42-52335 Z5 R Admirable Little Character
Shot down April 25, 1944 (MACR 4342)
Admirable Little Character (ALC) was an original 754BS ship, normally flown by Crew 47, pilot 2Lt Gilbert E. Schulze, who claimed it as their own. They flew a total of 14 of their missions in this aircraft. ALC amassed a total of 20 combat missions and was lost on its 21st on April 25, 1944. On this date, 1Lt John H. Combs and Crew 44 (754BS) were flying their 10th mission to the marshaling yards near Mannheim, Germany.
Take off that morning was 6:09 AM. According to the S-2 Mission report, after the group had crossed the French coast, "Approximately twenty enemy fighters variously described as ME-109’s and FW-190’s attacked the lead flight of the lead squadron at 0855 hours just east of Vitry, France. The attack was made from twelve to one o’clock high out of the sun after the E/A had simulated the actions of friendly fighters escorting the formation from sufficient distance to be recognizable. The tactics employed were in the nature of a scissors attack with half of the fighters swooping down through our formation while the remainder passed below. One of our A/C was shot down and two suffered major battle damage."
Combs' plane was hit hard in the tail section and according to co-pilot Charles Roof, "the plane was out of control caused by a fighter shooting off the tail; elevator damaged beyond usefulness." Eugene Hoag, substituting for the crews regular navigator, recalled that, "elevator controls [were] damaged, [and] both fins shot off; no fire."
Eight of the crew were able to bail out. For reasons unknown two men, Clayton Miller (BTG) and Harry Tamboer (WG) did not exit the plane, and both of their bodies were found in the wreckage. In a questionnaire filled out by Eugene Hoag (N), he recalled that Miller was last seen in the plane near his station in the waist and that he was uninjured. Hoag also remembered that Tamboer had his parachute on in the waist when the plane was still at 20.000 feet.
Bombardier Charles Bieber did make it out, but delayed his jump until it was too late. His parachute did not have time to fully open and he was seen lying about forty feet from the plane near his partially deployed parachute. Tail gunner Richard McCarthy also made it out of the plane, but conversely to Bieber he opened his chute too soon. It fouled the wing and he was dragged down to the ground with the aircraft. All four of these men were buried, according to Hoag, “by Maurice Collet of Le Buisson, Par Haussignemont, Marne France. I was staying at his home at the time.”
John Combs was captured fairly quickly by a German corporal on a transport train. Joe Wagner (G) made it to the Spanish border before being captured. Both men were eventually taken to prison camps in Germany.
With the help of the French Underground, four of the crew, Roof, Hoag, Behrens (RO), and McKeon (TTG) were able to successfully evade capture and in June all but Roof were back in England. Roof made it back at the end of July.
|Date||Target||Pilot||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||Comments|
|16-Mar-44||FRIEDRICHSHAFEN||SCHULZE||8||NTO||R||Z5||--||NO TAKE OFF - #1 CARB JETS CLOGGED|
|21-Mar-44||WATTEN, near ST. OMER||BARTON||10||1||R||Z5||8|
|09-Apr-44||TUTOW A/F||WATSON||18||ABT||R||Z5||--||ABORT - COULD NOT FIND FORMATION|
|22-Apr-44||HAMM M/Y||WRIGHT||25||2||R||Z5||19||SCHULZE CROSSED OUT|
|25-Apr-44||MANNHEIM A/F||COMBS||27||FTR||R||Z5||21||SHOT DOWN ME109s NEAR VITRY, FRA|
ALC Air Crew and Ground Crew
Kneeling: Charles Metcalf (BTG), Richard Black (NTG), Herbert Shaffer (WG), Roger Brown (E), William Burk (TG)
Ground Crew of ALC, same time frame as the crew photo above
Pete Meyer (Engine Mech), Glenn Mayo, Howard Tibbits (Engine Mech), George Schott (Crew Chief)
(Photo: Geneva Schulze)
April 11, 1944
ALC Wreckage - Ponthion, France
Lost 25 Apr 44 - went down at Ponthion (near St. Dizier), France.