458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Tebbs Crew - Assigned 752nd Squadron - August 8, 1944.

Standing: Alfonso Colaiacovo - G, James Gallagher - E, Lewis Stevens - G/2E, James Marshall - RO, Jesse Beard - G, Bobby Giles - G

Seated: John Balyeat - CP, Eddie Jacques - B, Jim Isaacks - N, Merlin Tebbs - P

(Photo: Tim Falls)

Completed Tour

TebbsCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Merlin E Tebbs 0699473 Pilot Mar-45 CT Crew completed combat tour
1Lt John T Balyeat 0772258 Co-pilot Feb-45 CT Promoted to 1st Lieutenant
1Lt James D Isaacks, Jr 0722853 Navigator 08-Jan-45 CT Rest Home Leave
1Lt Edouard J Jacques 0772975 Bombardier May-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt James S Marshall 36565480 Radio Operator 08-Jan-45 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt James F Gallagher 31059368 Flight Engineer 12-Dec-44 RFS Relvd from flying status - Med 
S/Sgt Jesse T Beard 15097896 Armorer-Gunner 08-Jan-45 CT Rest Home Leave
Sgt Alfonso J Colaiacovo  32158863 Aerial Gunner 11-Sep-44 POW Flak over Koblenz
Cpl Robert L Giles 34649573 Aerial Gunner 08-Jan-45 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Lewis S Stevens 35701073 Aerial Gunner/2E  21-Mar-45 CT Promoted to S/Sgt

Merlin E. Tebbs and crew were assigned to the 752nd Squadron in August 1944.  The first mission entry shown for pilot Tebbs is Assembly duty on August 12th.  The crew’s first combat mission came a full two weeks later when they flew on the raid to Dulmen, Germany.  The crew did not fly on September 11th, but one gunner, Sgt Alfonso J Colaiacovo, filled in on the crew of 1Lt Thomas G. Horgan on the group’s mission to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Magdeburg, Germany.  Horgan’s aircraft, ETO Playhouse was hit by flak and the crew forced to bail out.  All 10 men survived as prisoners of war.  Colaiacovo was sent to Stalag Luft IV.

 

Shortly after this, the 458th was pulled off of combat operations and took part in ferrying gasoline to Patton’s Third Army in France.  Skeleton crews flew B-24’s modified to carry gasoline from Horsham to newly liberated airfields in France.  These were called “Truckin’ Missions”, but air crew received no credit.  Tebbs flew a total of nine gas hauls to the Continent and back for 10 days in September.

 

At some point in their career at Horsham St. Faith (most likely in mid-October), bombardier Edouard Jacques was removed from the crew and assigned to the 755th Squadron as a lead bombardier.  His new crew, under the command of 1Lt Fred J. Eisert, had also been assigned to the 752nd Squadron for a short period.  Tebbs’ crew, from this point forward, flew with no bombardier.

 

In October the crew (and the group) went back on combat operations.  Early in December, S/Sgt James Gallagher, the crew's engineer, was removed from flying status due to undisclosed medical reasons.  It is believed that S/Sgt Lewis Stevens, who also held a rating as a flight engineer, took his place.  Before the end of the year the crew had completed just over half of their required 35 missions and on January 8, 1945 were sent to a “Flak House” for a well deserved two-week leave.  Upon their return they completed one combat mission and another flight in Spotted Ape as an assembly crew (no credit) to close out the month of January.

 

The crew flew seven missions in February – no doubt their most harrowing trip that month coming on the 22nd.  On this date the 458th was assigned as its target two railroad marshalling yards,  Peine-Hildesheim near Hannover, Germany.   The group was bombing at the extremely low altitude of 10,000 feet when, as the bombers were passing Hersfeld a burst of ranging flak blossomed out, followed by a full pattern. One plane in the 752nd Squadron, piloted by 2Lt Joseph E. Szarko, received a direct flak hit between the number 3 & 4 engines.  The right wing was ripped off and flew back to hit Tebbs’ aircraft, taking off a piece of their left rudder and the entire left elevator.  While controlling the aircraft was undoubtedly difficult, they managed to make it back to England, landing at Woodbridge emergency airfield.

 

The crew rounded out their combat tour with eight missions in March, flying their last on the 19th.


Missions

TebbsMissions
Date Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
12-Aug-44 MOURMELON 111 ASSY 41-28697 Z Z5 A10 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW - Maj LaROCHE 
26-Aug-44 DULMEN 120 1 42-100311 P 7V 45 YOKUM BOY  
27-Aug-44 FINOW 121 2 42-100311 P 7V 46 YOKUM BOY MISSION CREDIT IN NOV
01-Sep-44 PFAFFENHOFFEN ABN -- 42-50314 L 7V -- ETO PLAYHOUSE ABANDONED
20-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES  TR04 -- 41-29352 K 7V T2 WOLVES LAIR CARGO
23-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR07 -- 42-50290 M 389BG T1 MARTHA R. TRUCKIN' MISSION
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-2 -- 41-29303 H 752 T6 LIBERTY LIB 2ND FLIGHT - CARGO
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR09 -- 41-29303 H 752 T7 LIBERTY LIB TRUCKIN' MISSION
27-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR10 -- 42-100404 S+ 445BG T5 THE GRIM REAPER TRUCKIN' MISSION
28-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR11 -- 42-100404 S+ 445BG T6 THE GRIM REAPER TRUCKIN' MISSION
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 -- 41-29577 E 466BG T11 THE RUTH E-K 1ST FLIGHT
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 -- 41-29577 E 466BG T12 THE RUTH E-K 2ND FLIGHT - DID NOT DELIVER
30-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR13 -- 41-29301 Z 453BG T3 VAMPIN' VERA TRUCKIN' MISSION
06-Oct-44 WENZENDORF 129 3 44-40273 T J4 24 HOWLING BANSHEE  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 ABT 42-95165 L 7V -- COOKIE # 1 ENG FEATHERED
15-Oct-44 MONHEIM 134 ABT 42-95165 L 7V -- COOKIE #1 ENG -RUNAWAY PROP
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 4 42-109812 V 7V 43 UNKNOWN 016  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN 138 5 42-51110 M 7V 45 TOP O' THE MARK  
02-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 140 6 42-51206 S 7V 13 THE PIED PIPER  
04-Nov-44 MISBURG 141 7 42-51215 B 7V 10 UNKNOWN 024  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 8 42-51110 M 7V 47 TOP O' THE MARK  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN 143 9 42-95165 L 7V 42 COOKIE  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA 145 ANA 42-100407 R 7V 55 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY SEE OPS REC - NO SORTIE
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F 146 10 42-95316 H 7V 55 PRINCESS PAT  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG 148 11 42-95050 J 7V 57 GAS HOUSE MOUSE  
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 150 12 41-28963 T   12 UNKNOWN 007  
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 13 -- -- -- --   No FC - Sqdn Rec's
06-Dec-44 BIELEFELD 153 14 42-52457 Q 7V 69 FINAL APPROACH  
10-Dec-44 BINGEN 154 15 42-51206 S 7V 23 THE PIED PIPER  
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 16 42-52457 Q 7V 71 FINAL APPROACH  
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 17 41-29352 K 7V 62 WOLVE'S LAIR  
31-Dec-44 KOBLENZ 162 18 42-95179 X 7V 67 HERE I GO AGAIN  
02-Jan-45 REMAGEN 164 19 41-29340 N 7V 58 YANKEE BUZZ BOMB  
03-Jan-45 NEUNKIRCHEN 165 ABT 41-29305 N Z5 -- I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC  ABORT - NO DETAILS
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER 175 20 42-51514 B 7V 6 BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER  
31-Jan-45 BRUNSWICK 176 ASSY 41-28697 Z Z5 A54 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 177 21 42-50502 E 7V 28 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
14-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 181 22 42-51270 A 7V 8 MY BUNNIE II  
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 182 23 42-95316 H 7V 76 PRINCESS PAT  
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE 184 24 42-51215 T 7V 22 UNKNOWN 024  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM 186 25 42-51206 S 7V 38 THE PIED PIPER SZARKO'S WING HIT RUDDER
24-Feb-45 BIELEFELD 188 26 44-40475 D 7V 24 JOLLY ROGER  
26-Feb-45 BERLIN 190 27 42-100425 O 7V 60 THE BIRD  
03-Mar-45 NIENBURG 195 28 42-51110 M 7V 82 TOP O' THE MARK  
05-Mar-45 HARBURG 197 29 42-51514 B 7V 21 BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER  
08-Mar-45 DILLENBURG 199 30 42-100425 O 7V 62 THE BIRD  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG 201 31 42-51206 S 7V 51 THE PIED PIPER  
14-Mar-45 HOLZWICKEDE 203 32 42-50502 E 7V 47 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
15-Mar-45 ZOSSEN 204 33 42-52457 Q 7V 102 FINAL APPROACH  
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 34 42-51110 M 7V 90 TOP O' THE MARK  
19-Mar-45 LEIPHEIM 207 35 42-50502 E 7V 50 LARRUPIN' LINDA


February 22, 1945

Excerpt from Liberators Over Norwich

On 22 February the combined might of the USAAF and RAF Bomber Commands based in Britain and Italy, and consisting of well over 2,000 heavy and medium aircraft, were directed against the Nazi communications network in a two-day operation code-named Clarion. The 2BD’s contribution involved 452 aircraft, thirty-four of which came from Horsham. Marshalling yards concentrated in an inverted geographic triangle, with Hannover and Magdeburg as its baseline, formed the Division’s targets. Hildesheim and Peine lay east of Hannover, and separate formations of eighteen and sixteen were respectively allocated for the twin assault.

A feature of the day’s operations was the low bombing altitude of 10,000 ft announced at briefing. This was a matter that would not have impressed the crews, because although the Luftwaffe was basically a spent force, this state did not apply to the provision of flak batteries throughout the Reich. In fact, the enemy gunners would be directly or indirectly involved in the extremely low tally of MIA bombers (7) out of 1,372 completing the mission. However, a gut feeling that the low altitude approach was tempting fate would come true in two instances within the group ranks.

Bad Hersfeld, around 30 miles due west of Eisenach, was not noted for possessing real industrial output; on the other hand, flak dispositions were not
exclusively committed to the defence of cities or towns involved in key war production. B-24H-30-DT 42-51215 7V T, flown by Lt. Joseph E Szarko, was
stationed at the rear of the formation. This crew had completed ten missions, while the RCM operator was on his sixteenth. As the bombers were passing Hersfeld a burst of ranging flak blossomed out, followed by a full pattern. The first shell exploded squarely inside Lt. Szarko’s bomb bay and the
airframe erupted, one wing shearing off in a fascinating slow motion manner.
B-24H-30-DT 42-51206 7V S The Pied Piper
(Photo: Alice Burman)
A single parachute was observed to issue briefly from one waist window before it and its hapless wearer were drawn back into the mass of flames that was now a cruel substitute for a proud, multi-ton aircraft. No other member among the ten on board was seen to emerge, and their deaths within or free of the plunging wreckage were subsequently confirmed. The dreadfully effective destruction of Lt. Szarko’s bomber could have been easily paralleled by the accompanying group aircraft of Lt. Merlin E Tebbs, flying in charge of B-24H-30-DT 42-51206 7V S The Pied Piper. One wing tip on the doomed bomber smashed into his B-24 and excised one of the rudders, something that could easily have thrown it out of control.

In spite of this crippling degree of damage Tebbs and his co-pilot managed to maintain sufficient manoeuvrability to hold station and finally divert into
Woodbridge emergency airfield; here the necessary repairs were made and the B-24 returned to combat duty.

Tribute to Edouard Jacques

Coming Soon!  Shadow Heroes


Read all about Lt. Edouard Jacques and his crew. This is the story of boys from Rhode Island, Utah, South Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Neumarkt, Germany.

Their backgrounds are as diverse as the places from which they came.

While they were not similar in background or culture, they were similar in the kind of men they were then and are now. Their early lives, military training, missions and life after the war are explored in this book.
Arthur G. Capaldi, Author
Please take a moment and take a look at the website World War Two Heroes, created in tribute to Edouard Jacques and his crew.  Read an excerpt of the book, see pictures, listen to audio interviews of the crew, and watch a one hour long documentary on Ed Jacques.