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344th Bombardment Group, USAAF
History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To
The 344th Bombardment Group, USAAF, was a B-26 group within the Ninth Air Force and acted in support of the Allied armies invading Europe in 1944-45.
The group moved to Britain in January-February 1944, where it joined the Ninth Air Force, the US contribution to the tactical air forces that would support the D-Day landings and the invasion of Europe.
The group entered combat in March 1944. Its early targets included airfields, V-1 sites, transport lines and submarine shelters, across France, Belgium and Holland. In May efforts switched to pre-invasion attacks and the group hit bridges across France, isolating the Normandy battlefield.
On D-Day the group attacks German coastal gun batteries at Cherbourg. During June it supported the advance into the Cotentin Peninsula, and also helped support the British and Commonwealth forces around Caen.
In July the group supported the US breakout around St. Lo and was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions on 24, 25 and 26 July when it attacked German troops, supply dumps, a railway viaduct and a bridge. It then attacked bridges in an attempt to stop German troops escaping through the Falaise gap. In August and September it was also used to attack German strong points in the besieged port of Brest.
In October and November, as the Allies approached the German border, the group was used to attack bridges, rail lines and military supply dumps and depots. When the Germans launched their surprise attack in the Ardennes in December 1945 the group helped support the US ground troops. After the end of that battle it returned to the attacks on transport links, with oil facilities added to the list as the German war economy was finally destroyed.
The group operated the B-26 throughout the war. It did begin to train with the A-26 Invader but never made the switch. After the end of the fighting the group moved to Germany, where it served with the Army of Occupation. The group returned to the US on 15 February 1946 and was inactivated on 31 March.
1942-45: Martin B-26 Marauder
1945-46: Douglas A-26 Invader
|31 August 1942||Constituted to 344th Bombardment Group (Medium)|
|8 September 1942||Activated|
|Jan-Feb 1944||To England and Ninth Air Force|
|March 1944||Operational debut|
|September 1945||To Germany|
|December 1945||Redesignated 344th Bombardment Group (Light)|
|15 February 1945||To United States|
|31 March 1946||Inactivated|
Commanders (with date of appointment)
Lt Col Jacob J Brogger:10 Oct 1942
Col Guy L McNeil: 2 Nov1942
Col John A Hilger: 7 Nov 1942
LtCol Vernon L Stintzi: 20 Jul 1943
MajRobert W Witty: c. 6 Aug 1943
Col ReginaldF C Vance: 19 Sep 1943
Col RobertW Witty: 7 Nov 1943
Lt Col Lucius DClay Jr: 18 Aug 1945-15 Feb 1946
MacDill Field, Fla: 8 Sep1942
Drane Field, Fla: 28 Dec 1942
Hunter Field, Ga: 19 Dec 1943-26 Jan1944
Stansted, England: 9 Feb 1944
Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France: 30 Sep 1944
Florennes/ Juzaine, Belgium: 5 Apr 1945
Schleissheim, Germany: c. 15 Sep 1945-15Feb 1946
494th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
495th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
496th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
497th Bombardment Squadron: 1942-46
1943-44: IX Bomber Command; Ninth Air Force
1944-45: 99th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force
1945: 98th Bombardment Wing; 9th Bombardment Division (Medium); Ninth Air Force
World War II Edit
Training in the United States Edit
The squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber squadron under Third Air Force.  
The squadron's training was short and it deployed to Egypt in July 1942  over the South Atlantic Ferrying Route transiting from Morrison Field, Florida though the Caribbean Sea to Brazil. It made the Atlantic crossing from Brazil to Liberia, then transited east across central Africa to Sudan. The air echelon of the group reformed with the ground echelon which traveled by the SS Pasteur around the Cape of Good Hope, joining with the air echelon of the squadron, the 343d Bombardment Squadron and group headquarters at St Jean d'Acre Airfield, in Palestine. 
Combat in the Middle East Edit
Upon arrival in the Near East, the squadron became part of United States Army Middle East Air Force, which was replaced by Ninth Air Force in November. It entered combat in August, attacking shipping and harbor installations to cut Axis supply lines to North Africa. It also bombed airfields and rail transit lines in Sicily and mainland Italy. The squadron moved forward with Ninth Air Force to airfields in Egypt Libya and Tunisia supporting the British Eighth Army [ citation needed ] in the Western Desert Campaign. Its support of this campaign earned the squadron the Distinguished Unit Citation. 
On 1 August 1943, the squadron participated in Operation Tidal Wave, the low-level raid on oil refineries near Ploiești, Romania. Alerted to the vulnerability of the Ploiești refineries by a June 1942 raid by the HALPRO project, the area around Ploesti had become one of the most heavily defended targets in Europe.  The squadron pressed its attack on the Asta Romana Refinery through smoke and fire from bombing by another group's earlier attack and heavy flak defenses. The squadron's actions in this engagement earned it a second Distinguished Unit Citation. 
When the forces driving East from Egypt and Libya met up with those moving westward from Algeria and Morocco in Tunisia in September 1943, Ninth Air Force was transferred to England to become the tactical air force for the invasion of the European Continent.  The squadron, along with all Army Air Forces units in North Africa became part of Twelfth Air Force. In November 1943, the squadron moved to Brindisi Airport, Italy, where it became part of Fifteenth Air Force, which assumed control of strategic operations in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, while Twelfth became a tactical air force.  
Strategic operations in Italy Edit
The squadron continued strategic bombardment raids on targets in Occupied France, southern Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Austria and targets in the Balkans. These included industrial sites, airfields, harbors and lines of communication. Although focusing on strategic bombing, the squadron was sometimes diverted to tactical operations, supporting Operation Shingle, the landings at Anzio and the Battle of Monte Cassino. In the summer of 1944, the squadron supported Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France.  The unit also assisted the Soviet advance into the Balkans,  and supported Yugoslav Partisans and guerillas in neighboring countries. [ citation needed ]
Return to the United States Edit
Return to the United States Edit
The squadron returned to the United States in May 1945. Upon arrival it was redesignated as a very heavy Boeing B-29 Superfortress squadron and began training for deployment to the Pacific to conduct strategic bombardment raids on Japan. In November 1945, the 98th Group was inactivated and the squadron moved to Merced Army Air Field, California, where it was assigned to the 444th Bombardment Group,  where it replaced the 678th Bombardment Squadron, which was converted into a reconnaissance unit.  The squadron was inactivated at what was now Castle Field in March 1946. 
Strategic Air Command Edit
The squadron was reactivated in 1947 as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) Superfortress unit at Spokane Army Air Field, Washington. The squadron performed strategic bombardment training missions until the outbreak of the Korean War. 
Korean War Edit
In the summer of 1950, when the Korean War began, the 19th Bombardment Wing was the only medium bomber unit available for combat in the Pacific. In August, SAC dispatched the squadron and other elements of the 98th Bombardment Group to Yokota Air Base, Japan to augment FEAF Bomber Command, Provisional. The group flew its first combat mission on 7 August against marshalling yards near Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. The squadron's missions focused on interdiction of enemy lines of communications, attacking rail lines, bridges and roads. The squadron also flew missions that supported United Nations ground forces.  
SAC’s mobilization for the Korean War highlighted that SAC wing commanders were not sufficiently focused on combat operations. Under a plan implemented for most wings in February 1951 and finalized in June 1952, the wing commander focused primarily on the combat units and the maintenance necessary to support combat aircraft by having the combat and maintenance squadrons report directly to the wing and eliminating the intermediate group structures.  This reorganization was implemented in April 1951 for the 98th Wing, when wing headquarters moved on paper to Japan, taking over the personnel and functions of the 98th Group, which became a paper organization, and the squadron began operating under wing control. 
Starting in January 1952, the threat posed by enemy interceptors forced the squadron to fly only night missions. The unit flew its last mission, a propaganda leaflet drop, on the last day before the armistice was signed.  The squadron remained in combat ready status in Japan until July 1954 when it moved to Lincoln Air Force Base, Nebraska.  
Conversion to jet bombers Edit
The squadron disposed of its B-29s to storage at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. At Lincoln, the squadron was equipped with new Boeing B-47E Stratojets. it engaged in strategic bombardment training with the B-47 throughout the rest of the 1950s, into the early 1960s. From November 1955 through January 1966, the squadron deployed to RAF Lakenheath as part of Operation Reflex, standing alert at the forward deployment site. 
From 1958, the 344th began to assume an alert posture at its home base, reducing the amount of time spent on alert at overseas bases to meet General Thomas S. Power's initial goal of maintaining one third of SAC’s planes on fifteen minute ground alert, fully fueled and ready for combat to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet missile strike.  The alert commitment was increased to half the squadron's aircraft in 1962. 
Cuban Missile Crisis Edit
Soon after detection of Soviet missiles in Cuba, on 22 October 1962 the squadron's B-47s dispersed.  On 24 October the 343d went to DEFCON 2, placing all its aircraft on alert. Most dispersal bases were civilian airfields with AF Reserve or Air National Guard units. The unit's B-47s were configured for execution of the Emergency War Order as soon as possible after dispersing. On 15 November 1/6 of the squadron's dispersed B-47s were recalled to Lincoln.  The remaining B-47s and their supporting tankers were recalled on 24 November. On 27 November SAC returned its bomber units to normal alert posture. 
The squadron was inactivated in June 1966 with the phaseout of the B-47 and closure of Lincoln. 
Air refueling Edit
The squadron was redesignated the 344th Air Refueling Squadron and reactivated in May 1986 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The squadron was assigned to SAC's 68th Air Refueling Wing until the implementation of the objective wing organization, which called for one wing to control all units an each base. The 68th Wing was inactivated and the squadron transferred to the 4th Operations Group as the 4th Wing added the air refueling mission to its fighters. After the formation of Air Mobility Command (AMC) in 1992, the squadron moved to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas and became part of AMC's 22d Operations Group. 
On 25 January 2019, McConnell received the first two (15-46009 and 17-46031) of a planned 36 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft that will eventually replace the KC-135 as the primary Air Force tanker aircraft.  June 4, 2019 the 334th performed the first KC-46 Pegasus IOT&E (initial operations testing and evaluation) flight, refueling two F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft four times with around 29,000lb of fuel. 
- , Florida, 8 Sep 1942 , Florida, 28 Dec 1942 , Georgia, 19 Dec 1943- 26 Jan 1944 (AAF-169), England, 9 Feb 1944 (A-59), France, 30 Sep 1944 (A-78), Belgium, 5 Apr 1945 , Germany, 15 Sep 1945-15 Feb 1946 (Ground Echelon)
- 494th Bombardment Group (K9), 8 Sep 1942-31 Mar 1946
- 495th Bombardment Group (Y5), 8 Sep 1942-31 Mar 1946
- 496th Bombardment Group (N3), 8 Sep 1942-31 Mar 1946
- 496th Bombardment Group (7I), 8 Sep 1942-30 Dec 1945
Equipped with B-26's and served as a replacement training unit for Third Air Force.
Moved to England, Jan-Feb 1944. Began operations with Ninth Air Force in March, attacking airfields, missile sites, marshalling yards, submarine shelters, coastal defenses, and other targets in France, Belgium, and Holland. Beginning in May, helped prepare for the Normandy invasion by striking vital bridges in France. On D-Day 1944 attacked coastal batteries at Cherbourg during the remainder of Jun, supported the drive that resulted in the seizure of the Cotentin Peninsula. Bombed defended positions to assist British forces in the area of Caen.
Received a DUC for three-day action against the enemy, 24-26 Jul 1944, when the group struck troop concentrations, supply dumps, a bridge, and a railroad viaduct to assist advancing ground forces at St Lo. Knocked out bridges to hinder the enemy's withdrawal through the Falaise gap, and bombed vessels and strong points at Brest, Aug-Sept 1944.
Attacked bridges, rail lines, fortified areas, supply dumps and ordnance depots in Germany, Oct-Nov 1944. Supported Allied forces during the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 1944-Jan 1945, and continued to strike such targets as supply points, communications centers, bridges, marshalling yards, roads, and oil storage tanks until Apr 1945. Began training A-26 but continued to use B-26 aircraft. Made training flights and participated in air demonstrations after the war.
Moved to Germany in Sept 1945 and, as part of United States Air Forces in Europe, served with the army of occupation. Redesignated 344th Bombardment Group (Light) in Dec 1945. Transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US on 15 Feb 1946. Inactivated on 31 Mar 1946.
Shopworn Angel: The Story of Frank Carrozza and the B-26 Marauder
344th BG Accidents and Killed Without Loss of Plane In enemy territory.
One of the sources for this page: FATAL ARMY AIR FORCES AVIATION ACCIDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1941-1945. by Anthony J. Mireles
The following is a collection of planes and personnel lost not including those reported in the MACR list. These losses occurred on Friendly Territory even though the initial damage may have happened over Enemy Territory. These type of incidents are not usually reported on MACRs. This summary is in text rathre than PDF form so that those using search engines will have a better chance to locate this document. If you need to contact me for more information, or to offer additions or corrections, please contact me ([email protected]).
web search completed up to Jan. 1, 1943 (Drane Field)(497th)
Microfilm p1196 history of the month section
Info from: 344th BG Accidents and Killed Without Loss of Plane
Page # as per 344th Bomb Group Silver Streaks by Lambert D. Austin and 344th BG.
Stansted KIA Spreadsheet
3. 344th Aircraft List Spreadsheet
(p16) November 2, 1942. That same day brought the first casualties to the young organization. At 11 o’clock that morning 1st Lieutenant William P Malasky and 2nd Lieutenant William E Kyle of the 496th Bomb Squadron died as the result of an airplane crash. The accident occurred at McDill field while they were flying a B-26 medium bomber belonging to the 21st bombardment group. (MacDill Field)
1st Lt. Willian P. Malasky
2nd Lt. William E. Kyle
(Spread Sheet) November 18, 1942. 41-17611 494th Damaged cat.5 in a take off accident at MacDill Field, Florida on 18/11/42. The aircraft suffered a blown tire on take-off, ran off the runway, collapsing the undercarriage. The pilot was Capt. Alvin V Anderson. The aircraft was written off, and was condemned on 26/11/42.
(Spread Sheet) November 18, 1942. 41-17711 497th The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Raymond L Hines undershot the runway on landing, and collapsed the landing gear. (344th BG / 497th BS in training). Tampa, Florida survey voucher, dated 19/11/42 being routed. MacDill to condemned per budget report of 26/11/42.
(Spread Sheet) November 25, 1942. 41-17660 495th The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Jefferson A Turner (344th BG / 495th BS in training), was attempting a single engine emergency landing, but overshot the airfield, and was written off. Condemned per budget report, dated 1/12/42. According to the Aircraft Record Card, this aircraft was due to be assigned to Fort Myers on 26/11/42, the day after it crashed at that airfield. This aircraft serial appears on a B-26 training video, on the OP’s board, as 335th BG / 476th BS, “A” Flight, with pilot listed as Herndon.
(Spread Sheet) December 3, 1942. 41-17606 496th Crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, 100 yards off shore of Venice, Florida at 2155 hours EWT on 3/12/42, killing the crew of seven. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Parker J Matthews was flying on a simulated night bombing mission. AAF officer, Major. Frank T Hanby, a resident of Venice, reported that the aircraft had been flying low and fast over Venice just prior to crashing into the water. Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the crash. Listed as 344th BG / 496th BS in training.
2nd Lt. Parker J Matthews (killed) Pilot
2nd Lt. J C Workman (killed) Co-Pilot
2nd Lt. Woodrow H Hiebert (killed) Bomb
2nd Lt. Daniel J Murphy (killed) Nav
S/Sgt. Henry Reicher (killed) Radio/Gun
S/Sgt. John E Chase (killed) Eng/Turret
Sgt. Marvin N Paige (killed) Arm/Tail Gun
(Spread Sheet) December 8, 1942. All killed in a plane crash in Tampa Bay (MacDill Field) Crashed into Tampa Bay at 1213 hours EWT on 8/12/42, shortly after take-off from MacDill Field, Tampa, Florida, killing the crew of six. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. John E Williams took off from runway 9 at MacDill Field, and shortly after lift off began a climbing turn to the left, heading NE. It was seen skidding along 45 degrees to its heading, then violently yaw to the left with the nose climbing all the time, stall and rollover into a spin to the left from about 300 feet. The aircraft crashed into shallow water, one mile NE of MacDill Field. Investigators found a broken fuel pump drive shaft on the port engine, which caused a loss of power, and loss of control. The aircraft was scheduled for a formation flight and simulated bombing mission with another B-26. Listed as 344th BG / 495th BS in training.
2nd Lt. John E. Williams, Pilot
2nd Lt. Clarence G. Parsons, Co-Pilot
2nd Lt. Norman J. Linne, Bombardier
S/Sgt. David H. Brown Jr.
S/Sgt John Mazzarino
Sgt. Samuel J. Lamond
(p17) December 28, 1942. The second casualty to the group happened the day of this movement December 28, 1942. At 2230 that evening four men of the group were reported missing on a routine flight from McDill field to Duncan Field Texas. Later determined as having crashed, the B-26 six carried to their deaths 2nd Lieutenant William A. Booth, Pilot F/O Raymond J Jewett, Co-Pilot 2nd Lieutenant Edward E. Stevens, Bombardier-Navigator and S/Sgt. George A Kennedy, all of the 496th Bomb Squadron and two passengers Major Joseph C Nate of the 20th bombardment wing and his wife 3rd Officer Elenor C. Nate, WAAC., United States Army Recruiting Office San Antonio Texas. (Drane Field)
2nd Lt. William A. Booth, Pilot
F/O Raymond J. Jewett, Co-Pilot
Lt. Edward E. Stevens, Bombardier-Navigator
S/Sgt. George A. Kennedy
Maj. Joseph C. Nate, 20th Bombardment Wing, Passenger
3rd Officer Eleanor C. Nate, WAAC (wife).
(p17) December 29, 1942. This tragedy was followed by the death of 2nd Lt. William A. Lasby of the 497th Bombardment Squadron at 11:00 December 29, as a result of unsuccessful attempt to open his parachute. (Drane Field)(497th)
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 1, 1943 (Drane Field)(497th) 41-17592 497th The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. James G Sandford was taking off for a night cross country navigational training flight from Drane Field to West Palm Beach, Florida. After opening up the throttles on the take-off run, the pilot noticed that the airspeed indicator was not registering. He closed the throttles and tried to stop, but the aircraft ran off the end of the NE-SW runway and into a ditch, which collapsed the nose wheel, causing extensive damage to the airframe and engines. None of the crew were injured. Listed as 344th BG / 497th BS in training. The airspeed indicator was not registering because the pilots had failed to remove the pitot tube cover before flight. Engines, P&W R-2800-43, serials: 41-37641 (port), and, 41-39064 (starboard). The aircraft was surveyed and condemned by the 312th Service Group at Lakeland, Florida on 6/1/43. Marked ” on the rear fuselage.
2nd Lt. James G Sandford (escaped unhurt) Pilot
2nd Lt. William N Hollis (escaped unhurt) Co-Pilot
2nd Lt. Richard F Edwards (escaped unhurt) Nav
S/Sgt. Gordon W Biddle (escaped unhurt) Radio/Gun
Sgt. William A Gage (escaped unhurt) Eng/Turret
S/Sgt. Raymond E Brown (escaped unhurt) Arm/Tail Gun
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 1, 1943 41-18085 495th Wrecked in a landing accident at Lakeland, Florida on 13/1/43. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Frank J Walker (344th BG / 495th BS in training), undershot the runway, landing on soft dirt, which collapsed the landing gear. The aircraft caught fire and was destroyed.
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 1, 1943 41-18111 494th Crashed into Tampa Bay, 1 mile East of Pinnela, Florida on 1/1/43 during a training flight out of Lakeland Army Air Field. The pilot, 1st Lt. John E Criswell and all the crew were killed (344th BG / 494th BS in training). Cause unknown.
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 24, 1943 (Drane Field) 41-18111 494th Gwynn H Robinson Pilot. Damaged cat.5 (written off) in a landing accident at Drane Field, Lakeland, Florida on 24/1/43. The aircraft flown by Gwynn H Robinson, ground looped and was wrecked (344th BG / 497th BS in training).
(Spread Sheet) March 6, 1943 (Drane Field)(497th) All killed on cross country flight near Houston, TX. Crashed 8 miles NNW of Moore Field, Mission, Texas at 1445 hours on 17/1/43, killing the crew of seven. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Luther N Osborne, assigned to the 344th BG, had taken off from Moore Field and was heading back to its home base at Drane Field, Lakeland, Florida, via Duncan Field, San Antonio, Texas. The accident investigators were unable to determine the cause of the crash, but a cowboy who was working in the area, saw the aircraft enter a dive towards the ground from about 200 feet, where it exploded in flames on impact, scattering wreckage over a wide area. Also killed were: Sgt. A D Snyder, Sgt. J W Lloyd, Sgt. D S Bivens, and, Cpl. L L Lewark (crew positions unknown).
2nd Lt. Osborne
2nd Lt. Paul T. Movelle
F/O Gerald S. Linder
Sgt. Joseph W. Lloyd
Sgt. David S. Bevens
Sgt. Arthur D. Snyder
Corp. Lawrence S. Lewark
(p19) Approximately May 3, 1943. A short time later Colonel Hilger and his party departed for an overseas destination, afterwards learned to be North Africa. Two ships of the formation failed to reach this objective. One plane in command of Captain Cletus Wray (who was personally interviewed concerning this flight), Lieutenant John R. Stokes, Co-Pilot 2nd Lieutenant John Guither, Navigator and Private H.C. August developed engine trouble in the right motor about 300 miles from a South American take off point and finally went dead. After flying on one motor for some hours, hoping to reach Ascension Island, lost altitude and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. All members survive this harrowing ordeal, and after floating for 4 1/2 days in their rubber boat, were picked up by the USS Marblehead and rescued.
(p19) Approximately May 3, 1943. The other plane piloted by Lt. Harvey Johnston, Lieutenant Prickett CoPilot Lt. Marcelgum, Navigator and S/Sgt. Sergeant O’Steen, Radio/Gunner, crashed in the water about 40 miles off the Ascension Islands, killing all the occupants but Lieutenant Johnston, who floating with the aid of his Mae West, was rescued and brought ashore. Cause of this crash was an engine that literally blew up, according to Lieutenant Johnston‘s report. All surviving officers subsequently returned to the United States and will reassigned to the 344th Bomb Group.
Lt. Harvey Johnston, Pilot
Lieutenant Prickett CoPilot (KIA)
Lt. Marcelgum, Navigator (KIA)
S/Sgt. Sergeant O’Steen, Radio/Gunner (KIA)
(Spread Sheet) June 3, 1943. 41-17605 497th Crashed ten miles ENE of Newton, Texas at 1752 hours on 6/3/43, killing four crew members. The radio operator, S/Sgt. James Thompson managed to bail out and received only minor injuries. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Paul E Smith had taken off from Lake Charles AAF, Louisiana on a routine training flight. At around 11,000 feet the pilot attempted a slow roll, and during the maneuver the aircraft stalled, falling into a flat spin to the left. He partially recovered the aircraft, but it went into a conventional spin to the left, where it remained until it struck the ground, exploding in flames. Just after the aircraft had entered the second spin the pilot rang the bailout bell, and opened the bomb bay doors with the emergency switch. Sgt. Thompson bailed out at 7,000 feet and landed two miles from where the aircraft crashed. The tail gunner, S/Sgt. Charles Arthur Colson also managed to bail out but had deployed his chute before clearing the aircraft, and it fouled on part of the aircraft dragging him down with it to his death. He was thrown clear just before impact, and his body was found suspended in trees about 50 yards from the main wreckage. The rest of the crew were unable to bail out and went down with the aircraft. Listed as 344th BG / 497th BS in training. Deridder AAF, Texas to survey the aircraft on 7/3/43.
1st Lt. Paul Elmer Smith (killed) Pilot
2nd Lt. Richard F Edwards (killed) Bomb.
S/Sgt. James Thompson (bailed out and survived) Radio/Gun
S/Sgt. R Mac Corbett (killed) Eng/Turret
S/Sgt. Charles Arthur Colson (killed) Arm/Tail Gun
(Spread Sheet) July 14, 1943. Killed in a jeep accident.
Lt. I.W. Arno (495)
(Spread Sheet) Dec. 21, 1943 41-35234 On the 21/12/43, this aircraft flown by Capt. Elden Z Shimmin developed an engine fire whilst out on a routine training flight. The fire extinguisher failed to put out the fire, and with no emergency landing field nearby, the pilot ordered the crew to bail out. He stayed with the aircraft and headed it out towards the Gulf of Mexico before jumping himself. As soon as he bailed out the aircraft flipped over into a spin and crashed in a wooded area, 7 miles East of Sarasota, Florida.
(p23) In addition, routine individual flights were made. During one of these flights a B-26 piloted by Captain Elton Z. Shimmin developed a fire in one of its engines well flying at 8000 feet. Efforts failed to put out the fire by the emergency apparatus controlled from the cockpit. Captain Shimmin realizing he could not safely return to his field, and as no other field was available in the area, decided to abandon ship. The plane had lost altitude and at 5000 feet, the crew bailed out on his instructions. Captain Shimmin remained with the plane long enough to head it for a crash landing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, near which she was flying at the time, before he leapt to safety. The plane, however, due to the torque created by the loss of one motor, turned about and crashed in a wooded area. It was the first accident since March, 1943, that the loss of a plane took place, but happily, no casualties resulted, all of the crew having parachuted to safety.
Was used as a 344th BG training aircraft whilst at Drane Field. On the 21/12/43, this aircraft flown by Capt. Elden Z Shimmin developed an engine fire whilst out on a routine training flight. The fire extinguisher failed to put out the fire, and with no emergency landing field nearby, the pilot ordered the crew to bail out. He stayed with the aircraft and headed it out towards the Gulf of Mexico before jumping himself. As soon as he bailed out the aircraft flipped over into a spin and crashed in a wooded area, 7 miles East of Sarasota, Florida.
Unit Moved to Station A-59, Stansted Mountfitchet Feb 20, 1944
(P25) Late February 1944. The long flight of planes to England was unmarred by accident except at Belem, Brazil. Here while parked, the airplane piloted by Captain Cletus Wray was run into by a B-17 airplane which had taxied off the runway, damaging the Marauder sufficiently to put it out of operation for the trip across. The plane was abandoned and Captain Wray proceeded to need to Natal, Brazil in Colonel Vance’s ship.
Plane could be 42-95936 “Wray & Son / The Fourth Term” N3-K 496th Flown overseas to the UK via the Southern Ferry Route (Listed as Carribean Wing), departing the USA on 24/12/43. The aircraft record card then lists, SOXO A (Europe – 8th AF) on 24/12/43, and SOXO R (Europe – 8th AF) from 15/1/44. Assigned to the 8th AF at Hunter Field. Aircraft named “Wray & Son” by Major Cletus Wray. Later renamed “The Fourth Term”. The aircraft survived the war.
(Spread Sheet) March 8, 1944 42-95981 K9-F (Stansted) (494th)
Mid-air collision 3 miles from base.
Collided with 42-95925 whilst climbing through thick cloud over Theydon Mount, Epping, Essex, en-route to a mission to Soesterberg Airfield, Holland on 8/3/44. The pilot, 1st Lt. John K Eckert and all the crew were killed. First loss for the 344th BG. This was only their third mission after arriving in England. Both aircraft crashed at Mount Farm, Theydon Mount at 1535 hours, only 75 yards apart from each other. From the local incident report file, “at 1535 hours on 8/3/44, two US Marauder aircraft with bombs on board collided during a raid and both aircraft crashed in an open field, within 100 yards of each other, 300 yards South of Mount Farm, Theydon Bois. Map reference: L940202. Both aircraft on fire. A number of bombs exploded, other UXB’s scattered in near vicinity. Aircraft completely smashed and crews of both aircraft killed. A USAAF guard has been mounted and 4 x UXB’s have been located on the surface. Slight damaged reported to property at Sawkins Farm, and no’s 8 and 12 at Theydon Mount. Also homes occupied by the West and Lloyd family’s, at Tawney Common”.
1st Lt. John C. Eckert, Pilot (KIA)
2nd Lt. Thomas W. Worrell, Co-Pilot (KIA)
1st Lt. George E. Bair, Bombardier (KIA)
S/Sgt. Alfred R. Border (KIA)
S/Sgt. Lewis O. Thompson (KIA)
S/Sgt. Edward J. Powell (KIA)
(P25) March 8, 1944. Our third mission was pressed against an airfield in Holland. On March 8, 1944, 54 planes took off for so Soesterberg. Weather that day over northeastern England was cloudy, the ceiling being quite low. Joining up procedure was difficult because of poor visibility. During this procedure, our group suffered its first major accident when two of our Marauders collided in mid-air as one of them emerged from the clouds. Both of these planes plummeted to earth, carrying all of the personnel to their deaths. Assigned to the 494th bomb squadron, those who died were 1st Lieutenant John K. Eckert, pilot 2nd Lieutenant Thomas W Worrell, co-pilot 1st Lieutenant George E. Bair, bombardier S/Sgt. Albert E Border, engineer/gunner S/Sgt. Lewis O. Thompson, radio/gunner S/Sgt. Edward J Powell, armor/gunner.
In the other plane we’re Captain Jack W. Miller pilot 2nd Lieutenant Linwood G. Brookes, co-pilot 1st Lieutenant James A. Hudson, bombardier S/Sgt. Abraham B. Butler, Junior., Engineer/gunner S/Sgt. George D McMannamy, radio/gunner S/Sgt. W. J. Summers, armorer/gunner.
(Spread Sheet) March 8, 1944 42-95925 K9-J (Stansted) (494th) Mid-air collision 3 miles from base. 42-95925
Collided with 42-95981 whilst climbing through thick cloud over Theydon Mount, Epping, Essex, en-route to a mission to Soesterberg Airfield, Holland on 8/3/44. The pilot, 1st Lt. John K Eckert and all the crew were killed. First loss for the 344th BG. This was only their third mission after arriving in England. Both aircraft crashed at Mount Farm, Theydon Mount at 1535 hours, only 75 yards apart from each other. From the local incident report file, “at 1535 hours on 8/3/44, two US Marauder aircraft with bombs on board collided during a raid and both aircraft crashed in an open field, within 100 yards of each other, 300 yards South of Mount Farm, Theydon Bois. Map reference: L940202. Both aircraft on fire. A number of bombs exploded, other UXB’s scattered in near vicinity. Aircraft completely smashed and crews of both aircraft killed. A USAAF guard has been mounted and 4 x UXB’s have been located on the surface. Slight damaged reported to property at Sawkins Farm, and no’s 8 and 12 at Theydon Mount. Also homes occupied by the West and Lloyd family’s, at Tawney Common”.
Capt. Jack W. Miller, Pilot (KIA)
2nd Lt. Linwood C. Brookes, Co-Pilot (KIA)
1st Lt. James A. Hudson, Bombardier (KIA)
S/Sgt. Abraham B. Butler, Jr. (KIA)
S/Sgt. George D. McMannany (KIA)
S/Sgt. William J. Summers (KIA)
Links Excavation by THAMESIDE AVIATION MUSEUM:
NEED MACR! (Spread Sheet) March 24, 1944. 42-95982 N3-U “Puddin’ Head” 496th: Shot down by flak on 24/3/45. The aircraft flown by Lt. G D Smith had one of the engines blown off by flak, and the crew abandoned the stricken aircraft. The other crew were: W A Steiner, D B Crowell, M L White, O J Wilkerson, and, N S Patee
(Spread Sheet) April 12, 1944. 42-95923 N3-Q “Ill Wind” 496th Named at Stansted, “Ill Wind”, after the proverb “an ill wind blows no good”. Hit by flak on 12/4/44 leaving the target, the St. Ghislain marshalling yards, France. The aircraft flown by Capt. W S McKee, crashed and caught fire, whilst attempting to land at RAF Manston, Kent with flak damage. The crew escaped unhurt. Salvaged on 14/4/44.
(Spread Sheet) May 28, 1944. 42-95961 K9-M 494th Crash landed at RAF Manston, Kent on 28/5/44 with flak damage. The pilot was 2nd Lt. L H Burdette. Salvaged on 30/5/44.
Need MACR(Spread Sheet) June 4, 1944. MACR 15760 42-95814 “Susanne” K9-T 494th Plane crashed on take-off. Bombs exploded & men killed by blast. Crashed 5 miles south-south-east of Stansted on 4/6/44, returning with flak damage from a mission to bomb the bridge at Courcelles-sur-Seine. The aircraft exploded. Salvaged the same day by the 74th Air Service Squadron.
1st Lt. John V Pikula (escaped with serious injuries), Pilot
2nd Lt. George E Lyons (survived with burns) Co-Pilot
S/Sgt. John A. Strauss (KIA), Bomb/Nav.
S/Sgt. G L Blosser (escaped with serious injuries), Radio/Gun
S/Sgt. H G Mooney (escaped with serious injuries), Eng/Gun
S/Sgt. Boyd Pauling (KIA) Tailgunner
(Spread Sheet) June 7, 1944. 42-95897 “My Colleen” K9-O 494th Hit by flak in the port engine on the 7/6/44 mission to Argantan, France. Made it back to England on one engine with no hydraulics and crash landed at Stansted. The nose wheel collapsed on landing, the aircraft broke in half, and was written off. The pilot, Lt. J Cather and crew escaped without serious injury.
(Spread Sheet) June 20, 1944. 42-107663 Lil Audrey 7I-A 497th Entered combat with the 344th BG on 19/5/44. Abandoned over the English Channel on 20/6/44 after an abortive attempt to land at RAF Manston, Kent. The aircraft flown by Lt. E H Hughes, Jr had been damaged by flak over Abbeyville, France. All the crew survived.
(Spread Sheet) June 24, 1944. 42-107677 K9-V 494th Severely damaged on 29/6/44. Aircraft salvaged on return. Pilot, Lt. W M Bailey.
(Spread Sheet) June 27 approx., 1944. 42-95919 Y5-L “Sexy Sal” 495th Made an emergency landing in Normandy 3 weeks after D-Day. The crew escaped unhurt but the aircraft was left behind. The pilot may have been Harold V Aiken, but this needs confirmation. The aircraft must have been repaired, and returned to the squadron. Survived the war, flying 147 combat missions.
(Spread Sheet) June 29, 1944. Gissel Bridge. Died from flak at the target. (497)
S/Sgt. Williams, Radio-Gunner
Memoirs: Lt. Harold V. Aikens: “On 29 June 1944 our target was a rail yard at Rouen, France. The weather was bad. There was a thunderstorm approaching Rouen from the west and the bombing formation was approaching from the east. The closer that the formation got to the target, the lower were the clouds. Since the formation was not maintaining a constant altitude, the Bombardier could not get the correct information into the bombsite for the bombs to hit the target. All the time the formation was picking up intense accurate antiaircraft fire. I looked out my window and the tracers looked like someone holding a water hose up in the wind. The tracers were arching just to the rear of my plane. Then an 88 shell exploded just off our aircraft nose. The bombardier and I were both hit with flack. The plane was still airworthy. The bombs had to be jettisoned. When we approached the base the wheels would not extend. The hydraulic pressure was gone. I hand pumped the gear down. When touchdown occurred, the right tire was flat. The plane swerved to the right off the runway. I pulled the emergency air bottle for breaking. The air bottle was ruptured. There was nothing to be done to stop the plane. A fire truck was parked adjacent to the runway. The plane headed for the fire truck and the truck backed up. The plane, as it slowed down, kept heading for the fire truck. Finally the fire truck got out of the way. The plane kept going until it reached a bomb storage area and did a 360 turn in middle of stored bombs. The plane was not repairable. I got the Purple Heart and DFC for my actions.”
(Spread Sheet) July 2, 1944. Bishop Stortford. Killed walking along road near RR station. (497)
1st Lt. Julian H. Burgess, Jr., Pilot (Cambridge)
(Spread Sheet) July 4, 1944. 42-107694 “Wild Willie” Y5-N 495th Landed at RAF Manston, Kent on 4/7/44 with severe flak damage. Pilot, 1st Lt. William H Geary. Salvaged on the 7/7/44 by the 74th Air Service Group.
(Spread Sheet) July 4, 1944. 42-95915 7I-K “Marie II” 497th Crash landed back at Stansted returning from the 4/7/44 mission to the bridge at Oissel, France with flak damage, and salvaged. The pilot was Lt. Jack Sheehan.
(Spread Sheet) July 4, 1944. 42-95968 Y5-O and 7I-T 495th & 497th “Jay Hawk” Original group aircraft flown overseas in January 1944 by Capt. Vaner A Smith. Served with the 495th BS, coded Y5-O. Suffered Cat.B damage on 8/3/44, after flying just two combat missions, and was sent to the service group for repairs. Returned to the 344th BG on 28/4/44 following repairs, and was assigned to the 497th BS, and recoded 7I-T. Crashed and wrecked on 18/7/44 flown by Havener and Kenyon. The aircraft had flown an additional 18 combat missions. Condemned for salvage on 19/7/44.
(Spread Sheet) July 8, 1944. 42-96303 N3-A “Cleveland Caliope” 496th: An engine cut-out after leaving the French coast on 8/7/44. The aircraft flown by Lt. J H Robinson ditched in the English Channel.
(Spread Sheet) July 8, 1944. 42-96304 N3-Q 496th: Damaged Cat.3 in a landing accident at Station 122, Steeple Morden Airfield on 8/7/44 with Cat.E flak damage. The aircraft flown by Lt. Joseph S Danner was salvaged on 10/7/44
(Spread Sheet) July 23, 1944. 41-35755 K9-U 494th Assigned to the 344th BG at Station 169, Stansted Airfield. Crash landed at RAF Dyce Airfield, Aberdeen, Scotland on 23/7/44 flown by Frank A Williams (Listed as a TB-26C serving with 344th BG / 494th BS, based at station 169). Although the aircraft only suffered Cat.3 damage, it was salvaged on the 25/7/44 by the 42nd Air Service Group.
(Spread Sheet) July 24, 1944. 42-95971 “Mary Mae II” K9-D & Y5-O 494th & 495th Original group aircraft flown overseas in January 1944 by 1st Lt. Elgin R Bowers. Flew 26 missions with the 494th BS, coded K9-D untill 29/5/44. Transferred to the 495th BS on 4/6/44, recoded Y5-O, and named “Mary Mae II”. Suffered severe flak damage on 24/7/44 and crash landed. The pilot was Capt. W D Brady. Salvaged on 28/7/44 by the 74th Air Service Group.
(Spread Sheet) July 24, 1944. Tours/LaRiche RR Bridge Squadron Navigator, lost his life on this mission for which he was the Lead Bombardier. (494)
Capt. James P. Parish (KIA)
(Spread Sheet) Aug 12, 1944 42-107611 Chicago Cyclone III K9-F 494th . Assigned to the 344th BG. Damaged Cat.5 (written off) in a take off accident on 12/8/44 flown by Lt. John D Ashford. The aircraft lost an engine on take off from station 169, Stansted, and belly landed at RAF Sawbridgeworth. Salvaged on the 15/8/44 by the 74th Air Service Group
(Spread Sheet) Aug. 25, 1944. 42-107855 Y5-W 495th Crashed shortly after take-off, 5 miles North of Stansted Airfield on 25/8/44. The aircraft caught fire, killing the pilot 1st Lt. William H Geary and all the crew. Other crew killed were: 1st Lt. Whittler, 2nd Lt. O’Donnell, T/Sgt. Veale, S/Sgt. Gorder, Sgt. Reed, and, G Audin (war correspondent).
According to Mark Styling: 42-107855, coded Y5-W, 495th BS
Exploded in mid air, 5 miles North of Stansted on the 25th August 1944 mission to attack heavy gun positions at Fort L’Ambrique, Brest, France. Pilot, 1st L. William H Geary (killed).
(Spread Sheet) Aug 30, 1944. 42-95953 N3-D 496th Stansted Crashed at take-off on cross country hop. Crash landed at Broken Green Farm, Standon, Essex on 30/8/44 following an engine failure flown by Lt. Joseph S Danner. The aircraft had suffered a port engine fire on take off from Stansted. Crew were unable to feather the prop and the aircraft was force landed at Standon, but crashed into a farm house, killing the pilot and two crew. The engineer S/Sgt. Hamilton was the only survivor from the crash, but spent six weeks in a coma. The aircraft had been heading for Shipdam Airfield in Norfolk.
1st. Lt. Joseph S. Danner, Pilot (KIA)
1st Lt. Edward E. Williams, Co-Pilot Sqdrn Adjutant (KIA, Cambridge)
Lt. Robert G Juliani, Navigator (4th Ferry Group) – killed
S/Sgt. Hamilton, Engineer/Gunner (survived)
Memoir of Harold Aiken prior to moving to base in France: “On a mission that I was not on, the squadron was returning to base. Ceiling was about 500 feet and a lot of turbulence. The ground crews, awaiting return of the squadron, would play cards. This particular day, one of the ground crew members said that he needed to go to the toilet before the airplanes landed. The other crew members convinced him to wait for one more hand. As the formation approached the field, at 500 feet with lots of turbulence, one plane cut the tail off another plane in the formation. They both crashed immediately and two crews were lost. One plane took out the toilet that the crew member had delayed visiting. “
(Spread Sheet) Sept. 14, 1944. 43-34407 7I-K 497th: Hit by flak on the fourth run over the target, gun positions at Brest Harbour on 14/9/44. The left engine was knocked out. The pilot Lt. Jimmy H Kenyon made a forced landing at Morlaix airfield, a beach head landing strip, 50 miles east of Brest. The aircraft was declared a write off and abandoned. The crew were unhurt and flown back to base by another B-26 from the 344th BG three days later. The aircraft record card lists, GLUE 9AF CON ON ALS on 17/9/44, and, “Condemned overseas, dated 2/10/44”. Earlier flown by Capt. Jack C Crumal. The final entries on the aircraft record card list, Gained from condemned, dated 2/4/45, GLUE CON SAL FEA on 28/3/46, and, “Condemned overseas, dated 10/5/46”. This would suggest that the aircraft was later repaired and reflown, possibly with a fighter group as a hack, or another B-26 group, but this is unconfirmed.
Unit moved to Cormeilles-En-Vixon A-59, France (Sept 30, 1944)
(Spread Sheet) September 25, 1944. 42-107676 N3-G 496th Severely damaged on 11/9/44, and crash landed back at base, Stansted Airfield, Essex. The pilot was Lt. Benedict.
(P35) September 25, 1944. On September 25 we were to attack the Venlo marshaling yard but we were unable to attack our objective. This mission was hotly contested by the enemy and three of the 36 planes dispatched we’re lost to enemy action, 18 of the personnel in these planes placed on a missing status and 16 planes damaged, causing minor repairs to be made.
The planes lost this day were piloted and crewed by the following: 494th squadron: 1st Lieutenant C. W. Carrington, pilot 2nd Lieutenant Frank Brackoneski, co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant S. F. Thistlewaite, bombardier S/Sgt. Wayne L Martin, engineer/gunner Sergeant GH Roesser, radio/gunner S/Sgt. M. J. Flynn, tailgunner. 494th squadron: 1st Lieutenant Jack B. Comstock, pilot 2nd lieutenant Peter S. Orth, co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant M. J. Meal, bombardier S/Sgt. A. W. Johnson, engineer/gunner S/Sgt. A. J . Reilly, radio/gunner and Sergeant H. C. Smith, tailgunner. 496th squadron: 1st Lieutenant J. B. Hegg, pilot Captain William Reitz, co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant R. E. McNeil, bombardier S/Sgt. B. J. Liptak, engineer/gunner T/Sgt. T. G. Wilcox, radio/gunner, and private O. M. Riggs, tailgunner.
(Spread Sheet) September 25, 1944. 443-34293 K9-O 494th: Force landed at an advanced landing strip near Antwerp, Belgium on 26/9/44.
(Spread Sheet) Oct. 2, 1944 42-95980 N3-M “Lucky Lady” 496th: Shot down by flak on the 2/10/44 mission to the industrial area at Ubach, Germany. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Keith Caldwell was hit by 88mm flak in the right engine just after bombs away. The engine was shut down and the prop feathered, but there was also fuel spraying back into the aircraft from a damaged fuel cell in the wing. Limping back from the mission the left engine also gave up and the crew all successfully bailed out, landing in friendly territory.
Pilot 1st Lt. Keith Caldwell, Co-pilot 2nd Lt. John Cristophe Dinou, Larry Biggs Eng/Top Gun, Mark Meeks Arm/Tail Gun.
(Spread Sheet) Oct. 9, 1944 42-96244 7I-Y 497th: Crashed on take off from RAF Zeals, Wiltshire (station 450) on 9/8/44. The aircraft flown by Lt. Sterling J Robertson caught fire and was destroyed (Cat.5).
(Spread Sheet) Oct. 27, 1944 42-95898 “Merry Jerry” Y5-C 495th On the 27/8/44, the control surfaces were burned by an explosion, and the aircraft flown by Lt. N W Nelson, force landed France.
(Spread Sheet) Nov. 8, 1944. 43-34340 K9-Y 494th: “Shanghai Lil”: Force landed near Abbeyville, France on 8/11/44 after running out of fuel in bad weather. The aircraft flown by Lt. William D Bond made a single engined crash landing in an open field. The aircraft suffered Cat.4 damage and was was salvaged.
(Spread Sheet) Nov. 19, 1944. 42-107721 7I-U 497th Crash landed at A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 27/11/44, returning from a training flight, flown by Capt. Carl Beyer. The aircraft suffered Cat.4 damage and was salvaged on 29/11/44.
(Spread Sheet) Dec. 1, 1944. 42-107742 “Rum Buggy II” Y5-V 495th Flown by Lt. Alfred L Freiburger, later by Capt. J W Cotton. Damaged Cat. E on 1/12/44, cause unknown. Aircraft salvaged on 11/12/44
(Spread Sheet) Dec. 15, 1944 42-95874 K9-S “Susanne” Crashed on take off from A-59, Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 15/12/44 flown by Capt. Curtis A Seebaldt. The aircraft had just lifted off the runway and the undercarriage was being cycled when the port engine failed. The aircraft settled back onto the runway, the gear collapsed and they skidded along to a halt. The aircraft caught fire and the crew rapidly vacated the stricken plane. Four minutes later the bomb load exploded. Lt. Col. Grove C Celio of the 99th Bombardment Wing, was amongst the lucky crewmen who survived. He had gone along as an observer on this mission. Aircraft salvaged on 17/12/44. Crew Capt. Pilot Curtis A Seebaldt (escaped unhurt), Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Michael Sopronyi (escaped unhurt), Bomb/Nav 1st Lt. R E Morrison (escaped unhurt), Radio/Gun S/Sgt. J Fischer (escaped unhurt), Eng/Turret M/Sgt M Felk (escaped unhurt), Tail Gun Pvt George L Boynoff (escaped unhurt), Observer Lt. Col. Grove C Celio – on board as an observer (escaped unhurt)
(Spread Sheet) Dec. 27, 1944. MACR 15902 + full accident report 43-34426 Ahrweiler RR Bridge Plane ran out of gas. Crew bailed out at approx. 300 ft. Lt. Fleming remained with plane. Crashed into the side of a high ridge, 7 miles South of A-59, Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield, France returning from the mission to the Ahrweiler RR bridge, Germany on 27/12/44. The aircraft returning from this mission found their base closed in due to bad weather and were ordered to find alternative landing strips that were still open. This aircraft was dangerously low on fuel after using higher power settings due to 2 x 1,000lb bombs still on board that had hung up, and whilst circling the airfield at about 1,800 feet the left engine quit due to fuel starvation. The aircraft began to lose altitude rapidly, about 1,000 feet per minute. The order was given to bail out, but the aircraft was already down to only about 500 feet. All the aircrew except the pilot, 1st Lt. Lamar Fleming III, jumped, but because of the low altitude two of the men were killed when their parachutes failed to deploy in time. The pilot who had stayed with the stricken aircraft attempted to carry out a crash landing, but this failed and he was killed.(495)
1st Lt. L. Fleming III, Pilot (KIA)
1st Lt. C.A. Gouge, Co-Pilot
1st. Lt. N.D. Carlson, Bombardier (KIA)
T/Sgt. E.J. McNulty (KIA)
T/Sgt. J.H. Chevalier, Engineer-Gunner
S.Sgt. R.E. Farley, Tail-Gunner
(Spread Sheet) Dec., 1944. T/Sgt. Thomas Hanly Died at hospital in England following jeep accident. (496)
Need MACR(P40) December 15, 1944. 42-95874 K9-S “Susanne” 494th Another plane was completely destroyed December 15, 1944. The plane piloted by Captain Curtis A Seebaldt, group control officer, and the lead craft of an operational mission, just become airborne, and landing gear just swinging into the up position, when the right engine cut out completely and caused the plane to settle to the runway. Immediately the plane came to rest, the entire crew all of whom, fortunately, had but minor injuries, rapidly abandoned the craft and sought a safe distance to avoid the possible explosion of the 16 X 250 pound bombs it carried. It was well that their presence of mind lead them to whatever shelter they could find, as four minutes after the plane came to rest, the bombs exploded, completely demolishing the aircraft. The blast from this concentrated number of bombs was terrific, smashing windows as far distant as the town of Cormeille-En-Vixen bordering the field but some 2 miles from the scene of the crash. Besides Captain Seebaldt, the other occupants of the plane were Li. Col. Grove C. Celio of the 99th Bombardment Wing who was riding the plane as co-pilot, to observe the mission 1st Lieutenant Michael Sopronyi, navigator 1st Lieutenant R. E. Morrison, bombardier Sergeant J. R. Fischer, engineer M/Sgt. M Felk, radio/gunner Pvt. George L. Boynoff, gunner. All escaped unhurt.
Memoir of Harold Aiken was undated, but possibly describes this incident “One day, I was standing near the control tower. There was a squadron of planes leaving for a mission. On the take-off run, one plane broke ground early without obtaining full flying speed. I think that the pilot had the “up trim tab” rolled all the way up. The plane was about 10 feet up and not having obtained take off speed, his left wing drug the pavement. Apparently the pilot shut all power because the plane landed hard. It looked that the landing gear crushed. Crewmen jumped out of the rear of the plane. No one moved in the front. The rescue and fire truck sat. No one moved. A small flame appeared near the back of the cabin. The flame slowly enlarged. Finally, after what seemed to be 5 minutes, the fire truck drove up .The fireman climbed up on the outside to the cockpit. A bomb went off. The crew in the front of the plane and 3 firemen were killed. Death was due partially to inactivity on the firemen’s part.”
Need MACR(P40) December 27, 1944. 43-34426 Y5-Y 495th Casualties and battle damage for the month were comparatively slight. Three crewman wounded due to enemy flak action and 22 aircraft struck by flak. One plane crashed near the base on return from the Ahreiler mission December 27. The weather that day closed in so thickly at our station that most of the aircraft after circling were diverted to emergency fields, nine planes only being able to put down at the field. A plane piloted by Lieutenant Lamar Fleming III, 495th Bomb squadron, was rapidly running out of gas and not being able to land due to visibility, proceeded toward an emergency field. Unfortunately, and before he could reach a landing point, his gasoline was practically exhausted. One motor stopped and the plane began to lose altitude and when the plane was approximately 300 feet above the ground, the other stopped. All of the crew bailed out at this low altitude, excepting Lieutenant Fleming who remained at the controls, hoping to crash land the plane successfully and probably would have, had the plane cleared a slight hill in its path. He was killed. Two crewman only were successful in the parachute at the extremely low altitude: T/Sgt. John A. Chevalier, engineer and S/Sgt. Robert. E. Farley, gunner, who both stated their chute opened practically as their feet struck the ground. The others, 1st Lieutenant Carl A. Gouge, co-pilot 1st Lieutenant Norman D. Carlson, bombardier, and T/Sgt. Arthur J. McNulty, plummeted to the ground before their parachutes were able to open and check their descent.
(Spread Sheet) Dec. 29, 1944. 42-95976 7I-P “Moe’s Mauler” 497th Crash landed at A-59 Cormeilles-en-vexin, France due to engine failure on 29/12/44 flown by Lt. John S Donnelly. The aircraft suffered Cat.4 damage and was salvaged the same day. The final entry on the aircraft record card lists, SOXO CON SAL NBD on 26/12/44. Trevor Allen has this accident listed as follows: “Ran out of gas, belly landed in Belgium, the bombs exploded”, needs confirmation. Note there were no combat missions flown this day.
Need MACR(Spread Sheet) Jan. 1, 1945. 44-67823 See See Senior 7I-G Plane crashed on runway (A-59) on take-off. 14 minutes later, bombs exploded. Crashed on take off at A-59 Cormeilles-En-Vexin, France on 1/1/45 for the mission to the Konz-Karthaus Railway bridge, Germany. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Robert R Chalot was the third aircraft to take off, and just as the aircraft was about only 20 feet off the runway, it suddenly lost power. The aircraft crashed off to the left of the runway and caught fire. Rescue crews managed to extricate some of the crew before the 2 x 2,000lb bomb load exploded killing 4 members of the rescue team (Lt. Parker, Sgt. Elmer E Juily, Cpl. William G Reiker, and Pvt. Leonard S Luezkowski), and seriously injured 5 others. Of the flying crew, two survived with serious injuries, but the other four, including the pilot were killed. Due to the danger to other aircraft and personnel, the mission was scrubbed.(497)
2nd Lt. Robert R. Chalot, Pilot (KIA)
2nd Lt. Eliot W. Falk, Co-Pilot (KIA)
S/Sgt. Bronislas Krowiak (Badly Injured)
Sgt. Frank W. Dunaway (Badly Injured)
Sgt. Garth Morse (Badly Injured)
Sgt. William R. Fowler (KIA)
2058th Eng. (Aviation) Fire fighters were instantly killed by the detonation.
1st. Lt. Alton S. Parker, In Command (KIA)
Sgt. Elmer E. Juily (KIA)
Cpl. William G. Reiker (KIA)
P/5 Leonard S. Luezkowski (KIA)
Description in Milk Run Newsletter:
(P41) January 1, 1945. In keeping with this program January 1, 1945 our group is assigned to the Konz-Karthaus to bomb a railway bridge. Our planes lined up for the take off and two aircraft became airborne. The third plane, piloted by second Lieutenant Robert R. Chalot of the 497th bombardment squadron, after making its run at high speed down the runway, rose to join up with the preceding aircraft when apparently a loss of power in the engines when but 20 feet above the ground caused his airplane to crash to the left of the runway and burn. The plane loaded with 2 × 2000 pound general purpose bombs were in themselves a menace to human safety and that is added to the fierce fire that was beginning to consume the plane, made it a difficult task to approach the craft to rescue the injured crew members. Despite the known danger that existed the 2058th engineers (aviation), firefighters, with 1st Lieutenant Alton B. Parker, in command and eight of his men approached the flaming craft to extinguish the fire and rescue those trapped within and those who had managed to extricate themselves from the twisted plane but who fell near it because of their injuries. 14 minutes after the crash, the bombs the plane carried exploded with terrific force, scattering plane, fire and bomb fragments over a wide area. Lieutenant Parker, and three of his enlisted man, Sergeant Elmer E. Juliy, Corporal William G. Reiker and T/5 Leonard S. Luezkowski were instantly killed by the detonation and five others of his team seriously injured. Others rushed to the scene to assist also. Captain William J. Granatier, medical officer, and Captain William D. Brady, operations officer, both of the 495th bombardment squadron, removed some of the injured. Both of these officers, while attempting to reach safety with injured personnel, we’re still within the danger zone when the bombs exploded. Bomb fragments struck Captain Granatier in the arm, breaking it, and Captain Brady in the leg, seriously injuring him. Though Captain Granatier was badly injured, he attended captain Brady and the other injured party until additional medical assistance arrived. Of the crew members in Lieutenant Chalot’s plane, 2nd Lieutenant Elliot W. Falk, co-pilot, lost his life. S/Sgt. Bronislas Krowiak, Sergeant Frank W. Dunaway, Sergeant Garth E. Morse and Sergeant William R. Fowler we’re all seriously injured. Due to the danger to the other planes and personnel while the crashed ship burned, the mission was scrubbed by Wing Headquarters.
Sgt. Joe Crossan Eng/Gun Remembers: “My first experience was that one of the groups was taking off on a mission and one of the planes lost an engine and crashed on the runway, caught fire and blew up. It was not too good a 1st experience.”
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 5, 1945. Houffalize Road Junction Accurate flak prior to the bomb run resulted in Sgt. Brown’s death. (494)
T/Sgt. R.D. Brown, Radio-Gunner (KIA)
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 6, 1945 42-95871 N3-H aged Cat.4 in an unspecified ground accident at A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 6/1/45 (Listed as 344th BG / 496th BS). The pilot was Keith M Caldwell. May have involved C-54F, serial 43-35860 of 403 BAD / HQ SQN, pilot, David C Cook, which was also damaged Cat.4 in a ground accident at Cormeilles on the same day. The aircraft was salvaged the next day, on 7/1/45
(KIA Spread Sheet) Jan. 14, 1945 43-34299 K9-Y Crashed shortly after take off from Cormeilles-en-Vexin on the 14/1/45 mission to the Rinnthal RR bridge, Germany. The aircraft was forming up with the rest of the formation went it was spotted going into a spin and diving down into the overcast. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Melvin D Clack crashed 5 miles WSW of Magny-en-Vexin, on the outskirts of Abbeville killing all the crew. Other crew on board were:
2nd Lt. Stanley W Haskin,
Capt. Richard S Herried,
S/Sgt. Lewis A Hilger, S/Sgt.
Esequiel P Mendez,
Sgt. Owen D Sweeney.
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 16, 1945. Bullay Bridge Crashed shortly after take-off and while joining up. (494)
Lt. Melvin D. Cleck, Pilot
2nd Lt. Stanley R. Haskins, Co-Pilot
S/Sgt. Esequiel P. Mendez, Jr., Engineer-Gunner
Sgt. Owen B. Sweeny, Radio-Gunner
Sgt. Lewis A. Hilger, Tail-Gunne
Capt. Richard S. Herried, Bombardier (496)
Need MACR(Spread Sheet) Jan. 28, 1945. 42-95864 7I-B Valkyrie Aircraft crashed shortly after take-off. (A-59) Lost an engine on take-off from A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 28/1/45 during a snow storm. The pilot, 1st Lt. Robert C Barnard tried to make it back to the field, but crashed 1 mile NNE of Ham, France, slid into a road bank, broke in two and caught fire. All the crew were killed. Other crew included, Sgt. P J Collins (killed)(497)
1st Lt. R.C. Barnard, Pilot (KIA)
Capt. R.M. Mitchell, Pilot (KIA)
Lt. M.H. Sellers, Bombardier (KIA)
Sgt. P.J. Collins (KIA)
(Spread Sheet) Jan. 29, 1945. 43-34432 N3-D 496th: Crash / belly landed shortly after take-off from A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 29/1/45. The aircraft flown by Lt. John J Moran suffered Cat.4 damage and was salvaged.
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 2 or 21, 1945 43-34316 N3-F “Cleveland Caliope III” 496th: Crashed on take off from A-62 Rheims, France on 21/2/45 flown by Richard W Maffry. The aircraft which had flown 11 combat missions was salvaged on 27/2/45. The final entry on the aircraft record card lists, GLUE 9AF CON SAL BD on 27/2/45. According to another source, this aircraft flown by Lt. Gordon K Holm, ran out of fuel on 2/2/45 and landed on a short field at Reims, Champagne, and was abandoned. Needs confirmation. May have been named “Cleveland Calliope II”
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 2, 1945 43-34402 Y5-G “Georgia Cracker” 495th: Blew a tire on take off from A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 2/2/45, and crashed. The aircraft flown by Jerald M Davies suffered Cat.4 damage and was written off.
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 6, 1945 Mid-Air collision 43-34367 K9-K 344th 494th and 44-67805 Y5-A 344th 495th
Asper Sarah Conrad Van Riper: ”Robert Conrad’s time at Station A-59 was not without mishap. On February 6, 1945, his bomb group had finished a mission attacking the Rheinbach ammo dump. Conrad was the co-pilot. Returning home, their plane and others were diverted to Station A-73 Roye/Amy Airfield due to bad weather conditions. They were eventually ordered to return to home base. The weather was so bad at A-59 that the plane was again diverted to another airfield, Station A-60 Beaumont-sur Oise. According to the accident report, one of the pilots reported that visibility at the field was zero straight ahead. The field could only be seen by looking out the side window while banking to the left. Radio reception at that time was reportedly very poor and unbeknownst to either crew, both B26s were circling the field in the same pattern attempting to land. Both planes suddenly loomed out of the clouds. Both pilots attempted to avoid a collision but the wing of one plane hit the tail of the other plane, severely crippling both aircraft. Pilot Edward M Cain managed to get his plane up to about 1500 feet and all crew bailed out safely. Co-pilot Clyde Donald “Don” Chaney, 1st Lt. said that right after the mid air collision, the crew came toward the cockpit. Chaney put the wheels down, opened the hatch and they bailed out through the nose wheel-well. The other Pilot, Conrad C Oberg 1st Lt. and Co-Pilot Robert D Conrad, 2nd Lt. got up to around 3500 feet and the entire crew parachuted to safety. The incident was chalked up to bad weather conditions. Both planes were totally destroyed. About ten years ago, at a reunion of the bomb group, Chaney met the 18 year old waist gunner, William R Skinner, Jr., S/Sgt, from the other plane. He was from Ohio and went home to have a large family like Chaney’s. On page 345 of Lambert D. Austin’s book, there is a picture of Sergeant Patterson, one of the other crew members from the other plane. He’s standing there with his open parachute, on February 7, 1945 the day after the collision.”
Harold Aiken was on another of the divert planes mentioned in this incident. When asked to comment he wrote, “I was on a mission Feb 6 and was diverted to A73 where I remained overnight. On Feb 7, I returned to A 59. A 1 hour 10 minute flight. There was no weather problems at A 59 when I landed. I do not remember hearing of the mid air problems that the other squadron had.
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 10, 1945 42-107607 Sexy Sal II Y5-Z MACR 12196 Aircraft shot down. Pilot bailed out in friendly territory and crew bailed out over enemy territory. Shot down by flak just after releasing bombs on the 10/2/45 mission to Horrem, Germany. The crew bailed out over the battle line. enemy territory and no-mans land. Five of them came down in enemy territory and no-mans land. Four were captured, one man drowned attempting to swim across the Roer river to allied lines. The pilot, 1st Lt. Humphrey Marshall Mallory was the last man to bail out and he came down safely in allied territory. The aircraft crashed at Krefeld in the vicinity of Hinesberg,(495)
1st Lt. H.A. Mallory, Pilot (escaped capture)
2nd Lt. C.L. Early, Co-Pilot (POW)
2nd Lt. Walter Harden, Bombardier (escaped capture)
T/Sgt. J.H. Chevalier, Engineer-Gunner (POW)
T/Sgt. W.C. Farrell, Radio-Gunner (POW)
S/Sgt. E.C. McCarter, Tail-Gunner (Drowned crossing river to escape)
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 10, 1945 Fatally wounded by flak thru tail turret. (495)
S/Sgt. C. Vanderlugt, Tail-Gunner (KIA)
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 14, 1945 42-95911 Y5-K “Mary Mae” 495th Severely damaged on the 14/2/45 mission to the Crown Prince Wilhelm Railroad bridge at Engers, near Koblenz, Germany, and was salvaged on return. The pilot was Lt. G E Minihan.
(Spread Sheet) Feb. 14, 1945 42-95972 7I-O “Little Butch” 497th Suffered severe damage on the 14/2/45 mission to the Crown Prince Wilhelm Railroad bridge at Engers, near Koblenz, Germany. The aircraft flown by Capt. H Z Rondeau force landed at a forward Allied base (possibly Y-34, Metz, France, but needs confirmation?). Salvaged by the 368th FG on 16/2/45.
(Spread Sheet) March 3, 1945 N3-P 42-95899 “Maffrys Mottled Marauder” 496th Original group aircraft, assigned to Capt. J C Maffry. Inscribed underneath nose name “ The Wings Are Coming By ATC”. Named by the original pilot, Capt. J C Maffry. Belly landed in an open field 16 miles Northwest of Charleroi, France, 3 miles Northeast of Bievre (Belle Fontain?), Belgium on 3/3/45 after running out of fuel. The aircraft flown by Lt. Joseph W Morosi was salvaged. This aircraft had flown 144 combat missions.
(Spread Sheet) March 3, 1945 42-95908 Y5-A&Y5-C “Invictus / Empire State Express” 495th Original group aircraft flown overseas in January 1944 by Capt. Lucius D Clay. Was originally coded Y5-A. Flew 52 missions untill 29/6/44. May have been badly damaged, and repaired, as it is next listed as being recoded as Y5-C and flying an additional 11 missions from 23/2/45, untill it was written off in a take-off accident. Damaged Cat.3 in a take off accident at A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France after losing an engine on takeoff on 3/3/45. The aircraft flown by Gregg P Nolen, Jnr, crashed near Marcoing, France.
(Spread Sheet) March 5, 1945 N3-L 42-95940 (Patches?) 496th Pilot Emiel J Larsen Lost an engine on take off from A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France on 5/3/45 and crashed. The aircraft flown by Emiel J Larsen suffered Cat.3 damage, and was salvaged the same day.
(Stansted KIA spreadsheet) March 9, 1945 Bierbach Marshalling Yard Killed by flak on mission:
Lt. Harrell, Bombardier
(Spread Sheet) March 20, 1945 43-34419 K9-B 494th: Suffered flak damage on the 20/3/45. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. D J Korkowski crash landed back at base, A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, and was salvaged.
(Spread Sheet) March 21, 1945 44-67821 K9-S 494th: Damaged Cat.3 in a take off accident at A-92, St.Trond Airfield, Belgium on 21/3/45. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Donald J Korkowski crashed shortly after take-off and was salvaged. Other crew on board were: 2nd Lt. J A Swarm, 2nd Lt. H S Dieches, Sgt. A G Hughes, Sgt. E J Perkosky, and, Sgt. J V Cowan.
(Stansted KIA spreadsheet) March 21, 1945 Coesfeld Defended town Lost his life on this mission. (494)
S/Sgt. Jack W. Burnham
(Spread Sheet) March 21, 1945 44-68098 Y5-G “Wheels Inc”: Suffered severe flak damage on 22/3/45. The aircraft flown by Lt. Cotton force landed in allied territory.
John J. Beddingfield Memoir:”I made another mission over Northern Germany today. It was just north of Munster. I saw a goof bit of flack and a few rockets. We could see the heavies over Munster, and there was a solid wall of flack over there. When we were coming out the second box caught plenty of flack. We were in the first box. A tail gunner was killed in the second box. Our bomb load was four 1000 lb. bombs. I was flying engineer for another crew. It was the pilot’s last mission. His name was Aiken
(Spread Sheet) March 14, 1945 43-34179 N3-Q 496th: Suffered damaged hydraulics and a damaged engine on the 14/3/45 mission to bomb the defended town of Bad Kreuznach, Germany. The pilot, Lt. A R Nolte made a wheels up crash landing back at A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France . Aircraft salvaged on 17/3/45
Need MACR (Spread Sheet) March 21, 1945 42-95982 Puddin’ Head N3-U (496) Shot down by flak on 24/3/45. The aircraft flown by Lt. G D Smith had one of the engines blown off by flak, and the crew abandoned the stricken aircraft.
Lt. G D Smith (bailed out) Pilot
W A Steiner
D B Crowell
M L White
O J Wilkerson
N S Patee
(Spread Sheet) March 28, 1945 42-95974 N3-S 496th Involved in a mid air collision with 42-95861 N3-A 496th over the airfield at Florennes and crashed (accident reports website states A-59 Cormeilles, France), returning from the 28/3/45 mission to the Oil depot at Neuenheerse, Germany. There were no survivors. These were the last two losses for the group during WW2. The pilot was 2nd Lt. Walter H Hedstrom. Other crew include: J R Gersting, J P Bailey, G R Burton, H J Canavespe, and V T Spivey (all killed).
March 28, 1945 42-95861 N3-A 496th Involved in a mid air collision with 42-95974 over the airfield at A-59, Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, and crashed, returning from the 28/3/45 mission to the Oil depot at Neuenheerse, Germany. There were no survivors. These were the last two aircraft losses for the group during WW2. The pilot was 2nd Lt. Arthur M Williamson, and other crew were: H F Smith, W A Ortberg, G J Lauteri, R A Greenwood, and A P Elliott (all killed).
See book: Flying the B-26 Marauder Over Europe: Memoir of a World War II by Moore
(P49) April 11, 1945. On the afternoon of April 11, the marshaling yard at Zwikau was bombed with excellent to superior results by 38 aircraft, their 2000 pound bombs ripping into sidings and buildings in the yards. One aircraft piloted by Lieutenant Arnberg of the 494th bomb squadron left the target area on one engine and subsequently crash landed at Frankfurt-on-Main without injury to the crew. No flack was encountered.
(Spreadsheet) April 16, 1945 42-95986 7I-R “Let-hal Lady” 497th: Severely damage by flak on it’s 122nd combat mission on the 16/4/45. The aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. J B Donnelly made a single engine landing at R-11 Airfield, Eschwege, Germany, which had only been captured by the Americans in early April. The crew were OK, but the aircraft was written off and salvaged the next day.
(Spreadsheet) May 12, 1945. 43-34181 Y5-O “Lak-A-Nookie” 495th. Aircraft named by its assigned pilot, 1st Lt. Jack L Lyons. Entered combat with the 344th BG / 495th BS on 14/8/44. Flew 88 combat missions and survived the war. Undercarriage collapsed on landing at A-78 Florennes / Juzaine, France on 12/5/45 after a tire burst on touchdown. The aircraft suffered Cat.4 damage and was written off. The pilot was Robert E Nogle
(P50) May 13, 1945. 42-96048 K9-Y 494th: The group however, was not without its tragedies and sorrow subsequent to the cessation of hostilities. Two accidents took place during the special training missions, causing the loss of life to the crews of both aircraft. The first occurred on May 13, 1945, when a two-ship formation flew on a local level navigational problem. The pilot of the lead ship, 1st Lieutenant William W. Doming, Jr., stated he had advised 2nd Lieutenant Clyde T. Whitehead, pilot of the ill-fated plane, not to attempt to fly formation due to the turbulence of the air that day. Lieutenant Whitehead dropped back and to the right but kept in sight of the lead plane. As they flew along, the waste gunner of Lieutenant Doming‘s aircraft stated to him over the interphone that he could see Lieutenant Whitehead buzzing villages and surrounding terrain. During the process of buzzing, Lieutenant Whiteheads right wing of the craft struck a tree, causing the airplane to swing to the right. His altitude at this time was so low, he was unable to right the plane, and the right wing struck the ground at a great speed, causing the crash. Parts of the plane were strewn over a great forward distance, carrying the pilot and the following crew members to their deaths: F/O Sammy E. Teague Jr., co-pilot F/O Richard W. Paulsen, bombardier 2nd Lieutenant Glenn O. Waters, observer Sergeant Robert S. Riddel, engineer/gunner Sergeant Morris W. Van Treese, radio/gunner Sergeant Irwin F. Van Blarcan, aerial gunner and Corporal William M. Drennon. The accident took place near the town of Heizingen, Belgium.
(P50) May 31, 1945 43-34395 Y5-M 495th: The second fatal accident occurred May 31, 1945 when a six-ship formation flew to the Blankenburghe gunnery range in the North Sea for splash gunnery practice. 1st Lieutenant Harrell L. Foxx, 495th bomb squadron, led the formation out over the water to within sight of the range to see if it was clear, then ordered the planes to echelon to the right and follow him in as briefed. 2nd Lieutenant James A. Lawrence, co-pilot in the number two plane, stated they followed Lieutenant Foxx at a 30 second interval as briefed, which placed Lieutenant Foxx about 4 miles ahead and slightly to their left. About eight minutes down the firing line, Lieutenant Lawrence reported that Lieutenant Foxx called on the radio transmitter, stating his gunner had shot up his aircraft. Lieutenant Lawrence’s airplane immediately maneuvered along side of Lieutenant Foxx and could see that all but 4 feet of his right horizontal stabilizer was shot off. In addition, there were a number of holes in the base of the vertical stabilizer, and the left stabilizer was almost shot in two. Lieutenant Lawrence call the Lt. Foxx and reported the damage to him and Lieutenant Foxx replied he would land at the first available field. The plane, despite the damage, seem to be under perfect control and had been able to lose or gain altitude at will and had maintained an airspeed of 165 mph. On reaching the coast line inbound, Lieutenant Foxx’s craft was approximately 1000 feet when he started a slight turn to the right. He straightened out from the start and almost immediately went into a sharp right turn, apparently out of control. The left stabilizer was seen to have broken off about 4 feet out from the fuselage, where it had been shot through, and the airplane nosed down in a steep dive from which it never recovered. The airplane exploded on contact with the ground. No one survived the accident. Besides Lieutenant Foxx, the other members of the crew were: 1st Lieutenant Richard E. Robinson, co-pilot 2nd Lieutenant Don P. Malchiodi, bombardier 2nd Lieutenant John J. Dimitre, navigator T/Sgt. John E. Doyle, engineer S/Sgt. James J. Dunn, radio/gunner and S/Sgt. Robert P. Stout, aerial gunner. Lieutenant Foxx joined the 344th bomb group September 20, 1944, and had completed approximately 35 combat missions up to the end of the war.
John J. Beddingfield: “September 6th 1944
We made a mission over Brest, France again this morning. We were to hit an ammunition dump. After making four runs on the target, I think we missed it. We had to be careful, for our ground forces were just a mile and a half from it. We made a pretty cloud of smoke though. That town is really plastered. I like to froze on the way over. I thought we would run out of gas before we got back after spending so much time over the target. Three ships had to land in France for fuel. We made it back home but I was really sweating it out. I believe I get more scared to fly in these B-26’s every day. I saw two crews get killed with in two weeks. If one engine cuts out on takeoff, you are done for. Too low to jump. I’m really scared to fly in these ships. I was called to take a fellows place on a propergander (propaganda) mission. We were to fly over different towns and drop leaflets. The guy showed up in time, and I didn’t have to go. My pilot this morning was 1st Lt Johnson. The ships name was “Sexy Sal” #42-95919. There are two ships in this outfit by that name, one is Sexy Sal II. #42-107607”
T/Sgt. Michael Christopher: On one mission, Christopher’s aircraft was forced down, probably due to flak damage. There was possibly engine damage, but “the main spar” had a chunk taken out of it. They put the plane down at an abandoned/improvised strip. The French resistance or free French expedited their return back to squadron a few weeks later. The Air Corps did not know they survived and were in the process of notifying Christopher’s parents that he was MIA. They were so far along in this process, that Christopher noted that they even issued him a different set of dog tags when he got back to base. (different serial number?).
Webmaster’s note: I can’t find a MACR on this event. But I have a theory. Tell me what you think. Let’s say the plane went down in the weeks after D-Day in an area that had just been liberated. That would mean he was not shot down over enemy territory thus no MACR. I don’t have access to “Accident reports” that would have been completed instead. It would still be possible that “free French,” as you described them in a re-telling, might have safely escorted him to the lines safely.
Santo Endrizzi: One day two B26s collided over the main road. I was in the back of the truck and did not know what was happening. The driver stopped and he realized he better run as the fifty caliber bullets were exploding from the heat of the crash. I was hanging off the back of the truck with one leg trying to get back in the truck when the driver started up again. It caused my leg to sustain an injury. It was a very scary moment. (The sight of the human carnage still brings tears to Santo’s eyes when he recalls this incident.)
(Spread Sheet) June 1, 1945 43-34131 Y5-N 495th: Damaged Cat.3 in a taxiing accident at A-78 Florennes / Juzaine, Belgium on 1/6/45. The aircraft collided with a parked B-26B, serial 42-96045 also of the 344th BG / 495th BS, which was damaged Cat.2. The pilot was 1st Lt. Helms R Huey. Other crew on board were: 2nd Lt. J S Pollard, 2nd Lt. L R Hays, T/Sgt. M C Brashear, S/Sgt. J M Turner, and S/Sgt. W L Gear. The aircraft was not repaired.
(Spread Sheet) June 51, 1945 43-34343 K9-T “Charlotte De Harlot” 494th: Damaged Cat.3 in a landing accident at Y-1 Tantonville, France on 5/6/45 flown by Frederick J Foster. The aircraft was not repaired and was salvaged on 12/6/45.
(Spread Sheet) Sept. 7, 1945 43-34341 “Screaming Eagle / 101 Division”: Ex-387th BG aircraft, transferred to the 344th BG post war. Crew abandoned the aircraft after it ran out of fuel over Helmond, Holland on 7/9/45 flown by Allen W Thompson (Listed as serving with the 478th ASG / 896th MS on the accident reports website). The aircraft was flying out of A-78 Airfield, Florennes / Juzaine, Belgium.
Two airmen of the 344th Bomb Group sitting in a field of poppies near their base at Cormeille-en-Vexin, France.
Three B-26 Marauders of the 344th Bomb Group practice airfield strafing over their own base at Cormeilles-en-Vexin. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: 'Practice strafing run over 497th Sqdn area by three ships element. Late in the war Marauders bombed regular target from medium altitude then broke up into three ship elements to dive down onto the deck and strafe anything German. Feb 1945.'
A Luftwaffe gun crew hut at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, used as accomodation by the 344th Bomb Group.
A French farmer at work near Cormeilles-en-Vexin base, used by the 344th Bomb Group. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated Caption: 'Young Frenchmen doing fall ploughing inside base area. Sugar beets and potatoes had been harvested just before we arrived. Oct 1944.'
A ruined Luftwaffe hangar at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, occupied by the 344th Bomb Group. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: 'Ruins of a Luftewaffe[sic] hangar on base. A FW-190 fighter unit occupied the base prior to the time we moved onto it. Oct 1944.'
A P-47 Thunderbolt, painted in invasion markings buzzes a haystack on the 344th Bomb Group base at Cormeilles-en-Vexin. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: 'P-47 buzzing haystack on base. He probably couldn't resist it as the Krauts earlier camouflaged ack-ack guns under haystacks. Dec 1944.'
Personnel of the 344th Bomb Group at the outdoor mess hall at Cormeilles-en-Vexin. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: 'Mess after mission. Coffee brewed in half bomb bay tank. Still no mess hall built Jan 1945.'
Personnel of the 344th Bomb Group at Stansted-Mountfitchet.
Aerial photograph of Stansted Mountfitchet airfield looking south, the bomb dump is upper right, 8 May 1948. Photograph taken by No. 58 Squadron, sortie number RAF/58/10. English Heritage (RAF Photography).
Aerial photograph of Stansted Mountfitchet airfield looking north, the bomb dump is at the bottom, 9 January 1947. Photograph taken by No. 82 Squadron, sortie number RAF/CPE/UK/1917. English Heritage (RAF Photography).
Aerial photograph of Stansted Mountfitchet airfield looking north east, the bomb dump is to the right of the airfield, 16 July 1943. Photograph taken by 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, sortie number US/7PH/GP/LOC2. English Heritage (USAAF Photography).
Close up of B-26G-1-MA, 'Lak a Nookie' of 495th BS, 344th BG. at Stansted.
Stansted-Mountfitchet, home of the 344th Bomb Group.
Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Witty (fourth from the left with a map) gives a last minute briefing to Major Maxwell and his crew before they get in their aircraft, a 496th Bomb Squadron, 344th Bomb Group B-26 Marauder (N3-A, serial number 42-95870) nicknamed "Maxwell House" in the background. Passed for publication 13 Apr 1944. Handwritten caption on reverse: '"Maxwell House", Maj. Maxwell & Lt. Col Robert Witty (4th left with map). 344th BG, 496th BS. Stansted 1944.' Printed caption on reverse: 'A U.S. Ninth Air Force Marauder Station, England. Associated Press Photo Shows:- With a stack of 1,000 lb. bombs in the foreground and their ship in the background, crew members of Major Maxwell's ship "Maxwell House" listen to last minute instructions from Lt. Col. Robert Witty (fourth from left with map) before getting aboard their 'plane. CAR 13. 12-4-44-EM.' Censor no: 315579. On reverse: US Army Press Censor ETO and US Army General Section Press & Censorship Bureau [Stamps].
Lieutenant John K. Havener, a pilot of the 497th Bomb Squadron, 344th Bomb Group, on top of his B-26 Marauder nicknamed "Terre Haute Tornado". Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Lt. J.K. Havener, 344BG, 497BS. "Terre Haute Tornado".'
Seen during July 1944, the Stansted Mountfitchet Air Depot.
Aerial photograph of Stansted Mountfitchet airfield looking south, the technical site is to the right, 8 May 1948. Photograph taken by No. 58 Squadron, sortie number RAF/58/10. English Heritage (RAF Photography).
Today, Stansted is one of the busiest airports in Britain. During the Second World War, instead of airliners delivering passengers, Stansted Moutfitchet’s aircrews in their B-26 Marauders attacked Nazi targets, paving the way for D-Day and the liberation of Europe. Although very little remains of the original Station 169, when complete it was the largest Ninth Air Force base in East Anglia, covering some 3,000 acres.
The site of United States Army Air Forces Station 169 was chosen in 1942 from farmland in the parish of Stansted Mountfitchet, some 3km (2 miles) north east of the town of Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, although the airfield was in Essex.
The station was built by the US 817th, 825th and 850th Engineer Battalions. It ultimately had three runways plus 50 aircraft hard-standings. Hangars, workshops, offices and accommodation for 2,658 personnel, mainly Nissen huts, were also built on site.
The airfield was constructed during 1942-43 for the US Eighth Air Force, but was transferred to the US Ninth Air Force as the base for No. 2 Tactical Air Depot. In 1944 the 344th Bomb Group moved in with their Martin B-26 Marauder twin-engine tactical bombers. This Group led attacks on D-Day, and won a Distinguished Unit Citation for its missions supporting the advancing Allied armies.
The 344th left Stansted for France in September 1944, but the base continued to be used as 2nd Tactical Air Depot, comprising the 30th and 91st Air Depot Groups. Its main focus was on the modification and overhaul of B-26 aircraft. Eventually this role too was transferred to France, leaving Stansted as a Base Air Depot Area airfield where combat aircraft were stored before they were assigned to Groups elsewhere in the UK. Only the main runway remained open all other concrete areas became parking places for aircraft.
The station was transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1945, where it was used by No. 263 Maintenance Unit for storage. In 1946 and 1947 part of the site was also used to house German prisoners of war. The base was handed over to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 1949 and used mainly as a civil charter airport, until enlarged and redeveloped by the US Air Force during 1954-1957 as a potential Cold War emergency base.
The 803rd Engineer Aviation Battalion extended the main runway to 3,048 m (10,000 ft), which remains the length of the runway at London Stansted Airport. A new parallel taxiway was built, which could be used as an alternative runway, and 11 hard-standings were added, potentially for use by large, jet bomber aircraft.
During 1958-1965, Stansted continued as civil charter airport and base for trooping flights. It was also used by Airwork as an aircraft maintenance base, and by Aviation Traders as a Carvair production base. In 1985, the Government approval granted for the development of Stansted as London’s third international Airport. It continues in this role, serving around 18 million passengers every year.
Shopworn Angel: The Story of Frank Carrozza and the B-26 Marauder
Jens A Norgaard was born in the Danish West Indies on 25 October 1916 shortly before the transfer of the island to United States. The inhabitants became U.S. Citizens unless they preferred to remain Danish citizens. The family decided to become U.S. Citizens and to change their name from Nørregaard to Norgaard. In the 1920s they move from the Virgin Islands to New York City and later to Iowa.
Jens A. Norgaard enlisted in the U.S. Army, Air Corps, as aviation cadet in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, on 28 May 1941. He was trained as pilot. In November 9, 1944, Jens A Norgaard was attached to 344th Bombardment Group holding the rank of Major.
Jens A. Norgaard’s Biographical Letter to L. J. Fradin, written in 1963 is a good synopsis of his military experience (Click here)
On D-Day he was the lead pilot of the Marauder attacks on Utah beach supporting the landing.
The 344th BG was to lead the 387th, 397th, 394th, 323rd and the 386th BGs in the attack of the coastal batteries at Utah Beach and to use small bombs to create “foxholes” for the troops. The first aircraft was to bomb at 0605 hrs and the last at 625 hrs – H-hour minus 5 minutes.
Jens A Norgaard was lead pilot of this formation of more than 400 B-26 Marauders. At 0412 hrs he took off in B-26 (42-95876, Y5-S, “Mary Jo” – named after his wife) from Stansted (station 169). The Marauders found their marks on the ground with great precision and with a loss of only one aircraft, the 344th BG achieved a remarkable success.
USAAF 42-95876 Martin B-26B-50-MA Marauder
USAAF serial number S/N: 42-95876 Martin B-26B-50-MA Marauder named ‘Mary Jo’
Disposal: 42-95876 survived the war and was ferried to the Landsberg, Germany scrap yard with the another 900 Marauders where it had its nose wheel dynamited with 20 lbs of TNT.
Back Row left to right: Capt. James P. Parish (killed by FLAK shrapnel when crew flew B-26 “Schiffoni’s” while Mary Jo was in shop for repair), Lead Bombardier Major Jens A. Norgaard, Pilot and Formation Leader 2nd Lt. Loris D. Gniffke, Navigator Front Row left to right: Lt Col. Robert W. Witty, Co-Pilot and Deputy Group Commander 1st Lt. Louis Offenberg, Lead Navigator S/Sgt. Kenneth Hobbs, Engineer/Gunner S/Sgt. Jules S. Theobald, Tail Gunner T/Sgt. John R. Leach, Radio Operator/Gunner. .
From 344 th Bomb Group (M) “Silver Streaks” by Lambert D. Austin
On November 8, 1942 Colonel John a Hilger designated three squadron commanding officers. Captain William T. Boren for the 494th, first Lieutenant Jewell C. Maxwell for the 496 and 1 st , Lieutenant Delwin D. Bentley for the 497 th . 1st Lieutenant Jens A. Norgaard was assigned to the 495th on November 9, 1942. These officers, emulating the spirit and determination of their commanding officer, immediately set out to mold their organizations into filing combat unit.
Jens A. Norgaard commanded the 495th squadron from its training days in Florida and through its operational status in England, France, and Belgium.
D-Day: Following briefing, all proceeded to their planes and began last-minute preparations before take-off. Engines were warmed and at precisely 4:12 AM, June 6, 1944, the first plane piloted by major Jens A. Norgaard, formation leader, roared down the runway and into the air. Every 20 seconds thereafter the remaining 55 planes in succession roared behind him and circled into formation for the flight across the channel, and times to be at their target at 6:09 AM or 21 minutes prior to the landing craft operations of the allied ground forces on the beaches. (Utah Beach)
D-day according to Col. Bob Witty: “I was awakened at 2:30 by the duty orderly bringing a cup of hot army coffee. Sipping a coffee and dressing quickly, I open the group safe in the presence of Colonel Reginald Vance, CEO of the 344th and my boss. We pulled out the sealed orders I brought back from wing headquarters. The role of the 344th was all spelled out. We were selected the distinct honor of leading all allied air power to Utah beach. We would bomb at 6:05 each of the three boxes of 18 ships was assigned a specific target. Major Norgaard and I would lead the first box to a landmark called LaGrand Jeune and attack a fortification known as Willderstandnest 5.”
Witty continues, “It became obvious as the formation roared south of London toward Buncher Beacon “Ford” that we could not bomb at 12,000 feet. Norgard, codename “Pawnbroker 1,” nosed the group down to 10,000 feet. Then to 5000 feet. Our bombardier, Captain James Parish, thought he could bomb accurately at 3500 feet, if the weather and visibility suited major Norgaard. Each of our three boxes have been assigned one of the three coastal batteries embedded in solid concrete. It’s suited major Norgaard just fine. The weather has begun to improve, just like the weather sweats had predicted.”
Battle of the Bulge: On December 18, 1944 the target was Herhahn, a defended town. The 495th squadron under Lieutenant Colonel Norgaard attacked Herhahn. This defended town was successfully bombed by use of Pathfinder equipment. As has been usual for the missions in December no flak was encountered.
B0296 interrogation p168, p143 Load List, p134 Formation diagram
After the war: Lieutenant Colonel Jens A. Norgaard, who commanded the 495th bombardment squadron during his training days in Florida and through it’s operational status in England, France and Belgium, was transferred to group headquarters on May 25, 1945 and served for a time as deputy commanding officer. On June 19, 1945 he received orders to the 70th reinforcement depot in France, for return to the United States for further assignment.
Harry Loveless remembers: “In preparation for becoming a flight leader, I flew copilot on March 20, 1945, Mission number 22, with Colonel Norgaard, Box 1.” “Later, on March 31, 1945, I led C flight in Box 1. I was severely criticized upon returning to base because our flight’s bombs had missed our assigned target. We had released our bombs while in a bank rather than while flying straight and level. One more chance, Lieutenant! I held a serious conversation with Charlie, our bombardier, and we were given a second chance.”
Jens A Norgaard died on 24 September 1989 in Florida.
Letter from Mary Jo Norgaard to Mabelle Parish July 2006
My son James Norgaard found your letter on this website. It was great to relive memories so many years later. He felt you might like to hear a little more of the story.
I am the Mary Jo, Lt. Col. Jens A. Norgaard named his plane after. His parents were both Danish, not Norwegian. He was born in Danish owned St. Croix. I am 91 years old and still have a mind and memories of your Jim (that’s what we called him).
Jens and I were married in March 1943, he died in September 1989. We lived in Lakeland, Florida where Jens was Commander of the 495th Squadron of the 344th bomb group of the 9th Air Force.
His group had been picked to train new B26 Crews after we lost so many of our B26 Crews to Hitler’s Rommel, “The Fox” in the African Desert in 1943.
When their group left for Europe in January 1944, Jens handpicked his crew. James Parish was the group’s best bombardier and Lou Offenberg was the most outstanding Navigator (We still keep in touch with him). The family met with him in Florida after Jens died and he told us all about D-Day` which we taped. Lou had special Celestial training.
Col. Witty said the D-Day Mission was miraculous. It was!
I dedicated Jens’ plane to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph when he named it after me. A month before D-Day when they were practicing the D-Day formation, Lou Offenberg noticed a lake that wasn’t on his map. He asked Jens why. Jens told him it was in front of the palace and not marked to protect the palace from German aircraft. Lou marked his map.
On D-Day the weather was so bad Col. Witty wanted to abort the mission. Jens insisted they could do it with his great crew.
When they had the formation together about 15 minutes before they were to drop their bombs, Jens asked Lou where they were. Lou answered, “I don’t have a ghost of an idea.” Just at that moment the clouds opened over the lake in front of the palace. They knew where they were and dropped their bombs on all their targets within 20 seconds of the target time.
They opened Utah Beach so our men were able to land safely, while the U.S. 8th Air Force missed their target on Omaha Beach and dropped their bombs 3 miles inland, causing the deaths of so many of our men.
I learned this in 2002 when I went to the Dedication of the Museum at the Arnhem Bridge in Holland with my son Lt. Col. Anders J. Norgaard and his wife Geraldine. Jens and his crew with Jim and Lou had destroyed the important bridge after many other crews had failed.
On a mission sometime after D-day, Jens was flying one of his group’s planes, “Schiffoni’s” because the Mary Jo was being repaired. While your Jim was leaning over the bombsite a piece of shrapnel came through it and struck him in the forehead. Jens dropped his bombs and immediately turned the plane around to return to their base, as Jim was thought to be dead, but when Jim moved suddenly, Jens changed course to the nearest base to get help. But, Jim died there. Jim was the only one of Jens’ crew that he lost. No one ever died on the Mary Jo.
July 24, 1944. Tours/LaRiche RR Bridge Squadron Navigator, lost his life on this mission for which he was the Lead Bombardier. (494)
When we defeated Japan, Jens was released from the service in California in August of 1945. Where he had been sent to join the war against Japan, after returning from Europe. He and I went to visit Jim’s parents, after his discharge, to give them the details of his death and his life with the group, and to comfort them.
I forgot to tell you, our son Anders was born on June 4 1944, two days before D-Day. Jens didn’t know of his birth for 2 weeks, all communication was stopped, as you know.
I have kept in touch with Lambert Austin who has been writing a newsletter every few months for years. I had also kept in touch with Carl Christ and his wife Edna, who were part of the 344th. Carl has gathered a great deal of information for the museum and the B26 groups. Carl died in 2005.
The success of the D-day mission would never have been so great, had it not been for James Parish’s expertise as a bombardier.
D-Day according to Bob Witty
Commanding Officer, 11-7-44 to 8-17-45
344th Bombardment Group
I was to fly this mission as Command Pilot in the copilot seat with the lead crew, a be-medalled outfit which had led the Group again and again and was a typical polyglot American bomber crew under the command of Squadron Commander Jens Norgaard who had trained them since their fledgling days at MacDill Field in Tampa. The crew consisted of a Norwegian, two Jewish lads, two Irish, a Pole and a Hungarian.
Under Norgaard’s methodical pre-flight checking we reviewed emergency bailout procedures, inspected our French Franc issue in our escape-kits, our flak suits, our emergency rations, our pistols and maps this careful attention to detail, the crew knew, might tilt the odds in their favor in case of a bailout or crash landing.
The banter of the mess was gone in its place was a professional grimness, a stoic but confident attitude toward their mission. This was a crack crew, flying its 20th mission together and nothing would be left to chance.
With his wing lights stabbing twin holes in the misting night, Norgaard led the Group, like so many pachyderms, nose to tail, down the taxiways. Thin down the runway that night, with the fabled “metallic-taste” in their mouths, I’m sure my fellow crew members had their fingers (figuratively) crossed, as I did, in a nod to Lad Luck.
I mechanically helped Norgaard get the Mary Jo (named for his wife) into the air and having lived with the perils of this mission for a week in my mind I was echoing my last word at the briefing, “Godspeed.”
Joining up 54 twin-engined bombers on a clear night was not easy assembling them on course at 12,000 feet on a rain-swept night between clouds layers, was miraculous. Inside Mary Jo the instrument lights cast a dancing, eerie-colored glow throughout the cockpit. Climbing through the clouds, the running lights of the other Marauders as they skillfully formed up on the leader, were reassuring. In 20 minutes we were formed and on course for one of the most memorable flights any of us would ever fly.
The three “boxes” of 18 planes had different targets on the Cherbourg Peninsula, but would stay together over the Channel and separate only for their bomb runs in to the individual aiming points. It was obvious as we roared South of London that we could not attack at 12,000 feet because of the clouds. We nosed the formation down to 10,000, then to 5,000 and then a bit lower. From there it was still possible for the bombardiers to use their Norden sights. Just barely.
As dawn spread slowly up out of the East, on the surface of the choppy Channel we could make out the magnificent armada of 10,000 Allied slips bearing thousands of men to a rendezvous with history – a rendezvous that many would not survive. It was a riveting sight that none of us would ever forget: the largest assembly of ships and men and power the world had ever known.
The tension mounted as the gunners tested their twin 50-caliber machine guns preparatory to approaching Utah Beach a crackling clatter so much a part of these methodically choreographed missions.
Our targets, three batteries of concrete-imbedded coastal guns East of Cherbourg, on the Contentin Coast, were coming up fast now. The most vulnerable period of a bombing mission occurs when the aircraft has to be steadied on a level, straight-in course flak and fighters make this brief, suspenseful period a veritable hell. But today the German fighters had been swept from the skies and the anti-aircraft fire was desultory, inaccurate.
The Group honed in on the massive gun emplacements and arrived at the three aiming points within 20 seconds of target time. One could sense the relief in the crew as the aircraft lurched abruptly with the launching of 2,000 pounds of bombs and the cry of Bombardier Parish, from his plexi-glass perch in the nose, “Bombs away! Let’s out of here!” Norgaard wheeled formation back out over the Channel, through a thin layer of clouds and spotty rain squalls. Mission accomplished.
I sensed a collective sigh of relief in our plane there is a release of tension after a bomb run that crackles through the crew. The actual danger is not entirely over, but the most perilous moment is behind them.
Leveling off and heading for base, one of the aircraft in the third box received a direct hit from the sporadic ground fire and it was up on one wing, sliding fast toward the water trailing black smoke, a fiery doomed comet no one witnessing a mortally wounded, blazing bomber on its final plunge will ever forget it. In my own case, it remains seared into my memory.
Later, when we arrived at base, BBC was to say that of the eight Marauder Groups involved that day, “Only two planes were missing of the 400 which struck the German fortifications.” Only.
Only 12 young men, lost in their prime. Only 12 families notified and destined to mourn forever. Only 12 sweethearts or wives left to ponder celebrating the “Return of the WWII Americans to East Anglia,” I hated it just as much as in the angst of that moment in 1944.
Norgaard touched the Mary Jo down gracefully and whilst flak jackets and helmets and woes were shed as he wheeled into the handstand, I knew what to expect: with the tension of the mission behind them, these very young men (only two on that crew were over 22) burst into talk giddy, tension-relieved chatter that proclaimed, “We made it!”
Witty describes Norgaard- “From Iowa, bigger than life Jens Norgaard brought to the 4/95 his rich football background and gentle giant firmness. As conscientious as he was huge, he never the less was a pussy cat when the situation calls for it and much to my delight he insisted on driving to the inside streets for the duration.”
Email from Mabelle Parish to Carl Carrozza (webmaster/historian)
Hello Carl! You can not imagine how very surprised I was to get your email! I cried reading your account of my uncle’s (Captain James Parish) last moments before he died. I know that he was still breathing after this incident, because they turned around and headed back to England in hopes that he would live…I believe they pronounced him once they landed. Of course I never knew my uncle, but in a way I did because of all the stories about him told by my father, my grandmother and grandfather. I do not believe this information was ever shared with my family because it was never mentioned when recounting that my uncle had died as a result of a piece of shrapnel penetrating his helmet. I’m glad it was not…as it would have only added to the sorrow with the inevitable “If onlys.” On the lighter side, we (the nieces and nephews) used to think that the story of the Mary Jo and my uncle dropping the first bombs was just family folk lore. When my father (who had retired from the Air Force with honors in 1964) died in 1995, for some odd reason I got the boxes of “papers” that had been in my parent’s attic.My mother had passed away in 1986. About five years ago I rediscovered the box and went through it…it was a treasure chest of papers, letters, and flight books. The letters were such a wonderful peek into the lives of my two uncles (Perry & buddy) and my father’s while the Parish brothers were in the war. My father served in China/Burma/India and my uncle buddy served in the pacific while Perry, of course was in the European theater. There were letters to and from each of them and letters to my grandparents back at home in Montgomery Alabama. I cried a lot reading those letters, in particular the one I found that Perry had written to my father just before D-Day. He talked about the great sacrifice that would be made and that future generations would know and understand that freedom would be soon won. I also found the telegram the War Department sent to my grandparents informing them of Perry’s death. My grandmother never got over his death. I have pictures of her prior to the summer of 1944 and she was smiling…afterwards, pictures of her smiling were almost non-existent. She told me one time about an incident that happened several days before the telegram came. She said she woke up (very clear that she woke up) because she felt someone pulling her big toe…the signal that my father, and my uncles used to let her know they were home after being out. She said she saw a very bright light and my uncle Perry, with an angel standing behind him, was in this light. He told her: “Mama…I want you to know I’m home safe and don’t you worry about me.” The next night she had a dream where she was standing in the living-room looking out the window at the street that ran in front of their house. She saw the Western Union boy on his bicycle coming up the street. She began to scream “Don’t you come here….Don’t you come here…” He then stopped his bike at the their steps….she said she woke up. The next morning she was in the kitchen preparing my grandfather’s breakfast and his lunch box.(He was a switch-man for the L&N Railroad) He was in the bathroom shaving. She happened to go into the living-room for something and saw the Western Union boy coming up the steps. She began to scream for my grandfather who came out of the bathroom with lather still on his face. He was the one to answer the door and receive this terrible telegram that would forever change not only their lives, but the lives of my father and uncle buddy as well. When I found this telegram I sat and cried for what seemed to be a very long time. I absolutely could not imagine the incredible heart break of my poor grandfather standing there with shaving cream on his face and reading that his first born, the big brother hero of my father and my uncle buddy, was dead. For that matter, what an awful job it must have been to be a Western Union messenger during the war years. My uncle was buried in England until the end of the war, and then he was brought home for burial in the family lot in Montgomery. My grandmother was so distraught she was not able to attend the funeral. Col Norgaard and his wife Mary Jo came to see my grandparents and gave them as much comfort as possible. Col Norgaard spoke so highly of my uncle not only as an excellent well thought of crew member but as a well respected man of integrity and honor. This, I believe did help them as much as anything could. My grandparents always talked about how much respect they had for both Col Norgaard and his wife. I also happened to find the letter Perry’s fiancee had written to my grandmother after his death. This one really made me cry because of the realization that I never got to know my uncle and this woman who would have been my aunt and the cousins I would have. I had this deep sense of loss for what might have been. Her name was Pat. She talked about how she could not imagine the pain and heartbreak my grandmother was suffering, because she knew the depth of the pain and agony she was experiencing. She talked about the life the two of them had planned, and the very deep love they had for each other. She noted that she had enclosed her engagement ring as she felt my grandmother should have it. Several years ago I received an email letter from Mrs. Norgaard…she was 91 at the time. She told me about the Mary Jo’s mission on D-Day and the bravery of every crew member. Carl, I gave all the papers (including the flight plan for the morning of D-Day and sure enough there was the Mary Jo in the lead!) to my brother who retired from the Air Force in 1996 after a distinguished 24 years of service.I believe the email letter from Mrs. Norgaard was among those papers. I will contact my brother and ask if he can scan it and send it to me and then I will forward it on to you. The contents of this letter is not only about my uncle but also some very interesting facts about the bomb run itself. Thank you so much for answering my email….I’m going to share with my family the information you gave me. And about the picture…yes I do have it. That picture and the “official” Army Air Crop photo of Perry sat side by side on the bookcase in the living-room right next to my grandparents chairs for as long as they lived in the house on Highland Ave. I now proudly display them on one of my bookshelves! Again thank you so much for contacting me!
344th Bombardment Group, USAAF - History
Redesignated 126th Bombardment Group (Light). Allotted to ANG (Ill) on 24 May 1946. Extended federal recognition on 29 Jun 1947. Redesignated 126th Composite Group in Nov 1950, and 126th Bombardment Group (Light) in Feb 1951. Ordered to active service on 1 Apr 1951 and assigned to Tactical Air Command. Moved to France, Nov-Dec 1951, and assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Used B-26's for training and maneuvers. Relieved from active duty and transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the control of ANG (Ill), on 1 Jan 1953. Redesignated 126th Fighter-Bomber Group.
- 108th: 1951-1953.
- 115th: 1951.
- 168th: 1951-1953.
- 180th: 1951-1953.
- 494th: 1942-1946.
- 495th: 1942-1946.
- 496th: 1942-1946.
- 497th: 1942-1945.
- MacDill Field, Fla, 8 Sep 1942
- Drane Field, Fla, 28 Dec 1942
- Hunter Field, Ga, 19 Dec 1943- 26 Jan 1944
- Stansted, England, 9 Feb 1944
- Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France, 30 Sep 1944
- Florennes/Juzaine, Belgium, 5 Apr 1945
- Schleissheim, Germany, c. 15 Sep 1945- 15 Feb 1946
- Bolling Field, DC, 15 Feb-31 Mar 1946
- O'Hare Intl Aprt, Ill, 1 Apr 1951
- Langley AFB, Va, 25 Jul-19 Nov 1951
- Bordeaux AB, France, 7 Dec 1951
- Laon AB, France, c. 25 May 1952-1 Jan 1953
- Lt Col Jacob J Brogger, 10 Oct 1942
- Col Guy L McNeil, 2 Nov 1942
- Col John A Hilger, 7 Nov 1942
- Lt Col Vernon L Stintzi, 20 Jul1943
- Maj Robert W Witty, c. 6 Aug 1943
- Col Reginald F C Vance, 19 Sep 1943
- Col Robert W Witty, 7 Nov 1944
- Lt Col Lucius D Clay Jr, 18 Aug 1945-15 Feb 1946
- Col Russell B Daniels, 1 Apr 1951
- Lt Col Carl R Norton, 25 Jun 1951
- Lt Col Max H Mortensen, 21 Jul 1952
- Col Glen W Clark, 5 Aug 1952
- Lt Col Max H Mortensen, 18 Nov 1952-c. 1 Jan 1953
- American Theater
- Air Offensive, Europe
- Northern France
- Central Europe
Decorations: Distinguished Unit Citation: France, 24-26 Jul 1944.
496th Bomb Squadron
The nose art of a B-26 Marauder nicknamed "Maxwell House" of the 344th Bomb Group. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: '"Maxwell House"- 496th Sqdn Commander Jewell C. Maxwell- actually taken in July 1944 at Stansted. ►This date of the picture taking seems to be wrong, as 42-95870 "maxwell House - Good to the Last Drop" was lost on 20 April 1944 with the Jack V. Porter crew (344th BG/496th BS - MACR 4103 - crashed and burned in France.
The nose art of a B-26 Marauder (serial number 42-95924) nicknamed "Rum Buggy" of the 344th Bomb Group. Image by Jack K Havener, 344th Bomb Group.. Associated caption: '"Rum Buggy" AJ Frieburger.'. Caption from “The Martin B-26 Marauder” by J.K.Havener, p161 - 'Lt. Al Frieburger's "Rum Buggy" on the 496th Squadron hardstand, 344th Bomb Group. Note fixed gun in lower nose has been removed. Bomb dollies and racks clutter the background. Spring 1944'.
A B-26 Marauder (N3-A) of the 496th Bomb Squadron, 344th Bomb Group photographed from the side at Stansted airfield. Handwritten caption on reverse: '344BG, 496BS.'
Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Witty (fourth from the left with a map) gives a last minute briefing to Major Maxwell and his crew before they get in their aircraft, a 496th Bomb Squadron, 344th Bomb Group B-26 Marauder (N3-A, serial number 42-95870) nicknamed "Maxwell House" in the background. Passed for publication 13 Apr 1944. Handwritten caption on reverse: '"Maxwell House", Maj. Maxwell & Lt. Col Robert Witty (4th left with map). 344th BG, 496th BS. Stansted 1944.' Printed caption on reverse: 'A U.S. Ninth Air Force Marauder Station, England. Associated Press Photo Shows:- With a stack of 1,000 lb. bombs in the foreground and their ship in the background, crew members of Major Maxwell's ship "Maxwell House" listen to last minute instructions from Lt. Col. Robert Witty (fourth from left with map) before getting aboard their 'plane. CAR 13. 12-4-44-EM.' Censor no: 315579. On reverse: US Army Press Censor ETO and US Army General Section Press & Censorship Bureau [Stamps].
"Luftwaffe Nemesis - Here you see a "Silver Streak" Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber of the 9th AF leaving the Nazi airfield at Beauvais Tille in France, after a recent attack by the Marauders. A large dispersal area took a heavy pounding during the daylight operation and hits were scored on an important hangar, crews reported. Thirty three separate attacks were carried out by both Marauders and Havocs of the 9th AF on Luftwaffe airfields in May 44."
344 th Bomb Group (M) AAF
Dedicated to the memory of the 344th Bombardment Group (Medium) AAF "Silver Streaks" and its members who died with honor.
The 344th Bomb Group led the Ninth Air Force into action on D-Day, striking gun emplacements on Cherbourg Peninsula, just 21 minutes ahead of landing craft.
Presidential Unit Citation dated 31 August, 1945 for Actions 24-26 July 1944
Presented on 23 August 1991.
Dedicated to the memory of the
344th Bombardment Group (Medium) AAF "Silver Streaks"
and its members who died with honor.
The 344th Bomb Group led the Ninth Air Force
into action on D-Day, striking gun emplacements
on Cherbourg Peninsula, just 21 minutes
ahead of landing craft.
Presidential Unit Citation
dated 31 August, 1945
for Actions 24-26 July 1944
Presented on 23 August 1991
Erected 1991 by Members of the 344th Bomb Group Association.
Location. 39° 0.979′ N, 104° 51.31′ W. Marker is in United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, in El Paso County. Marker is in the United States Air Force Academy Cemetery, on Parade Loop west of Stadium Boulevard, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: USAF Academy CO 80840, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 379 th Bomb Group (H) (here, next to this marker) World War II Glider Pilots (here, next to this marker) 306 th Bombardment Group (H) (here, next to this marker) 95 th Bomb Group H
(here, next to this marker) 492nd Bomb Group (H) & 801st Bomb Group (P) (here, next to this marker) 416th Bombardment Group (L) (here, next to this marker) 20th Fighter Group (here, next to this marker) 384th Bombardment Group (H) (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in United States Air Force Academy.
More about this marker. Must have a valid ID to enter the USAF Academy grounds.
Also see . . .
1. 344th Bombardment Group, USAAF. (Submitted on February 17, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. 344th Bomb Group. (Submitted on February 17, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. 344th Bomb Group. (Submitted on February 17, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. D-Day Story: Malcolm Edwards (344th Bomb Group). (Submitted on February 17, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
5. Milk run : official newsletter/344th Bomb Group Association. Univ of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries (Submitted on February 17, 2021, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)