458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

S. Gibson Crew - Assigned 755th Squadron - May 1944

Standing: George Marty - B, Jimmy Steele - WG, Robert Mott - TG, Gene Bair - BTG, Stanley Rasmussen - TTG/E, Owen Hardeman - RO
Kneeling: Sam Gibson - P, Fred Herman - CP
Not pictured: Harold Amon - B

(Photo: Lowell Bair)

Failed to Return - July 11, 1944 (MACR 6927)

Gibson-SCrew
 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Samuel T Gibson 0795456 Pilot 11-Jul-44 KIA Milton, FL
F/O Fred B Herman T2118 Co-pilot 11-Jul-44 KIA Long Beach, CA
2Lt Harold E Amon 0698859 Bombardier 11-Jul-44 KIA Sheridan, PA
T/Sgt Glen O Hardeman 39197606 Radio Operator 11-Jul-44 KIA Seattle, WA
T/Sgt George B Marty 39118992 Flight Engineer 11-Jul-44 KIA San Francisco, CA
S/Sgt Stanley G Rasmussen  36193532 Top Turret Gunner  11-Jul-44 KIA Boston Harbor, MI 
S/Sgt Eugene A Bair 33498514 Ball Turret Gunner 11-Jul-44 KIA Liverpool, PA
S/Sgt James M Steele 37523322 Waist Gunner 11-Jul-44 KIA Kansas City, MO
S/Sgt Robert D Mott 38412820 Tail Turret Gunner 11-Jul-44 KIA Beaumont, TX

Gibson and crew arrived at Horsham St. Faith in May 1944 and were assigned to the 755th Squadron.  It is possible that 2Lt John S. Holodak was assigned with this crew as Navigator.  He is shown flying with the crew in that position on May 28, 1944 - possibly their first mission - with Instructor Pilot William C. Rowland.  Holodak flew with several crews during his tour, eventually being shot down on April 9, 1945 on the last aircraft lost in combat by the Group, while flying with Leonard Abramowitz.  The crew flew most of their missions in June, during the time that the Eighth Air Force was supporting the invasion forces across the Channel.

On July 11, 1944 they took off early in the morning to partake in a mission to bomb railroad marshaling yards in Munich, Germany.  Flying with the crew on this date was S/Sgt Homer C. Brewer, a gunner in the 755th Squadron.  Nothing is currently available to show where Brewer had come from or which crew, if any, he had been assigned to.

Their aircraft that day was B-24H 41-29300 named Lorelei, borrowed from the 753rd Squadron.  After entering a cloud bank shortly after takeoff, the crew and their B-24 were never seen or heard from again.  Records from the 458th offer no information. The entire crew was declared dead (DED) on July 12, 1945.  In July of 1949 Eugene Bair's parents received a letter from the Department of the Army officially declaring him killed in action with the explanation that their plane must have gone down in the North Sea (see below).  No contact with any other relatives of this crew has been made, but it is assumed that the families of the other crew members received similar letters.


Gibson Crew Missions

Gibson-Smissions
Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
27-May-44 NEUNKIRCHEN 48 1 42-50320 J J4 15 UNKNOWN 018  
28-May-44 ZEITZ 49 2 42-50320 W J3 16 UNKNOWN 018  
30-May-44 ZWISCHENAHN  51 3 42-51095 Q Z5 4 SHOO SHOO BABY  
31-May-44 BERTRIX 52 4 42-100425 D J3 9 THE BIRD  
04-Jun-44 BOURGES A/F 54 5 41-28735 V J3 24 UNKNOWN 005  
06-Jun-44 COASTAL AREAS 56 6 41-29359 J J3 38 TAIL WIND  
06-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT 58 ABT 41-29305 N Z5 -- I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC  MSN #3
08-Jun-44 PONTAUBAULT 60 ABT 41-29359 J J3 -- TAIL WIND GEAR WOULD NOT RETRACT
11-Jun-44 BLOIS 62 7 41-29288 L J3 27 BIG-TIME OPERATOR  
12-Jun-44 EVREUX/FAUVILLE  64 8 42-51097 T J3 18 UNKNOWN 022  
14-Jun-44 DOMLEGER 65 9 41-29359 J J3 42 TAIL WIND  
20-Jun-44 OSTERMOOR 73 10 41-29359 J J3 46 TAIL WIND MSN #1
21-Jun-44 BERLIN 75 11 41-29359 J J3 47 TAIL WIND  
23-Jun-44 3 NO BALLS 76 12 41-29359 J J3 68 TAIL WIND TGT #8 BLANE-PIGNOT-FERNE 
24-Jun-44 ST OMER 79 13 42-95183 U J3 13 BRINEY MARLIN MSN #2
25-Jun-44 ST. OMER 80 14 42-51179 P J3 12 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
28-Jun-44 SAARBRUCKEN 81 15 42-51179 P J3 13 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
29-Jun-44 ASCHERSLEBEN 82 16 42-50320 W J3 26 UNKNOWN 018  
06-Jul-44 KIEL 85 17 42-95316 N J3 26 PRINCESS PAT  
08-Jul-44 ANIZY, FRANCE 87 18 41-28735 V J3 32 UNKNOWN 005  
11-Jul-44 MUNICH 88 19 41-29300 Y J3 34 LORELEI FAILED TO RETURN


B-24H-10-CF 41-29300 J4 M Lorelei

Photos: George Reynolds

War Department Letters to Families

WAR DEPARTMENT
WAR DEPARTMENT GENERAL STAFF
MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION, G-2
WASHINGTON, D.C.

1 March 1945

MEMORANDUM FOR ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF, PERSONNEL
SUBJECT: Flight Officer Fred B. Herman, T-2118

1. Fred Herman, Sr., for many years Douglas’ top designer and still directly connected with Douglas, is the
father of subject Flight Officer.  Mr. Herman called me today and said he was notified some months ago by
the War Department that his son was reported missing in action on July 11, 1944.  Subsequently, he was
informed that he disappeared on a mission over Munich.  Mr. Herman knew that his son was in the 755th
Squadron of the 458th Bombardment Group flying B-24’s.  He had received one story that his son, flying a B-24, had become detached from his squadron while climbing through the overcast and did not assemble with the squadron when it got “on top” before departure for the mission.  He has another story that his son’s plane was seen over the Swiss border.  He does not know whether these are rumors or whether there is some basis of fact.  He has never heard from his son’s squadron commander nor from any member of the squadron.  Some member of the squadron must have some information or at least could state positively when the boy was last seen.  Mr. Herman has been very patient and naturally is very eager to secure anything definite.

2. Would appreciate any data available that could be passed on to Mr. Herman.

3. Mr. Herman’s address is: Fred W. Herman, 4445 Myrtle Avenue, Long Beach 7, California.

/s/ Clayton Bissell
CLAYTON BISSELL
Major General, GSC
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2

WAR DEPARTMENT

THE ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

12 July 1945

 

Mr. and Mrs. Roy S. Bair

Liverpool, Pennsylvania

 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bair,

 

Since your son, Staff Sergeant Eugene A. Bair, 33498514, Air Corps, was reported missing in action 11 July 1944, the War Department has entertained the hope that he survived and that information would be revealed dispelling the uncertainty surrounding his absence.  However, as in many cases, the conditions of warfare deny us such information.  The record concerning your son shows that he was a crew member of a B-24 (Liberator) bomber which was lost on a bombing mission to Munich, Germany.

 

Full consideration has recently been given to all available information bearing on the absence of your son, including all records, reports and circumstances.  These have been carefully reviewed and considered.  In view of the fact that twelve months have now expired without the receipt of evidence to support a continued presumption of survival, the War Department must terminate such absence by a presumptive finding of death.  Accordingly, an official finding of death has been recorded under the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, approved March 7, 1942, as amended.

 

The finding does not establish an actual or probable date of death; however, as required by law, it includes a presumptive date of death for the termination of pay and allowances, settlement of accounts and payment of death gratuities.  In the case of your son this date has been set as 12 July 1945 the day following the expiration of twelve months’ absence.

 

I regret the necessity for this message but trust that the ending of a long period of uncertainty may give at least some small measure of consolation.  I hope you may find sustaining comfort in the thought that the uncertainty with which war has surrounded the absence of your son has enhanced the honor of his service to his country and of his sacrifice.

 

Sincerely yours,

/s/

EDWARD F. WITSELL

Major General

Acting The Adjutant General of the Army


------------------------------------------------------------------------------


WAR DEPARTMENT

THE ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE

WASHINGTON, D.C.

 

26 July 1949

 

Mr. and Mrs. Roy S. Bair

Liverpool, Pennsylvania

 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bair,

 

I am writing you relative to the previous letter from this office in which you were regretfully informed that a Finding of Death had been made in the case of your son, Staff Sergeant Eugene A. Bair, 33498514, Air Corps, and that the presumptive date of his death had been established as 12 July 1945.

 

This office is constantly striving to ascertain beyond any question of doubt the true facts surrounding the fate of the men who have been presumed dead.  A thorough and extensive investigation has been made of all the facts surrounding the loss of your son’s plane, which disappeared on 11 July 1944, while on a combat mission to Munich, Germany.  The plane did not join the formation and was never seen of heard from again after it left the base at Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk, England, which is only a short distance from the North Sea.  An extensive field of investigation was conducted from England to the target area, but no trace was found of the plane or the members of the crew nor do captured German records now on file in this office reveal any information concerning them.  While no details of the actual crash of your son’s plane are available, the result of this investigation together with the knowledge that over five years have elapsed since he was reported missing in action, lead to no other logical conclusion than that he lost is life when his plane went down in the North Sea.  Therefore, the records of the Department of the Army are being amended to show that Sergeant Bair was killed in action on 11 July 1944 in the North Sea.

 

Pursuant to the provisions of Public Law 490, 77th Congress, 7 March 1942, as amended, official reports will now be issued by the Department of the Army which will indicate the actual date of his death as that shown above.  The issuance of this official Report of Death will not affect any payment or settlement of accounts which has been made on the basis of the Finding of Death.

 

My continued sympathy is with you in the great loss you have sustained.

 

Sincerely yours,

/s/

EDWARD F. WITSELL

Major General

Acting The Adjutant General of the Army



Sgt Gerald Miller's Letter to Eugene Bair's Parents

Des Moines, Iowa
March 30, 1947


Dear Mrs. Bair,

I read your notice in the April issue of Foreign Service regarding information of S/Sgt Eugene A. Bair.  I’m not sure that I can be of too much help to you, but I might be able to supply a little additional information to you that will help supplant any other information you do have.  I did not know Eugene personally, but he and his crew members lived in the same building as we did, and I was also a member of the 755th Bomb. Sqdn.  Our crew participated in the raid to Munich on July 11th ’44 in which Eugene’s crew was reported missing.


They took off immediately preceding us that morning at about 4:00A.M.  There was a cloud bank at 2000 feet which extended to approximately 8000 feet in altitude.  We saw their plane enter the clouds and that is the last we saw of them.  The clouds weren’t unexpected, as we had been briefed for them, and we were to climb over them to form for our mission.  When we met the rest of the squadron, we noticed they weren’t there.  With so many aircraft in the air, it is sometimes confusing to find your own squadron, so we anticipated they perhaps flew with someone else.


But there was never any report as to anyone else seeing their plane.  It was presumed by the squadron that something ill-fated happened while in the clouds.  I hope this doesn’t appear too harsh or cold, but that is the facts to the best of my knowledge.  I know this doesn’t give you a lot of information, but perhaps it does help supplant other information you do have.


Our crew completed that mission to Munich on the 11th.  The next day we returned on a raid to Munich and were shot down over the target.  Fortunately I was never a prisoner of war, but escaped to Allied lines with the aid of the underground organization.  Approximately three months time lapsed from July 12th ’44 until I returned to our base.  When I did get back I do recall comment of Eugene’s crew, and that there was still no other word of them.


I do not want you to regard this as anything official, but it is the facts to the best of my knowledge.  I have discussed this with my family, and they believe that if the tables were turned, they would be happy to know even a little, thus I have written to you.


Please feel free to write and ask any questions, and I’ll endeavor to answer them.


Sincerely yours,
Gerald K. Miller


Former
T/Sgt Gerald K. Miller
755th Bomb Sqdn.
458th Bomb Group
37657645


(Letters and photos courtesy: Lowell Bair)


Eugene Bair's Mission List


1Lt Samuel T. Gibson - Pilot


Photo: Lowell Bair