A work in progress – the fuller biographies will emerge in due course: please sign up to the Newsletter (bottom of the page) and we’ll let you know when we’ve done appropriate justice to the American heroes among our signatories.
Captain J Royden STORK for Operation Shangri-La, the DOOLITTLE Tokyo RAIDERS, flew off the carrier USS HORNET with B-25 Mitchells on the morale raising 18th April, 1942 raid which also affected Japanese strategy.
He was born in Frost, Minnesota in 1916 and graduated from college in October 1940, entering the Army Air Corps and learning to fly on Stearmans at Hemet CA, where they lost a quarter of the course on their primary flying. After 90 further hours on BT-14s at Randolph Field, he earned his wings in June, 1941, transferring to Mitchells at Pendleton in 17th Bomb Group “While we were training for short take offs, the civilians were installing special tanks. We flew down on the aircraft we were to use and as volunteers we were selected by Doolittle and Jack Hilger. We were temporarily assigned to ehe Navy – that has never happened since. The navigator got us right in and of course dropping our bombs at 1,800 feet over Tokyo. We flew individually. We all had specified targets – we couldn’t sit there and then fly in formation so we all had specified targets. We were the last one over Tokyo – the other six planes went south. We were actually airborne 14 hours and 10 to15 minutes for the mission until the engine coughed and we baled out.”
As 2nd Lt co-pilot, Royden represents here also his No.10 crew of the 16 Mitchells, his pilot Lt Richard O Joyce, navigator and bombardier Horace E Crouch, flight engineer Sgt George F Larkin and their gunner S/Sgt Edwin W Horton Jr. Col James Doolittle recommended the mission of a carrier to show American defiance after Pearl Harbor and cause the Japanese to need to take defensive measures for their own home islands. USS Hornet, with the USS Enterprise carrier nearby for fighter protection, had the twin-engined Mitchells on board, which were to fly on to unoccupied China.
Few thought that Mitchells could fly off carriers and obviously could not land back so the carrier was thought to be ferrying aircraft only. Earlier much testing had taken place at and near Eglin AFB, Florida in secrecy before eventually being loaded from Alameda Naval Air Station, California. Admiral William F Halsey was in command of Task Force 16. The main Japanese carrier force was on its distant way back from its attacks on Ceylon. The B-25s were launched 550 miles from Japan and, unseen by fighters patrolling much higher, were able to bomb Tokyo (including Crew 10, one of the three crews from 89th Reconnaissance Squadron), Yokosuka, Nagoya and elsewhere. Although they caused little damage, there was some consternation among the population and the deaths of two schoolboys from one aircraft strafing Tokyo became the prosecution case for those captured by the Japanese, three being sentenced to death. No aircraft were shot down and all were destroyed mostly landing on small unsuitable airfields for these bombers, with the prisoners, when shown, allowing false propaganda that all the aircraft had been shot down. There can be no final judgement on how effective this Raid was but the Nationalist Chinese, who had objected to the idea, were proved right about reprisals against Chinese. One quarter of a million Chinese would be killed when the planned advance of the Expeditionary. Force was brought forward. (Edwin P Hoyt Japan’s War Hutchinson 1987). Without the Tokyo Raiders, would the Imperial Japanese Navy have embarked on what led to the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway? Col James Doolittle won a Medal of Honor for the Raid, the USS Hornet CV-8 would be sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz, receiving extra special attention by the Japanese attackers that day, 26th October, 1942. Roy’s entire Crew No.10 bailed out safely near Chuchow and, with help from Chinese soldiers and civilians, they made it through Chuksien to Chungking, as 64 from the 80 where Roy Stork and some others were awarded a medal by Madam Chiang Kai Shek.
Roy remained in India until 1943, when he returned to the United States to fly with Air Transport Command. Eight raiders were caught by the Japanese, three of whom were executed after trial and one of the five other POWs, Lt Meder would die from malnutrition in Nanking’s military prison, with three killed baling out and five interned in Russia. Captain Royden Stork returned to civilian life after the war in October 1945 and became a make-up specialist for 36 years in Hollywood film studios.
Lt Gen James H Doolittle died in 1993 at age 96. Roy’s memory was “They took out the bottom………and part of the gun……….and put a 50 gallon drum in there and 5 gallon cans and we burned that first and then what was in the cans We had a snag when we went south – we had to fly 50 miles back out to sea we couldn’t fly over the mainland, and we turned south and then, at the tip of the Jap highland, we turned west over the Yellow Sea and our navigator called and said he thought we were going to have to ditch but only 25 miles off the coast and then we picked up a 22mph tailwind. The weather was good because it gave us extra wind behind us. For height en route we flew right on the deck. The weather over Tokyo was fine – few clouds and good visibility. We had one little Zero snuck up behind us and we relayed to the crew chief – which was hold it and bank into him – we couldn’t fire over the tail assembly so we gave him the signal and he gave a high burst and then the Zero did a 180 and went home – thank goodness because our turret jammed, the only real gun but we had a .30 calibre right on the nose but that wouldn’t frighten him. We all parachuted but one ‘chute didn’t open, so we lost one. We were lucky we were 70 miles or so, far enough inland away from the Jap patrols. We lost none of our own crew on the raid. In this little town I found one square basket topped with tiles that had a fence around it and found the wooden gate, which I went through and I thought, if this bloke owns this much property, he must be pretty important, So I came in to the centre and as I approached the house he came out into the court. Through an old beat up book I finally got through to him that I was an American aviator – I pointed out the USA. Our crew was divided – I was retained in India and our aircraft commander, Joyce, went to China and the 14th Air Force in India thereafter.
Finally some B-24’s came in and I ended up in a B-24 outfit flying over Rangoon and Thailand. 16 missions and then the Air Force Command in New Delhi sent out a wire to all remaining ‘Raiders’ that were in China or India and relieved us of flying combat because the Japs had a $500,000 reward on our heads.. Later I asked for a transfer and got into ATC (Air Transport Command) – Arnold’s Trucking Company we called it, the transport side, we were flying C-54 aircraft all the time, that was great. I ended up (my service) at Fairfield Sasson in San Francisco. After that a job offer came and I got a good boost from a cousin of a kid I went to flying school with, who was a make-up artist. We established our friendship prior to the war when we went in to take our physical examination and his cousin was a make-up artist. .I would meet Jimmy Stewart at times and a lot of the old movie people – I liked them but the only person I did not like was Orson Welles – he was a big slob and a pain in the butt – I had to work with him too – but I met a lot of nice people – the old school, the real actors and stars – now they are all just television bums.”
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