On July 28, 1945, our flight crew got up about 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast and was briefed. We left for the flight line of Yontan Airfield to locate B-24 A/C 44-40680––the Lonesome Lady; we had admired-her art but never flown her.
— Tom Cartwright, A Date with the Lonesome Lady: A Hiroshima POW Returns.

The Lonesome Lady

On 28 July, Replacement Crew 42B flew the B-24J bomber Lonesome Lady to attack the Battleship Haruna, moored just offshore from Etajima, near Kure Harbor, Honshu, Japan. Piloted by 21-year-old 2nd Lt. Thomas Cartwright, the extensively trained crew was one of the last B-24 crews to be deployed in the war. The Lonesome Ladyher crew on the Haruna bombing mission, and the original crew––(Emil Turek's Crew #39) each have webpages dedicated to them on this site.  

The Lonesome Lady flew over the target in #2 position, just behind and to the left of A/C #980.

Of the nine crew members of the Lonesome Lady, one died during the mission when he bailed out and his parachute failed to open, eight became POWs, six of them were killed by the blast or radiation exposure of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and two returned home after the war. This page tells more about the men.  Historian Shigeaki Mori tells the story of their mission and his discovery of their fates in his book here on this website.   

Crew of the Lonesome Lady

Top row, left to right: 2nd Lt. James M. Ryan (Bombardier), 2nd Lt. Durden W. Looper (Co-pilot), 2nd Lt. Thomas C. Cartwright (Pilot in Command), 2nd Lt. Roy M. Pedersen (Navigator)

Bottom row left to right: Sgt. Hugh H. Atkinson (Radio Operator Mechanic), Sgt. Buford J. Ellison (Engineer), Sgt. William E. Abel (Tail Gunner) with Blackie, Corp. John A. Long, Jr. (Nose Gunner). Also pictured: Frank Baker (Gunner), who was replaced on the final mission by Ralph J. Neal. 

 

The Missing Aircraft Report included this statement by the Haruna mission lead plane #980 Bombardier Vito "'lil Davey" Nacci and crewmate Rex Reeves.

 
neal_portrait

Sgt. Ralph J. Neal

Ball Turret Gunner Neal flew on the Lonesome Lady mission to bomb the Haruna in the place of Replacement Crew 42B crew member Frank Baker the day it was shot down.

 

Photographs and much more information about the crew and their plane, Lonesome Lady, are available on this website, elsewhere on the internet, and in archives that contain military records and collections of personal documents and photographs.