458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Crew 5 - Assigned 752nd Squadron - October 1943

Standing: Ray Harrigfeld - E, Jack Wilster - TTG, John Weber - P, Cal Miller - CP, Herbert Flowers - TG
Kneeling: Burton Brown - RO, John Provenzano - B, Robert Lawrence - N, John Galazin - NTG
Not pictured: Raymond Callahan - TG

(Photo: Margaret Wilster)

Completed Tour

WeberCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Capt John L Weber 025522 Pilot Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
1Lt Calvin W Miller 0886835 Co-pilot Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
Capt Robert H Lawrence 0811087 Navigator 06-Sep-44 CT Asst Sta & Grp Navigator
Capt John J Provenzano 0688409 Bombardier 06-Sep-44 CT Asst Sta & Grp Bombardier
S/Sgt Burton O Brown 31253145 Radar Observer (865)  30-Mar-45 CT Suspended fr flying UP AAF Reg 35-16 
T/Sgt Raymond A Harrigfeld  17030619 Flight Engineer Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt John S Galazin 13026246 Aerial Gunner 01-Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt John A Wilster 3551291 Aerial Gunner/2E Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Herbert Flowers 34689528 Armorer-Gunner Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/Sgt Raymond B Callahan 32717147 Armorer-Gunner Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross

Most of Crew 5, commanded by 1Lt John L. Weber, a West Point graduate, was formed at Gowen Field, Boise, ID in September 1943 and received movement orders to Wendover Field, UT on October 5th and from there proceeded to Tonopah Army Air Field in Nevada.  At Tonopah, where the 458th BG was training its crews for deployment overseas, members of the crew from Gowen were joined by the co-pilot, navigator, and one gunner.  After two months of combat crew training, the air echelon of the 458th moved via the Southern Ferry Route to the European Theater and Horsham St Faith (AAF123) in England, most of the crews arriving in late January and early February 1944.


After several weeks of practice flying, “camera” bombing runs on The Wash, and experiencing the English weather, the group flew a pair of diversionary missions on February 24th and 25th in support of “Big Week”.  Weber and crew flew the group deputy lead on February 25th out into the North Sea towards the coast of Holland in an attempt to draw the Luftwaffe from the main 8th AF attacking force hitting targets in Germany.


The 458th’s first combat mission was on March 2, 1944 and the crew flew the Liberator that would carry them over the continent on 26 of the 33 missions that Weber is credited with.  This was B-24J-95-CO 42-100365 which would eventually carry the 752nd Squadron code “7V” and call letter “B”.  [Evidence points to the name of this aircraft as Wolfgang. It is believed that the artwork was removed so as not to be detrimental to the crew if they happened to be shot down in Germany].  On March 5th, the crew, flying their second mission, would lead the group to Bordeaux, France.  Throughout March 1944 Weber flew seven missions, three of them group leads.


In April the crew would fly 10 combat missions.  The late afternoon raid on the marshalling yards at Hamm on April 22nd, if not one of the toughest the group had flown to date, was certainly the most nerve-wracking.  Takeoff time was 4:30 PM, which would have the aircraft returning around 10:00PM in the dark.  Weber flew in the lead section, on the far left on this mission.  This first section, due to navigational difficulties after the group’s Initial Point (IP) was forced to bypass the primary target of Hamm and head for Koblenz.  One aircraft in this section from the 753rd squadron, piloted by Lt George Spaven, would be shot down by an FW 190 after suffering flak damage.  The group’s second section was able to bomb the marshalling yards successfully.


As the Liberators of the 2nd Division crossed the English coast on the return to base, German night fighters took advantage of the darkness and came slashing through the unsuspecting formations damaging several bombers on their first pass.  The 458th was ordered to fly a northerly course over the North Sea and those aircraft that could complied with this order.  The aircraft of Lt. Teague Harris and Lt Charles “Red” Stilson were downed near Norwich with nine men killed between the two crews.  The remaining Liberators of the group landed late at Horsham. In all, the 2nd Bombardment Division lost 17 Liberators over England that night.


The crew flew 11 missions in May, but only four in June, including the first of three missions that the group would fly on June 6th, D-Day.  Weber was leading the second section with Major John A. Hensler as command pilot.  The group dropped their bombs on their target behind the beaches, but could not observe the results due to 10/10 cloud cover.  Another four missions were flown in July and Weber is shown flying his final mission on August 1, 1944, which happened to be the 458th’s 100th combat mission.  The crew flew a natural metal finish (NMF) B-24J named Open Post on this mission and marked the occasion with a photo.


In all, Crew 5 flew eight group leads, five deputy group leads, nine squadron leads, and three deputy squadron leads.  The crew was forced to abort only once due to a jammed elevator trim tab.  This abort was on the same mission that their trusted aircraft, Wolfgang was lost with Lt Charles Quirk and crew.  They also were prevented from taking off on two occasions, once due to mechanical difficulties and the second time on April 24th when, according to group records: A/C 42-100365 Scheduled. No take off.  Brakes locked when taxiing due to riding brakes with #4 engines on.


Captain John Weber went on to help form the 2nd Scouting Force, flying missions in P-51 Mustangs, eventually returning to the States at war’s end.


Co-pilot 2Lt Calvin Miller, due to the crew’s status as a lead crew evidently flew with other crews to complete his tour.  On one occasion, flying with Lt Millard Schaaf, they would abort and crash land back at Horsham.


On September 6, 1944 Lt’s Robert Lawrence and John Provenzano were appointed assistant group/station navigator and bombardier respectively.  They were also both promoted to Captain in November 1944.


Two other members of the crew that had trained together in Tonopah apparently flew with other crews as well.  Cpl Burton O. Brown, the crew’s radio operator, is not shown flying missions with the crew and was reclassified with MOS 754 (Radio Mechanic) on June 15, 1944.  On October 16th he was again reclassified, rated as a Radio Operator.  In November Sgt Brown’s MOS was changed a third time to 866 (Radar Observer).  He evidently flew missions until March 1945 when he was sent on Rest Home leave.  He eventually attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.


Taking his place as radio operator, and shown on the crew’s early loading lists was T/Sgt Frank B. Hanson.  He is shown receiving the Air Medal in April 1944 and was awarded the DFC in August along with the rest of the crew.


S/Sgt John Galazin, gunner, flew several missions with the crew, but records indicate that he was replaced by S/Sgt Alfred H. Malmstrom on more than one occasion.  While Galazin did complete a combat tour, he apparently finished flying in November and was awarded the DFC.  Malmstrom may have been a regular member of the crew as his name appears on several sets of orders along with the rest of the enlisted men.  According to an article written on July 2, 1944 by war correspondent, Colin Bednall, who had flown with the crew on a NOBALL mission, Malmstrom, ..."holds the Legion of Merit, the Navy Cross, the Air Medal and four clusters.  He has flown 22 missions with Liberators. But with the very first contingent of American airmen to reach this country after Pearl Harbour he was assigned to a Havoc Squadron in England.  He flew no fewer than 66 missions with the Havocs before returning to America for a short rest."


Missions

WeberMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
25-Feb-44 DUTCH COAST D2 -- LaROCHE D1 42-109812 D 7V D2  UNKNOWN 016 Diversion Mission
02-Mar-44 FRANKFURT 1 1     42-100365 B 7V 1 WOLFGANG  
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC 3 2 LaROCHE L1 42-100365 B 7V 2 WOLFGANG  
15-Mar-44 BRUNSWICK 7 3 HOGG L1 42-100365 B 7V 5 WOLFGANG  
18-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 9 NTO WRIGHT D1 42-100311 A 7V -- YOKUM BOY HENSLER CROSSED OUT
22-Mar-44 BERLIN 11 4     42-100311 A 7V 6 YOKUM BOY  
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER 13 5 LaROCHE L2 42-100311 A 7V 8 YOKUM BOY  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ 15 6 HOGG L1 42-100365 -- 7V 7 WOLFGANG  
05-Apr-44 ST. POL-SIRACOURT 16 7 FREEMAN D2 42-100365 B 7V 8 WOLFGANG  
08-Apr-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 17 8 OLLUM L3 42-100365 B 7V 9 WOLFGANG  
11-Apr-44 OSCHERSLEBEN 20 9 KUHN D2 42-100365 B 7V 12 WOLFGANG  
20-Apr-44 SIRACOURT 24 10 FREEMAN D2 42-100365 B 7V 14 WOLFGANG  
22-Apr-44 HAMM M/Y 25 11     42-100365 B 7V 15 WOLFGANG  
24-Apr-44 LEIPHEIM A/F 26 NTO     42-100365 B 7V -- WOLFGANG BRAKES LOCK TAXIING
25-Apr-44 MANNHEIM A/F 27 12 HENSLER L2 42-100365 B 7V 16 WOLFGANG NAV NOSARZEWSKI
27-Apr-44 BONNIERES 29 13 LaROCHE L1 42-100365 B 7V 17 WOLFGANG EXTRA NAV - LANE
27-Apr-44 BLAINVILLE-SUR-L'EAU 30 14   L 42-100365 B 7V 18 WOLFGANG  
29-Apr-44 BERLIN 31 15     42-100365 B 7V 19 WOLFGANG  
01-May-44 MARQUISE/MIMOYECQUES  32 16 HENSON L3 42-100365 B 7V 20 WOLFGANG GROSS - LEAD NAV
07-May-44 OSNABRUCK 36 17     42-100365 B 7V 22 WOLFGANG  
08-May-44 BRUNSWICK 37 18     42-100365 B 7V 23 WOLFGANG  
10-May-44 DIEPHOLZ REC -- LaROCHE L 42-100365 B 7V -- WOLFGANG RECALL BEFORE EC
11-May-44 EPINAL 39 19 LaROCHE L1 42-100365 B 7V 24 WOLFGANG  
12-May-44 BOHLEN 40 ABT     42-100365 B 7V -- WOLFGANG #4 SUPER CHG
13-May-44  TUTOW A/F 41 20 FREEMAN L 42-109812 D 7V 16 UNKNOWN 016 RAUPP - LEAD NAV
23-May-44 BOURGES 45 21     42-100365 B 7V 26 WOLFGANG  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y 47 22     42-100311 A 7V 23 YOKUM BOY  
27-May-44 NEUNKIRCHEN 48 23 FREEMAN L2 42-100365 B 7V 27 WOLFGANG NAV - GROSS
29-May-44 TUTOW A/F 50 24 LaROCHE L1 42-100365 B 7V 28 WOLFGANG NAV - GROSS
05-Jun-44 STELLA/PLAGE 55 25     42-100365 B 7V 29 WOLFGANG  
06-Jun-44 COASTAL AREAS 56 26 HENSLER L2 42-100365 B 7V 30 WOLFGANG MSN #1
07-Jun-44 LISIEUX 59 27     42-109812 D 7V 24 UNKNOWN 016  
29-Jun-44 ASCHERSLEBEN 82 28 WEBER L 44-40126 ? Z5 10 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP  G. LAMERS - PILOT
02-Jul-44 COUBRONNE 83 29 FREEMAN L 42-100365 B 7V 34 WOLFGANG  
12-Jul-44 MUNICH 89 ABT HINCKLEY L2 42-109812 D 7V -- UNKNOWN 016 ELEV TRIM TABs
13-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 90 30 WEBER D1 -- -- T9 -- 466BG/784SQ WEBER CMD-P
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" 98 31 CHAMBERLAIN  L3 42-50499 F 7V 2 COOKIE/OPEN POST  
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE 100 32 WOODWARD L2 42-50499 F 7V 3 COOKIE/OPEN POST


Crew 5 after a mission

Standing: John Provenzano, John Weber, Robert Lawrence, Ray Harrigfeld
Kneeling: Frank Hanson, Jack Wilster, Unknown, Unknown
(Two unknown could be Ray Callahan, and Alfred Malmstrom)

(Photo: Margaret Wilster)

B-24J-95-CO 42-100365 7V B Wolfgang

Artwork was removed prior to combat as "it could prove detrimental to the crew..." if shot down.
 

Crew 5 in Wolfgang, leading the group out on March 5, 1944. 

The area where the artwork was removed can barely be seen under the armor plate and navigator's window.

 
Wolfgang with the Group's assembly ship, First Sergeant on a mission in the spring of 1944.

(Photos: George Reynolds)

Crew 5 - July or August 1944

Weber and crew in front of Open Post probably taken at the end of their tour.

Back row, 2nd from left: John Weber
Front row: Herbert Flowers, Robert Lawrence, Ray Harrigfeld, Jack Wilster, Frank Hanson, John Provenzano

(Photo: FOLD3)

2nd Scouting Force, August 1944

Captain John L. Weber and Major Frank B. Elliott (Air Exec)


(Photo: E. Richard Atkins)