458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Crew 76 - Assigned 755th Squadron - October 27, 1943

Standing: Nelson Stewart - P, Bert Betts - CP, Kenneth Enockson - N, Harold Fay - B
Kneeling: James Mitchell - BTG, Thomas "Bark" Brown - E/WG, Jon Baker - WG, Elam Behrens - RO, Byrd Griffin - TTG, George Smith - TG

(Photo: I.B. Griffin)

Completed Tour

StewartCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Nelson R Stewart 0755974 Pilot 03-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 12RD AAF 591 - Tour complete 
1Lt Bertram A Betts 0755503 Co-pilot 03-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 12RD AAF 591 - Tour complete
1Lt Kenneth A Enockson  0810602 Navigator 03-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 12RD AAF 591 - Tour complete
1Lt Harold P Fay 0752344 Bombardier 03-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 12RD AAF 591 - Tour complete
T/Sgt Elam H Behrens 36168653 Radio Operator Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/Sgt Thomas B Brown 14092957 Flight Engineer Aug-44 CT Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594
S/Sgt  Jon C Baker 14125929 Aerial Gunner/2E  Aug-44 CT Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 595
S/Sgt Ivy B Griffin 14084852 Aerial Gunner/2E 26-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 753rd Squadron
Sgt James Mitchell 32802715 Armorer-Gunner 26-Oct-43 UNK Movement (SO fr Gowen Fld 29BG)
S/Sgt George W Smith 33253859 Armorer-Gunner Aug-44 CT Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 595

Crew 76 took their third phase training with the 755th Squadron at Tonopah, Nevada in the winter of 1943.  Originally assigned as navigator to the crew (shown on a set of movement orders dated October 26, 1943) was 2Lt Jesse H. Lack.  At some point after they arrived at Tonopah, Lack was moved to the crew of 2Lt John D. Adamson, and 2Lt Kenneth Enockson took his place. This crew was lost on the March 8th raid on Berlin; Jesse Lack was one of the five crew members killed in action.


After picking up their brand new Liberator, B-24H-15-FO 42-52432, Crew 76 traveled the Southern Ferry Route to the ETO. They arrived at Horsham St. Faith on February 5, 1944 and began preparing for combat missions.  Sgt James Mitchell, ball turret gunner, was replaced at that position by S/Sgt Frederick R. Robinson prior to the crew flying combat.  Robinson completed his tour with Crew 76 and was awarded the DFC in July 1944.


Crew 76 participated in some of the toughest missions that the 458th flew during the group's early combat days.  On the crew's first four missions in March 1944, two trips to Berlin flanked two missions to Friedrichshafen, Germany in the space of a two week period.  In April a mission to Brunswick or "Braunschweig" was followed the next day by a flight through very bad weather to Tutow, Germany.  The 458th flew through a heavy cloud bank over Keil Bay and ME109's were waiting on the other side.  Four Liberators (including Crew 76's #432) from the group went down due to fierce enemy fighter attacks.  Also in April, the crew flew missions to Oschersleben, Brandenburg, and Mannheim.  In May they saw Brunswick twice more; Osnabruck, St. Trond Belgium, Bohlen and Tutow again on the 13th (although the weather was much better this time, it was still a long haul into Germany), and Mulhouse, France on May 25th. 


Most of the crew completed their 30-mission combat tour on or around D-Day.  Co-pilot Bert Betts' mission log indicates that he flew his 29th and 30th missions on June 6th - one in the morning to drop bombs on the invasion beaches prior to the landings, and his last in the afternoon to Avranches, France. The 755th Squadron records show that pilot Nelson Stewart flew his last mission on June 8, 1944.  It is notable that this crew did not abort from any of their missions.


Their combat tour complete, Crew 76 was broken up as were most of the crews who had the good fortune to come out of air war over Europe in one piece.  The officers were sent to the 12th Replacement Control Depot at AAF 591 in Chorley (Lancashire) in July, and most of the enlisted men went either to Chorley or to AAF 594 Stone (Staffordshire) for further assignment.


Missions

StewartMissions
Date  Target  458th Msn  Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER 5 1 41-29288 L J3 4 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
16-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 8 2 42-52432 P J3 6 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
18-Mar-44 FRIEDRICHSHAFEN 9 3 42-52432 P J3 7 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
22-Mar-44 BERLIN 11 4 42-52441 I J3 8 LAST CARD LOUIE  
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER 13 5 42-52432 P J3 11 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES 14 6 42-52432 P J3 12 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ 15 7 42-52432   J3 13 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
08-Apr-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 17 8 42-52432 P J3 15 BACHELOR'S PARADISE  
09-Apr-44 TUTOW A/F 18 9 42-52455 O 7V 12 PLUTOCRAT  
11-Apr-44 OSCHERSLEBEN 20 10 41-29359 J J3 12 TAIL WIND  
12-Apr-44 OSCHERSLEBEN REC -- 41-29302 P 7V -- NOKKISH RECALL
18-Apr-44 BRANDENBURG 22 11 41-29342 S J3 5 ROUGH RIDERS  
19-Apr-44 PADERBORN A/F 23 12 42-100311 A 7V 12 YOKUM BOY  
25-Apr-44 MANNHEIM A/F 27 13 42-95008 R J3 1 UNKNOWN 035  
26-Apr-44 PADERBORN A/F 28 14 41-28719 Q J3 17 PADDLEFOOT  
04-May-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM  34 15 42-7516 K J3 3 GATOR  
05-May-44 SOTTEVAST 35 16 42-7516 K J3 4 GATOR  
07-May-44 OSNABRUCK 36 17 42-7516 K J3 5 GATOR FLEW w/2CBW 
08-May-44  BRUNSWICK 37 18 42-7516 K J3 6 GATOR  
09-May-44 ST. TROND 38 19 42-7516 K J3 7 GATOR  
11-May-44 EPINAL 39 20 42-7516 K J3 8 GATOR  
12-May-44 BOHLEN 40 21 42-7516 K J3 9 GATOR (M/F)?
13-May-44 TUTOW A/F 41 22 42-95120 M J3 4 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
23-May-44 BOURGES 45 23 42-7516 K J3 10 GATOR  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y 47 24 42-100407 A J3 18 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY  
28-May-44 ZEITZ 49 25 42-7516 K J3 11 GATOR  
31-May-44 BERTRIX 52 26 42-7516 K J3 12 GATOR  
04-Jun-44 BOURGES A/F 54 27 42-51179 P J3 3 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
06-Jun-44 COASTAL AREAS 56 28 41-29276 G Z5 10 URGIN VIRGIN/The ROTTEN SOCK  MSN #1
06-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT 58 29 42-95316 N J3 14 PRINCESS PAT MSN #3
08-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT 60 30 41-28721 V 7V 27 DOWNWIND LEG  
05-Jul-44 LE COULET, BEL A/F 84 ASSY -- -- -- --   NO A/C LISTED 


B-24H-1-FO 42-7516 J3 K Gator

One of the group's original aircraft, Gator's first recorded mission was on April 27th. 

Her last flight occurred on September 20, 1944 when the crew of 2Lt Herbert H. Humke crashed on take-off on a Truckin' Mission.  All of the crew perished.
 

Gator painting by Robert Peters with Crew 76 inset


(Courtesy: Bert Betts)


1Lt Bert A. Betts - Co-pilot

Bert Betts was born August 16, 1923 in San Diego, California.  He was a graduate of Hoover High School and enlisted in the USAAC in July 1942, becoming an Aviation Cadet in the Western Flying Training Command.  Commissioned as Second Lieutenant, pilot on October 1, 1943, he joined the 458th Bombardment Group, 755th Squadron, Crew 76 at Boise, Idaho, then to Tonopah, Nevada.  He flew their B-24 to Norwich, England via Brazil and Dakar, arriving in February 1944.  He was co-pilot/pilot for 30 missions over enemy occupied Europe, flying his last two missions on D-Day.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.

After his return to the States in July 1944, Bert was an Instructor and tested airplanes in engineering at Pecos, Texas, then to ATC in Long Beach, California.  After his discharge in October 1945, he graduated from California Western University in Business Administration, and received his CPA certificate in November 1950, the principal in accounting firm Bert A. Betts & Co. 

He was elected treasurer of California in 1958 and served until 1967.  He received the City of Louisville Award from MFOA of United States and Canada as the most outstanding fiscal officer in those two nations in 1963.


Bert Betts' entry in Second Air Division, by Turner Publishing 1994

Every Warrior Has a Story: Bert A. Betts, B-24 bomber pilot

Published on Jun 19, 2014

1st Lt. Bert A. Betts was a U.S. B-24 Liberator bomber pilot in World War II who flew 30 combat missions out of England over enemy occupied Europe. This is his warrior story, told in his words. From the break out of war, to his training, to his combat, to his last two combat missions on D-Day, to his experiences after combat but before war's end, this video documents his war time experience, and is an example of the many civilians who became warriors with the U.S. 8th Air Force and throughout the service. Nearly 200 pictures and maps complement his words to paint a picture of what it was like to go from college freshman to combat pilot.

More info on Bert A. Betts can be found at http://tinyurl.com/BertBetts
Courtesy: Bruce Betts