Sanders Crew - Assigned 753rd Squadon - February 13, 1945
Flying at the End of Hostilities
|Rank||Name||Serial #||Crew Pos||Date||Status||Comments|
|2Lt||William V Sanders||02059123||Pilot||1-May-45||FEH||754th BS Roster|
|2Lt||Hubert M Church||02067656||Co-pilot||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
|2Lt||Robert G Grahlmann||02073112||Navigator||1-May-45||FEH||754th BS Roster|
|S/Sgt||Jordan R Jacks||16121369||Radio Operator||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
|S/Sgt||Joseph N Kormick||33266837||Flight Engineer||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
|S/Sgt||Donald L Craig||38394758||Armorer-Gunner||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
|Sgt||John H Gooch, Jr||1912402||Aerial Gunner||23-Apr-45||TRSF||Transferred to 453BG|
|Sgt||Paul C Pottharst||38500452||Aerial Gunner||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
|Sgt||Vernon L Powell||35245560||Aerial Gunner||25-May-45||FEH||Transferred to 755BS|
The crew flew their first combat mission on March 8, 1945 to the marshaling yards at Dillenburg without incident. Their second mission was to be on March 14th, but there was a mishap prior to the crews manning their planes. An experienced gunner in the 753rd Squadron accidentally discharged his .50 caliber waist gun while on the ground. Several rounds struck an adjacent aircraft, We’ll Get By (which had been flown by Sanders on the 8th) narrowly missing three crewmen who were preparing that plane for the mission. An incendiary caught fire and the men were unable to suppress the flames and were forced to abandon the aircraft. All efforts failed to bring the fire under control and the area was evacuated. The aircraft exploded, causing damage to nine other aircraft in the vicinity. As a result, the 753rd Squadron was stood down for the day.
In late May 1945, most of the crew were transferred into the 755BS. As with most of the combat crews on the base that had not completed a tour at war’s end, Sanders crew was tasked to ferry a Liberator back to the States. S/Sgt Jordan Jacks remembers the flight[s] home, “We started to fly home on a group B-24 but aborted it, landing in Gibraltar, then flown back to Horsham. [We] again started home on another group B-24, aborted it in Wales, then flown to Sudsbury, England, [where we were] assigned a wonderfully new B-24J. [We] flew home with a B-17 group that ditched one in the north Atlantic, crash landed one in Iceland, spun-in one into the thick forest outside Goose Bay, Labrador, and so on to air base at New Haven, CT, where we kissed the B-24J good bye and kissed the US runway hello.”
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|08-Mar-45||DILLENBURG||199||1||44-40118||S||J4||45||WE'LL GET BY|
|14-Mar-45||HOLZWICKEDE||203||ACC||44-10602||E||J4||--||TEN GUN DOTTIE||DAMAGED/EXPLOSION|
|15-Mar-45||ZOSSEN||204||2||42-50456||D||Z5||46||DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL|
|21-Mar-45||HESEPE||209||4||42-50456||D||Z5||50||DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL|
|24-Mar-45||NORDHORN||212||6||42-51179||P||Z5||82||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|25-Mar-45||HITZACKER||214||WTHR||42-95183||U||Z5||--||BRINEY MARLIN||WEATHER SHIP - 754|
|31-Mar-45||BRUNSWICK||216||7||42-95108||B||Z5||75||ENVY OF 'EM ALL II||REPLACED 456|
|04-Apr-45||PERLEBERG||217||8||42-51179||P||Z5||86||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|05-Apr-45||PLAUEN||218||9||42-51196||Q||J3||54||THE GYPSY QUEEN|
|07-Apr-45||KRUMMEL||220||10||42-51179||P||Z5||89||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|10-Apr-45||RECHLIN/LARZ||223||12||42-50456||D||Z5||56||DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL|
|15-Apr-45||ROYAN AREA||226||14||42-51196||Q||J3||62||THE GYPSY QUEEN|
Lt Sanders or Lt Wroten?
This is an interesting situation, one I have not come across in all of my research. This crew was assigned under William V. Sanders in February 1945. In correspondence with the radio operator, Jordan Jacks and with Arie Church, the grandson of co-pilot Hubert Church, there are statements (Jacks) and indications (Arie Church) that Sanders was removed as pilot of the crew shortly after they had arrived at Horsham, and that replacement pilot, 2Lt Donald I. Wroten took his place. While I have no possible way to know with absolute certainty, which man piloted this crew, I have presented the information that I have below.
On February 21, 1945, 458th group Special Orders (SO45) show 2Lt Donald I. Wroten being assigned to the 754th Squadron. According to Radio Operator S/Sgt Jordan Jacks, shortly after arriving, the crew (with William Sanders as pilot) was sent up on a training flight: “I recall our first 458th ‘training’ mission’ (c. 2/15/45) was a bit of a disaster. On returning from our ‘practice’, Lt. Sanders totally missed the runway, landing in the grassy swale beside it, frightening the hell out of us; almost immediately, he was transferred to R&R as I recall, making runs to Ireland for the mighty 8th for the rest of WWII. We never flew with him again, so the records aren't correct.”
Arie Church, grandson of co-pilot Lt. Hubert Church, had this to add: “I do remember my grandfather speaking about Sanders’ off-runway landing, which, if I remember was on a qualification flight after the B-24 in question had returned from depot-level maintenance. I know my grandfather told the story of the mishap, and though the details are hazy, I am fairly certain Mr. Jacks is correct in saying that Sanders did not fly with the crew again.
It is possible that Sanders was removed from this crew and flew with a different crew during March and April, but he was in the same Squadron as his “old crew”. This still does not explain why Wroten’s name does not appear on any records as being pilot in charge of a crew.
The only way to know for sure who the pilot of the crew was, is from the load lists currently stored in the National Archives. They list each man’s name and position that he was flying in on each combat mission flown. If one of these should ever be acquired for this crew, I will post it on this page.
Lt Don I. Wroten?
Same man in crew photo above
Unknown officer and Hubert Church (R)