• Bombing Byoritsu (Miaoli) Oil Refinery! 轟炸苗栗製油所

    Posted on January 5th, 2012 Administrator 6 comments

    Source: 中央研究院(Academia Sinica)美國空軍歷史研究部(AFHRA)徵集成果

    The photo and description above were found in Formosa Interim Report, prepared by the Office of The Assistant Chief Air Staff, Intelligence, in February 1944. The same photo was also used in Air Objective Folder – Taiwan, Intelligence Service, US Army Air Force, December 7 1942, in which Target No. 85 Byoritsu (Miaoli 苗栗) Refinery was described as “Gasoline, kerosene, and heavy oils. Capacity: 91,250 bbls a year.” It appeared that the US military had not been able to gain more additional intelligence on Byoritsu Refinery over the year that separated the two intelligence reports.

    Although the text describing Byoritsu Refinery in Air Target Intelligence Japanese War, Index Volume 1, Joint Target Group, July 15, 1945, changed very little, it did not matter any more, because the refinery had been bombed by the B-25 bombers from the 345th Bomb Group on May 26, 1945. During the bombing raid, the B-25J (s/n 43-36192) “Jaunty Jo” was hit by flak and then crashed near the refinery, killing all five crew members onboard. The next two photos showing the incident in sequence have been widely circulated. The caption of the first photo reads “North American B-25 No. 192 was hit by flak from a camouflaged battery and trails smoke. A gaping hole is visible on the pilot’s side.” In the second photo, the aircraft had plunged into ground and burst into flames.

    Source: NARA via Fold3.com

    In fact, the series contained at least three photos, the third of which was less dramatic and often ignored. In the third photo of the series, shown below, the wreckage of the B-25 was engulfed in flames setting some houses on fire. If this photo is viewed in isolation, it is easy to mistake the fire as the result of the bombing. Note that a train station was clearly visible. Which station was it?

    Source: NARA via Fold3.com

    Enlarging the lower right corner of the photo revealed the name of the station: 苗栗 (Byoritsu in Japanese or Miaoli in Mandarin). Thus we are able to identify not only the crash scene but also the location of Byoritsu Refiney.

    Byoritsu Refinery was located in the area indicated by the white rectangle in the March 1944 reconnaissance photo below. The third B-25 crash photo covers roughly the area in the yellow rectangle.

    Source: 中央研究院(Academia Sinica)美國國家檔案館典藏臺灣舊航空照片 (F09377_090)

    The current view of the same area on Google Earth:

    The refinery is long gone. But the connection to the petroleum business remains. The Exploration & Production Division of CPC Corporation is currently located at the former refinery site as seen in the following Google Street View image. CPC’s Liquefied Natural Gas Division has a regional office on the next block.


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