39th Bomb Group (VH)

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Scott Downing
29th Bomb Group

In a letter to Tom Mayfield (Crew 43) of our Group, Scott Downing, a POW and member of the 29th Bomb Group, gives some very graphic information on the Japanese treatment of POW's. His account also mentions two members of the 39th Group (Hill and Kiernan Crew 52) who were with him at Tokyo Kempei-Tai. A major part of the text of that letter follows:

"I was shot down on (our) 20th mission, 23 May 1945 and held at the Tokyo Kempei-Tai. I went through your list and found that Sgt Lloyd R. Hill and Sgt Sherwood C. Kiernan, were held prisoners when I was. I was in a cell next to Kiernan and three cells away from Hill. They were shot down two days before I was. They had moved 62-65 POW's from the Kempei-Tai about the 12th of May to Tokyo Military Prison and on 25 May the prison was firebombed and all of them died. About 17 of them broke out were shot. Forty-nine of them were identified and none of your list appears to have been among the bunch.

There were 55 flyers held Osaka, the Japanese killed them all, but I don't have a list of them. Some of them were shot the day the war ended 15 August 1945. The Osaka Kempei-Tai also held them.

I stayed in the service after the war and was sent back to Japan in April 1947 and stayed until October 1948. I worked for the Legal Section GHQ - SCAP - investigating the war crimes committed at the Tokyo Kempei-Tai and also prosecuting them.

I am going to the reunion in Seattle in August. A very good friend of mine from the 29th (Bomb) Group (314th) was Marvin Watkins. He came back to testify. He and 7 or 8 of his crew were captured on the Kyushu mission about 12 May. They sent him to Tokyo to question him and they took the others to a University and experimented on them. There were 22 that died at the Tokyo Kempei (either died or poisoned or had their heads cut off by sword), none on your list appears to be among them.

Source: "History of the 39th Bomb Group"