World War II Honor Roll

William Frederick Sippel, Jr.

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army


400th Bomber Squadron
90th Bomber Group, Heavy

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: November 16, 1942
Buried at: Gettysburg National Cemetery
                  Gettysburg PA
Awards: Purple Heart

SECOND LIEUTENANT WILLIAM F. SIPPEL, JR. was born on January 22, 1917 in LaPorte IN to William F. and Helena M. Boehmer Sippel. In 1920 the family was still living in Indiana. By 1930 his family had moved to Audubon NJ, where his father was then working as a finisher in a piano business. Known to friends and family as Will, he grew up in Audubon. A 1935 graduate of Audubon High School, he studied law at the South Jersey Law School in Camden. William Sippel was working as the credit manager of the J. Eavenson Soap Company in Camden NJ prior to entering the Army in January of 1942. He qualified for flight duty, and trained as a four-engine bomber navigator. After basic training at Maxwell Field AL and advanced navigation school at Turner Field in Albany GA, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on July 25, 1942. Lieutenant Sippel was assigned to the 400th Bomber Squadron, 90th Bomber Group, and went overseas in October of 1942, after a brief posting at Detroit MI.

The 400th Bomber Squadron arrived with the rest of the 90th Bomb Group in Queensland, Australia in November of 1942, and reached their base at Gordon Air Strip, at Iron Range, near the top of Cape York Peninsula, on November 13. When they 400th arrived, the airstrips were unfinished and not sealed. Conditions were terrible, there were no barracks, and tents were pitched among the surrounding trees. Snakes, insects, and scorpions were in abundance. He had sent three letters home from Australia, on November 8, 11, and 12, 1942.

The 400th Squadron's first mission was scheduled for November 16, 1942. On that day, Second Lieutenant William Sippel was killed when his plane crashed during takeoff. from Gordon Air Strip, iron range, Queensland, Australia. Click here for details of the events of that day.

Will Sippel was survived by his parents, of 184 Carlisle Road, Audubon NJ, brother Matthew Sippel, and sister-in-law Kay. He was initially buried at the cemetery in Townsville, Australia. In 1946, his remains were removed to Hawaii, and he now rests at Gettysburg National Cemetery, Gettysburg PA.

Camden Courier-Post * July 3, 1942

15 Percent of Graduates Serving U.S.; Many Hold Commissions

More than 15 percent of the graduates of the College of South Jersey are serving in some branch of Uncle Sam's military forces, it was announced today, by Dr. Charles A. Maurer, dean of the college.

They are serving in the Army, Navy, Marines and in the Royal Canadian Air Force. A large number or the graduates hold commissions ranging from Navy ensigns and Army second lieutenants to Naval lieutenants senior grade and Army majors.

Graduates of the college and the South Jersey Law School, who are in the Army Air Corps are Mair Auerbach, Earle Benton, Thomas F. Connery, Joseph Hildebrand, David MacGhee and Robert W. Lowden. 

Serving In Army 

Serving in the Army are Philip W. Cooper, Joshua V. Davidov, William G. Freeman, Nelson G. French, Joseph Frost, Jack H. Fuhrman, John R. Hall, William B. Knight, W. Warren Luckenbill, Joseph Moss, Robert W. Norris, Ralph Obus, William Peel, John F. Rodgers, C. Zachary Seltzer and Robert T. White. 

Graduates in the Navy are John J. Crean, Angelo De Persia, Samuel T. French, Jr., Thomas B. Hazelton, Robert Hollingsworth, John H. Mohrfeld, Bernard W. Nicel, Frederick A. Smith and Fred Thatcher. 

Undergraduates serving in the Army are John Borden, William Boyd, Dominic De Persia, Elmer Highley, Frank Houser, William I. Johnston, Samuel Massimiano, James Matthews and Robert Runge. Those in the Navy are John Winton, Clyde Creato, William T. Hiering, John Heckers and Robert F. MiIler.

In Canadian Force*

Those with the Royal Canadian Air Force* are Leo Burnett, Robert Cundy, Charles Adamson, John Broomall, Ralph Corriden, Clark Fountain, Ben Hollick, Alfred Pierce, William Sippel and Richard Truette. Vincent J. Manno is now at an Army officers training school. 

*This appears to be in error. It does not appear that any of these men were serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force in July of 1942, rather, the all had enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps prior to the writing of this article.   

16 NOVEMBER 1942


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B-24 Liberator damaged during this accident at Gordon strip at Iron Range

A USAAF B-24 Liberator piloted by Lt. Paul Larson of the 400th Squadron of the 90th Bombardment Group crashed during take-off for a bombing mission out of Iron Range's "Gordon" air strip. Aircraft of the 90th Bomb Group were taking off at night from Iron Range for their first bombing raid on Rabaul. The dust blown up by the first B-24's taking off obscured the dim airfield lights. The eleventh B-24 in line veered off the runway into two parked B-24 Liberators and a B-17 Flying Fortress.

The B-24 caught fire and its bomb load exploded.  Casualties were eleven US Service personnel killed and four aircraft. The remaining four aircraft did not take off. One of these #41-23765 was materially damaged while #41-23751, "Big Emma", was only slightly damaged.

There were 7 aircraft from the 320th Squadron, 4 from the 319th Squadron and 4 from the 400th Squadron in this bombing mission. The first B-24, #41-11902 "Punjab", took off at 2300hrs as scheduled. The next B-24 did not take off until 2314hrs. There was a lot of confusion amongst the "green" pilots. Some of the pilots were not ready when it was their turn to take off. They had not determined a suitable method of communication and no method of control in despatching the aircraft was in place. The first aircraft took off with landing lights on while the others that followed did not use their landing lights. The runway lights were placed too far apart.

That first B-24, #41-11902 "Punjab", vanished without a trace on this mission. It was piloted by the Commanding Officer of the 320th Squadron, Major Raymond S. Morse. Also on board was the Group Commander, Colonel Arthur W. Meehan, who was co-pilot. This loss in combination with the above crash caused some significant morale problems amongst the men of the 90th Bomb Group.

One of those killed was a linemen sitting on the wing of an aircraft. There had been some speculation that there may have been up to 15 killed in this accident. The following burial records from the US Cemetery in Townsville show the names of the 11 men killed in this tragic accident:-

Dee, William J. 16067297 USA 19 Nov 42 Protestant
Larson, Paul R. 023854 USA 19 Nov 42 Protestant
Dilotti, Lewis A. 35376226 USA 19 Nov 42 Protestant
Red, Claude D. 18063101 USA 19 Nov 42 Protestant
Halgreen, Axel J. 12033336 USA 19 Nov 42 Protestant
Meuthirg, David C. 0726929 USA 19 Nov 42 Catholic
Irving, Ernest I. 6116757 USA 19 Nov 42 Catholic
Sipple, William F. 0791004 USA 19 Nov 42 Catholic
Picker, Lester L. 35268447? USA 20 Nov 42 Catholic
Bassman, Herbert R. 0725576 USA 20 Nov 42 Protestant
Patty, Harry L. 3316669 USA 20 Nov 42 Protestant

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Subject:   Big Emma
Date:       Sun, 05 Sep 1999 09:47:29 -0400
From:      Tupa <>

Here is the left side of "Big Emma". The words "Big Emma" are on the right side of the plane. The scratches are from the wartime censor removing the machine gun from the picture so it could be sent home.

Bob Tupa

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#41-23751 - "Big Emma"

Click on picture to enlarge

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Subject:    16 NOV 1942 Crash
Date:             Sun, 05 Sep 1999 09:58:15 -0400
From:           Tupa <>

This is #41-23765 which later received the original tail markings as Col Rogers' plane

Bob Tupa

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#41-23765 - possibly "Connell's Special"

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Subject:    16 NOV 1942 Crash
Date:             Sun, 05 Sep 1999 10:04:26 -0400
From:           Tupa <>

These are pictures of planes that took part in the 16 November 1942 raid according to the list in Wiley Woods' book.

Bob Tupa

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#41-23751 - "Big Emma"

? Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

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#41-23765 - possibly "Connell's Special"

400th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

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#41-23763 - "Patches"

320th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

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#41-11904 - "Pride of the Yanks"

400th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

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#41-23719 - "Hallzapoppin"

319th Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

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#41-23714 - "Eight Ball"

321st Squadron, 90th Bomb Group

NOTE:- If you look closely under the open window of "Big Emma" you will see the word "IVY". This refers to its pilot Lt. Leroy Iverson.

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Subject:    Moby Dick
Date:             Sun, 05 Sep 1999 10:13:27 -0400
From:           Tupa <>

Here is the original "Moby Dick" that the Squadron was later named after with my grandfather sticking his head out of the cockpit window.

Bob Tupa

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Capt Norman Lawler, 90th BG adjutant
in "Moby Dick" (possibly #41-24047)

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Subject:    16 NOV 1942 Crash
Date:  Mon, 06 Sep 1999 19:26:42 -0400
From:  Tupa <>

Below is part of an email sent to me by Kelly Ryun whose father, Harry Ryun, was a member of Lt. Leroy Iverson's crew and they were the primary crew for "Big Emma" and the attached picture is Iverson with "Big Emma".

Subject: Re: Nov 16/17 1942
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999
From: Kelly Ryun

Hello Bob,

I just talked to dad about this incident and he says it was disastrous. He recalls it like it was yesterday. He states the crew was standing by "Big Emma" where they observed Lt. Larson taxi down the runway for takeoff. They all seen it coming. They saw Lt. Larson's plane head for "Big Emma" when they ran for the bushes. He states that "Big Emma" was repaired the next day and put back into service. He says that one of his crew members ran so fast he ran right into a small tree and knocked it roots and all out of the ground.


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Lt. Leroy Iverson with "Big Emma"

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Subject:    16 NOV 1942 Crash
Date:              Mon, 06 Sep 1999 23:22:32 -0400
From:            Tupa <>

CC:                Kelly Ryun <>

Here is a log entry for "Big Emma" on the date of the crash from one of the crew members. I have forgotten which one. It was given to me by Kelly Ryun whose father Harry was also a member of the crew and hopefully when she gets the copy of this e-mail she will refresh my memory of whose log book it was.

Bob Tupa

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Log book entry of
crew member of "Big Emma"

Account of plane crash by Thomas C. Sippel
This is accurate in all respects
except for the date


Courtesy of Larry Looby

Camden Courier-Post - December 28, 1942





Wedding Reception: Seated, Kay & Matt Sippel
Standing, bridesmaid Helen Rosiecki,
               best man Will Sippel