The 38th in Australia and New Guinea :: 1942-43
By Ed Gervase, 71st Squadron

Ed Gervase was a navigator on the Pacific Prowler. He has recorded some of the incidents from the early days, as he remembers them after 65 years. 

Charter Towers, Australia lays approximately 30 miles west of Townsville, Queensland in eastern Australia.  The time was mid-August, 1942. In route to New Guinea the flight echelons of the 71st and 405th squadrons of the 38th stopped for a brief period at Charters Towers. We were to practice low level flying and to check out our planes. Navigators were to swing compasses and check alignment of Drift Meters. 

One day, during 405th practice, 1st Lt. Earl Ducci was leading and 1st Lt Bill Tarver (my crew) was on the right wing. We were about 50-75 feet altitude with an indicated airspeed approximately 180 MPH flying west of the air strip. We were approaching the eastern edge of a medium sized lake. The planes were almost upon the lake when a whole flock of large birds, frightened by the engine noise, took flight en mass from the surface of the lake. One large bird crashed through Ducci’s windshield, struck him in the right eye and continued across the navigator’s compartment, through the tunnel and struck the turret gunner in the left side and shoulder. Blood, bones and feathers every where! 1st Lt Ducci was stunned but recovered in a few minutes. His face was a bloody mess; his eye was badly swollen and closing fast. 1st Lt. Ducci headed immediately for the landing strip and made an uneventful landing. He recovered completely without any loss of eyesight. The bird was an ibis; usually about 10-12 lbs, wing span 2-21/2 feet.

Sometime around the month of May 1943, it was decided to try the 75 mm cannon in the nose of the B-25. Lt Tarver’s plane 129710 "Pacific Prowler" was chosen for the original model. Bore sighting the gun was done by an Artillery Major. After three corrections, we flew missions with the gun. The pilot had all the controls in sighting on the wheel and the navigator did the gun loading from a rack of 21 shells (7long-3 deep). When the breach was closed and loaded, an electric circuit flashed a ready light on the control column. When the gun fired, the plane seemed to stop in mid-air; the vibration popped many rivets in the fuselage. In all the firing on a run at the target required constant and very quick adjustment of the sight. On one mission, the navigator was able to set off 12 rounds which was almost a miracle; I don’t think we did much damage. However on a later mission (single plane reccos) near the back end of Lae strip close to the mountains, we received machine gun fire; Lt Tarver fired one shell but it was about 20 yards short. We circled around to the left (away from the mountains); Lt Tarver lined up on the machine gun tracers and scored a direct hit. No more firing from the Japanese out post. The 75 mm program was discontinued. The planes were returned to their original configuration very shortly.

These and many other stories can be found on our web site Our hope is to see a narrative history of the 38th BGP (M) on this web site as a memento all who served with the 38th and a place for their descendents to gain a sense of war and what shaped the rest of their lives.  Our website URL is . We have all of the news letters from January 2005 through May 2008 which are a chronological narrative of the 38th BGP from date of organization until the end of WWII. Dave Gunn of the 405th Squadron with the help of James Thoren a former member of the 822nd squadron have researched the information used to write the News Letter. It all comes from personal experience during the war and from the Archives at Maxwell Field, Alabama Open the website and go Documents.