458th Bombardment Group (H)

  Honoring those who served with the 458th BG during World War II

B-24H-25-DT 42-51110 Top O' The Mark

At Horsham St Faith with an unknown ground man

(Photo: Wayne Wood)

Missions

Aircraft-TopOTheMark
Date  Target  Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  Comments
13-May-44 TUTOW A/F ZIMMERMAN 41 16 P 7V 1  
19-May-44 BRUNSWICK ZIMMERMAN 42 ABT P 7V -- ABORT - #2 ENG FAILURE
23-May-44 BOURGES ZIMMERMAN 45 17 P 7V 2  
24-May-44 VILLEROCHE, near MELUN  ZIMMERMAN 46 18 P 7V 3  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y ZIMMERMAN 47 19 P 7V 4  
27-May-44 NEUNKIRCHEN ZIMMERMAN 48 20 P 7V -- ABORT - SORTIE #3 SUPER CHG
28-May-44 ZEITZ ZIMMERMAN 49 21 P 7V 5  
31-May-44 BERTRIX OLNEY 52 21 P 7V 6  
02-Jun-44 STELLA/PLAGE ZIMMERMAN 53 22 P 7V 7  
04-Jun-44 BOURGES A/F ZIMMERMAN 54 23 P 7V 8  
06-Jun-44 COASTAL AREAS ZIMMERMAN 56 24 P 7V 9 MSN #1
06-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT ZIMMERMAN 58 25 P 7V 10 MSN #3
11-Jun-44 BLOIS ZIMMERMAN 62 ABT P 7V -- ABORT - LOST FORMATION
14-Jun-44 DOMLEGER WARNER 65 4 P 7V 11  
15-Jun-44 GUYANCOURT URBANIAK 66 10 P 7V 12  
19-Jun-44 REGNAUVILLE ZIMMERMAN 71 28 P 7V 13 MSN #1
20-Jun-44 OSTERMOOR WALKER 73 8 P 7V 14 MSN #1
21-Jun-44 BERLIN HAUSER 75 6 P 7V 15  
23-Jun-44 3 NO BALLS ZIMMERMAN 76 ABT P 7V -- ABORT - #3 ENG FEATHERED
25-Jun-44 ST. OMER MONAHAN 80 13 P 7V 16  
25-Jun-44 ST. OMER ZIMMERMAN 80 30 P 7V 17  
28-Jun-44 SAARBRUCKEN ZIMMERMAN 81 31 P 7V 18  
29-Jun-44 ASCHERSLEBEN GORRELL 82 11 P 7V 19  2 BAIL OUT OVER GERMANY
08-Jul-44 ANIZY, FRANCE EVANS 87 4 P 7V 20  
12-Jul-44 MUNICH GORRELL 89 ABT P 7V -- ABORT - #4 ENG FAILURE
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN GORRELL 91 14 P 7V 21  
17-Jul-44 3 NO BALLS LeBEUF 92 19 P 7V 22  
18-Jul-44 TROARN GORRELL 93 15 P 7V 23  
19-Jul-44 KEMPTEN COYLE 94 10 P 7V 24  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH WARNER 95 18 P 7V 25  
21-Jul-44 MUNICH LOY 96 16 P 7V 26  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" LOY 98 17 P 7V 27  
31-Jul-44 LUDWIGSHAFEN LOY 99 18 P 7V 28  
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE LOY 100 19 P 7V 29  
02-Aug-44 3 NO BALLS LOY 101 20 P 7V 30  
03-Aug-44 2 NO BALLS GORRELL 102 17 P 7V 31  
04-Aug-44 ROSTOCK GORRELL 103 18 P 7V 32  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN NEWELL 109 ABT P Z5 -- ABORT - LOST FORMATION
11-Aug-44 STRASBOURG HELFRECHT 110 3 P Z5 33  
15-Aug-44 VECHTA COOK 114 16 P Z5 34  
16-Aug-44 MAGDEBURG DWYRE 115 11 P Z5 35  
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER WILLIAMS, E 117 1 P Z5 36  
25-Aug-44 LUBECK WILLIAMS, E 118 2 P Z5 37  
26-Aug-44 DULMEN WILLIAMS, E 120 3 P Z5 38  
27-Aug-44 FINOW SWARTZ 121 2 P Z5 39 MISSION CREDIT IN NOV
01-Sep-44 PFAFFENHOFFEN WILLIAMS, E ABN -- P Z5 -- ABANDONED
05-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE WILLIAMS, E 122 5 P Z5 40  
09-Sep-44 MAINZ KLEIN 124 5 P Z5 41  
10-Sep-44 ULM M/Y WILLIAMS, E 125 7 P Z5 42  
11-Sep-44 MAGDEBURG VEHSLAGE 126 4 P Z5 43  
12-Sep-44 WELFORD to CLASTRES HELFRECHT TR01 -- M 7V T1 TRUCKIN' MISSION
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE GRICE 133 7 M 7V 44  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN TEBBS 138 5 M 7V 45  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG GRICE 139 9 M 7V 46  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE TEBBS 142 8 M 7V 47  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN GRICE 143 10 M 7V 48  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA GRICE 145 ANA M 7V 49 POSSIBLE ANA
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F SIMPSON 146 8 M 7V 50  
16-Nov-44 ESCHWEILER GRICE 147 11 M 7V 51  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG PERRY 148 9 M 7V 52  
25-Nov-44 BINGEN GRICE 149 12 M 7V 53  
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD JONES, W 150 2 M 7V 54  
04-Dec-44 BEBRA GRICE 152 14 M 7V 55  
06-Dec-44 BIELEFELD PERRY 153 11 M 7V 56  
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN GRICE 157 15 M 7V 57  
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL GRICE 160 16 M 7V 58  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED HOFFMAN 161 2 M 7V 59  
31-Dec-44 KOBLENZ GRICE 162 17 M 7V 60  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ SZARKO 163 4 M 7V 61 LAND IN BRUSSELLS , BELG
03-Jan-45 NEUNKIRCHEN GRICE 165 19 M 7V 62  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT GLASS 166 26 M 7V 63  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG LEHR 171 24 M 7V 64  
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER GRICE 175 21 M 7V 65  
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG GRICE 177 22 M 7V 66  
06-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG JOSEPHSON 178 24 M 7V 67  
08-Feb-45 RHEINE M/Y O'REAGAN REC -- P 7V -- RECALL - WEATHER
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG O'REGAN 179 5 M 7V 68 LANDED AT RACKHEATH
14-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG GRICE 181 23 M 7V 69 BOMBED A/F LONNINGEN, GER
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG SZARKO 182 9 M 7V 70  
16-Feb-45 OSNABRUCK GRICE 183 24 M 7V 71  
17-Feb-45 ASCHAFFENBURG M/Y CRAVEN REC -- P 7V -- RECALL - WEATHER
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE JACKSON, WL 184 6 M 7V 72  
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG SIMPSON 185 20 M 7V 73  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM GRICE 186 26 M 7V 74  
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH GRICE 187 27 M 7V 75  
24-Feb-45 BIELEFELD O'REGAN 188 9 M 7V 76  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL FERRIELL 189 13 M 7V 77  
27-Feb-45 HALLE LEHR 191 32 M 7V 78  
28-Feb-45 BIELEFELD GRICE 192 29 M 7V 79  
01-Mar-45 INGOLSTADT BARNHART, L 193 14 M 7V 80  
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG JACKSON, WL 194 9 M 7V 81  
03-Mar-45 NIENBURG TEBBS 195 28 M 7V 82  
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART LAIRD 196 9 M 7V 83  
05-Mar-45 HARBURG JACKSON, WL 197 11 M 7V 84  
08-Mar-45 DILLENBURG GRICE 199 30 M 7V 85  
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK HURTENBACH  200 1 M 7V 86  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG GRICE 201 31 M 7V 87  
15-Mar-45 ZOSSEN GRICE 204 32 M 7V 88  
17-Mar-45 HANNOVER GRICE 205 33 M 7V 89  
18-Mar-45 BERLIN TEBBS 206 34 M 7V 90  
19-Mar-45 LEIPHEIM GRICE 207 34 M 7V 91  
20-Mar-45 HEMINGSTEDT MARTIN, W 208 1 M 7V 92  
21-Mar-45 HESEPE GRICE 209 35 M 7V 93  
22-Mar-45 KITZINGEN GRICE 210 36 M 7V 94  
23-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK BURMAN 211 20 M 7V 95  
24-Mar-45 KIRKOFF JACKSON, WL 213 17 M 7V 96  
25-Mar-45 HITZACKER JACKSON, WL 214 18 M 7V 97 DROPPED 12mi OFF TARGET
30-Mar-45 WILHELMSHAVEN SPRATT 215 21 M 7V 98  
31-Mar-45 BRUNSWICK JACKSON, WL 216 19 M 7V 99  
05-Apr-45 PLAUEN JACKSON, WL 218 21 M 7V 100  
06-Apr-45 HALLE JACKSON, WL 219 22 M 7V 101  
10-Apr-45 RECHLIN/LARZ JACKSON, WL 223 24 M 7V 102  
11-Apr-45 REGENSBURG JACKSON, WL 224 25 M 7V 103  
14-Apr-45 POINTE DE GRAVE JACKSON, WL 225 26 M 7V 104  
16-Apr-45 LANDSHUT JACKSON, WL 227 27 M 7V 105  
18-Apr-45 PASSAU O'REGAN 228 22 M 7V 106  
20-Apr-45 ZWIESEL HOLMGREN 229 14 M 7V 107  
25-Apr-45 BAD REICHENHALL SMITH, CL 230 1 M 7V 108


Incident - June 29, 1944

The 458th’s target for this date was the Junkers Airframe Factory near Aschersleben, Germany.  This was the group’s 82nd  mission and they managed to put 23 Liberators in the air. Of these aircraft, three aborted due to mechanical failure, leaving 19 planes to continue on to the target.  Two B-24s were lost over the target, one piloted by 2Lt William P. Perkinson (755th) and the other piloted by 2Lt Charles B. Armour (754th).  Of the 20 men who parachuted from these two bombers, 16 were captured and 4 evaded, eventually making their way back to England.

The B-24 Top O' The Mark, piloted by 1Lt Kenneth M. Gorrell (pictured at left) was flying in the lead element.  Gorrell was an original 752nd pilot who had crashed on takeoff on March 2, 1944 (the group’s first combat mission).  Seven of the ten man crew was killed, with Gorrell, his radio operator and flight engineer being injured.  Gorrell had only resumed operational flying on June 5th and this would be his 12th mission.  His crew was mostly comprised of members from two different crews who were making up missions in order to complete their tours.  In addition, two crew members were relatively new to combat flying.  Assigned to Gorrell for this mission was navigator 2Lt Milton M. Feldman (2Lt Theodore E. Haydon crew) and Sgt James R. Murray as nose turret gunner.  Murray had been with the 752nd Squadron as an armorer (MOS 511) and had been reclassified as a gunner on June 20, 1944.  It is not known for certain, but this may have been his first mission in that capacity.  Top O' The Mark also made it to the target before sustaining numerous flak hits.  One of these bursts hit in the cockpit, setting the pilot’s oxygen system on fire.

According to a statement made by Gorrell:
"At about 0930 on 29 June 44 while on the bombing run attacking ASCHERSLEBEN, we received several flak hits, one of which started a fire in the Pilot's oxygen system and spread over the left side of the cockpit.  The CO2 Fire Extinguisher was used, but did no good.  The fire was getting worse and it appeared that we would be unable to get it out, so the signal was given to prepare to abandon ship.  The interphone system was out and the alarm bells in the tail and on the flight deck did not work and it is not known whether the bell in the nose compartment worked or not. We continued to work on the fire and finally managed to beat it out.  At this point the Engineer made an inspection of the ship to see if there were any further damage or injuries to personnel.  It wasn't until then that we found out that the Navigator and Nose Turret gunner had bailed out.  The waist gunners saw the two parachutes open, but did not realize at the time who it was.  The rest of the crew was uninjured and returned with the ship to the base safely.”

Upon landing Lt Feldman was captured “between Bernburg and Calbe…” and spent the rest of the war in Stalag Luft III.  After the war, he stated that it was his first time flying with this crew and that he had heard the bailout alarm.  It is possible that this crew had a prearranged signal that consisted of using the alarm bell (maybe a short ring or two) to warn the crew to “prepare to abandon ship” (as stated by the pilot), and then a different use of the alarm bell, perhaps (long sustained ring) to tell the crew to actually jump.  That is pure speculation, but it seems that whatever happened, this crew’s bailout procedure was not communicated to the navigator and the nose turret gunner.  Feldman did not see Murray after reaching the ground.

On December 8, 1944 the Swiss Red Cross reported Sgt James R. Murray was killed in action on June 29, 1944 and was buried in the “cemetery at Muschlingen at Glothe, Germany.” The true fate of Sgt Murray was not known until well after the war. It was then, while Army investigators were trying to determine the whereabouts of U.S. airmen still reported as MIA that the truth about Sgt Murray came to light. A request for the status of Sgt Murray was made in March 1946, but investigators were hampered by the fact that Glothe lay in the Russian Zone of Occupation. While U.S. Graves Registration units were permitted to operate in this zone, their operational scope was limited.  [See rest of story here: Murder Unresolved]

Photo: Dave Ehnebuske / Painting: Mike Bailey, as commissioned by Stephen Adams

June 1945

Ferry Crew 15
B-24H-25-DT 42-51110 7V P  Top O' The Mark
1Lt William L. Jackson Crew

Disposition

B-24H-25 DT 42-51110               P          7V (752)            TOP O’ THE MARK

            NMF                             P          Z5 (754)

                                                M         7V (752)

Lead aircraft. RCM equipment.

Transferred from 752nd BS to 754th BS between 4 & 9 Aug 44 and reverted to 752nd BS between 11 Sep & 14 Oct 44.

According to Joseph Schultz, flight engineer/gunner on TOP O' THE MARK, although it [emergency land] crash-landed at Horsham St Faith on 29 Jun 44 (on return from the mission to Aschersleben) and was officially written off the station records, the base depot crews rebuilt the aircraft and made it airworthy. Mr Schultz and his crew took it over after it was repaired. They eventually flew the airplane back to the USA. In fact, they were the "unofficial" last crew and aircraft to leave the base as they had to return to Horsham St Faith (from Prestwick) in order to have the fuel cells replaced. MACR 7085 but the aircraft was not MIA.  RZI ‘45


Courtesy: Tom Brittan