Mitchell Crew - Assigned 755th Squadron - August 9, 1944
*Not original crew members
(Photo: Don Peters)
|1Lt||Charles E Mitchell||01998583||Pilot||May-45||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||Raymond Peters||01998585||Co-pilot||26-Apr-45||CT||Suspended fr flying AAF Reg 35-16|
|1Lt||Leonard Folk||0722833||Navigator||18-Feb-45||UNK||Rest Home Leave|
|1Lt||Robert L Weiler||0772904||Bombardier||22-Mar-45||UNK||Air Crew Leave|
|T/Sgt||James H Summey||18160978||Radio Operator||Apr-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete|
|T/Sgt||Claude H McConnell||34735551||Flight Engineer||Apr-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete|
|S/Sgt||William O Dotschkal||33618503||Aerial Gunner||Apr-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete|
|S/Sgt||Milton L Jakobowitz||12177238||Aerial Gunner||May-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete|
|S/Sgt||William A Matthews||18229122||Aerial Gunner||May-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete|
|Sgt||James K Zeiner||13153712||Aerial Gunner||23-Oct-44||UNK||Trsf to 754th Sqdn|
In Decemeber they were transferred back tot he 755th to be a lead crew, flying as deputy lead in the thrid squadron on the 28th. They did not fly another lead mission until the Group's mission to Peine on February 22, 1945. After that they finished out their tour as a lead crew. On the March 18th trip to Berlin, the crew suffered battle damage and were forced to land in Belgium (see below). Most of the crew completed their required mission in early April and were either sent to the State or reassigned.
The crew picture above was taken at Horsham St Faith in front of a 755th Squadron Liberator Oh Mona!. Judging by the ribbons the men are wearing, it was most likely taken in the early Spring of 1945. The two navigators pictured were not original crew members. 1Lt Ward L. Whaley was assigned the previous August with the crew of 2Lt Frank A. Josephson. While Josephson and crew remained in the 752nd during their time with the 458th, Whaley was trained as a Radar Navigator and flew with lead crews. 1Lt Glenn C. Allen was originally assigned to the 755th Squadron on July 31, 1944 on the crew of 2Lt William R. Frederick. On September 9, 1944, Frederick and crew went on a cross-country night mission and crashed near Petersborough, England, killing seven of the nine men aboard. Allen and the bombardier, 2Lt Jack R. Hibbs were able to parachute to safety.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Cmd Pilot||Ld||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|20-Sep-44||HSF to CLASTRES||TR04||--||42-94952||A||GJ||T2||SHACK RAT||ON LOAN TRUCKIN' 44BG|
|22-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR06||--||42-52441||I||J3||T5||LAST CARD LOUIE||CARGO|
|28-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR11||--||41-29551||H||389BG||T1||NOT 458TH SHIP||2ND FLIGHT|
|28-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR11||--||41-29301||Z||453BG||T2||VAMPIN' VERA||1ST FLIGHT|
|29-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR12||--||41-29551||389BG||T2||NOT 458TH SHIP||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|30-Sep-44||HSF to LILLE||TR13||--||42-99997||P||44BG||T11||NOT 458TH SHIP||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|03-Oct-44||GAGGENAU||127||5||42-51179||P||J3||37||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|06-Oct-44||WENZENDORF||129||6||42-51206||S||J3||2||THE PIED PIPER|
|02-Nov-44||BIELEFELD||140||9||42-51196||Q||J3||8||THE GYPSY QUEEN|
|30-Nov-44||HOMBURG||151||11||--||--||--||--||No FC - Sqdn Rec's|
|28-Dec-44||ST. WENDEL||160||13||PHILLIP||D3||44-10487||R||J3||24||Girl on surfboard (no name)|
|08-Feb-45||RHEINE M/Y||REC||--||42-50516||V||J3||--||STARDUST||RECALL - WEATHER|
|09-Feb-45||MAGDEBURG||179||ABT||42-50504||S||J3||--||UNKNOWN 019||#1 SUPER CHGR INOP|
|14-Feb-45||MAGDEBURG||181||NTO||42-50516||V||J3||--||STARDUST||THROTTLE LINKAGE BROKEN|
|04-Mar-45||STUTTGART||196||23||L3||42-50504||S||J3||26||UNKNOWN 019||REPLACED 837|
|15-Mar-45||ZOSSEN||204||25||L2||42-51939||G||J3||25||UNKNOWN 028||REPLACED 557|
|18-Mar-45||BERLIN||206||26||L3||42-50684||B||J3||14||A&G FISH SHOPPE||EMERG LAND BELG B-58|
|07-Apr-45||KRUMMEL||220||28||L4||42-51939||G||J3||31||UNKNOWN 028||FLYING w/466TH "C" GRP|
B-24JSH-1-FO 42-50684 J3 D A&G Fish Shoppe
Unknown ground man with A&G Fish Shoppe - possibly the man on whom the artwork is based...
Photo George Reynolds)
March 18, 1945
Co-pilot Ray Peters
The most memorable mission was on March 18, 1945. Target Berlin. 3700 gallons of fuel, 4x2000 pounders. Other missions they had taken several hundred flak holes to the plane, surface damage, and even the loss of most of one of the vertical rudders. On this flight they took only three hits, but they counted!
They were flying a ship named The A&G Fish Shoppe, approaching the target at 19000 ft. The flak started as they got over the target area. They dropped their load. Then shortly they felt a "lift" - flak. They had taken three hits. One to the #3 engine, which hit the oil line inside. Two other hits through the bomb bay. One wiped out the hydraulic lines, the other took out the bundle of electrical wires.
The #3 engine ran out of oil and the engine "froze". The hydraulic lines had been cut, so they were unable to feather the prop. Eventually it started to "windmill" backwards and started to send vibrations throughout the ship. All this was going on while there was still flak going off and bouncing them around. The vibrations worsened, they were losing control of the plane and they dropped out of formation. They regained control to a degree and came out of the bomb run at 9000 ft. Dad,who had been bothered by Claude the whole time finally turned to him and said "what?". Claude responded by saying "here" and held up one end of the electrical wire bundle. Dad said it was fanned out and looked just like a giant bouquet of flowers. Then looking down, he noticed most of the control panel was dead. Some basic dials were working as Claude had started the putt-putt and was able to get some electrical power to the plane. The #3 engine had the electrical generator, so no engine meant no power. Meanwhile the plane was vibrating even worse than before. Mitch gave the order to bail out. Claude said, "I can`t". Mitch said, "why?". Claude answered, "My chute is soaked with hydraulic oil!". Mitch said, "Alright, I'm staying". And one by one all the crew said the same.
The propeller was windmilling faster and faster when all of a sudden it twisted itself off from the plane. The good news was that the vibrating stopped and they regained full control of the plane. The bad news was what Dad saw outside his window. There, just a few feet from him, was an 8 foot propeller flying loose in "formation" with the plane. It was caught in the wing's slip stream and just seemed to bob and float along with them. At the time it seemed forever, but shortly the tip of the prop hit the side of the plane just below Dad's feet, cutting through the fuselage and banging on the cockpit's armor decking, (Dad's legs eventually turned black and blue from his knees on down) past the feet of the kneeling bombardier navigator, leaving a 3-1/2 foot by 11 foot gash in the bottom of the plane.
Meanwhile, most of the crew was in the waist. Claude had gone up front to get some maps for the navigator.(Mitch wanted to know where they were and have a heading). The rest were tossing out all things un-needed to lighten the plane. For the moment they had fighter protection as one of the "Little Friends" had dropped down to protect them. A sight that brought comfort to the crew. Eventually he had to leave them. They had plotted the shortest course to Allied lines in Belgium.
The B-24 went its way - the fighter, his
way back to base. En-route they lost the #2 engine. They red-lined the
remaining two engines for almost two hours in order to make Belgium.
They were following some railroad tracks, when all of a sudden the air
filled with flak. They had passed over a train that had an 88 mounted
on a flat car and they were being shot at. Taking evasive maneuvers,
they avoided being hit.
Finally they crossed the allied lines
and they were looking for a place to set down. Then the #4 engine
started to act up. They remembered passing over a small airfield which
they had dismissed because of its size, but with the #4 engine acting as
though it was going to quit, small was better then none. They turned
and headed for the field. The #4 engine quit. They flew/glided with
one engine until they were within sight of the field.
Above: Mitchell and Peters in the cockpit
Then, upon approach, the #1 engine quit. Before this had happened, Dad and another crew member had crawled down into the nose wheel compartment and "hand threw" the nose gear out into landing position. Claude and others had hand cranked down the wing gear. Remember - no hydraulics. The rest of the crew had moved to the waist and tail of the plane. Two of them had attached parachutes to the side windows in preparation for braking action upon landing. So now they were in a dead-stick situation - no power, no flaps, no brakes, and a short muddy runway. The plane mushed in, touched down, and everyone ran to the tail, keeping the nose up. The chutes were deployed. The runway ran out and they plowed to a stop in a muddy field. Everyone bailed out and ran from the plane fearing an explosion. Nothing happened. They went back to the plane and waited for help to arrive. They measured the fuel supply and found less then 50 gallons in the whole plane.
The crew was picked up by allied troops and taken to an airfield, where four days later, they were flown back to England. All Claude could remember about the landing was seeing the Belgian peasants out the waist window. The thing that struck him was that they were wearing cowhide coats of all colors and were lined up and resting on the fence next to the runway, watching them land.
(Story and photos courtesy Don Peters)
Horsham St Faith
Kneeling: Bill Matthews, Robert Weiler, Bill Dotschkal
(Photo: Don Peters)
Claude McConnell - 2013
(Photo: Karl Lake)