458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Captain Leland G. Griffith - Operations Officer

Leland G. Griffith outside 753rd Squadron area - Spring 1944

Leland Griffith was assigned to the 753rd Squadron in the fall of 1943 as the Assistant Operations Officer.  His direct superior, Operations Officer Captain Jack L. Bogusch, was shot down and killed on the 458th's 4th combat mission to Berlin on March 6, 1944.  Bogusch flew as pilot for the crew of 2Lt Lloyd B. Andrew, who was ill.  Griffith inherited the Operations Officer job upon Captain Bogusch's loss.  In this capacity, he flew on a rotating basis as Command Pilot in lead or deputy lead ships.  He was promoted to Captain on June 26, 1944.  In late August, he was transferred from the 753rd Squadron to the 755th.  On September 1, 1944 the 458th was assigned as a target, an ammunition dump near Pfaffenhoffen, Germany.  The PFF lead ships that day were supplied by the 466th Bombardment Group from nearby Attlebridge.  Griffith was aboard a B-24H named Liberty Belle manned by the crew of 1Lt Homer Y. Harris.  On past occasions the PFF ships had flown low over the field as a signal for the group to begin putting Liberators into the air.  This time something went horribly wrong...

(Photo: Anne Zimmer)

Kern County Union High School, Bakersfield, CA

Griffith's senior high school yearbook entry, Class of 1937

(Courtesy: Jerry Leone)

Tonopah, Nevada - November 1943

753rd Squadron Operations Office
Captain Jack L. Bogusch (L), and Lt Leland G. Griffith

Horsham St Faith

Lieutenants Waldo Spangelo, Lloyd Andrew, and Leland Griffith



Captain Griffith (right) ready for a flight aboard Lady Luck

The airman on the left is Crew 36 bombardier Robert Maloney.


Captain Griffith's Missions

GriffithMissions
Date  Target  Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
03-Mar-44 BERLIN McMAINS 2 1 GRIFFITH L 42-52306 -- J4 2 UNKNOWN 030 LEAD
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN ALVESTAD 8 2 GRIFFITH L 41-28671 K J4 6 UNKNOWN 001 LEAD
01-May-44 MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES  GRIFFITH 32 3
  41-28706 F J4 14 DREAM BOAT/SPARE PARTS    
01-May-44 LIEGE M/Y GRIFFITH 33 4
  41-28706 F J4 15 DREAM BOAT/SPARE PARTS   
04-Jun-44 2 TACTICAL TARGETS GRIFFITH AZ03 5
  44-40288 S J4 -- BAD GIRL BATTLE DAMAGE - FLAK
15-Jun-44 3 RAILWAY BRIDGES GRIFFITH AZ07 6
  42-100408 D J4 20 BEASTFACE  
21-Jul-44 MUNICH McNAMARA 96 7 GRIFFITH L2 42-110184 F J3 15 GWEN LEAD 2ND SECTION
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA HEMRICH 97 8 GRIFFITH D1 42-100425 D J3 20 THE BIRD DEPUTY LEAD
04-Aug-44 ROSTOCK HANCOCK 103 ABT GRIFFITH L2 42-110059 E J3 -- PAPPY YOKUM #1 ENGINE
05-Aug-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM HEMRICH 105 9 GRIFFITH L2 42-100407 A J3 35 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY LEAD 2ND SECTION
14-Aug-44 DOLE/TAVAUX BLUM 113 10 GRIFFITH L2 42-50864 B J3 3 JOLLY ROGER (II?) LEAD 2ND SECTION
17-Aug-44 LE FOULONS RR BRIDGE EVANS AZ11 11 GRIFFITH   44-40275 L J4 12 SHACK TIME 10/10 CLOUD - NO DROP 
01-Sep-44 PFAFFENHOFFEN HARRIS REC ACC GRIFFITH D1 42-51134 R T9 -- LIBERTY BELLE CRASH 466BG PFF SHIP


B-24H-25-DT 42-51134 T9 O  Liberty Belle



DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT

At approximately 0728, B-24H, 42-51134 of AAF Station 120 crashed near R/W 23 of AAF Station 123 preceding an operational mission which it was scheduled to deputy lead on September 1, 1944.  The cause of this accident is unknown although it is believed by eye-witnesses to have been caught in the prop wash of another A/C that it was following too closely.

 

The A/C was completely destroyed and all personnel aboard killed instantly.  There was little damage to private property.

 

Recommendation: None.  A/C might have been saved had it been flying a few hundred feet higher while in close proximity of another A/C as it was.




STATEMENT


At approximately 0727 when I was at the traffic caravan at the head of runway 23.  I saw the two PFF ships scheduled to lead the mission 1 September 1944, approaching the field at an altitude of approximately 300 ft.  As they started the right turn to come over runway 23, the deputy lead started to overrun the leader.  At this time he banked it up to an angle of 40° to 45°.  Immediately thereafter he hit the lead ships prop wash which threw him over past the vertical.  He then appeared to pull back on the stick causing the nose to come up, and the ship slid off on the right wing seemingly in a stall.  The pilot appeared to get the ship partially under control at about 75 feet above the ground, as the wings leveled out although the nose was still pointed down.  Then, as it appeared to me, the pilot pulled the stick back rapidly causing a violent secondary stall and the ship crashed, exploded and burned rapidly.


Donald C. Jamison

Major, Air Corps

Commanding




To Whom it May Concern,

 

On the morning of 1 September 1944, at approximately 0727, I was standing at the caravan watching the two PFF ships making their turn to line up over runway 23.  I would say the altitude of the lead ship was 250 feet, as the lead ship increased his bank near the end of the runway, Capt Griffith’s plane steepened his turn to stay on the inside of the turn of the lead ship.  In doing that his right wing caught prop wash and stalled out leaving the plane in about a 50° bank to the right and dropping straight down.  About 50 feet from the ground they succeeded in getting the wings leveled out but it looked like they pulled the plane back up into a secondary stall and it went into the ground nose first from there and caught fire immediately  The bombs did not explode.  The time was 0728.




KENWYN R. STECKEL

2nd Lt, AC


ACCIDENT STATEMENT

At approximately 0728 hours B-24, A/C No. 134 “O”, which had taken off from Attlebridge, crashed approximately 300 yards northeast of R/W 23.  The A/C burned immediately upon contact with the ground and there were no survivors.  Lt. Harris of Attlebridge was pilot, Capt. Griffith of Horsham was Command Pilot.  The A/C was observed making a starboard turn northeast of this field, prop wash from a preceding A/C, it is believed, nearly turned the A/C on its back.  The ship seemed to recover but kept losing altitude and alternately dropping its wings until finally crashing.  The bombs carried did not explode as they were clear of the debris.

 

Weather: WSW at 12 M.P.H. – Viz. 8 miles.

 

Robert A. Quinlivan,

1st Lt., Air Corps,

Flying Control Officer


Accident Report 45-9-1-513 photos


Capt Griffith's Obituary




Captain L. Glenn Griffith, son of Mrs. Lucy Griffith of 806 Niles Street, has been reported killed in action on September 1 in England, according to word received today by his mother and wife, the former Miss Mildred Chesterman, who is now living with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Chesterman, 1311 Beale Avenue.  Captain Griffith left the United States for the European theater in January of this year and was operations officer and the pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber.  In addition to his wife and mother, the flier is survived by a 10-day old daughter and a brother, Albert Griffith, who now resides in Coalinga, Calif.  Captain Griffith was educated in the Bakersfield schools.


The Bakersfield Californian, September 18, 1944, pg. 9 (via Jerry Leone)


1Lt Homer Y. Harris Crew - 784BS 466BG

GriffithCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Capt Leland G Griffith 0743236 Cmd Pilot 01-Sep-44 KIA Bakersfield, CA
1Lt Homer Y Harris 0801596 Pilot 01-Sep-44 KIA Fairfield, IL
1Lt Willard Lange 0755705 Co-pilot 01-Sep-44 KIA Deschutes County, OR
1Lt Burton J Smith 0601823 DR Navigator 01-Sep-44 KIA Wayne County, MI
1Lt Clay Byers 0673769 Navigator 01-Sep-44 KIA Cambridge American Cemetery 
1Lt John J French 0686143 Bombardier 01-Sep-44 KIA Kings County, NY
1Lt Lawrence J Langer 0674685 P - Bombardier  01-Sep-44 KIA Cambridge American Cemetery
T/Sgt Willis S Benagh 14161884 Radio Operator 01-Sep-44 KIA Nashville, TN
T/Sgt Donald Call 35537880 Flight Engineer 01-Sep-44 KIA St Joseph County, IN
S/Sgt Anthony V Mulone 13040923 Aerial Gunner 01-Sep-44 KIA Allegheny County, PA
S/Sgt Thomas F Hughes, Jr  32473824 Aerial Gunner 01-Sep-44 KIA Cambridge American Cemetery
S/Sgt Bernard Hochheiser 32014067 Aerial Gunner 01-Sep-44 KIA Kings County, NY

Unfortunately no photo has yet been located for this crew.

T/Sgt Willis S. Benagh - Radio Operator


1Lt Clay Byers - Navigator