French Crew - Assigned 755th Squadron - June 7, 1944
(Photo: Nikki Werts)
|1Lt||Joseph H French||0812968||Pilot||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1Lt||Searcy C Glass||0701920||Co-pilot||06-Nov-44||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|2Lt||Robert A Craig||0697769||Bombardier||06-Aug-44||KIA||Flying with Hancock Crew|
|1Lt||Harold K Simeone||0712686||Navigator||Dec-44||CT||Trsf to 70RD or 127th CP return ZI|
|T/Sgt||James Papadeonise||35538612||Radio Operator||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Joseph T Ball||34032367||Flight Engineer||15-Nov-44||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|S/Sgt||Roy F Adolfson||36331843||Armorer-Gunner||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Hampton E Roberts||19149607||Armorer-Gunner/2E||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|T/Sgt||Leon R Santoni||39125602||Armorer-Gunner/2E||Dec-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
|S/Sgt||Nicholas Smetana||32935582||Aerial Gunner||Nov-44||CT||Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross|
Joseph French was assigned with his crew to the 755th
Squadron on June 7, 1944. They flew
their first mission four days later.
During the busy month of June the crew completed almost 1/3 of their
required missions. 2Lt Walter Brotherton, bombardier, was evidently replaced by Harold Simeone prior to arrival at the 458th, as Simeone's name appears with the crew on the June 7th orders assigning them to the Group.
At some point in mid-July, after completing 9 or 10 missions as co-pilot, Searcy Glass, was given his own crew to command. While the original composition of Glass’ crew is unknown, it is likely that it was made up of men whose crews had either been lost or completed their tours. In October, when the 755th Squadron became the Group’s “Lead” squadron, the crews of both French and Glass were transferred out – French to the 754th and Glass to the 752nd. French’s crew was mostly intact, with three crewmen different from that assigned in June – 2Lt Robert N. Simon, Jr, co-pilot; 2Lt Edward Silver, navigator; and S/Sgt Robert C. Neudorff, gunner. Simon was originally assigned with the crew of Dudley McArdle in May, and Ed Silver had been on Allen Blum’s crew, assigned in early July. Neudorff was an individual replacement arriving at Horsham the day before D-Day.
Glass’ crew at this point in time was made up almost entirely of men from several crews and two ground men who had been reclassified in order to fly combat missions. The only exception was original crew member Sgt Leon Santoni, who appears to have stayed with Glass.
Harold Simeone went on to become the pilotage navigator on the crew of Capt Birto Brumby in the 755th. He completed his missions in January 1945.
Robert Craig also became a pilotage navigator in the 755th. On August 6, 1944, Craig was flying with the crew of Lt Thomas Hancock on a mission to Hamburg, Germany, when their aircraft received a direct flak hit just before bomb release. Only two of the eleven man crew survived - pilot Tom Hancock, and Capt John Chamberlain, flying as command pilot.
French took part in the Truckin’ Missions that occurred in September 1944, and resumed combat flying in October. Most of the crew’s mission for that month and the two months that followed were to targets in Germany. The crew finished up in late December 1944 and all were sent on Rest Home leave. All crew members were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|11-Jun-44||BEAUVAIS||63||1||42-51179||P||J3||8||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|23-Jun-44||3 NO BALLS||76||7||41-28719||Q||J3||37||PADDLEFOOT|
|24-Jun-44||CONCHES A/F||77||8||41-29359||J||J3||49||TAIL WIND||MSN #1|
|25-Jun-44||ST. OMER||80||9||42-95008||R||J3||19||UNKNOWN 035|
|06-Jul-44||KIEL||85||10||42-100425||D||J3||16||THE BIRD||NO TAIL # GIVEN|
|08-Jul-44||ANIZY, FRANCE||87||ABT||41-29288||L||J3||--||BIG-TIME OPERATOR||#4 ENG FAILURE|
|24-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA||97||14||41-28719||Q||J3||40||PADDLEFOOT|
|03-Aug-44||2 NO BALLS||102||15||41-29342||S||J3||35||ROUGH RIDERS|
|04-Aug-44||ACHIET A/F||104||16||41-29342||S||J3||36||ROUGH RIDERS|
|09-Aug-44||SAARBRUCKEN||109||19||42-100407||R||J3||38||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY|
|05-Sep-44||KARLSRUHE||122||ABT||42-95316||N||J3||--||PRINCESS PAT||#2 RUNNING ROUGH|
|10-Sep-44||ULM M/Y||125||22||42-100425||O||J3||31||THE BIRD|
|18-Sep-44||HORSHAM to CLASTRES||TR02||NTO||42-52441||I||J3||T2||LAST CARD LOUIE||NO TAKE OFF|
|19-Sep-44||HORSHAM to CLASTRES||TR03||--||42-52441||I||J3||T3||LAST CARD LOUIE||CARGO|
|23-Sep-44||HORSHAM to ST DIZIER||TR07||--||42-50335||A+||389BG||T1||NO NAME OR NAME UNKNOWN||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|25-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR08-1||--||42-64473||R+||453BG||T1||YUVADIT||1ST FLIGHT|
|25-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR08-2||--||42-64473||R+||453BG||T2||YUVADIT||2ND FLIGHT|
|26-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR09||--||42-7642||N||44BG||T7||M'DARLING||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|27-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR10||--||42-52441||I||755||T9||LAST CARD LOUIE||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|05-Oct-44||PADERBORN||128||ABT||42-95316||N||J3||--||PRINCESS PAT||#1 ENG OIL PRES|
|17-Oct-44||COLOGNE||135||25||42-110141||U||J4||21||BREEZY LADY / MARIE / SUPERMAN|
|06-Nov-44||MINDEN||143||27||42-51179||P||Z5||45||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
|08-Nov-44||RHEINE||144||28||42-95120||M||Z5||52||HOOKEM COW / BETTY|
|09-Nov-44||METZ AREA||145||29||42-95183||U||Z5||56||BRINEY MARLIN|
|11-Dec-44||HANAU||155||31||42-110070||K||Z5||47||ELMER / LADY LUCK|
|18-Dec-44||KOBLENZ||REC||--||42-50456||D||Z5||--||DOROTHY KAY SPECIAL||RECALL DUTCH ISLE|
|25-Dec-44||PRONSFELD||158||33||44-40126||L||Z5||32||SPITTEN KITTEN / SKY TRAMP|
|28-Dec-44||ST. WENDEL||160||34||42-51179||P||Z5||54||DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE|
Distinguished Flying Cross
and S/Sgt's Roberts and Smetana (below) in November 1944
S/Sgt Nicholas Smetana
My name is Nicholas "Nick" Smetana. I was drafted by the convenience of the U.S government in April 1943, one month after my first child (a son) was born. Upon learning of being drafted, my choice was the Marines, but the recruiter "encouraged" me to join the Air Corps.
After receiving basic training, I signed up for Flight Training Cadet School, but was turned down because of my age (I was 29 years old and the limit was 27 years. I would have been accepted, despite the age regulation, had I had previous flying experience). I took my basic training in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After basic, I was sent to Armorer's Gunnery School near Denver, Colorado, Aerial Gunnery Training in Harlingen, Texas and then on to Flight Crew Training in Casper, Wyoming. We then flew out of Topeka, Kansas on a new B-24 via a south Atlantic route (where we flew through a tornado) on to England.
I was stationed in Horsham St. Faith in Norwich, England where I was an armor[er] gunner member of the 2nd Air Division, 458th Bomb Group and 755th Bomb Squadron. We started flying combat one month prior to D-Day, May 1944 and I completed my 35th mission on December 24, 1944. When I started flying combat, 25 missions were required, but were increased to 35 missions upon my completion.
I flew back to the U.S. via the mid-Atlantic first to Bermuda and then on to New York. I was assigned to Atlanta, GA to be a B-24 gunnery instructor, which I refused. I was then assigned to a B-29 crew as a central fire gunner, but I again refused. I had had enough. I accepted an assignment as a line maintenance mechanic - on the AT-6 trainer planes. I stayed at this assignment in Nashville, Tennessee until the war was over.
Looking back on my combat missions few were milk runs (easy) and many saw a lot of combat action both air-to-air and from the ground. The easier mission bombings were the V-1 (buzz bombs) missile sites on French territory. For all the missions, anti-aircraft fire was encountered from the ground. In my early missions, about half of the enemy fighter action was in the air.
The most memorable missions were to Berlin, Germany, Frankfort, Germany and especially Peenemunde, the site of Hitler's experimental rocket station where the V-1 (buzz bomb) and the V-2 rocket were being developed.
Courtesy: Nikki Werts