, Capt Willard G. Woodbury of Omaha, Nebraska.From an airbase in the New Hebrides, Capt Woodbury and his men took off one afternoon in a flight of heavy Armybombers to intercept and destroy a Jap carrier reported near Santa Cruz Island. In mid-afternoon they ran into aheavy storm front and were unable to find the target. After searching the area for several hours the flight headed back to its base. In the meantime the storm had become an impenetrable wall."It must have extended up for over 40,000 feet," said Capt Woodbury. "We could find no way around it, so we hadto go through it."By late afternoon they were far off course and unable to contact their base. Darkness was closing in rapidly."By dark we started back at 21,000 feet. We were still in heavy clouds and it was very cold. We had no winter flyingequipment. We flew blind for several hours. Sgt Vernon erg, our radio operator, did a swell job and finallycontacted our base. We knew we were somewhere near the New Hebrides, but we were now low on gas, and it wasapparent that we would be unable to reach the field. That meant we would have to make a water landing. The spirit of the men was very high. They knew what was ahead, but it never once worried them. We dumped our bomb load and then started tossing out the rest of our equipment to lighten the plane."The bomb sight was the first to go. It is customary for a bombardier when he releases his bombs to say 'Bombsaway,' when Raymond Storey, bombardier, tossed the precious bomb sight to the bottom of the Pacific, helaconically yelled, 'Bombsight away'. We all had a good laugh over that."When we had only 40 minutes of gas left, Lt Louis Shauer and Sgt Storey sighted the dim outlines of a tiny island just ahead. There were no lights visible and we had no idea what island it was, or whether it was friendly orenemy."We circled for about 30 minutes. At 1:30 a.m., with only 15 minutes of gas left, I set the plane down on the waterabout a mile and a half off shore. We were hitting about 100 miles per hour when we smacked the first wave. It wassmoother than I expected."Sgt Storey was the only one seriously injured. He sustained a broken leg. The rest of us were only bruised. Weexpected the ship to sink immediately so we scrambled plenty fast to get out the two life rafts."We discovered later that we had landed on a reef in only eight feet of water. But we didn't know that at the time, and we were anxious to get away from the plane for fear it would foul us up when it sank. It was very dark and a high wind was blowing. Sgt Storey's leg was pretty bad so it was a delicate job lifting him out of the plane and into the raft.We immediately started paddling as hard as we could toward shore. "After about 20 minutes of strenuous rowing, we looked up and saw that we were still under the wing of the plane. The wind had held us motionless. It took us three hours to cover the mile and a half to shore. We spent a cold and mighty miserable night on the beach. Sgt Storey was suffering intensely, but he never once complained. We made him as comfortable as we could and then waited for daylight."We spent three days and four nights on that beach. On the second day a search plane flew over and saw us. Lateranother plane dropped food and water to us. The following day they flew over again and dropped some pork chops. Idon't believe anything ever tasted so good." Late that same afternoon a Navy PBY picked up the crew.We learned too, we had been on an uninhabited Japanese island. Our crew was flown to the base hospital in New Caledonia for physical check-ups, thankful we survived.
Captain Willard G. Woodbury, pilot, Omaha, Nebraska
Lt. Roscoe G. Boothe, co-pilot, Cedar City, Utah
Lt. Louis Schauer, navigator, Hartford, Wisconsin
T/Sgt. Raymond Story, Jacksonville, Florida
Sgt. Lawrence Johnson, Escanaba, Michigan
Sgt. James Thompson, River Rouge, Michigan
Cpl. Walter E. Sabold, Shoemakersville, Pennsylvania