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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)
from IP address

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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(Login Bunadrome)

Correction: Bean and Sharp

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December 16 2012, 6:04 PM 


[AMM2c Bean bails out. Lt. Bull lands PBY on north coast of Ambon]

should read

[AMM3c Sharp bails out. Lt. Bull lands PBY on north coast of Ambon]

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(Login Bunadrome)

Extract from Official Report by Ensign William Hargrave

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December 16 2012, 6:53 PM 

Melbourne, Australia
June 2, 1942


Report of Aerial Combat and Resultant Experiences
Ensign William W. Hargrave, A-V(N), U.S.N.R.

[7 pages posted by website fold3]

5. . . . Unable to keep any altitude and due to the terrible gas fumes, I informed Lieutenant (jg) Bull that we had better land. He gave me the O.K., and we landed on the north coast of Ambon, near the little village of Hila.

6. Upon landing we learned that SHARPE, a waist gunner, had jumped sometime between the engagement and the time we landed. CUSACK, the tail gunner, was injured. He had a bullet wound in his right arm, slugs in the left leg and some shrapnel wounds.

7. . . . I myself attempted to give CUSACK first aid as he was bleeding very badly. Unable to stop the bleeding, NELSON and I got one of the rubber boats intending to get CUSACK ashore and try to find a doctor. CUSACK, NESLON and myself got into the rubber boat and I told the rest of the crew to come along. . . .

8. Just as we were leaving the plane, a Japanese seaplane (single float engine) spotted us and immediately attacked. We, in the rubber boat, were under the wing of the plane when the Jap plane opened its guns. The three of us dove into the water and started swimming. On the second pass of the Jap plane, 22-P-6 blew up and sunk almost immediately. The Jap made two more strafing attacks at we swimmers and then flew off in the direction of Ambon.

9. NELSON, CUSACK, MULLER and myself reached shore safely. Muller was burned from head to foot with gasoline burns and CUSACK was wounded as mentioned above. Through friendly natives, we learned that no doctor was available. Natives brought us coconut oil and some bandages and we did about the best that we could for the two injured men. NELSON and myself had a few scratches but nothing serious.

10. Two days later, February 7, the natives reported a body floating in the water. I identified the body as that of OLIVER. He was buried at sea by the natives. On the 8th of February another body was identified by NELSON as that of BEAN. He was buried at sea too. Lieutenant (jg) Bull's body was never sighted. [page 3]

11. MULLER and CUSACK were given every care that we were able to render with the meager medical supplies which the natives gave us. Through the natives we learned that there were some Australian soldiers farther along the coast and NELSON went to find them to get medical supplies if they had any. I remained with the injured men. During this time both men were growing worse, Muller especially. He was out of his head most of the time. I was up with him practically every night and day. One February 14, NELSON returned with one A.I.F. man who had no medical supplies, that would do the injured any good. I informed MULLER that we had done about all we could for him and he should really go to the hospital. CUSACK needed a doctor's care too, so on the afternoon of the 14th, MULLER and CUSACK started for hospital at Ambon in a canoe manned by natives. Natives reported later that MULLER died before he reached the hospital and the Japanese buried him. CUSACK reached the hospital as far as we know.

Hargrave and Nelson along with eleven Australians in a sailboat manned by four natives reached Merauke, Dutch New Guinea on April 29th, 1942. Helluva story.


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Melmoth the Wanderer
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Fate of Ralph R. Cusack at the hands of war criminals

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December 16 2012, 8:59 PM 


This Hatekayama (not to be confused with RADM Hatekayama in charge of Dai 24 Tokubetsu Konkyochitai), and also LT NAKAGAWA (of the Kure SNLF [Tokubetsu Rikugunsentai] units present) were both involved in the mass murders of Australians earlier in the month at Laha & elsewhere on Ambon.

As you can see from this account, there was not the least pretext of military procedure or legality in the execution [murder] of this individual.


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Japanese side of Shootdown / Lou Dorny

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December 16 2012, 11:08 PM 

I am unable to locate any reference to the attack on and destruction of PBY 22-P-6 in the indexes of Shores, Cull & Izawa's Bloody Shambles I & II. No listing for Bull or Hargrave either but I know that the indexes for these volumes are by no means complete.

Does anyone know if Lou Dorny is currently working on a history of Pat Wing 10?


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Bob Bergstrom
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Lou Drony

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January 4 2013, 2:06 AM 

Yes, Lou is still working on the history of PW10. Also here is a photo Hargrove and a note from the Austrialian archives:


[linked image]

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(no login)

AWM Photo

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January 4 2013, 3:47 AM 

Hi Bob,

Thanks for posting the photo. It's great to see a picture of Hargrave and Nelson. I thought I had exhausted all of the Australian sources on the crew of Lt. Bull's PBY.

I plan to post the info at the Yahoo PBY group but am waiting for "membership" approval. Please pass this along to Lou Dorny.

>Sorry put it in three times and then spelled Lou's last name wrong!

It can be easy to do at this forum.


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Jo Ann Alton Sharp
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Cliff Alton Sharp AMM3c Ambon Island Feb. 1942

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February 12 2013, 12:33 AM 

Hi Lou...
I am the daughter of Cliff Alton Sharp. I am 71 years old and grew up never even meeting my father. My mother was stationed at Pearl Harbor with my father. After the bombing on Dec. 7, 1941 she (being pregnant with me) was sent back to San Diego. My father was sent on the mission (Patrol Wing Ten) to Ambon Island. After being shot down in the PBY he was reported MIA. I grew up not being allowed to speak of my REAL father. Out of respect to my mother's pain, I didn't pursue trying to learn about him until my mother passed away. NOW, I am desperately trying to learn all that I can....are there any survivors alive still? Where might his remains be? Did he wash ashore on Ambon? Was he buried by natives in Hila or taken by the Australians to a grave site in Manilla? I would like to learn every bit of information that you may have found for your book. It is my remaining goal in this lifetime to meet someone from his crew (PBY 22) and/or learn where I might go to witness his grave and give my honor to him in person.
Could you please assist me?
Jo Ann Sharp

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Jo Ann Alton Sharp
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Lou Dorny - could you assist me?

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February 12 2013, 12:39 AM 

Please see my posted email on Cliff Alton Sharp AMM3c dated 2/11/13.
I am asking for your assistance and can be reached at:
Thank you so much!

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(Login Bunadrome)

Death of AMM2c Robert Muller

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December 20 2012, 1:07 PM 

The cruelty revealed by these reports gives me pause but I guess this kind of war crime was hardly uncommon on Ambon at this time.


file: Catalina: Missing U.S. aircraft
National Archives, Australia

"Aircraft shot down by Jap fighters near shore at Hitoelama, AMBON. NELSON, MULLER, HARGRAVE and CUSACK got ashore. MULLER and CUSACK who were suffering burns proceeded on foot to HILO and were captured. MULLER was kicked to death by a Japanese named KATO. MULLERs body was recovered by AUSTRALIAN WAR GRAVES UNIT. CUSACK was taken to AMBON and it is highly probable he was killed there, but his body has not been recovered. NELSON and HARGRAVE with two AUSTRALIAN ARMY members were befriended by REGENT of HITOELAMA who provided them with a praugh. These four members escaped to AUSTRALIA via CERAM. Body of SHARP was washed ashore the day after the crash and buried by the survivors of the crash."

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Jo Ann Alton Sharp
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Scattered remains of Cliff Alton Sharp

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February 11 2013, 1:53 AM 

I am the daughter of Cliff alton Sharp. I knew that he was shot down over ambon Island 2/5/42...but, he was reported MIA. I am 71 years old and grew up never meeting my father. Do you have information about him?
Please help me!
Jo Ann

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David Metherell
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January 6 2013, 5:31 AM 

Was looking through X-Files (reports of soldiers who died in WWII but the remains were never identified so where given an "X" number and buried in the American WWII Cemetery in Manila and unknowns).

X-4320 is a report of a set of "remains recovered from an isolated grave 2 kilometers east of Hila, Amboina. Subject case might be Cliff Alton Sharp or anyone of the other missing person's who were crew members of aircraft PBY-5042304 crashed 2 Feb 42."

An Australian search team interviewed two locals in 1947 who stated that "the survivors buried the body at sea. Later the body washed ashore 2 kilometers east of where the plane crashed. The remains were scattered by wild pigs then the natives buried what was left." These natives removed boots and a watch before they buried the remains, these were turned over to the Australians.

However, there was no way to identify the body and it resides at plot 802, row 2, grave 3916 in Manila.

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