BRIGADIER GENERAL KENNETH NEWTON WALKER, USAAC
17 JUL 1898 - 5 JAN 1943

 

Brigadier General Walker arrived in Australia with Brigadier General Enis C. Whitehead in July 1942 (arrived the Saturday before 18 July 1942). On arrival, Lt. General George H. Brett sent Walker on an inspection tour of the 5th Air Force bases. Brett asked Walker to carry out a study of the existing bombardment methods being used.

At the time that Walker had arrived, there were three fighter groups, 5 bombardments groups, two transport squadrons and one photographic squadron operational in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) comprising 1,602 officers and 18,116 men.

genwalker.jpg (30422 bytes)

 

FIGHTER GROUPS BOMBER GROUPS
8th FG (P-39's) in Australia 3rd BG (B-25's, A-20's, & A-24's)
49th FG (P-40's) in Australia 19th BG (battle scarred from Philippines & Java)
35th FG (P-40's) in Port Moresby 22nd BG (B-26's)
    43rd BG (no planes)
    38th BG (B-25's not operational yet)

 

Walker visited the 19th Bomb Group in Townsville. He joined a B-17 Flying Fortress as an observer on an unaccompanied reconnaissance mission to search for a Japanese convoy. They found the convoy and climbed from 6,000 to 10,000 feet. They were hit in the right wing by some anti-aircraft fire. Walker flew on two other combat missions with the 19th Bomb Group.

His inspection tour took him to places such as Torrens Creek, Fenton, Iron Range and Horn Island. By the time he returned from his tour, General George C. Kenney had taken over command of the 5th Air Force from Brett.

The following photos were supplied by Paige A. Harris

walk10.jpg (242706 bytes) Article from Seattle Times
walk11a.jpg (58703 bytes) Brigadier General Kenneth Walker on the right greeting Major Philip J. Kuhl, Commanding Officer of the 319th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group on the unit's arrival in Australia on 23 October 1942.
walk11b.jpg (71858 bytes) Brigadier General Kenneth Walker with stick and Captain Dollenberg, General Walker's Aide and pilot is located at the far left of the photograph.
walk12a.jpg (57807 bytes) David and Catherine Oastler, Eva and Arthur Overturf, Harrison Overturf, Ethel and Charles Overturf
walk12b.jpg (44904 bytes) John, Ethel and Harrison Overturf
walk12c.jpg (81546 bytes) Capt. Freddie Dollenberg, and Major Harrison Overturf, and General Kenneth Walker in the South West Pacific. It is believed that Harrison is Walker's cousin. Dollenberg and Overturf were General Walker's Aides.
walk13a.jpg (102624 bytes) Brigadier General Kenneth Walker in the chow line (5th from the left)
walk13b.jpg (111626 bytes) Major Harrison Overturf

 

Kenney ordered Walker to command the Allied Air Forces in the North-Eastern area with the assistance of Group Captain Garing of the RAAF. The RAAF combat units at Townsville, Cairns and Horn Island were attached to Walker for operational control. Kenney asked Walker to reorganise the North-Eastern Area Command which Kenney described as a "scrambled outfit of Australians and Americans that resembled a can of worms". North-Eastern Area command headquarters were located in the Commonwealth Building in Sturt Street in Townsville. Kenneth Walker was also made the Commanding Officer of the Fifth Bomber Command, officially started in Townsville on 3 September 1942. General Walker soon clashed with Kenney over bombing tactics and procedures.

While he was in Townsville, General Walker's regular driver was a WAAAF driver called Jan Arthur (100044) who served, mostly in Townsville as a transport driver. She was assigned to the Americans as personal driver to various General's. She was General MacArthur's driver during his stay in Townsville, something she has been very proud of to this day.  Jan Arthur turned 90 on 13 July 2004.

Jan Arthur remembers driving General Douglas MacArthur, along with General Kenney, and General Walker to the 'Cream House', the Headquarters on top of the hill in Townsville. (Does anyone know where this was?). Perhaps it was "Duncragen" at 4 Cleveland Terrace, Melton Hill, Townsville which is a house used by at least one unknown US Army General.

 

Inspection of some of the Townsville recruits on the tennis court at St. Anne's Barracks, in 1942.

Left to Right in the lineup of recruits:-  Lorna Mittelheuser, Betty Donaghue, Isobel Short, ?, Marjorie Cale, and Jan Arthur.

 

5th Bomber Command

 

Personal Account of Bomber Command Station Life
Prepared by Major Morternson - Historical Officer, V Bomber Command, 1942-1944

 

General Walker inspects Uranium deposits in the Northern Territory

 

General Walker was later killed on an operational mission to Rabaul on 5 January 1943. Their B-17 Flying Fortress #41-24453 from the 64th Squadron of the 43rd Bomb Group, was shot down by Japanese fighter aircraft.

The whole crew were killed as follows:-

Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker Mrs. Marguerite P. Walker (former wife)
1009 East Windsor Street
Glendale, California
?? Walter Dr. J. Walter (Father)
U.S. Veterans Hospital
San Fernando, California
Major Jack W. Bleasdal Mrs. Jack W. Bleasdal (Wife)
215 West Mulberry
San Antonio, Texas
Major Allan Lindbergh Mr. Otto G. Lindbergh (Father)
21 West Street
New York 6, New York
Captain Benton H. Daniel Mrs. Eva M. Daniel (Wife)
Box 71
Hallis, Oklahoma
2nd Lt. John W. Hanson Mr. Jack W. Hanson (Father)
420 Roosevelt Street
Missoula, Montana
2nd Lt. Robert L. Hand Mrs. Ora E. Hand (Mother)
Hampstead, Texas
T/Sgt. Dennis Craig Mrs. Goldie Nelson (Mother)
780 Grand Concourse
New York, New York
Sgt. Leslie A. Stewart Mrs. Anis Stewart (Mother)
206 150th Street
East Chicago, Illinois
Pfc. William G. Fraser Mr. William G. Fraser (Father)
700 Cambridge
San Antonio, Texas
Pvt. Liland W. Stone Mrs. Lida Stine (Mother)
5806 Grove
Oakland, California
Pvt. Quentin W. Blakely Mrs. Quentin W. Blakely (Wife)
711 Randolph Street N.E. Apt. #2
Washington 17, D.C.

 

The above list shows Marguerite P. Walker as his next of kin. She was was actually Kenneth Walker's first wife. They were divorced shortly after their son Douglas was born. General Walker's home base at the time of his death would really have been Washington, DC not Glendale, CA which was where his former wife lived with their two sons.

Michael Moskow sent me the following crew list details that he obtained from the MACR records:-

64th B-17F 41-24458 Jan. 5, 1943 MACR 15359 "San Antonio Rose"

Eleven in crew; at least two prisoners; no survivors.

Walker, Kenneth N. Brig. Gen. Observer Glendale, Ca.
Bleasdale, Jack W. Major Observer San Fernando, Ca.
Lindbergh, Allan Major Pilot New York, N.Y.
Daniel, Benton H. Capt Co-Pilot Hollis, Ok.
Hanson, John W. 1 Lt. Navigator Missoula, Mt.
Hand, Robert L. 2 Lt. Bombardier Hampstead, Tx.
Craig, Dennis T/Sgt. Flight Engineer New York, N.Y.
Blakely, Quentin W. S/Sgt. Radio Operator Washington, D.C.
Stewart, Leslie A. Sgt. Gunner East Chicago, Il.
Stone, Leland W. Pvt. Gunner Oakland, Ca.
Fraser, William G. PFC Gunner San Antonio, Tx.
Statement in MACR: Departed on mission 4L, at 0848/L flying B-17F, #41-24458, to attack shipping at Rabaul. Last seen going into clouds, closely pursued by four (4) to five (5) Zeros. Left outboard engine seen temporarily smoking.

 

There were varying reports as to the fate of the crew. Some reports suggested that they all died in the plane crash, others had some surviving and being captured by the Japs and placed in prisoner of war camps.

In mid 2001, Drew Wesche's father, Fred Wesche, dictated  his reminisces of WW2 for the Rutgers Oral History of WW2 site,. This included some information on the mission that General Walker was killed in. Unfortunately Fred Wesche passed away in late 2001.

Fred Wesche was with the 43rd Bomb Group and 19th Bomb Group in New Guinea in '42 and '43. Fred was on the January 5th mission over Rabaul and his plane followed General Walker's plane after it was hit. Drew's father's crew were the last to see the plane before it disappeared. He stated:-

"On January 5th of 1943, I was on one of what most of us thought was a suicide mission. This is a formation of six planes and I was one of them (he is referring to a photograph during his interview) The Japanese were getting ready to mount a large expeditionary force to relieve their garrisons on New Guinea, and Brigadier General Walker, who was the commanding general of the Fifth Bomber Command there was flying in the lead ship, and I was flying on his wing. When it was announced that it was going to be done in broad daylight at noontime, as a matter-of-fact, at low altitude, something like 5000 feet over the most heavily defended target in the Pacific almost...most of us went away shaking our heads. Many of us believed we wouldn't come back from it. Anyway, we went over the target and all of us got attacked. I was shot up. Nobody was injured, fortunately, but the airplane was kind of banged up a little bit. We had to break formation over the target to bomb individually and then we were supposed to form up immediately after crossing the target., but no sooner had we dropped our bombs that my tail gunner says, "Hey, there's somebody in trouble behind us" So we made a turn and looked back and here was an airplane, one of our airplanes, going down, smoking and on fire, not necessarily fire, but smoke anyway, and headed down obviously for a cloud bank with a whole cloud of fighters on top of him. There must have been 15 or 20 fighters. Of course they gang up on a cripple, you know, polish that one off with no trouble, but he disappeared into a cloud bank and we never saw him again. It turns out it was the general. General Walker was on board."

There were a number of B-17's called San Antonio Rose. This has lead to a certain amount of confusion for researchers like myself. As best I can determine here are the details:-

Aircraft Serial No. Type Crashed at Date Remarks
San Antonio Rose #41-2416 B-17E Townsville 22 Feb 1942  40 BS of 19th BG. One source shows 2416 as "San Antonio Rose I"
San Antonio Rose #41-24458 B-17F   5 Jan 1943 64th BS of 43rd BG, General Kenneth Walker killed in this crash
San Antonio Rose II #41-2447 B-17E bombed at Del Monte ?? 40 BS of 19 BG.

 

Brigadier General Kenneth N. Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor which is bestowed by the President of the United States in the name of Congress for deeds of surpassing valour, of devotion far above the call of duty. The book "The Official World War II Guide to the Army Air Forces AAF" describes Walker as follows:-

BRIG. GEN. KENNETH N. WALKER
(reported missing in this action)

SEPT. 5, 1942 - JAN. 5, 1943: During the months he was chief of the 5th Bomber Command, Brig.Gen. Kenneth N. Walker habitually accompanied his fliers on missions deep into enemy territory. From personal combat experience he developed a highly efficient technique of bombing in the face of enemy fighters and anti-aircraft fire.

On Jan. 5, 1943, Gen. Walker led a daylight bombing attack on Rabaul. In spite of swarms of Jap interceptors which rose over the harbor to meet them, Gen. Walker's bombers shouldered their way through to the target, planted their bombs squarely on 9 enemy ships.

The Japs turned the full force of their attack on Gen. Walker's airplane. There were too many. His plane went crashing down.

 

genwalk01.jpg (144504 bytes)

Headstone at Arlington Memorial Cemetery

 

A Memorial Service for Brigadier General Kenneth Newton Walker was scheduled to be held at Arlington Memorial Cemetery on Friday 7 December 2001 at 1PM. The service will include full military honours. A "fly over" was originally planned as part of the ceremony, but this was cancelled for security reasons as a result of the tragic terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001.

There have been some suggestions that a documentary may be made that would include the search for "San Antonio Rose", the aircraft in which General Kenneth Walker and the crew were either killed or taken prisoner by the Japanese on 5 January 1943.

 

Left-to-right: Mr F.M. Forde (Minister for the Army); General Douglas MacArthur; General Sir Thomas Blamey;
General George C. Kenney; Major-General C.A. Clowes; Brigadier General Kenneth Walker.

 

Left-to-right: Mr F.M. Forde (Minister for the Army); General Douglas MacArthur; General Sir Thomas Blamey;
General George C. Kenney; Unidentified, Major-General C.A. Clowes; Brigadier General Kenneth Walker.

The above two photos were sent to me by Douglas Walker, son of Brigadier General Kenneth Walker. They show General Douglas MacArthur arriving with Australian Allied Commanders, Gen. George C. Kenny, Comdr. 5th AF, with General Kenneth Walker at the far right.

Mr. James Zobel at the MacArthur Memorial has identified that the above photos were taken in September 1942 at Seven Mile Drome at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

 

walk03.jpg (78205 bytes)

Brigadier General Kenneth Walker
possibly taken in Queensland. There is a eucalyptus
tree in the background. Could it be at Mareeba or Townsville?

Can anyone identify where this photo was taken?

 

Photos taken in the Northeastern Area HQ officer's mess

walk04.jpg (71127 bytes)

2nd from the right in the front row is Air Commodore F.W.F. Lukis

3rd from the right is Air Commodore A.H. Cobby

4th from right is Brigadier General Walker

Can you identify anyone else in the photo for me please?

walk07.jpg (64709 bytes)

Closeup of the photograph on the left

Are you in this photograph?

walk06.jpg (72004 bytes)

Air Commodore A.H. Cobby with the pipe

 

walk05.jpg (49801 bytes)

Kenneth Walker's honorary membership of the North Eastern Area Headquarters Officers Mess

 

Is Group Captain Garing in one of the above photographs?

 

Does anyone know where the
North Eastern Area Headquarters Officers Mess
was located?

 

REFERENCE

"Kenneth N. WALKER"
"Airpower's Untempered Crusader"
By Martha Byrd

"The Official World War II Guide to the Army Air Forces AAF"
by Bonanza Book, New York

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I'd like to thank Douglas Walker, son of General Kenneth Walker for his assistance with the information and photographs which appear on this home page. I'd also like to thank Drew Wesche for his assistance with this home page.

I'd like to thank Paige A. Harris for assistance with this home page and the above photographs. The photos were from Paige's Aunt Marion Overturf. It is believed that Harrison Overturf, who is pictured with Walker, is his cousin.

I'd like to thanks Juliet Reynold's, daughter of Jan Arthur.

I'd also like to thank Steve Birdsall for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 31 March 2000

This page last updated 15 January 2015