Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Flight of the Hog Wild

A recent enquiry about the Indian Medical Service led me into a fascinating World War II journey which began with an American B-29 bomber.
On August 29th 1945 the Hog Wild was on a POW supply mission when it was shot down by Soviet fighters. Its 13-man crew was interned in Konan POW camp (now Hungnam, North Korea) for sixteen days while Soviet and American commanders negotiated for their release.
The camp already held 354 Allied POWs (mostly British) who were captured during the fall of Singapore in 1942. One of the prisoners was Canadian Major Harry V. Morris (pictured below), who had served in the Indian Medical Service.

Born and educated in Newfoundland, Morris graduated with a medical degree (with surgery specialty). He spent several months studying at London's Royal Military College before arriving in India in early 1939. He was stationed at the Indian General Hospital, Lahore and then moved to No. 12 Indian General Hospital in Malaya.

It is thought that he was captured by the Japanese in February 1941, held first in the notorious Changi Prison in Singapore and then in a North-East Korean POW camp. His wife and two children escaped Singapore. Major Morris was transferred to Konan, imprisoned by the Japanese for a further two years; he was one of five Allied officers at the camp. The men laboured long hours under extremely hazardous and strenuous conditions at a nearby carbide factory (pictured below), although the Japanese wouldn't permit an officer from doing any work of the sort. The crew of the Hog Wild were released in mid-September 1945; Major Morris and his fellow POWs were finally freed and repatriated a week later. The aircraft crew talked to the American Press, revealing the people, places and events surrounding the downing of the B-29.

You can read much more about the Hog Wild in a forthcoming book and the book's comprehensive website.

Thanks to Bill Streifer (New York) and Heather Home (Queen's University Archives) for the information. The photo of Major Morris was supplied by John Mill, son of Lieut. Ronald Mill, the sole Australian officer at the camp. Photo of the Hog Wild taken from The Flight of the Hog Wild website.


Terry Rainey said...

My father, Robert Rainey, was the co-pilot on the "Hog Wild" when it crash landed thanks to unfriendly fire from Russian Yaks.

All 10 men on the flight crew and 3 observers either survived the crash landing or frigid float in the Sea of Japan. Imagine the irony of joining Major Morris and the other POWs when just hours earlier the Konan Camp had been the target of the Queen Crew's humanitarian mission.

This event is the first of any military significance between the US and Russia leading to the Cold War. Moreover, it reflects the ruthless nature of the Russian brass as it needlessly put the lives of American airmen at risk while they sought to complete a mercy mission to the Konan Camp.

Francine Millard said...

Thanks, Terry, for taking time to leave a comment about the "Hog Wild". It's always especially good to hear from people who have a personal interest in our blog entries.

Many thanks,


Anonymous said...

What unit was "Hog Wild" assigned?


Bill Streifer said...


The Hog Wild was B-29 #44-70136, 500th BG, 73rd BW, 882nd BS, and the Airplane Commander was 1st Lieut. Joseph W. Queen.

Bill Streifer

Nat Bocking said...

How bizarre: you randomly Google your Grandfather's name, then discover historians interested to trace him.

My grandfather Maj. Harry Victor Morris MD was born in Trinity, Newfoundland in 1913.

His father was Orlando Morris, a ship's captain. He and his crew of six were lost at sea in 1916.

Harry's mother's was Sarah Morris.

Harry went to Dalhousie and qualified as a doctor and joined the Indian Medical Service.

He married Phyllis Tapp in 1938 in Halifax. She was the daughter of a prominent Halifax businessman. Her mother was Mary Rebecca Fraser.

After studying tropical medicine in London he went with his wife to Lahore, then in India, and later to Singapore during WWII.

After the war, Harry and Phyllis were divorced. Both remarried.

He was for many years a surgeon at the Lionsgate Hospital in Vancouver. There is a memorial plaque to him there although the hospital has since closed.

ChosinRes said...

There is a book on the subject. See: