458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Crew 61 - Assigned 755th Squadron - October 7, 1943

Standing: Mel Kenyon - B, Jim Olney - CP, Charles Deegan - N, Maurice Bittler - P
Kneeling: Howard Cassady - WG, Wesley Belleson - TG, Roy Holton - RO, Oscar Crowley - BTG, Philip Cloud - E, Dale Steiner - TTG

(Photo: AFHRA)

Completed Tour

BittlerCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Maurice H Bittler 0742118 Pilot 13-Aug-44 RFS TD AAF 147 Indefinite period
1Lt James E Olney 0687754 Co-pilot/Pilot May-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
1Lt Charles R Deegan 0811402 Navigator Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
1Lt Melvin L Kenyon 0688361 Bombardier Aug-44 CT Left for 8th AFRD AAF594
T/Sgt Royce C Holton 34681518 Radio Operator Aug-44 CT Left for 8th AFRD AAF594
T/Sgt Philip B Cloud 34577175 Flight Engineer Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Oscar J Crowley 15374188 Ball Turret Gunner Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Dale M Steiner 19180549 Top Turret Gunner Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Howard H Cassady  34614026 Nose Turret Gunner Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Wesley B Belleson 17156418 Airplane Armorer-Gunner  Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross

Crew 61 trained at Tonopah, Nevada in the fall/winter of 1943.  They flew the Southern Route to England in January 1944.


Their first mission to Frankfurt on March 2, 1944,was also the group's first mission. This crew flew five missions to Germany and four to France in March 1944.  Towards the end of March, Maurice Bittler was pulled off of flying duties and replaced with Frank Curtis from Crew 62.  Normally, the co-pilot would have been the one to take command of his crew, but in this case, Jim Olney had already taken over for Crew 75 when their pilot, John Mattson had been removed from flying status after his first mission on March 6, 1944.


Frank Curtis led this crew on 24 missions as first pilot between April 27th and June 15th 1944.  Curtis is believed to have flown at least one more mission on July 2nd with his old crew.  Mel Kenyon and all of the enlisted men were transferred to an Eighth Air Force Replacement Depot in August 1944.  Howard Cassady had orders to proceed to Leuchars, Scotland, base of the "Carpet Baggers", but these orders were rescinded.


Maurice Bittler was eventually transferred to Ketteringham Hall, HQ of 2nd Air Division for an indefinite period.  Charles Deegan went to the 12th Replacement Depot and Frank Curtis to the 2nd Combat Crew Replacement Center in July 1944.  Jim Olney was transferred to the 482nd Bomb Group in June 1944 where he flew B-17's in the training of radar navigators.


Missions (Maurice Bittler and Frank Curtis - Pilots)

Bittler-CurtisMissions
Date  Target  Pilot 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
25-Feb-44 DUTCH COAST BITTLER D2 -- 41-29331 -- J3 D2 BLONDIE'S FOLLY Diversion Mission
02-Mar-44 FRANKFURT BITTLER 1 1 41-29298 G J3 1 OLE SATAN  
03-Mar-44 BERLIN BITTLER 2 2 42-52432 -- J3 1 BACHELOR'S PARADISE   
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGN BITTLER 3 3 41-28678 M J3 2 UNKNOWN 002  
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER BITTLER 5 4 41-29359 J J3 2 TAIL WIND  
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN BITTLER 8 5 42-100365 B 7V 6 WOLFGANG (maybe)  
21-Mar-44 WATTEN BITTLER 10 6 42-100433 B J3 5 BIG DICK HARD TO HIT  
23-Mar-44 OSNABRUCK BITTLER  12 7 42-100407 A J3 3 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES BITTLER 14 8 41-29359 J J3 7 TAIL WIND  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ BITTLER 15 9 41-29359   J3 8 TAIL WIND  
27-Apr-44 BONNIERES CURTIS 29 ABT 42-52274 H J3 -- UNKNOWN 029 ABORT - FLEW 516 SORTIE?
27-Apr-44 BLAINVILLE-SUR-L'EAU  CURTIS 30 1 42-7516 K J3 1 GATOR  
29-Apr-44 BERLIN CURTIS 31 2 41-28719 Q J3 19 PADDLEFOOT  
01-May-44 LIEGE M/Y CURTIS 33 3 41-29288 L J3 11 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
05-May-44 SOTTEVAST CURTIS 35 4 42-110059 E J3 10 UNKNOWN 056  
07-May-44 OSNABRUCK CURTIS 36 5 42-52441 I J3 26 LAST CARD LOUIE  
08-May-44 BRUNSWICK CURTIS 37 ABT 42-52274 H J3 -- UNKNOWN 029 ABORT - RGT LAND GEAR
10-May-44 DIEPHOLZ CURTIS REC -- 42-95008 R J3 -- UNKNOWN 035 RECALL BEFORE EC
11-May-44 EPINAL CURTIS 39 6 42-52441 I J3 28 LAST CARD LOUIE  
12-May-44 BOHLEN CURTIS 40 7 42-95018 J Z5 9 OLD DOC'S YACHT ABORT - SORTIE FLAK KNOCK OXY OUT 
13-May-44 TUTOW A/F CURTIS 41 8 41-28719 Q J3 24 PADDLEFOOT  
19-May-44 BRUNSWICK CURTIS 42 9 42-51097 T J3 4 UNKNOWN 022  
20-May-44 RHEIMS A/D CURTIS 43 10 42-95316 N J3 1 PRINCESS PAT  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y CURTIS 47 11 42-95316 N J3 4 PRINCESS PAT  
27-May-44 NEUNKIRCHEN CURTIS 48 12 42-95316 N J3 5 PRINCESS PAT  
28-May-44 ZEITZ CURTIS 49 13 42-95316 N J3 6 PRINCESS PAT  
30-May-44 ZWISCHENAHN A/F CURTIS 51 14 42-95316 N J3 8 PRINCESS PAT  
31-May-44 BERTRIX CURTIS 52 15 42-95316 N J3 9 PRINCESS PAT  
06-Jun-44 COASTAL AREAS CURTIS 56 16 42-95316 N J3 13 PRINCESS PAT MSN #1
07-Jun-44 LISIEUX CURTIS 59 17 42-95316 N J3 15 PRINCESS PAT  
08-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT CURTIS 60 18 42-95316 N J3 16 PRINCESS PAT  
10-Jun-44 CHATEAUDUN CURTIS 61 19 41-29342 S J3 21 ROUGH RIDERS  
14-Jun-44 DOMLEGER CURTIS 65 20 42-95316 N J3 18 PRINCESS PAT  
15-Jun-44 GUYANCOURT CURTIS 66 21 42-95316 N J3 19 PRINCESS PAT


Crew 61 - Pilot Frank Curtis

Standing: Roy Holton, Philip Cloud, Wesley Belleson, Howard Cassady, Mel Kenyon
Kneeling: Charles Deegan, Oscar Crowley, Frank Curtis
(Photo: Mel Kenyon)

Escape Photos - Crew 61 Officers

Maurice Bittler and Frank Curtis

Charles Deegan and Mel Kenyon
(Photos: Jim Olney)

B-24H-30-FO 42-95316  J3 N  Princess Pat

A favorite aircraft of Crew 61 and Frank Curtis

(Photo: Harold Armstrong)