458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

French Crew - Assigned 755th Squadron - June 7, 1944

Seated: Walter Brotherton - N, Searcy Glass - CP, Joseph French - P, Robert Craig - B
Standing: Leon Santoni - BTG, Hampton Roberts - TG, Joseph Ball - E, Roy Adolfson - NTG, Nicholas Smetana - G, James Papadeonise - RO
(Photo: Nikki Werts)

Completed Tour

FrenchCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Joseph H French 0812968 Pilot Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
1Lt Searcy C Glass 0701920 Co-pilot 06-Nov-44 CT Rest Home Leave
2Lt Robert A Craig 0697769 Bombardier 06-Aug-44 KIA Flying with Hancock Crew
1Lt Harold K Simeone 0712686 Navigator Dec-44 CT Trsf to 70RD or 127th CP return ZI
T/Sgt James Papadeonise 35538612 Radio Operator Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/Sgt Joseph T Ball 34032367 Flight Engineer 15-Nov-44 CT Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Roy F Adolfson 36331843 Armorer-Gunner Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross 
S/Sgt Hampton E Roberts  19149607 Armorer-Gunner/2E Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/Sgt Leon R Santoni 39125602 Armorer-Gunner/2E  Dec-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Nicholas Smetana 32935582 Aerial Gunner Nov-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross

Joseph French was assigned with his crew to the 755th Squadron on June 7, 1944.  They flew their first mission four days later.  During the busy month of June the crew completed almost 1/3 of their required missions. 2Lt Walter Brotherton, bombardier, was evidently replaced by Harold Simeone prior to arrival at the 458th, as Simeone's name appears with the crew on the June 7th orders assigning them to the Group.

 

At some point in mid-July, after completing 9 or 10 missions as co-pilot, Searcy Glass, was given his own crew to command.  While the original composition of Glass’ crew is unknown, it is likely that it was made up of men whose crews had either been lost or completed their tours.  In October, when the 755th Squadron became the Group’s “Lead” squadron, the crews of both French and Glass were transferred out – French to the 754th and Glass to the 752nd. French’s crew was mostly intact, with three crewmen different from that assigned in June – 2Lt Robert N. Simon, Jr, co-pilot; 2Lt Edward Silver, navigator; and S/Sgt Robert C. Neudorff, gunner.  Simon was originally assigned with the crew of Dudley McArdle in May, and Ed Silver had been on Allen Blum’s crew, assigned in early July.  Neudorff was an individual replacement arriving at Horsham the day before D-Day.

 

Glass’ crew at this point in time was made up almost entirely of men from several crews and two ground men who had been reclassified in order to fly combat missions.  The only exception was original crew member Sgt Leon Santoni, who appears to have stayed with Glass.


Harold Simeone went on to become the pilotage navigator on the crew of Capt Birto Brumby in the 755th. He completed his missions in January 1945.


Robert Craig also became a pilotage navigator in the 755th.  On August 6, 1944, Craig was flying with the crew of Lt Thomas Hancock on a mission to Hamburg, Germany, when their aircraft received a direct flak hit just before bomb release.  Only two of the eleven man crew survived - pilot Tom Hancock, and Capt John Chamberlain, flying as command pilot.

 

French took part in the Truckin’ Missions that occurred in September 1944, and resumed combat flying in October. Most of the crew’s mission for that month and the two months that followed were to targets in Germany. The crew finished up in late December 1944 and all were sent on Rest Home leave.  All crew members were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.


Missions

FrenchMissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
11-Jun-44 BEAUVAIS 63 1 42-51179 P J3 8 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
12-Jun-44 EVREUX/FAUVILLE 64 2 42-7516 K J3 13 GATOR  
14-Jun-44 DOMLEGER 65 3 42-95008 R J3 13 UNKNOWN 035  
15-Jun-44 GUYANCOURT 66 4 42-95008 R J3 -- UNKNOWN 035  
17-Jun-44 TOURS 68 5 42-95316 -- J3 20 PRINCESS PAT  
21-Jun-44 BERLIN 75 6 41-28709 I 7V 23 LUCKY STRIKE  
23-Jun-44 3 NO BALLS 76 7 41-28719 Q J3 37 PADDLEFOOT  
24-Jun-44 CONCHES A/F 77 8 41-29359 J J3 49 TAIL WIND MSN #1
25-Jun-44 ST. OMER 80 9 42-95008 R J3 19 UNKNOWN 035  
06-Jul-44 KIEL 85 10 42-100425 D J3 16 THE BIRD NO TAIL # GIVEN
08-Jul-44 ANIZY, FRANCE 87 ABT 41-29288 L J3 -- BIG-TIME OPERATOR #4 ENG FAILURE
12-Jul-44 MUNICH 89 11 41-29288 L J3 36 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 91 12 41-29288 L J3 37 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH 95 13 41-29352 K 7V 38 WOLVE'S LAIR  
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA 97 14 41-28719 Q J3 40 PADDLEFOOT  
03-Aug-44 2 NO BALLS 102 15 41-29342 S J3 35 ROUGH RIDERS  
04-Aug-44 ACHIET A/F 104 16 41-29342 S J3 36 ROUGH RIDERS  
05-Aug-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 105 17 41-29288 L J3 44 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
07-Aug-44 GHENT 107 18 42-100425 O J3 22 THE BIRD  
09-Aug-44 SAARBRUCKEN 109 19 42-100407 R J3 38 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY  
11-Aug-44 STRASBOURG 110 20 42-100425 O J3 24 THE BIRD  
25-Aug-44 TERTRE 119 21 42-95316 N J3 41 PRINCESS PAT  
05-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE 122 ABT 42-95316 N J3 -- PRINCESS PAT #2 RUNNING ROUGH
10-Sep-44 ULM M/Y 125 22 42-100425 O J3 31 THE BIRD  
18-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES  TR02 NTO 42-52441 I J3 T2 LAST CARD LOUIE NO TAKE OFF 
19-Sep-44 HORSHAM to CLASTRES TR03 -- 42-52441 I J3 T3 LAST CARD LOUIE CARGO
23-Sep-44 HORSHAM to ST DIZIER TR07 -- 42-50335 A+ 389BG T1 NO NAME OR NAME UNKNOWN TRUCKIN' MISSION
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-1 -- 42-64473 R+ 453BG T1 YUVADIT 1ST FLIGHT
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-2 -- 42-64473 R+ 453BG T2 YUVADIT 2ND FLIGHT
26-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR09 -- 42-7642 N 44BG T7 M'DARLING TRUCKIN' MISSION
27-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR10 -- 42-52441 I 755 T9 LAST CARD LOUIE TRUCKIN' MISSION
05-Oct-44 PADERBORN 128 ABT 42-95316 N J3 -- PRINCESS PAT #1 ENG OIL PRES
12-Oct-44 OSNABRUCK 132 23 42-95316 N J3 47 PRINCESS PAT  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 24 42-95316 N J3 48 PRINCESS PAT  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 25 42-110141 U J4 21 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN   
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 26 42-95183 U Z5 53 BRINEY MARLIN  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN 143 27 42-51179 P Z5 45 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
08-Nov-44 RHEINE 144 28 42-95120 M Z5 52 HOOKEM COW / BETTY  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA 145 29 42-95183 U Z5 56 BRINEY MARLIN  
04-Dec-44 BEBRA 152 30 44-40298 E Z5 15 THE SHACK  
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 31 42-110070 K Z5 47 ELMER / LADY LUCK  
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 32 41-29596 R Z5 72 HELL'S ANGEL'S  
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ REC -- 42-50456 D Z5 -- DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL RECALL DUTCH ISLE
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 33 44-40126 L Z5 32 SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP  
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL 160 34 42-51179 P Z5 54 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ 163 MSHL -- -- -- --   MARSHALING CHIEF


Distinguished Flying Cross

Maj Theodore Brevakis (754BS CO) awards the DFC to 1Lt French and T/Sgt Papadeonise (above)
and S/Sgt's Roberts and Smetana (below) in November 194
4
(Photos: FOLD3)

S/Sgt Nicholas Smetana

Excerpts of My World War II Service - August 1997
My name is Nicholas "Nick" Smetana.  I was drafted by the convenience of the U.S government in April 1943, one month after my first child (a son) was born. Upon learning of being drafted, my choice was the Marines, but the recruiter "encouraged" me to join the Air Corps.

After receiving basic training, I signed up for Flight Training Cadet School, but was turned down because of my age  (I was 29 years old and the limit was 27 years.  I would have been accepted, despite the age regulation, had I had previous flying experience).  I took my basic training in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After basic, I was sent to Armorer's Gunnery School near Denver, Colorado, Aerial Gunnery Training in Harlingen, Texas and then on to Flight Crew Training in Casper, Wyoming.  We then flew out of Topeka, Kansas on a new B-24 via a south Atlantic route (where we flew through a tornado) on to England.

I was stationed in Horsham St. Faith in Norwich, England where I was an armor[er] gunner member of the 2nd Air Division, 458th Bomb Group and 755th Bomb Squadron. We started flying combat one month prior to D-Day, May 1944 and I completed my 35th mission on December 24, 1944. When I started flying combat, 25 missions were required, but were increased to 35 missions upon my completion.

I flew back to the U.S. via the mid-Atlantic first to Bermuda and then on to New York.  I was assigned to Atlanta, GA to be a B-24 gunnery instructor, which I refused.  I was then assigned to a B-29 crew as a central fire gunner, but I again refused. I had had enough. I accepted an assignment as a line maintenance mechanic - on the AT-6 trainer planes. I stayed at this assignment in Nashville, Tennessee until the war was over.

Looking back on my combat missions few were milk runs (easy) and many saw a lot of combat action both air-to-air and from the ground. The easier mission bombings were the V-1 (buzz bombs) missile sites on French territory.  For all the missions, anti-aircraft fire was encountered from the ground. In my early missions, about half of the enemy fighter action was in the air.

The most memorable missions were to Berlin, Germany, Frankfort, Germany and especially Peenemunde, the site of Hitler's experimental rocket station where the V-1 (buzz bomb) and the V-2 rocket were being developed.

Courtesy: Nikki Werts

Lt Harold K. Simeone

Pilotage-Navigator with the Brumby Crew
(Photo: Elmo Geppelt)