Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943
On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast. Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.
The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank. Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult. Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.
Both men were survived by their wives.
Update July 15, 2016
In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).
Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943
Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943
The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.