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Fate of Ralph R. Cusack and Robert E. Muller of PBY 22-P-6

December 16 2012 at 3:03 PM
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Edward  (Login Bunadrome)
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Document from the National Archives of Australia.
Post-war interrogation of Japanese officers sheds light on the fates of Radioman 2nd Class Ralph R. Cusack and Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Robert E. Muller of PBY 22-P-6 - Patrol Wing 10.

Ralph R. Cusack is listed at the ABMC but I can find nothing under "Robert Muller" or Meuller. Were his remains located after the war?


Crew of PBY 22-P-6
Lt. (j.g.) Richard Bull Pilot
Ens. William Hargrave Co-Pilot
RM1c Claude L. Nelson
AMM2c Lloyd Bean
ACMM Herbert Oliver
AMM2c Robert E. Muller
AMM3c Cliff Sharp
RM3c Ralph R. Cusack

Description of loss on 5 February 1942 off Ambon from In the Hands of Fate : The Story of Patrol Wing Ten 8 December 1941 11 May 1942 (NIP 1985) Dwight Messimer

"Hargrave banked right, diving for the clouds. But the fighters got to 22-P-6 first. Hargarve attempted to slip the plane toward and down under the fighters, but that did not work either. 22-P-6 was taking a beating. Machine gun and cannon fire tore holes in the wings, fuselage, and tail. Gasoline from a ruptured wing tank poured into the hull. RM3c Ralph Cusak [Cusack] was bleeding profusely from wounds in the body, right arm and left leg.

[AMM2c Bean bails out. Lt. Bull lands PBY on north coast of Ambon] Bull tended to the wounded Cusak, but was unable to stop the bleeding. With help from Claude Nelson, Hargrave broke out one of the two life rafts, intending to get Cusak ashore and find a doctor for him as quickly as possible. Hargrave, Nelson and Cusak were in their raft when a Japanese floatplane attacked the drifting PBY. Machine gun fire beat the hull as the three men leaped into the water. Instantly the plane exploded in a fiery ball and sank. [Lt. Bull, Bean and Oliver are all killed while Muller is badly burned]

. . . After the explosion, Hargrave and Nelson rescued Cusak and Muller, and got them to shore. Sharp, who had jumped, was never found, nor was Bull. Bean and Oliver both died in the explosion, and their bodies were found a few days later.

For nine days Hargarve did what he could for Cusak and Muller, who were badly burned. Because both men were suffering terribly, and Hargrave was unable to find medical help, he did the only thing he could. He turned them over to natives who agreed to take them to the Japanese hospital in Ambon. Muller died before he got there, and Cusaks fate is unknown, but he was not seen again.

Hargrave and Nelson escaped from Ambon in a small, native boat. After 17 days, during which they dodged the Japanese, fought storms, and suffered from exposure and malnutrition, they returned to Australia." pages 238-40

Army File 85/85A WAR CRIMES AMBON (General)
(Extract from weekly investigation report by Capt. Sylvester dated 2/12/49)


1. SUWA Kazuto was questioned regarding his knowledge of the execution of an u/i PW at BENTENG, and states in part: -

(a) "This PW was captured in the jungle by members of the Construction Unit. He was one of 4 airmen who had parachuted from a B-17 [sic] shot down by Jap naval fighters in the vicinity of HITOELAMA. Two airmen had died in the jungle prior to the capture of the PW, who when found was with the other airmen who was so badly burned as to be on the point of death, and who was left to die where found."

(b) "The PW wore flying dress and khaki colour and seemed to be about 25 or 26 years of age. He was about 5'8" tall, was thin, his hair was blond and wavy, his eyes blue. He had a long, narrow face and was unshaven. His right arm and left thigh had been injured so I heard by 20 m.m. shells from M.G.s of Japanese naval fighters. I learned from the Construction Unit members."

(c) "I made out a receipt for the PW and gave to members of the Construction Unit. Then I reported orally to Lt. HATAKEYAMA and company commander NAKAGAWA. They told me to lead the PW in the cell. I was on duty from 1600 to 2000 hrs on that day, and 0400 until 0800 hrs the next morning, and during that time the PW was not interrogated and as far as I know he was never interrogated."

(d) "About one or two days later, it was during the evening about 1800 or 1900 hrs I remember it was a short time after the evening meal, and I was then taking a rest in my room W.O. HANAOKA entered and said, "The following is a message from the company commander (NAKAGAWA). As you took over the PW when you were on duty, it is your responsibility to take him to BENTENG. A small truck is already waiting and the PW had been informed that he is being taken to hospital. (The hospital was approx midway between BENTENG and Victoria Barracks). I acknowledged the order and at once went to the entrance of the barracks and found a truck awaiting me. Seated in the back were the PW and Supply Sub-Lt. ITAKURA, whom I joined. The truck then left fro BENTENG. While riding in the back the PW smiled at me. (The inside of the truck was lit by a small electric lamp). During the journey I did not speak to anyone. The Supply Officer talked a little in English with the PW. I have the impression that there was another officer in addition to ITAKURA present in the back of the truck but I am not certain of this."

(e) "On arrival at BENTENG W.O. YAMASHITA and a P.O. (name unknown) were standing in front of the barracks. I believe they had come out on hearing the noise of our horn. The P.O. had his service sword with him. W.O. YAMASHITA was intoxicated. Without receiving any orders, the P.O. mounted the truck, after which we proceeded about 150 metres and stopped when the P.O. said, "This is it." The Supply Officer knocked on the wall of the cabin as a signal to stop. The Supply Office did the same thing when we stopped at the BENTENG barracks on the way to the execution. We then proceeded down a slope for about 15 metres in the direction of the seashore. The P.O. led us to the execution place and showed the PW the way by taking him by the hand. On arrival it was found that a circular grave about 2 metres in diameter and about 70 or 80 c.m. deep had already been prepared. [a graphic description of the execution follows] The Supply Officer and I watched until the grave had been filled in and we then returned to the truck. The P.O. walked back to his barracks, while ITAKURA and I returned to Victoria Barracks."

[page 2]

2. YAMASHITA Kyusuke was questioned regarding the execution, and states in part: -

"One night, about 20 Feb 42, while alone in my quarters drinking sake, a guard reported to me and said, 'W.O. SUWA and two marines have just arrived by truck from AMBOINA. With them they had a PW whom they are going to execute.' I cannot remember my full reply because I was drunk, but I did say, 'Someone go and assist at the execution.' I later learned that because I had not named anyone in particular, SUWA had ordered one of my subordinated, a P.O., to assist him, and that at the place of execution SUWA had further ordered this P.O. to behead the PW. I believe that the P.O. concerned was P.O. 3rd Class SHIMOHAMA Shunkichi, but it may have been P.O. 3rd Class KIDO Asataro. I am quite sure it was either one or the other of these two, although neither of them ever reported to me anything about having taken part."

3. SHIMOHAMA Shinkichi has been questioned regarding this execution and categorically denies all knowledge of the incident.

NOTE: KIDO Asararo [Asataro?] is due to report for interrogation on 7 Dec. 49.

[handwritten notation at bottom of page] Consider this may refer to R.R. Cusack a member of the crew of PBY 5042304.

Source: National Archives, Australia

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