458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Morford Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadron - 26 May 1944

Standing: Robert Morford - P, Robert Vincent - CP, George Strand - N, John Butler - B, Joseph Kania - E/TTG
Kneeling: Andrew Polan - WG, Vince Balakier - TG, James Seay - BTG, Garfield Parks - NTG, Charles Aillett - RO
Not assigned to 458th with crew: Andrew Polan, Vince Balakier, James Seay, and Garfield Parks

(Photo: Matt Kania)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
Capt Robert W Morford 0412398 Pilot Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
Capt Robert W Vincent 0425159 Co-pilot Jan-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1Lt George E Strand 0702980 Navigator Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
1Lt John R Butler 0702010 Bombardier Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt Charles Aillet 38267548 Radio Operator Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
T/Sgt Joseph J Kania 16127131 Flight Engineer Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Vincent C Morreale 37526973 Airplane Armorer-Gunner  Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Frederick W Wright  32562367 Aerial Gunner Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Charlie M Fowler 39299326 Aerial Gunner Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI
S/Sgt Edward E Betts 36652601 Aerial Gunner Feb-45 CT Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI 

Robert Morford and crew were one of ten specially trained AZON crews who were assigned to the 458th in the spring of 1944.  Originally intended for duty in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater, their orders were changed en route and they flew to England instead.


The four officers, flight engineer and radio operator that had trained together arrived in England in May 1944, along with Corporal Elmore A. Hattlestad, an Electronics Technician assigned to keep the AZON equipment in good working order.   The four gunners, who trained with the crew in the States, Sgt's Polan, Balakier, Seay, and Parks were not on board the AZON aircraft en route to the combat zone, and continued on to the CBI being replaced once the crew arrived in England.  Assigned as gunners to this crew after arrival at Horsham St. Faith were Sgt's, Edward E. Betts, Charlie M. Fowler, Vincent C. Morreale, and Frederick W. Wright.  Sgt. Morreale was wounded in action on October 14th and received the Purple Heart.

Morford's crew flew a specially modified B-24J 44-40291 named Royal Flush from the States.  This AZON equipped aircraft lasted less than a week after arriving, crashing on take-off on May 30, 1944. (see report below).

The crew's first mission was an AZON mission on June 14, 1944.  They flew several missions from July - October when Morford and most of the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron on October 23rd to become a lead crew.  1Lt Robert W.Vincent was the only crew member who remained with the 753rd, and, having become qualified to be a first pilot, flew the remainder of his missions in that squadron.  Records indicate that he took over the crew of Major Maurice Speer (another AZON crew), when that individual was appointed Assistant Station and Group S3.

Accompanying Morford to the 755th was the navigator from John Tracy's crew (AZON 10), 2Lt Benny N. Costello and a newly arrived 2Lt James E. Slauson.  Costello was to be either Pilotage or DR navigator on the new lead crew, but Slauson's specialty is not known.

Most of the crew completed their tour of missions in February 1945, but records show Morford as only having 28 missions to his credit.  It is assumed that he flew a complete tour, but the dates of all his missions are not known.

Both Morford and Vincent were promoted to Captain while in the 458th.

B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40291  J4 O  Royal Flush

On Tuesday, May 30, 1944, Lt's. Morford, Strand, and Butler took off on a training mission.  The pilot that day was 1Lt William P. McCarthy.  The enlisted men on this flight were S/Sgt Leonard Polakoff, engineer; S/Sgt Garland Nixon, radio operator; and gunners Sgt's John McCain, Lowell Kurtz, George Appleby, and Gus Sinigos.  These men were from McCarthy's own crew.  Documented in Accident Report 44-5-30-515.


Lt. MC CARTHY in A/C B24 44-40291 on 30 May 44 while starting to take off for a practice mission had the propellers on #1 and #2 engines run away.  On the pre-take off run-up the engines checked normal also the props check through normal.  The A/C was then taxied onto the R/W and the power was applied for take off.  When the A/C had gained about 70 MPH #1 prop started running away.  Shortly after this #2 prop began to run away.  Lt MC CARTHY tried to control toggle switch which had no effect on controlling the props.  No attempt was made to use the prop feathering mechanism to help stabilize the props.  At this time the A/C was in the air with an airspeed of 120 MPH.  Lt MC CARTHY decided to cut the power and land the A/C and try to stop it on the remainder of the R/W.  However, having only 1300 feet of R/W left he was unable to bring A/C to stop on the R/W and ran off the end onto rough ground which tore the landing gear off and completely wrecked the A/C.  The recommendations are that the prop governors of all A/C be tested for correct setting on the acceptance checks.  Also, that the pilots try using feathering mechanism to help control a runaway prop.

"On run up all engines and instruments checked OK.  Lt. McCarthy, the pilot, was riding right side as we were to fly #3 position and he would be able to fly the wing better from the right.  I made the take off and as we were going down the runway on the early part of the run, I checked the manifold pressure and RPM's and everything looked OK.  When we were making 75 MPH I pulled the nose off and about that time I heard a prop out of synchronization.  Lt. McCarthy and the engineer were taking care of the instruments and settings.  Things seemed OK and I presumed the RPM on one engine might be set a little high and continued the run.  At 110 MPH both props began to run wild.  We were off the ground at 120 and at that time Lt. McCarthy decided to cut the power.  We immediately settled on the ground and applied the brakes.  We went off the end of the runway at about 50  MPH.  The left gear gave way, the nose gear collapsed and we came to an immediate stop.  During this time Lt. McCarthy cut the switches and attempted to put the mixture controls in idle cut off.  The crew was warned to stand by for a crash.  All the crew escaped injury.  Four men went out the waist and six men out the top hatch.  Lt. McCarthy came out the top hatch last.  The accident occurred at approximately 12:15."


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
14-Jun-44 5 TARGETS AZ06 1     44-40201 N J4 1 SILVER CHIEF  
22-Jun-44 SAUMER, TOURS AZ09 2     44-40288 S J4 4 BAD GIRL TACTICAL BRIDGES
05-Jul-44 LE COULET, BEL 84 ABT     41-29288 L J3 -- BIG-TIME OPERATOR EXHAUST
07-Jul-44 LUTZKENDORF 86 3     42-100431 B J4 25 BOMB-AH-DEAR  
16-Jul-44 SAARBRUCKEN 91 4     42-100407 -- J3 32 LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY  
17-Jul-44 3 NO BALLS 92 5     42-95050 J 7V 28 GAS HOUSE MOUSE  
19-Jul-44 KEMPTEN 94 6     42-52457 Q 7V 42 FINAL APPROACH  
20-Jul-44 EISENACH 95 7     44-40201 N J4 2 SILVER CHIEF  
21-Jul-44 MUNICH 96 8     42-110163 M J4 12 TIME'S A WASTIN  
24-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA 97 9     42-110163 M J4 13 TIME'S A WASTIN  
25-Jul-44 ST. LO AREA "B" 98 10     44-40275 L J4 6 SHACK TIME  
04-Aug-44 ROSTOCK 103 11     44-40275 L J4 8 SHACK TIME  
07-Aug-44 GHENT 107 12     44-40275 L J4 9 SHACK TIME  
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER 117 13 WRIGHT L2 44-40264 K J4 13 KISS ME BABY  
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ12 14 WRIGHT, FW   42-50499 U J3 8 COOKIE/OPEN POST NELSON, JW-Pltg Nav
01-Sep-44 RAVENSTEIN, HOL AZ14 16 ISBELL   44-40275 L J4 14 SHACK TIME  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 17 MARTIN, C L 44-40275 L J4 16 SHACK TIME  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 18 WRIGHT L2 44-40275 L J4 18 SHACK TIME  
26-Oct-44 MINDEN 138 19 DARELIUS D1 42-51936 I+ J3 1 UNKNOWN 027  
05-Nov-44 KARLSRUHE 142 20 CLAGGETT D1 42-95610 D+ J3 3 UNKNOWN 037 BALL TURRET
26-Nov-44 BIELEFELD 150 21     42-95554 E J3 6 UNKNOWN 050 LAND A92 - MECH
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 22 HINCKLEY D1 42-51936 I J3 2 UNKNOWN 027  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 23 BOOTH L2 42-51743 F J3 2 UNKNOWN 006  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT 166 24 WAGNER L3 42-51939 G J3 13 UNKNOWN 028  
13-Jan-45 KAISERLAUTERN 169 25 JAMISON L1 42-51669 J J3 3 UNKNOWN 026  
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 26 O'NEILL L1 42-95628 K J3 6 UNKNOWN 033  
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER 175 27 SPEER D1 42-51936 I J3 7 UNKNOWN 027  
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 177 28 GOODFRIEND D1 42-51936 I J3 9 UNKNOWN 027

Posing next to B-24J-130-CO 42-110070 Z5 E  Elmer / Lady Luck

Standing: Robert Morford, Robert Vincent, John Butler, George Strand, Joseph Kania
Kneeling, 3rd from left: Charlie Fowler, Far right: Charles Aillett
Three unidentified gunners: Edward Betts, Vincent Morreale, and Frederick Wright
(Photo: Matt Kania)

Morford Lead Crew - 755th Squadron - Winter 1944

Fowler standing on left, Morford standing third from left

Photo: Matt Kania

1Lt Robert W. Vincent's missions as first pilot

 Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
15-Aug-44 VECHTA 114 1 42-110141 U J4 15 BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN  
16-Aug-44 MAGDEBURG 115 2 44-40066 Y J4 2 S.O.L.  
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER 117 4 44-40066 Y J4 3 S.O.L.  
25-Aug-44 MOERDIJK, NETH AZ12 5 44-40277 P J4 8 MISS USED  
21-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR05 -- 41-28721 G J4 T3 DOWNWIND-LEG WW - Pilot AKIN
25-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR08-2 -- 42-110063 B   T3 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
27-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR10 -- 42-110063 B   T5 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
28-Sep-44 HORSHAM to LILLE TR11 -- 42-110063 B   T7 NOT 458TH SHIP - HETHEL TRUCKIN' MISSION
05-Oct-44 PADERBORN 128 6 44-40066 Y J4 5 S.O.L.  
09-Oct-44 KOBLENZ 131 7 44-40066 Y J4 7 S.O.L.  
14-Oct-44 COLOGNE 133 8 44-40066 Y J4 8 S.O.L.  
17-Oct-44 COLOGNE 135 9 44-40066 Y J4 10 S.O.L.  
22-Oct-44 HAMM 137 10 44-40118 S J4 11 WE'LL GET BY  
30-Oct-44 HARBURG 139 11 42-50449 W J4 9 HEAVENLY HIDEAWAY  
06-Nov-44 MINDEN 143 12 42-50449 W J4 13 HEAVENLY HIDEAWAY  
09-Nov-44 METZ AREA 145 13 42-50449 W J4 14 HEAVENLY HIDEAWAY  
10-Nov-44 HANAU A/F 146 14 44-40118 S J4 14 WE'LL GET BY  
21-Nov-44 HARBURG 148 15 44-40118 S J4 16 WE'LL GET BY  
06-Dec-44 BIELEFELD 153 ABT 44-40118 S J4 -- WE'LL GET BY ABORT - #3 ENG
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 16 44-40283 I J4 23 LASSIE COME HOME  
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 17 44-40201 N J4 32 SILVER CHIEF  
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 18 44-40277 P J4 24 MISS USED  
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 19 44-40277 P J4 25 MISS USED  
27-Dec-44 NEUNKIRCHEN 159 20 42-110163 M J4 40 TIME'S A WASTIN

July 1944 - Preparing for a mission

Joe Kania, Charlie Aillet, Bob Vincent (with cigar)

Photo: Matt Kania