458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Skidmore Crew - Assigned 754th Squadron - August 13, 1944

Standing: Walter Stackhouse - N, Lester Skidmore - P, Danny Slater - CP, Dick Morrison - B
Kneeling: Willie Racine - TG, Tom Roberts - NTG, Bob Benesole - WG, Willard Burt - E, "Pop" Williams - RO, Bill Cuculich - TTG


(Photo: Doug Racine)


Skidmore Crew "Skid's Kids" - Completed Tour March 1945

SkidmoreCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date  Status   Comments
1Lt Lester J Skidmore, Jr  0706082 Pilot 07-Mar-45 CT Mission List - Soest M/Y
1Lt Daniel J Slater 0772540 Co-pilot 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
1Lt Walter C Stackhouse 0722385 Navigator 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
1Lt Richard I Morrison 0773357 Bombardier 27-Mar-45 CT TD to 492BG 6 weeks 
T/Sgt Calvin S Williams 38436688 Radio Operator 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
T/Sgt Willard S Burt 12198348 Flight Engineer 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
S/Sgt Robert Benesole 33777506 Waist Gunner 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
S/Sgt William M Cuculich 36769088 Top Turret Gunner 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
S/Sgt Wilfred R Racine 31326720 Tail Turret Gunner 25-Feb-45 CT Mission Load List
S/Sgt Thomas E Roberts 35537797 Nose Turret Gunner  25-Feb-45 CT Rest Home Leave

Assigned to the 754th Squadron in mid-August 1944, the Skidmore crew flew their first combat mission on August 25th.  Their last was to be on March 9, 1945 - almost seven months later.  During that time, it appears that the crew flew most of their missions together - a relatively rare occurrence amongst 8th Air Force combat crews.  One exception was Sgt Wilfred "Willie" Racine, tail gunner.  In September 1944 he was sent to AAF 113 Cheddington in Buckinghamshire to attend RCM (Radio Countermeasures) School.  After returning to the 754th Squadron, he flew two missions with another crew utilizing the skills he had learned.  He then requested a return to his regular crew and this was granted.

Missions

SkidmoreMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
25-Aug-44 LUBECK 118 1 41-29596 R Z5 47 HELL'S ANGEL'S  
27-Aug-44 FINOW 121 2 42-95108 M Z5 35 ENVY OF 'EM ALL II MISSION CRED NOV
01-Sep-44 PFAFFENHOFFEN ABN -- 42-95018 J Z5 -- OLD DOC'S YACHT ABANDONED
05-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE 122 3 42-95018 J Z5 42 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
08-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE 123 4 42-100366 H Z5 47 MIZPAH  
09-Sep-44 MAINZ 124 ABT 44-40285 H J4 -- TABLE STUFF ANA - NO CREDIT
10-Sep-44 ULM M/Y 125 5 42-110059 T Z5 39 UNKNOWN 056  
18-Sep-44 HSF to CLASTRES TR02 -- 42-95001 Z 44BG T1 TS TESSIE LOAD No. 1
19-Sep-44 HSF to CLASTRES TR03 -- 42-95001 Z 44BG T2 TS TESSIE (Besten)
23-Sep-44 HSF to CLASTRES TR07 -- 42-100311 P 7V T5 YOKUM BOY CARGO
25-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR08-1 -- 41-29305 N Z5 T1 I'LL BE BACK 1ST FLIGHT - CARGO
25-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR08-2 -- 41-29305 N 754 T2 I'LL BE BACK 2ND FLIGHT - CARGO
26-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR09 -- 41-29305 N 754 T3 I'LL BE BACK TRUCKIN' MISSION
28-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR11 -- 41-29475 M 44BG T2 SHIPDAM HI SCHOOL TRUCKIN' MISSION
29-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR12 -- 41-29475   44BG T3 SHIPDAM HI SCHOOL TRUCKIN' MISSION
30-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR13 -- 41-29475   44BG T4 SHIPDAM HI SCHOOL TRUCKIN' MISSION
03-Oct-44 GAGGENAU 127 6 42-100366 M Z5 50 MIZPAH  
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 7 42-110163 M J4 27 TIME'S A WASTIN  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 8 41-29596 R Z5 59 HELL'S ANGEL'S  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 9 42-51199 U Z5 6 UNKNOWN 023  
22-Oct-44 HAMM 137 10 41-29596 R Z5 63 HELL'S ANGEL'S  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG 139 11 42-95018 J Z5 52 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
26-Nov-44  BIELEFELD 150 12 42-95183 U Z5 59 BRINEY MARLIN  
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 13 -- -- -- --    
04-Dec-44 BEBRA 152 14 42-50640 O Z5 16 BUGS BUNNY  
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 15 42-95018 J Z5 61 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 16 42-50640 O Z5 20 BUGS BUNNY  
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL 160 17 42-95183 U Z5 66 BRINEY MARLIN  
31-Dec-44 KOBLENZ 162 18 42-50640 O Z5 23 BUGS BUNNY  
03-Jan-45 NEUNKIRCHEN 165 19 42-51179 P Z5 56 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT 166 20 42-50640 O Z5 27 BUGS BUNNY  
10-Jan-45 SCHONBERG 168 21 42-95316 H 7V 68 PRINCESS PAT  
14-Jan-45 HALLENDORF 170 22 44-40126 L Z5 43 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG 171 23 44-40475 D 7V 21 JOLLY ROGER SEE OPS RPT
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND 174 ASSY 41-28697 Z Z5 A51 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER 175 24 44-40126 L Z5 46 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP  
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 177 25 44-10491 I Z5 4 THE IRON DUKE  
06-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 178 26 42-50578 F Z5 26 SKY ROOM  
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 179 ABT 42-50456 D Z5 -- DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL ABORT - GAS LEAK
15-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 182 27 44-40285 H J4 60 TABLE STUFF
17-Feb-45 ASCHAFFENBURG REC -- 42-95120 M Z5 -- HOOKEM COW / BETTY RECALL - WEATHER
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE 184 28 42-95120 M Z5 70 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG 185 29 42-95120 M Z5 71 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM 186 MSHL -- -- -- --   MARSHALING CHIEF
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH 187 30 42-95120 M Z5 72 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL 189 31 42-50456 D Z5 34 DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL  
27-Feb-45 HALLE 191 32 42-95120 M Z5 74 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
01-Mar-45 INGOLSTADT 193 33 42-95120 M Z5 76 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG 194 34 42-95120 M Z5 77 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
07-Mar-45 SOEST 198 35 42-95120 M Z5 81 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 200 36 42-50640 O Z5 32 BUGS BUNNY


January 16, 1945


ABORTION of AIRCRAFT #475D-752nd
Lt LESTER J. SKIDMORE JR.
16 January 1945

We were scheduled to fly 305N [Yankee Buzz Bomb] of the 754th Squadron.  Due to mag trouble in #2 engine, we were forced to remain on the ground.  No spares were available at the time.  We waited while repairs were made on 305.  Again the engine failed to function properly.  By that time, Flying Control had 475D [Jolly Roger] of the 752nd Squadron ready.  We made take off one and a half hours late.  By flying an interception course, we managed to intercept the 20th Bomb Wing at the Zuider Zee.  About fifty miles from the IP, oil pressure dropped to zero on #1 engine and the prop ran away.  We feathered the engine.  I contacted fighters and they promised to ride me through the target.  By pulling 43 inches, I managed to hold my altitude though I was falling behind.  At no time previous had I pulled more than 40 inches.  I knew the 96th Wing was behind me, so it was my belief that if I could hold my altitude, I would be able to bomb with them.  At the co-ordinates 5238N-0952E, number three engine became rough and the engine instrument started to fluctuate.  I picked a target of opportunity and bombed to the best of my ability without a bombsight.  By that time I had dropped to 15000 feet and was still going down.  We jettisoned all loose equipment with the exception of guns and ammunition.  I managed to hold 14000 feet.  We were unable to re-contact the fighters, so withdrawal was made over inbound course at 14000 feet without escort.  I decided to cross the Channel rather than continue in enemy territory, as two jet propelled aircraft were seen to our left.  We contacted Air/Sea Rescue and kept them informed as to our position.  Number 3 engine was still acting up and I was afraid of losing it completely.  #2 and #4 were smoking from using excess power.  Upon reaching the English coast, I contacted the tower and was instructed to try to make [RAF] Woodbridge.  There the ceiling was 150 feet, but I managed to land with the assistance of the navigator through GEE fixes, with no injury to personnel or aircraft.

LESTER J. SKIDMORE JR.
1st Lt, Air Corps
Pilot, 457D

S/Sgt Willie Racine's Mission List

RacineMsn1
Msn #  Target Date
1 LUBECK, GERMANY  25-Aug-44
2 KARLSRUHE 06-Sep-44
3 KARLSRUHE 08-Sep-44
4 GUSTAVBERG 09-Sep-44
5 GAGGENAU 03-Oct-44
6 MAGDEBURG 07-Oct-44
7 COLOGNE 14-Oct-44
8 COLOGNE 17-Oct-44
9 HAMM 22-Oct-44
10 HARBURG 30-Oct-44
11 ESCWEILER 06-Nov-44
12 BIELEFELD 26-Nov-44
12b FREE
14 SAARBRUCKEN 30-Nov-44
15 BEBRA 04-Dec-44
16 SCHONECHEN 24-Dec-44
17 PRONSFELD 25-Dec-44
18 ST. WENDEL 28-Dec-44

RacineMsn2
Msn#  Target Date
19 KOBLENZ 31-Dec-44
20 NEUNKIRCHEN 03-Jan-45
21 SCHONBERG 10-Jan-45
22 HALLENDORF 14-Jan-45
23 MAGDEBURG 16-Jan-45
24 MUNSTER, GERMANY  29-Jan-45
25 MAGDEBURG 03-Feb-45
26 MAGDEBURG 06-Feb-45
27 MAGDEBURG 15-Feb-45
28 MESCHEDE 19-Feb-45
29 NUREMBURG 21-Feb-45
30 GERA 23-Feb-45
31 SCHWABISCH-HALL 25-Feb-45
32 HALLE 27-Feb-45
33 INGOLSTADT 01-Mar-45
34 MAGDEBURG 02-Mar-45
35 OSNABRUCK 09-Mar-45

Handwritten List courtesy Doug Racine


S/Sgt Willard S. Burt's diary entry of the crew's last mission

March 9, 1945

The long awaited mission finally materialized today -- our last one.  No matter how invincible I've felt before today I realized that we could still meet with disaster.  Our target was the rail yards at Osnabruck.  The weather was clear and flak was accurate and heavy.  One shell burst directly beneath me and for a moment I thought we were finished.  But we got through the target area safely and back to England.  Once we were safely on the ground in England we began to celebrate -- and what a celebration, finished at last.  Willy nearly got hit we discovered, when we found a large flak hole in the rudder just above his head.


[Pictured at left, the bottom aircraft is B-24J-1-FO 42-50640 Z5 O Bugs Bunny, in which the crew flew on this date.]


"Skid's Kids" Crew Reunion 1993

Back Row: Willard Burt, Willie Racine
Front Row: Lester Skidmore, Daniel Slater, Walter Stackhouse, Dick Morrison

(Photo: Doug Racine)