Harry MooreCaptain Harry Cecil Moore USAF
By Robert and Lois (Gehringer) Moore
 
 

BIOGRAPHY OF HARRY CECIL MOORE
February 11, 1924 - June 1, 1951

Harry was born in Elm Grove, West Virginia on February 11, 1924, the son of Mildreth Dague Moore and Samuel Cecil Moore. He was born in the family home at Stone Church Road in Elm Grove.

Harry subsequently had three younger brothers. Robert was born in West Alexander, Pennsylvania. George and Charles were born in Elm Grove, West Virginia.

The parents separated soon after the youngest son Charles was born. Harry and Robert were sent to live with the maternal grandparents (Charles & Mary Adeline [Thatcher] Dague) and George and Charles were sent to live with the paternal grandparents.

The maternal grandparents had a farm on Stone Church Road in Elm Grove and Harry and Robert were required to work on the farm. At first they were very young and they certainly had less demanding chores, but as they got older, responsibilities increased. They were required to feed chickens, care for the horses, cattle, hogs and other details associated with a farm.

Harry attended school at the Bridge Street Elementary School grades one through eight. He was an above average student even though the demands of his own life were substantial. He later attended Triadelphia High School grades nine through twelve. He was an average student and participated in many activities and was on the school Stage Crew. He was elected to attend Boys’ State which was quite an honor.

At that time West Virginia had very little opportunity for young people. The Federal Government had several programs and Harry went to southern West Virginia to attend CYA school where he learned welding and other vocational skills.

Harry enlisted in the Army Air Corps in June of 1942 and was sent to Tyndell Field, Florida where he trained to be an aerial gunner. In October 1942 he was sent to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and trained to be a radio operator. Following his graduation as a radio operator with a rank of Staff Sergeant Harry was selected to enter pilot’s training and went to Coleman Flying School in Coleman, Texas.

Following graduation as a Second Lieutenant he was sent to Majors Army Air Field in Greenville, Texas for Basic Training in AT6 airplanes. Upon successfully completing this training Harry went to Moore Field in Mission, Texas for advanced training as a fighter pilot and was trained to fly P40s and other aircraft. He graduated and received his wings as a fighter pilot. At that time he received the rank of First Lieutenant.

He was then sent to the China-Burma-India Theatre of war where he flew P40 airplanes. There was a shortage of planes and pilots at that time and the schedule was murderous. Harry soon became a squadron leader and was subsequently shot down by the Japanese near Kunming, China. He was listed as Missing in Action for fifty-one days. During the time he was unaccounted for he actually had been walking through the mountains attempting to find friendly Chinese and at the same time trying to avoid the Japanese.*See his Debriefing and Walk Out Report

On the fifty-first day his mother was notified that he had been Killed in Action, but on the same day she received a telegram from Harry stating that he was alive and had rejoined his group.

At the end of the war Harry returned home to Elm Grove and held various jobs and lived with several different people as he did not have a place where he felt at home.

He drove a coal truck for a while and worked for his uncle as a well driller. These jobs did not satisfy him and he decided to reenlist in the Army Air Corps Reserves. He was stationed at Reading, Pennsylvania as a recruiter.

After a short time, he found he was able to reenlist and receive his previous commission of Lieutenant and go back to flying.

In September of 1948 he was sent to Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County, California in preparation for his assignment in the Philippines. It was then that his long time girl friend from Elm Grove, Lois Gehringer flew to California to see him once more prior to his leaving for a four year tour of duty. While in California they decided to marry and were married at the base chapel at Hamilton Air Force Base. After a few days Lois flew back to Elm Grove and Harry to the Philippines.

After arriving at Clark Air Force Base, Harry immediately applied for housing on the base so that Lois could join him and he would be able to move from the Bachelors’ Officers Quarters.

In that World War II had been over for such a short time it was rather difficult to secure a passport for civilian travel, but Lois finally secured hers and joined him in April of 1949.

He had a very happy and challenging life while at Clark Air Force Base. The planes he flew there, usually on a daily basis were P51s. He, also, joined the Masonic Lodge and became a Third Degree Mason. In June of 1950 a “Police Action” was begun between the United States and North Korea, the United States attempting to keep the north from taking over the south.

In July of that year Harry became a father and about ten days later was called to duty in Korea. The pilots were stationed in Japan and would do their bombing missions over Korea and then return to their base in Japan. In August when Lois was returning to the United States with their daughter he was permitted to return to Clark Air Force Base to see them once more. He immediately returned to Japan.

He was flying missions daily; sometimes several in a day. Apparently the planes they were flying were rather old and sometimes in poor repair, but they had no choice but to do their job.

On June 1, 1951 while on a mission over the South China Sea he was struck by enemy fire and crashed into the water. He was listed as Missing in Action for one year and then as Killed in Action. At the time of his death he was a Captain in the United States Air Force.

Harry was 27 years old.

Bob & Lois Moore
A Note From Lois (Gehringer) Moore:

"We feel Harry would be happy to know that in 1954 I married his brother, Bob. Harry's daughter has a wonderful "father" in Bob, as well as a "little sister". Both girls remain very close to us and to each other."

Walk Out Report of Lt. Harry C. Moore

On 27 October 1944, I took off from Linchow at approximately 1445 to work on instructions from the ground radio station at Kweilin. The flight flew directly to Kweilin, called the station and we were instructed to go to Melyang where it was reported the Japs were taking the town. I was element leader so I went down and looked at the town but couldn't see anything, only people moving out of or into the town. These were mostly women and children. The Kweilin radio then instructed us to go to Kaotienhu. We flew there and I stayed down all the way to this place observing the roads. I saw nothing until we arrived there. Cavalry and pack horses were coming down the stream from Hsinganhsien to Kactienhu, then moving to the stream running south. Between the two streams is a mountain pass where we caught them. We dropped frags and then strafed. I finished strafing and pulled up and my flight of F-40's asked me to give them targets for large bombs. I told them I'd straf where I wanted them to drop the bombs.

Between the two mountains there was heavy ground fire. Some coming from the tops and some from the sides. This is the fire that hit my plane, a bullet coming through the canopy striking in front of the instrument panel and cutting the ignition wires. I had 1,500 feet so turning south I headed along the east side of the mountains. I called the flight and told them I was bailing out and they covered me. I left the plane at about 200 feet and landed in a rice paddy right along side the mountain. I landed on my shoulders but was not injured at all.

The plane crashed about 50 yards from me and burned. It was completely destroyed. I had to leave the parachute along with the pack, fearing the Japs were too nearby to stay and take care of them. I knew that I hadn't managed to get very far from them, possibly not much more than one Ii. After getting out of the chute I ran up a mountain to the west where I found a small stream coming down out of the mountain.

I walked right up the middle of the stream because the grass covered me on both sides. I got to the top of the mountain and the other men in the flight were still bombing and strafing. This was about 1600. I then decided to walk southwest on top of the mountain range intending to get to Kweilin as soon as possible.

The first night I was down I got near the road someway or other and jap tanks and trucks were passing on the way to Kweilin. I don't know how many as I didn't stay. I knew they were tanks from the noise of the tracks. They were using lights which could be seen all through the sky, as the night was very dark.

I walked until 0950 the following morning when I found I had to leave the mountain range about 20 Ii north of Lingtian. I went down to a small grass hut at the bottom of the mountain and there I found the Chinese farmers didn't read Chinese. They, however, called a small girl that could read Chinese. Using the Pointie-Talkie, I asked the distance to Kweilin and they said 50 Ii west. They gave me rice and at about 1100 I finished eating and they came running up to tell me the japs were coming down the valley. I crossed the valley quickly to the next mountain west of where I was. The path I was on went over the mountains and into another valley. There, people ran from me at first but I got a man to take me to what I believe were Chinese farmers who were armed and fighting the japs. This was about 1600. We moved twice that night as the japs drew nearer, both times we went south into the mountains. The following day, 29 October 1944, I asked one of the Chinese to take me to Kweilin and we started out about 0600 in the morning. At noon we came to a village about 30 Ii southeast of Kweilin on the river. The japs were on the north side of this town which the Chinese pronounced as "Kiyang". At this we returned to the place in the mountains where we started from in the morning. Here I lived in caves at night and in the daytime I would sit on top of the mountains. This continued until 5 November 1944. During this time the japs passed with approximately 2,000 soldiers and 300 to 600 pack horses, only stopping to eat in the town where they just took food. The natives had moved into the mountains from villages in this vicinity.

From 31 October to 3 November shells exploded about every half hour during the day and every five seconds during the night. They were probably at Kweilin. At this time I was 25 Ii directly east of Kweilin but there were no roads going west to Kweilin. The trip, a distance by road of approximately 30 Ii, was on a southwest runing stream then northwest on the river. This route was the one being used by the japs. On 5 November the japs stopped passing, so I started to Pinglo down the river. That day we went to Shuangchuan on the Li Shui river. The japs hadn't been into the town but were 5 Ii on north and south sides getting food. The Chinese took me 30 Ii east of here where I rested for one day because of a swollen ankle. Then we walked on the east side of the river to within 4 Ii of Hsingpingsiang. The japs were in this town getting food and heading south to Pinglo. I returned to Shuangchuan and that night they took me across to the west side of the river and we walked through the mountains until 0500 the following morning. Somewhere in the mountains I met the Chinese 45th Army approximately 200 soldiers equipped with Thompson sub machine guns. The next day they took me to a place on the river 10 Ii south of Hsingpingsiang. The 45th army went east toward Pinglo and, in company with two Chinese Army spies (I met the two spies on the morning of 5 November about 10 Ii south of Ling- Tien) in civilian clothing looking for puppet troops around Kweilin and a farm boy, went south down the river to a spot just north of Yangshuchsien, then west to the road from Kweilin to Pinglo. The japs had come down this road to Pinglo and were still moving on it at this time. Two of the Chinese went down the road and the third stayed with me. It took quite a time for the japs to pass and finally they gave the signal that it was clear and I crossed the road on the run. From there that same day we went to a town the Chinese called "Kimba" at the base of the mountains. Here they had a radio (General Electric). This was 11 November. I learned the japs were six miles from Linchow on the south, 12 miles on the east and still hadn't taken Kweilin.

I had intended to go along the streams to Linchow but hearing this I decided to head to the northwest to attempt to flank the japs and get ahead of them on the road, possibly making Ishan. I thought the japs would slow down at Linchow. Up to this time I had nothing to eat but rice since the japs had taken all the food, therefore, I had the diarrhea bad. I was also in the grass shoes all this time and was bothered a great deal with foot blisters. (On 5 November I was given Chinese clothes to wear. Mine were left in the mountains.)

From "Kimba" to Paoli, the trip took three days with no towns between. It was all mountainous. From Paoli to a place the Chinese called "Da-sz" it required one day of walking. This route crossed the railroad and road from Kweilin to Linchow.

We crossed the railroad and road using the same system we used in crossing the first jap used road. At a town on the railroad, which we visited, the japs had probably remained over night but had left. There were evidences of many horses having been there. And also on the road there were signs of many horses having passed. We stayed at "Da-sz" over night and the next morning I learned, that the japs had been there the day before. (No place in this area does the road and railroad run as closely to the river as shown on maps. They are approximately 50 Ii east of the river in this area).

The japs had also come down this path along the river. "Da-sz" is on the west side of the river, the path going right through the village. The villagers must have resisted for the japs had killed many and taken the food and burned the village as they left. There were about 75 bodies laying around the town. The next morning I started out and about 5 Ii away I met the 93rd Chinese Army walking west. It had approximately 600 men, Chinese mortars, some type of a 20 mm guns. They were going to Yungning. Arriving at the road between Yungning and Liuchow we learned that the japs had taken Yungning. Therefore the Chinese Army stopped at Nuiying in the mountains. I never learned why it stopped at this place. With the Chinese soldiers I ate dog meat and rice.

They told me I had better go in a hurry across the road between Sanchiang to Liuchow. Sixteen hours of walking was required to reach this road about 120 Ii from where we were. They sent six soldiers with me. I could have gone to Changanchan air field but when I was at Foushih I learned the japs had passed on the road near the airfield. The Americans had also flown radio men out of Changanchen Air Field the day before I arrived at the road. The japs were moving out on the road toward Liuchow so I couldn't stay in Foushih that night. We walked 40 more Ii until midnight. I was too tired to go on so we stopped about 20 Ii from Yunghsien.

We got up at 0600 and arrived in Yunghsien at 0800. There I found a Chinese who had been in America and he had some powdered milk which helped greatly. I borrowed 5,000 CN to buy food and the magistrate decided I should leave the town at noon because the japs were drawing nearer. The japs arrived at 1400, I was gone. This is the first time I had beat them to a town since bailing out. The magistrate decided I should go to Tienho, then from there to Szecnhsien. I got within 30 Ii of Tienho and I learned the japs were there. They had come from Yunghsien to Homu to Tienho. The japs had also moved to Kui and then to Yunghsian where the drive continued toward Liuchow and Tienho.

Thirty Ii from Tienho I went north intending to head towards Chungking. We thought the japs had probably crossed to Chihkiang. We had no communications of any sort. I went to Santang. Here I rested for one day. From there I went to Hsiankunghsien, then to Jungkiang. Here on 28 November, they told me there was an American Air Field at Tushan so I rushed for there. Thirty Ii from Tushan I learned the Japs had beat me again and were in Tushan. I returned to Tukiang. Here I was told the Japs were driving north from Ipehhsien to a small town called "Baki" which was the 27h Army Group Headquarters with General Yungsen in command. He had the 20th, 37h, 27h and 44th armies with him, approximately 50,000 men. They had been at Anking for five years with no equipment in those five years. From Anking they had moved to Pinglo. From Pinglo to Liuchow, near Liuchow a train was blown up killing about half of the 100,000 men originally in the armies. At Bakia they fought the Japanese who had followed them from Anking.

They captured six Japanese soldiers at Bakai. These prisoners were wearing green uniforms, carrying Jap type rifles with a mount on the front to stabilize it on the ground when firing from prone position. This Chinese Army was equipped with automatic pistols made in Kweilin (they claimed it a good gun), Japanese rifles, some Chinese rifles, Chinese Bren guns which they claimed were the best weapon they had, Chinese water-cooled machine guns made exactly like a Browning water cooled and Chinese mortars. They had Japanese horses used for pack animals because of their larger size and Chinese horses for the officers to ride. General Yungsen was also in charge of the 26th army which is in the Nantan area at present. Each battalion has its own portable radio, transmitter and receiver, all of Chinese make. And each Battalion has portable telephones. Instructions were given to the 26th army by this radio and instructions from Chungking were also received by radio. The news also came via radio.

From Bakai we moved to Jungkiang. The armies were instructed to stay there. As we moved into Jungkiang, crossing the river, we were bombed by frags, three bombs in all. Two hit in the river, by a boat, one in a group of children who were meeting the Army coming. All the soldiers in the boat were killed and 25 of the children, all very young, were killed. I don't know what type of plane bombed us and I can't explain how only three frag bombs were dropped if they were American but the fins of the bombs were exactly like our frag bombs with a small "U" stamped on the fin.

At Jungkaing this Chinese army gave me thirty soldiers and a horse to take me to Sanshui on the road from Chihkiang. I had learned now that the Japs hadn't taken Chihkiang.

When in Jungkiang the first time, I borrowed 3,000 CN from the magistrate, the second time, I was there I borrowed 3,000 CN from him and General Yungsen gave me 5,000 CN.

Immediately after we left the General received instructions to move to Sansui. (His armies were all spread out.) About 2,000 men, the General staff and myself moved from Jungkiang to Sansui having a feast in every town we visited. At Sansui the General wanted me to go to Kweiyan with him. I started with him to walk to Chenyuan where a colonel of the SOS picked me up and took me to Chihkiang in a jeep. This was on 16 December 1944. It was 51 days since I had bailed out.

I left my pistol with the magistrate in Shuangchuan. The reason was that we had to walk through the Jap lines at night. I sewed my pointie-talkie and Chinese flag, watch, ring and wrist band into my clothes.

The parachute I was forced to abandon carried my name.

At Shuangchuan we could see Kweilin burning some 40 miles away.

As I was going up the river from Junkiang to Tsuhan I was shot at by Chinese who, I believe, thought I was Japanese. This was a Chinese town guard, not Chinese National soldiers. The best treatment one gets is with the Chinese Army so it is, in my opinion, best to stay with them if possible.

Some of the mountain people, who are unable to read Chinese are not too friendly. They don't seem to know the Americans are fighting for them.

At Santag there were two Chinese armies. I think they were the 69th and the 78th. They moved to Fulu. Also a Chinese Army moved from Sanho to a place down the river, probably Fulu. Before the Japs arrived at Sanho near Tushan. They came from Ipehhsien to Hobsitang and then to Sanho, then on to Tushan.

Many Chinese armies are still behind the lines. Usually all the people desert towns whether it is Chinese or Japanese moving in. The inhabitants see the soldiers coming and move, thus reports that Japs have taken a place might be Chinese soldiers moving in. This happened at Jungkiang when the Chinese Army moved into Bakai and at Tukiang. When the Chinese moved in the people all moved to Sansui and it was believed that the Japs had occupied the places."

Update:

"During World War11, Harry C. Moore entered the Army Air Force in 1943 as an aviation cadet. He graduated from flying school as a P40 pilot and was sent to the China Burma India Theater of War. He had flown many missions "Over the Hump" when on one such mission he was struck by enemy fire and was forced to crash land his aircraft. He bailed out at approximately 500 feet and was basically unhurt. The next 51 days he spent running, hiding and foraging for food. Finally, he found his way to some friendly Chinese forces and was able to return to his squadron.

He was stationed in the Philippines at the onset of the Korean War and was immediately sent back into action. He had completed his required missions to be returned to the United States but due to pilot shortages was required to remain and fly additional missions. On one such mission, he was struck by enemy fire and went down in the water off the coast of north Korea. He was declared MIA and later as KIA, leaving a wife and infant daughter behind.

In 2002 due to the efforts of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, information was located in the Russian Archives which led to conferences with two former Russian pilots involved in Harry's being shot down. They indicated he landed close to shore and was able to evacuate. According to both of them, he was captured and taken to Russia "to teach pilot training." No further information has been found.

Lois"









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