458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Crew 13 - Assigned 752nd Squadron - October 1943

Back Row: Fred Buckner - CP, Julius Needelman - N, Walter Mangerich - P, Eric Rood - B
Middle Row: Oscar Chambers - RO, Walter Zaczek - WG, Walter Bogdanowicz - BTG, John Spadone - E
Front Row: William Murray - TG, Eugene Bonner - WG

(Photo: John Spadone)

Interned in Sweden April 9, 1944, Easter Sunday (MACR #3835)

MangerichCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Walter E Mangerich 0747292 Pilot 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden 
2Lt Fred L Buckner 0811002 Co-pilot 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
2Lt Julius Needelman 0810715 Navigator 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
2Lt Eric W Rood 0752907 Bombardier 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
S/Sgt Oscar L Chambers 15382168 Radio Operator 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
S/Sgt John G Spadone 32573790 Flight Engineer 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
S/Sgt Walter F Bogdanowicz  16126892 Ball Turret Gunner 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
Sgt Eugene R Bonner 19003394 Waist Gunner 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
Sgt Walter E Zacek 32251645 Aerial Gunner 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden
Sgt William P Murray 34600950 Tail Turret Gunner 09-Apr-44 INT Force landed in Sweden

Crew 13 trained with the group in Tonopah in late 1943 and moved overseas with them in January 1944. They flew a B-24 named Gator (Flight Engineer John Spadone painted the artwork on the nose) to the UK, but most of their missions were flown aboard another 752nd Squadron ship named Fritzi. Their 11th mission on April 9, 1944 found them in an aircraft nicknamed Jayhawker, which had been the aircraft of F/O Harold W. Hetzler and crew.  Hetzler, a native Kansan, and his crew had been lost, ironically in Fritzi on March 23, 1944.

MACR 3835
An E/A was seen to hit Mangerich's #3 engine over Kadet Channel.  The engine was on fire, but was successfully feathered.  However, plane could not keep up with the formation despite having salvoed bombs and he circled, losing altitude.  The A/C was under control as it left the formation and was last sighted headed back towards Laaland, Denmark.

Missions

MangerichMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
02-Mar-44 FRANKFURT 1 1 41-29329 L 7V 1 FRITZI  
06-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER 4 2 42-52335 R Z5 4 ADMIRABLE LITTLE CHARACTER   
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER 5 3 41-29329 L 7V 2 FRITZI  
09-Mar-44 BRANDENBURG 6 4 41-29329 L 7V 3 FRITZI  
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 8 5 41-29329 L 7V 5 FRITZI  
18-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 9 6 41-29329 L 7V 6 FRITZI  
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER 13 7 42-52457 Q 7V 5 FINAL APPROACH  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES 14 8 41-28709 I 7V 7 LUCKY STRIKE  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ 15 9 41-29352   7V 7 WOLVE'S LAIR  
05-Apr-44 ST. POL-SIRACOURT  16 10 41-28667 F 7V 6 JAYHAWKER  
09-Apr-44 TUTOW A/F 18 11 41-28667 F 7V 8 JAYHAWKER LANDED IN SWEDEN 


Crew 13 aircraft


Two aircraft flown by Crew 13: Jayhawker (middle left, no' Circle-K') and Lucky Strike (foreground)

1Lt Walter E. Mangerich - Pilot

On Easter Sunday, 9 April 1944 our crew was scheduled to go on a mission to Tutow in western Germany to bomb an airfield.  The weather was marginal at take-off time and we had to fly through an overcast on instruments to reach assembly altitude. Because of the poor weather and the large number of planes attempting to assemble in such a small area there were several mid-air collisions and many crews were not able to find their leaders and had to join other formations.  We found our group and proceeded to a landfall in Denmark with little disturbance.

As we were getting close to the target area we were attacked by fighter planes and there were no friendly planes in sight.  I had a clear view of the plane that attacked us head on, and over the right wing.  His guns knocked out our number 3 engine and set it on fire.  Fortunately we were able to put out the fire.  We salvoed the 10x500lb bombs, trimmed up the plane and by adding a little power, we were able to join the formation, but it wasn’t for long.  Soon the cylinder head temperature on the number 4 was steadily creeping up to the red danger point.  The oil pressure went down to zero.  I decided to shut it down while I could still feather the prop.  Apparently the oil line had been damaged in the attack.

With the help of the co-pilot, the plane was stabilized and I cranked in enough trim to make it flyable.  We could no longer stay with the formation so we peeled off, did a 180° turn and headed back.  I planned to re-trace our course which was presumably the safest, but not the shortest.  About that time the engineer came forward and said we had a severe gas leak and were very vulnerable to more fire or explosion.  We shut down all the generators and the possible spark producing equipment and I told him to monitor our gas loss for a given period.  Nobody was allowed to smoke.  It soon became clear that we would not have enough gas to make it back to England, so rather than land in enemy occupied territory, we steered a course for Sweden.  Meanwhile, all available fire extinguishers were located and made ready for use.

The navigator located a field at Malmo and gave me a course heading.  When we entered Swedish territory we were joined by two fighters as escort.  About that time somebody decided we should destroy our “secret” documents on board (the bombardier had already destroyed the Norden bomb sight).  We were very close to the field when we executed a 360° turn to facilitate the shredding and to permit them to scatter the remains to the wind.  The escort pilots thought we were leaving and fired some warning shots.  After we completed a wide circle, we headed to the field and made a tricky landing.


J21 Swedish Fighters

We were led to a parking area.  When the plane stopped, several crew members exited carrying the fire extinguishers.  This excited the Swedish soldiers who made threatening gestures until I found one who spoke English and explained we were concerned about fire.  We were led off to a barracks under guard and given something to eat.  Later in the day a representative from the American Embassy explained our status.  We became internees and from then on our life was similar to the other internees, which is well documented.  We were repatriated in November 1944, returned to England to fly again, but before we were able to go on a mission, the Pentagon said no more internees on missions.

Interned

Back Row: Walter Mangerich, Fred Buckner, Eric Rood, Julius Needleman
Front Row: Oscar Chambers, William Murray, Walter Zaczek (kneeling), Walter Bogdanowicz, John Spadone, Eugene Bonner, Swedish Airman

B-24H-5-DT 41-28667  7V F  Jayhawker


At Bulltofta Aerodrome, Malmo Sweden

The life of an Internee...

Walter Mangerich and Julius Needleman

Fred Buckner and Eugene Bonner
Oscar Chambers and Eric Rood

S/Sgt John Spadone


In Tonopah, Nevada1943


With his future wife in Germany
All photos courtesy John Spadone