458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Evans Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadron - May 1944

Standing: Charles “Sam” Evans – P, Frederick Johnson – CP, Walter Cline – N, George Adkins – B
Kneeling: Max Van Buren – E, Leon Huggard – RO, Unknown, Unknown, James Michaelson

If you can identify any of the men in this photo, please contact me.

Completed Tour

EvansCrew
Rank  Name Serial # Pos Date  Status   Comments
Capt Charles S Evans 0664988 Pilot Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
1Lt Frederick A Johnson 01995867 Co-pilot Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
1Lt Walter M Cline 0703193 Navigator Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
1Lt George F Adkins 0698820 Bombardier Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
T/Sgt Leon C Huggard 37658158 Radio Operator Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
T/Sgt Max K Van Buren 37500921 Flight Engineer Mar-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete 
S/Sgt Darrell W Latch 36476322 Aerial Gunner Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
S/Sgt Lawrence R Matson 39306112 Armorer-Gunner Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70th RD - Tour complete
S/Sgt James A Michaelson  36214131 Aerial Gunner 23-Oct-44  UNK Oct44 Trsfr to 755th Sqdn
Pvt Carl White 35655588 Munitions Worker 08-Apr-45 RFS Trsf EM Infantry Training

Charles S. Evans and crew came to Horsham St Faith on May 20, 1944 and were assigned to the 753rd Squadron.  At this time the 753rd had just begun flying AZON missions, separate operations from the other three squadrons in the 458th.  Ten specially trained crews had arrived about this same time, but Evans was not one of these.  Their first mission, however, was on June 8th, an AZON mission that was subsequently abandoned due to weather conditions, and no credit was given.  The crew would not fly again for another two weeks, when they would record their first combat mission on June 24th to a NOBALL site near St Omer in France.

About a month later, on July 20th, on the crew’s seventh mission, they would return to base with No. 2 engine feathered and upon landing their nose wheel collapsed.  They would fly seven more missions, including another AZON sortie over the next month without incident until the 18th of August.  The mission on this date, to an aircraft factory in Woippy, found Evans leading the second section with Lt Colonel Paul Schwartz as command pilot.  Near the IP they hit prop wash and collided with the deputy lead, damaging the wing of Evans plane.  They were forced to abort and return to base, but they did receive credit for this mission. (See story below).

In September, the group came off of combat operations in order to fly supplies to Patton’s army in France.  In the last few days of the month, Evans flew on two of these Truckin’ Missions.  In the latter half of October, Evans and crew were transferred to the 755th Squadron (the group’s lead squadron), and in November Evans was promoted to Captain.  After this the crew mostly flew lead missions through early January 1945.  Evans’ last mission was on January 29th.

The crew appears to have stayed together throughout their combat tour, with the exception of gunner Carl White.  He apparently got into some mischief in early October and was reduced in rank to Private and removed from the crew.  He was reclassified twice in February 1945 – once as a Telephone Operator, and once as a Munitions Worker.  In April he was transferred for Infantry Training.

The rest of the crew, having completed their combat tour, were sent to the 70th Replacement Depot at various times between January and March 1945.

Missions

EvansMissions
Date Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn Cmd Pilot Ld Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn A/C Name Comments
08-Jun-44 UNSPECIFIED TARGETS AZ04 --     44-40288 S J4 2 BAD GIRL ABANDONED - WEATHER
24-Jun-44 ST OMER 78 1     41-28719 Q J3 38 PADDLEFOOT MSN #2
28-Jun-44 SAARBRUCKEN 81 2     42-110163 M J4 3 TIME'S A WASTIN  
29-Jun-44 ASCHERSLEBEN 82 ABT     41-28735 V J3 -- UNKNOWN 005 #2 ENG INTERNAL FAILURE
07-Jul-44 LUTZKENDORF 86 3     42-110163 M J4 4 TIME'S A WASTIN  
08-Jul-44 ANIZY, FRANCE 87 4     42-51110 P 7V 20 TOP O' THE MARK  
12-Jul-44 MUNICH 89 5     44-40285 W J4 8 TABLE STUFF  
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 91 ABT     44-40285 H J4 -- TABLE STUFF CP SEVERE STOMACH PAINS
17-Jul-44 3 NO BALLS 92 6     42-52441 I J3 40 LAST CARD LOUIE  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH 95 7     42-110141 U J4 5 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN  NOSE WHEEL COLLAPSE
21-Jul-44 MUNICH 96 8     44-40201 N J4 3 SILVER CHIEF  
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA 97 9     44-40275 L J4 5 SHACK TIME  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" 98 10     44-40285 H J4 16 TABLE STUFF  
01-Aug-44 T.O.s FRANCE 100 11     44-40281 Q J4 8 A DOG'S LIFE  
06-Aug-44 HAMBURG 106 12     44-40281 Q J4 10 A DOG'S LIFE  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN 109 13 WRIGHT L2 44-40281 Q J4 11 A DOG'S LIFE  
15-Aug-44 VECHTA 114 ABT     44-40281 Q J4 -- A DOG'S LIFE 4 GENERATORS FAILED
17-Aug-44 LE FOULONS RR BRIDGE AZ11 14 GRIFFITH   44-40275 L J4 12 SHACK TIME 10/10 CLOUD - NO DROP
18-Aug-44 WOIPPY 116 15 SCHWARTZ L1 44-40281 Q J4 -- A DOG'S LIFE COLLISION WITH DEP LEAD
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETHERLANDS AZ12 16 HENSLER   44-40275 L J4 13 SHACK TIME ADKINS, GF 2Lt (Pltg Nav)
26-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETHERLANDS AZ13 17     42-100431 B J4 38 BOMB-AH-DEAR NO DROP - SORTIE CREDIT
10-Sep-44 ULM M/Y 125 18 BREVAKIS L2 44-40283 I J4 5 LASSIE COME HOME  
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR09 --     42-110063 B   T4 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
29-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR12 --     41-28714 G 489BG T5 CYCLONE/UTTERLY DEVASTATING TRUCKIN' MISSION
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 19 WRIGHT L3 42-50456 D Z5 2 DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 20 BOOTH L 44-40281 Q J4 13 A DOG'S LIFE  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG 139 21 BETZOLD L4 42-50768 J J3 14 ARISE MY LOVE AND COME WITH ME  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 22 SIMES L3 42-50768 J J3 15 ARISE MY LOVE AND COME WITH ME  
25-Nov-44 BINGEN 149 23     42-50575 O J3 11 UNKNOWN 020  
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 24 BREEDING L2 42-50740 Q J3 11 OUR BURMA  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 25 QUINN L2 42-50504 S J3 16 UNKNOWN 019  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ 163 26 WAGNER L2 42-50504 S J3 17 UNKNOWN 019  
08-Jan-45 STADTKYLL 167 27 BOOTH L2 42-50740 Q J3 14 OUR BURMA  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG 171 ASSY     41-28697 Z Z5 A49 SPOTTED APE ASSEMBLY CREW
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 28     42-50608 W J3 19 FILTHY McNAUGHTY  
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER 175 29   L2 42-50499 U J3 29 COOKIE/OPEN POST


July 20, 1944

B-24J-140-CO 42-110141 J4 U  BREEZY LADY

(L-R): Larry Matson, Darrell Latch, Walt Cline, Sam Evans (underneath cockpit), Ground Officer (back to camera)


Captain Evans relates what happened: "We hit a lot of air turbulence on the mission and used up most of our fuel. When we were landing, the nose wheels would just not go down.  Because most of our fuel was used up when we were landing we would have only one chance to do it. A plane was landing on the emergency strip just before us and we were given the signal to go around but I knew there was no fuel to do that, I thought the other plane was off the runway far enough so I ignored the order to go around.

"I had the crew all run to the back of the airplane so their weight and my flying could keep the nose of the airplane up till the last second as the slowed down on the runway.  I "feathered" the port engine because there wasn't any fuel for it.  I told one of the crew to attach a parachute to the plane and toss it out so it would open up just as the wheels touched the runway because I couldn't use the plane's brakes.  That would cause the plane's nose to hit the runway.

"I landed it so that the nose stayed off the ground until the very last second. The emergency truck arrived just about the time when the plane came to its final stop and as the nose gently touched the ground. My crew had to hold back my co-pilot as the ground crew officer (pictured above) yelled at me "why didn't you wait for me to put a box under the nose before you put the nose down!"

"I had to answer for ignoring the signal to go around. I told the reviewing officer that I had no more fuel left and would have crashed if I tried to pull up. 'I chose life for my crew.' There was some grumbling but I never heard anything more about that."

Note: The date of July 24, 1944 associated with this incident is incorrect.  The original photo is captioned with this erroneous date, but Evans and crew flew this aircraft on the 20th of July.  A diary entry by flight engineer Donald Shannon on the Piskin crew bears out that the date was indeed July 20, 1944: July 20 - [M7] Target was an airplane plant near Eisenach, south of Leipzig. We hit an alternate target, a marshaling yard, in a little town about 20 miles northeast of the primary target. Quite a bit of flak. Some of the planes did not drop their bombs on the alternate, so we went to another target northwest of the primary. The flak was very accurate there. Planes were jinking all over the sky. I got several pictures, but it is difficult to take good pictures from the crowded upper turret. The raid took 7 hours. Three of our planes were badly shot up. Evans’ plane landed with a collapsed nosewheel. Sparkman has refused to fly any more and Cowal was grounded on mental grounds.

August 18, 1944

B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40281 J4 Q  A DOG'S LIFE

On this day, the 458th was assigned to lead the 96th Bomb Wing, and the Evans' crew was scheduled to fly lead in the second section with Lt Col Paul Schwartz, (a 96th CBW officer) as command pilot. Years later, navigator Walter Cline, remembered the incident:

August 18, 1944 was a beautiful, clear day over France.  The Allied forces pushed inland to near Paris, and the war was going well.  The 458th Bomb Group was on a mission to Metz, with the initial point of the bomb run over Verdun. Our crew, flying A DOG'S LIFE, with Charles S. Evans as pilot, was leading the high right squadron at 21,000 feet.  No flak, no fighters, an ideal type mission. That ideal mission suddenly became a disaster.  As we turned on the I.P., we encountered severe turbulence, prop wash from the squadrons preceding us.  That turbulence bounced the aircraft violently, flattening us out from our turn.  At the same moment, our Deputy Lead smashed into our right wing tip, stripping eleven feet from the wing, and leaving it dangling in the wind. The drag of that broken wing sent us into a diving right turn.  Somehow, the Deputy Lead slid under us, so close that I could have reached out and shaken hands with the top gunner.  Fortunately, no actual contact was made.  However, we continued in our diving turn, dropping 6000 feet in one 360 degree turn.  (Pretty close to a spin, yes?)

As we continued to nose dive, the following conversation was heard on the intercom- "Evans, have you got it?" ...no answer.

Again, "Evans, have you got it?"...Again, no answer.  

"Evans, have you got it? If you won't answer me, I'm getting out of here."

Finally, a slow Texas drawl came back - "Ah've got it", and sure enough he did!

We straightened out at 15,000 feet, still dropping, but at least flying again.

Our bombs were still on board, of course, so we started to find a place to unload them.  We could not make a left turn to hit a rail yard ahead, so we found a convenient forest to drop them in. The Navigator was laying a course for Allied lines. According to our briefed information, Paris was still in German hands. However, our escort pilots assured us that they had been flying over Paris all day, without seeing any flak, so we altered course to go that way-but our course took us close to Le Havre, and there were a few anxious moments when flak started coming up from there.  We really were not in a position to take any evasive action. With climb power on engines 3 and 4, with full left rudder trim cranked in, we could maintain straight and level flight at 153 mph indicated airspeed. When power was reduced to reduce the strain on the two engines, we found our stall speed to be 148 mph. That wasn't very comforting.  The fastest we could fly was 153 mph because of the damage and if Captain Evans flew below 148 mph our plane would drop from the sky for lack of lift over the wings.  Eventually we reached England, and proceeded to the crash strip at Woodbridge. There, life became a bit more complicated again. Out of necessity we flew a right hand pattern, and when we turned final, the right wing simply refused to come up. There we were, descending to touchdown, unable to fly level.

But there was no chance of going around. We were committed.  Finally as Evans flared, preparatory to touchdown, the wings reluctantly leveled, and we were down and rolling. We were a much relieved crew, and a very thankful one for the skill of Charles S. Evans.  The leading edge spar of the wing had remained intact, and from the front of the airplane it looked as though we had only lost a foot or two of wing. As we in the front section exited the aircraft, one by one we looked up to see the damage...and then our eyes slowly followed the damaged wing section down to its end - the wing was nearly broken off, nearly touching the ground about 18 inches from the runway.

(Color Profile courtesy: Mike Bailey)

S/Sgt Lawrence R. Matson


AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE LIBERATOR STATION, ENGLAND
--
Cpl Billy Conn, light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world and No. 1 contender for Joe Louis' heavyweight crown, is pictured here during a visit to the station sick ward between matches for the Eighth Air Force "Victory Squadron" War Bond Drive.

In bed is S/Sgt Lawrence R. Matson, 167 Harrison Ave, Astoria, Ore., son of Mrs. M. R. Matson.  His wife, Mrs. Grace A. Matson, resides at Route 1, Box 238, Brush Prairie, Washington.  Sgt Matson was a logger for the Crossett and Western Co., Knappa, Ore. before his military career.  He is now an aerial gunner, and recently completed 12 missions and was awarded the 1st Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial combat. 

The others [are], Sgt James H. Estes [radio operator], (standing) Boise, Idaho, and Sgt James G. Snyder [airplane mechanic], (cup to mouth) Ellaville, Ga.  Since this photo was taken all the men have been released after treatment of minor ailments.

(Photo courtesy: Lar Matson via Jerry Leone)

Horsham St Faith - 1945

Standing: Max Van Buren, Leon Huggard, Charles Evans, Frederick Johnson, George Adkins
Kneeling:  James Michaelson, Lawrence R. Matson, Darrell Latch