NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Nov 2 – An oxygen breather tank used by pilots of the United States Air Force (USAF), during World War-II was found in North Lakhimpur in a private collector’s home recently.
The aluminium metal-made tank with a ribbed body is believed to be a part of the USAF’s B-17 bomber aircraft, which crashed deep inside the jungles of the present-day Arunachal Pradesh, during its regular missions from either Leelabari or Mohanbari/Chabua airfields. Also known as the 1940's American military B-17 bomber aircraft ball turret gunner oxygen tank or high altitude flight crew low pressure breather oxygen tank, it was found by one Milap Hussain of North Lakhimpur in 1984 from a woodcutter who had brought it from jungles deep inside Arunachal Pradesh.
According to Hussain, who has been preserving the tank for thirty years, a wreckage of a WW-II aircraft was lying in a place called Borhill in Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh, 20 km north of Kakoi Reserve Forest of Lakhimpur district. He said that the aircraft was lying there in a dilapidated condition for a long period of time and people removed many of its parts to be sold as scrap. Milap Hussain, who had been to that place trekking said that many parts of the crashed aircraft were lying spread in a wider area inside the jungle and two more wreckages of crashed aircraft are also there nearby. He is asking the visiting US JAPAC team of POW (Prisoner of War) and MIA (Missing in Action), who are presently in Sivasagar district to travel to Lakhimpur to trace the aircraft.
It may be recalled that during the Kunming operation during the height of the WW-II in 1942, the USAF conducted regular missions to Japan-occupied China and Burma from Chabua/Mohanbari, Rowriah (Jorhat) and Leelabari (North Lakhimpur) and many of its aircraft crashed in Assam and other parts of present-day Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.