W.B. Smith Crew - Assigned 752nd Squadron - March 1, 1945
(Photo: Craig Smith)
Flying at the End of Hostilities
|2Lt||William B Smith||0832265||Pilot||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|2Lt||William T Ward||0930427||Co-pilot||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|2Lt||Robert R Fose||02074574||Navigator||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|F/O||Charles J Lipuma||T7002||Bombardier||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|Sgt||Lloyd Z Maudlin||37672484||Radio Operator||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|Sgt||Valdee C Exley||34824838||Flight Engineer||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|Sgt||Allan C Rupp||33935486||Nose Turret Gunner||09-Apr-45||KIA||Shot down w/Abramowitz|
|Sgt||Forrest H Fuller||35833352||Aerial Gunner||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|Sgt||Steven J Janicki||36468028||Aerial Gunner||Jun-45||FEH||Ferry Liberator to U.S.|
|Cpl||Calvin F Kolar||36667505||Armorer-Gunner||16-Mar-45||UNK||Promoted to Sgt|
2Lt William B. Smith’s crew was assigned
to the 752nd Squadron on March 1, 1945. They flew their first combat
mission on March 21st to the airfield at Hesepe, near Osnabruck.
The 458th mission narrative states the following about this raid: "On the 21st we vindicated ourselves for the 20th’s bombings by doing an excellent job on the A/F at Hesepe, NNW of Osnabruck. This effort was in accordance with VII AF policy of now attacking airfields in operation of jet A/C. The general purpose was to block runways and frag areas, to cut down flak to facilitate strafing by our fighters who would follow us in. Thirty-four A/C led by Major Phillip and Lts. Williams, Hathorn, and Hoffman dropped 1449 x 100 GP’s bombs with from very good to excellent results. Our photo interpretation show that the lead squadron dropped 95% within the 2000’ marker with the 2nd garnering 52% and the third 64%. A tribute to the keen airmanship showed by the combat boys."
The crew flew one more mission in March and then three in April. On April 9th, Smith’s crew was stood down, but gunner Sgt Allen C Rupp was either assigned or volunteered to fly as a substitute with 2Lt Leonard Abramowitz. Over the target, their aircraft, B-24H 42-52457 Final Approach, took a flak hit to the number two engine. On fire, the plane dropped out of formation, and several chutes were observed to emerge before it exploded at 10,000 feet. Sgt Rupp, manning the nose turret, was the only man who did not get out. He was the last crew member in the 458th to be killed in combat.
Smith’s crew flew their last mission five days later on April 14th when the 458th hit German troop concentrations in the Point de Grave area. On April 25th the Eighth Air Force ceased combat operations and the air war in Europe effectively came to an end.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|21-Mar-45||HESEPE||209||1||44-50766||J||7V||1||YOU'VE HAD IT|
|08-Apr-45||UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH||221||4||42-51270||A||7V||37||MY BUNNIE II|
|14-Apr-45||POINTE DE GRAVE||225||5||42-50504||L||7V||36||UNKNOWN 019|
Aviation Cadet William B. Smith
(Photo: Craig Smith)
March 21, 1945 - Hesepe A/F
The Smith Crew's first glimpse of bombs on target
(Photo: Jim Hartswick)