Crew 60 - Assigned 755th Squadron - July 29, 1943
|Capt||Howard W Slaton||024926||Pilot||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|1Lt||Lawrence P Riesen||0799865||Co-pilot||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|1Lt||Albert F Pogue||0425464||Bombardier||Jun-44||CT||Transferred to 466th BG|
|1Lt||Pasquale Collalto||0694858||Navigator||Jun-44||CT||Transferred to 482nd BG|
|T/Sgt||Nelson P Keefer||15320162||Radio Operator||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|T/Sgt||David E Kerr||19115880||Flight Engineer||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|S/Sgt||John R Dembecki||36504806||Aerial Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|S/Sgt||Clarence E Johnson||38180136||Aerial Gunner, 2/E||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|S/Sgt||Raymond J Sherman||39318386||Ball Turret Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
|S/Sgt||Otto A Sobanjo||17108860||Armorer-Gunner||Aug-44||CT||Left for 8th AFRD at AAF 594|
1Lt Howard W. Slaton was one of the first pilots assigned to the 458th when it was formed in July 1943. His was the first crew assigned to the 755th Squadron on July 29, 1943. This crew trained with the group in the fall of 1943 and flew a 755th Squadron B-24 named Ole Satan to the ETO via the Southern Ferry Route in January 1944. Unfortunately no photo of the original crew members from Tonopah has been found.
At the end of February 1944, the 458th flew two diversion missions to the Dutch Coast in support of the Eighth Air Force’s “Big Week”. Crew 60 flew a B-24 named Little Lambsy Divey on the first of these missions on the 24th of February. The crew’s first combat mission came on March 3rd when the target assigned to the 458th was the Daimler-Benz A/C works at Oranienburg, Germany near Berlin. Slaton led the group with Major Bruno Feiling flying as command pilot. Due to severe weather over the Continent, the mission was recalled. Lt. Riesen, Sgt Dembecki, and Lt Robert M. MacGeorge, an extra navigator, all received frostbite on this mission, winding up in the hospital for several days. The group’s first combat loss occurred on this mission when 1Lt Frank L. Herzik and crew, also from the 755th Squadron, failed to return. They were flying the B-24 that Slaton and crew had brought overseas, Ole Satan.
According to records, Slaton flew only
two missions in March (on the 3rd and 9th) and did not resume flying
until April 5th. It is possible that the men received lead crew
training during this time, but that is not certain. One thing that is
certain is that after the crew returned to flying they flew 24 lead
missions, completing their combat tour in July 1944.
The crew flew B-24J 42-100407 Little Lambsy Divey on 25 of their 30 missions. The two Swastika symbols on the nose denote two fighters shot down. These were both added to the nose after the April 29, 1944 mission to Berlin when, according to records: "Today the target was the Friedrichstrasse Station in the heart of Berlin… Capt. Slaton and crew 60 flew as deputy lead of the second section… The German Air Force was up in force today and many violent air battles ensued. In the final outcome of the battle 4 men of our squadron are officially credited with destroying an enemy plane apiece… S/Sgt Otto A. Sobanjo of Hibbing, Minn. is credited with an Me 109, and S/Sgt Clarence E. Johnson of Douglas, Oklahoma is credited with an FW 190. Each of the above men are awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to their Air Medal."
Little Labsy Divey's combat career came to an end on December 31, 1944. Flown on this date by Lt Robert Burman and crew, battle damage forced them down in a Belgian field.
The crew underwent some personnel changes early on. With Lt. Riesen out of action due to frostbite, his place was most likely taken by various command pilots when Slaton flew lead. 2Lt Albert F. Pogue, navigator and 2Lt Pasquale Collalto, bombardier, are believed to have flown with other crews, both are shown on load lists at different times with the 755th crew of 1Lt Harold Wells. Both of these men completed their tours with the 458th and were transferred to other bomb groups in June 1944. Pogue went to the 466th Bomb Group at Attlebridge, and Collalto was assigned to the 482nd at Alconbury.
Lt. Ross Messner was the original 755th
Squadron bombardier. He flew with Slaton on a number of missions,
including the April 8, 1944 mission to Brunswick, Germany. According to
755th Squadron records: “Flak was very heavy at many points along
today’s route and many enemy fighters were sent up to attempt to disrupt
our mission. During the bomb run, the formation was attacked by enemy
fighters and the ship flown by Capt. Slaton and crew was the recipient
of a flak burst that severed the oxygen and hydraulic lines causing a
serious fire in the tail section of the ship. Lt. Messner was checking
his bombs prior to their release at the time of the enemy attack and he
immediately manned a waist gun as the waist gunner was in the nose
turret. In the excitement, the abandon ship bell was struck and the men
in the rear of the ship prepared to jump, not realizing the ship was
under control. Lt. Messner prevented three gunners from bailing out and
smothered the fire by beating it out with his hands. Lt. Messner by
his coolness and quick thinking undoubtedly saved the aircraft and
enabled its crew to return to fight again another day.” Records show that he
received a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for this action (see citation below), and an Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC) to the
DFC in August.
Lt John I. Woodworth was originally assigned as navigator on Crew 75. On his second mission on March 5, 1944, his eardrums were injured and he came off of combat flying for a week or so. His crew finished up before him in June and he was transferred to Crew 60 to fill in as lead navigator where he completed his final nine missions with Captain Slaton as pilot. John Woodworth supplied two of the crew photos on this page. The picture of the crew with Little Lambsy Divey was taken on June 10, 1944 as the crew gathered to slow time all four engines after they had been changed.
Also flying as navigator was 1Lt Robert D. MacGeorge from 1Lt Robert Hannaman's Crew 65. Captain Robert V. Whitlow took over this crew shortly after the group arrived in the ETO and Hannaman was assigned as the 755th Squadron Operations Officer. Hannaman was flying as command pilot with the Perkinson crew on June 29, 1944 when he was shot down. It is believed that MacGeorge was assigned to Slaton's crew as DR (Dead Reckoning) Navigator as early as March 3rd, when he got frostbite on the mission to Oranienburg. It is not known how many missions he flew with this crew. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in August and returned back to the Zone of Interior that same month.
It is believed that Larry Riesen flew the majority of his missions with Slaton. Eventually he was assigned as a first pilot, flying nine missions to complete his tour between the beginning of June and the end of July 1944.
The enlisted men remained fairly intact throughout their combat tour. With the exception of John Dembecki who wound up with frostbite on March 3rd, records indicate that they flew and completed most of their missions at the same time and were awarded DFCs in August 1944. Dembecki was not far behind, as he completed his tour in the same month. Howard Slaton, Larry Riesen and all six enlisted men were transferred to the 8th AF Replacement Depot in August 1944.
Capt Howard Slaton - 1st Pilot
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Cmd Pilot||Ld||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|24-Feb-44||DUTCH COAST||D1||--||42-100407||--||J3||D1||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||Diversion Mission|
|05-Apr-44||ST. POL-SIRACOURT||16||3||42-100407||A||J3||6||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|08-Apr-44||BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM||17||4||42-100407||A||J3||7||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|09-Apr-44||TUTOW A/F||18||ABT||42-100433||B||J3||--||BIG DICK HARD TO HIT||#1 ENG OIL LEAK|
|13-Apr-44||LECHFELD A/F||21||5||OLLUM||D1||42-110059||E||J3||5||UNKNOWN 056|
|19-Apr-44||PADERBORN A/F||23||6||MOORE||D2||42-110059||E||J3||7||UNKNOWN 056||Landing Acc Sta 123|
|24-Apr-44||LEIPHEIM A/F||26||7||LaROCHE||L2||42-100407||A||J3||8||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|29-Apr-44||BERLIN||31||8||42-100407||A||J3||10||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|05-May-44||SOTTEVAST||35||9||PACKER||D3||42-100407||A||J3||11||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|07-May-44||OSNABRUCK||36||10||MOORE||L||42-100407||A||J3||12||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||FARMER (LEAD NAV)|
|09-May-44||ST. TROND||38||11||HOGG||L||42-100407||A||J3||13||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||DEEGAN (LEAD NAV)|
|10-May-44||DIEPHOLZ||REC||--||42-100407||A||J3||--||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||RECALL BEFORE EC|
|11-May-44||EPINAL||39||12||42-100407||A||J3||14||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|12-May-44||BOHLEN||40||13||42-100407||A||J3||15||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|19-May-44||BRUNSWICK||42||14||KING||D1||42-100407||A||J3||16||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|21-May-44||SIRACOURT||44||15||CRAIG?||L||42-100407||A||J3||17||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|29-May-44||TUTOW A/F||50||16||OLLUM||L2||42-100407||A||J3||20||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||NAV - CRAIG|
|31-May-44||BERTRIX||52||17||HENSON||L||42-100407||A||J3||21||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||KING (LEAD NAV)|
|04-Jun-44||BOURGES A/F||54||18||L2||42-100407||A||J3||22||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|06-Jun-44||COASTAL AREAS||56||19||BOOTH||L5||42-100407||A||J3||23||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||MSN #1|
|08-Jun-44||PONTAUBAULT||60||20||ISBELL||L1||42-100407||A||J3||24||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|12-Jun-44||EVREUX/FAUVILLE||64||21||JAMISON||L1||42-100407||A||J3||25||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|15-Jun-44||GUYANCOURT||66||22||FEILING||L1||42-100407||A||J3||26||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|18-Jun-44||FASSBERG A/D||69||23||OLLUM||D1||42-100407||A||J3||27||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||MSN #1|
|21-Jun-44||BERLIN||75||24||OLLUM||D1||42-100407||A||J3||28||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|24-Jun-44||CONCHES A/F||77||25||JAMISON||L2||42-100407||A||J3||29||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||MSN #1|
|25-Jun-44||ST. OMER||80||26||SLATON||D1||44-40126||D||Z5||9||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP||GILBERT SCHULZE PILOT|
|11-Jul-44||MUNICH||88||28||CHAMBERLAIN||L2||42-100407||A||J3||31||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|21-Jul-44||MUNICH||96||30||CLAGGETT||L1||42-50768||A||Z5||2||ARISE MY LOVE AND COME WITH ME|
|28-Jul-44||LEIPHEIM & CREEL||SCR||--||OLLUM||L2||42-100407||A||J3||--||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||BRIEFED AND SCRUBBED|
|31-Jul-44||LUDWIGSHAFEN||99||31||OLLUM||L2||42-100407||A||J3||33||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
1Lt Lawrence Riesen - 1st Pilot
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|04-Jun-44||BOURGES A/F||54||ABT||42-110059||E||J3||--||UNKNOWN 056||LOSS OF ALL OXY|
|06-Jun-44||COASTAL AREAS||56||1||42-52274||H||J3||4||UNKNOWN 029|
|06-Jun-44||VILLERS BOCAGE||57||2||42-52274||H||J3||5||UNKNOWN 029||MSN #2|
|18-Jun-44||FASSBERG A/D||69||5||42-95316||N||J3||21||PRINCESS PAT||MSN #1|
|19-Jun-44||REGNAUVILLE||72||6||42-95120||M||J3||14||HOOKEM COW / BETTY||MSN #2|
|23-Jun-44||3 NO BALLS||76||7||42-51097||T||J3||25||UNKNOWN 022||TGT #7 BLAUGERMONT|
|24-Jun-44||CONCHES A/F||77||8||42-95008||R||J3||17||UNKNOWN 035||MSN #1|
B-24J-100-CO 42-100433 A J3 Little Lambsy Divey
(Photos: Mike Bailey & John Woodworth)
The men are, left to right: David Kerr, Unknown, Robert MacGeorge, Ross Messner, Larry Riesen, and Howard Slaton.
In the background are Unknown (behind propeller), Ray Sherman and Clarence Johnson on the right.
(Photo: James Leddy)
Lt John Woodworth - Navigator Mission List
|--||3-Mar-44||Berlin (recall)||441||Mattson||Abort (fire)||x|
|--||18-Apr-44||Air-Sea Rescue||--||Keck||(not a msn)||x|
|5||25-Apr-44||Mannheim, G||359||Hannaman||(Ops Officer)||x|
|8||27-Apr-44||Luneville, F||359||Olney||2nd of day||x|
|R & R Leave||(Scotland)|
|--||20-May-44||-- aborted--||359||Olney||Pitot tube froze||x|
|14||21-May-44||St. Pol, F||359||Olney||x|
|21||2-Jun-44||Le Tourget, F||359||Olney||Crew 75 finish||x|
|22||4-Jun-44||Bourges, F||407||Slaton||Pilotage Nav|
|23||6-Jun-44||Normandy Invasion||407||Slaton||Pilotage Nav|
|24||8-Jun-44||Val St. Pair, F||407||Slaton||Group Lead||x|
|25||12-Jun-44||Evreaux, F||407||Slaton||Wing Lead|
|26||15-Jun-44||Guyancourt, F||407||Slaton||Group Lead|
|27||18-Jun-44||Wesermunde, G||407||Slaton||Deputy Lead||x|
|28||21-Jun-44||Berlin, G||407||Slaton||Deputy Lead||x|
|29||28-Jun-44||Saarbrucken, G||59||Slaton||Deputy Lead||x|
|30||11-Jul-44||Munich, G||365||Slaton||2nd Section Ld||x|
|31||25-Jul-44||St. Lo, F||59||Whitlow||Pilotage Nav|
Distinguished Flying Cross
Headquarters Eighth Air Force
General Orders No 438
3 June 1944
ROSS (NMI) MESSNER, 0669365, First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For meritorious achievement while serving in his capacity as Bombardier on a B-24 aircraft on a mission to Germany, 8 April 1944. Enemy fighters seriously damaged Lieutenant Messner’s aircraft and exploding 20MM shells caused a illegible fire in the tail section. With utter disregard for his own safety, Lieutenant Messner beat out the flames with his hands and prevented three gunners from bailing out. The presence of mind and cool courage exhibited by Lieutenant Messner on this occasion were contributing factors in the safe return of his aircraft and crew, reflecting great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States. Entered military service from Ohio.
(Courtesy: William Christiansen)
1Lt Samuel M. Slaton
Europe - Five miles above the target, the oxygen-masked group bombardier, Lt. Samuel M. Slaton of Town Creww, Alabama, calls "Bombs Away" over the interphone, leans forward over the plexi-glass nose to watch them go to the point of impact, then turns to the navigator with the old "high sign". The eggs were "on the button", he grins. Forts won't have to visit this target again soon.