458th Bombardment Group (H)

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

Burman Crew - Assigned 752nd Squadron - November 18, 1944

Back Row: Harvey Putman - N, Elmer Etscheid - CP, Ed Landon - B, Bob Burman - P
Front Row: Bob Groh - TG, Enrico Ciotti - WG, Gene Gabay - WG, Junior Clark - RO, Al Ebbing - TT/E, Stanley Sargut - NTG

(Photo: Alice Burman)

Removed from Flight Status - April 12, 1945

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Robert W Burman  0718854 Pilot 12-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
2Lt Elmer G Etscheid 0829442 Co-pilot 14-Apr-45 FEH Leave
2Lt Harvey I Putman 02065183 Navigator 12-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
T/Sgt Junior K Clark 36726064 Radio Operator 12-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
T/Sgt Alfred J Ebbing 16074864 Flight Engineer 12-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
Sgt Eugene T Gabay 32825102 Armorer-Gunner 09-Apr-45 KIA Kings, NY
S/Sgt Enrico R Ciotti 33787934 Waist Gunner 09-Apr-45 KIA Chester, PA
S/Sgt Stanley F Sargut 11058188 Nose Turret Gunner  12-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Robert W Groh 36686088 Tail Turret Gunner 10-Apr-45 FEH Reclassified MOS 612 

Robert W. Burman and crew arrived at Horsham in mid-November and completed 24 missions between December 1944 and April 1945.  On their third combat mission on New Year's Eve 1944, the crew were forced down in Allied territory on the Continent.  They arrived back at Horsham after several days in Belgium.

The crew was also the subject of a "photo-shoot" by the Group's photographer's on February 26, 1945, the 458th's 200th Mission.  They flew an original group Liberator, Final Approach on which would be her 92nd mission.

Their last mission as a crew was to an airfield near  Lechfeld, Germany on April 9, 1945.  Once again, due to battle damage the crew were forced to make an emergency landing on the Continent, but this time two crew members were killed in action.  It was after this mission that the remaining crew memebrs were removed from combat operations.  They were given the task of ferrying personnel from Horsham St. Faith (which was also the home of the 96th Combat Bomb Wing and the HQ of 2nd Air Division) all over England and the Continent.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
12-Dec-44 HANAU 156 1 41-29567 G 7V 8 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 2 42-52457 Q 7V 74 FINAL APPROACH  
13-Jan-45 KAISERLAUTERN 169 4 42-95179 X 7V 71 HERE I GO AGAIN  
16-Jan-45 MAGDEBURG 171 5 44-40281 Q J4 29 A DOG'S LIFE
06-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 178 7 42-95316 H 7V 73 PRINCESS PAT  
16-Feb-45 OSNABRUCK 183 8 42-95316 H 7V 77 PRINCESS PAT  
19-Feb-45 MESCHADE 184 9 42-95316 H 7V 78 PRINCESS PAT  
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH 187 10 42-51270 A 7V 12 MY BUNNIE II  
26-Feb-45 BERLIN 190 11 42-52457 Q 7V 92 FINAL APPROACH GROUP 200TH MISSION
28-Feb-45 BIELEFELD 192 12 41-29340 N 7V 65 YANKEE BUZZ BOMB  
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG 194 13 42-51514 B 7V 18 BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER  
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART 196 14 41-29567 G 7V 14 MY BUNNIE / BAMBI  
05-Mar-45 HARBURG 197 15 42-51206 S 7V 47 THE PIED PIPER  
10-Mar-45 ARNSBURG 201 16 42-51270 A 7V 21 MY BUNNIE II  
14-Mar-45 HOLZWICKEDE 203 17 44-40475 D 7V 34 JOLLY ROGER  
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 18 42-52457 Q 7V 104 FINAL APPROACH  
21-Mar-45 HESEPE 209 19 41-29352 K 7V 84 WOLVE'S LAIR  
23-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 211 20 42-51110 M 7V 95 TOP O' THE MARK  
24-Mar-45 KIRKOFF 213 21 42-50502 E 7V 54 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
31-Mar-45 BRUNSWICK 216 22 42-50502 E 7V 56 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
04-Apr-45 PERLEBERG 217 23 42-50502 E 7V 57 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
05-Apr-45 PLAUEN 218 24 42-50502 E 7V 58 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
07-Apr-45 KRUMMEL 220 25 42-50502 E 7V 60 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
08-Apr-45 UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH  221 26 42-50502 E 7V 61 LARRUPIN' LINDA  

December 31, 1944

B-24J-100-CO 42-100407 J3 A  Little Lambsy Divey

(Color plate by Mike Bailey)

"My name is Alfred J. Ebbing, and I was the flight engineer and top turret gunner on the B-24.  A G.I. stationed on the airbase at Florennes, Belgium took the picture below on December 31, 1944.  The person standing by the nose turret is myself, T/Sgt Alfred J. Ebbing of the 458th BG Heavy and member of Lt. Bob Burman’s crew.  Our crew consisted of Lt. Bob Burman, pilot; Lt. Elmer Etschied, co-pilot; Lt. Harvey Putman, navigator; T/Sgt Alfred J. Ebbing, flight engineer and top turret gunner; S/Sgt Junior Clark, radio operator; S/Sgt Enrico Ciotti, waist gunner; S/Sgt Eugene Gabay, waist gunner; S/Sgt Stanley Sargut, nose gunner, and S/Sgt Robert Groh, tail gunner.

"On December 30, 1944 on our third mission, we bombed a RR bridge in Koblenz, Germany without any problems or incursions with the enemy.  On New Year’s Eve, the next day, we were sent on mission number four – back to Koblenz, Germany to wipe out another RR bridge.  Before we left our airbase in Horsham St. Faith in England, the ground crew told me that one bomb might hang up in the bomb rack.  With that information, we went through the emergency procedures to release the bombs.  The bomb thought to have a problem released without any malfunctions.  Unfortunately, another one of our four bombs ended up stuck in the bomb rack and I was unable to release it.  I put the safety pin back in the bomb.  On this particular mission we were carrying four 2000 lb. bombs, 2300 gallons of fuel and flying at 22,000 feet trying to get above the flak.  Air temperature was -40 degrees F.  On this mission we encountered heavy flak and a lot of enemy fighters.  The pilot had to feather #2 and #4 engines as we were losing oil and fuel out of both engines.  We had also taken flak in the hydraulics to the nose gear as well as the back up emergency hand procedures.  I was unable to lower the nose gear.  While in flight returning to our base, I proceeded to inspect the nose gear and found it totally inoperable.  I started up to remind the pilot of the bomb, and tell him we had no nose gear.  While doing so, I looked down and saw the ground coming up very quick through the open bomb bay door and assumed a crash position.

Flight Engineer Alfred Ebbing looks over the aircraft after the crew's landing in a field in Belgium.

"When we hit the runway with no nose gear and two engines feathered the pilot had little control [of the] plane causing us to leave the runway, hitting bumpy terrain [shaking] the bomb loose, dropping it to the ground, causing the plane to drop on the nose turret nearly breaking it off.  Fortunately everyone walked away from the plane unhurt.

"After this ordeal of crash landing on a base in Belgium, it took us four days to reach our [home] base back in England, as we had to wait our turn to fly back in a cargo plane.  Our next mission wasn’t until January 13, 1945.

The aircraft as it looked on December 31, 1944

And after the salvage crews were finished with her (right)

Little Friend

4th FG P-51D-10-NA 44-14332 QP-VV Lazy Daisy, piloted by Lt Raymond A. Dyer, provides close cover on Burman's aircraft

(Photo: Alice Burman)

February 26, 1945 - 200th Mission

Burman crew preparing to board Final Approach for the 458th's 200th combat mission

Taxiing out (below)

April 9, 1945 - Target: Lechfeld A/F

B-24H-30-FO 42-95316 7V H Princess Pat

(Photo: Bill Case)
On their 27th mission on April 9, 1945, Burman's crew went back to Lechfeld, Germany.  While over the target, their aircraft, a B-24H named Princess Pat, took a direct flak hit in the camera hatch.  This burst killed both waist gunners, S/Sgt Enrico R. Ciotti and Sgt Eugene T. Gabay.  Shrapnel from this flak burst also wounded S/Sgt Robert W. Groh in the back, fragments lodging in his right lung.  Controls for the rudders and ailerons were also damaged.  The engineer T/Sgt Alfred J. Ebbing, receiving no answer to his calls over the inter-phone, went back and saw the destruction in the waist area.  Seeing Sgt Groh was badly wounded, Ebbing was able to move him to a better place in the rear of the plane to administer first aid. Ebbing then made his way back to the cockpit and informed Lt Burman that they needed to land immediately as they needed medical attention.  The crew let down from altitude and found a fighter base on which to land.  They fired red flares on the approach denoting wounded on board.  As they touched down, they rolled to a stop off of the main landing strip onto a grassy area between the runways.  An ambulance stopped some distance away.  Ebbing exited the aircraft and waved the ambulance over, but they were beckoning to him.  He ran the few hundred feet across the grass to where they waited and told them they had wounded on board.  The ambulance crew said, "You lead the way."  Ebbing took them back to the plane where they proceeded to give first aid to Sgt Groh.  The ambulance crew later told Ebbing that the airfield had only been taken over from the Germans two days earlier and that they suspected the grassy area where the B-24 had come to rest contained land mines, but the area had not yet been cleared! 

Sgt's Enrico Ciotti and Eugene Gabay, Killed in Action April 9, 1945

After landing and learning the severity of the situation, the pilot asked Ebbing why he hadn’t told him the waist gunners had been killed.  "I told him, 'There was nothing you could do for them, and I wanted the rest of the crew to land safely.'  After 27 missions over German territory, that was the end of our combat missions.  We were then assigned to fly supply missions in England."

Distinguished Flying Crosses

General Orders No. 47

ROBERT W. BURMAN, 0-718854, Second Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army.  For extraordinary achievement while serving as Pilot of a B-24 aircraft on a bombing mission to Germany, 31 December 1944.  Lieutenant Burman’s aircraft was severely damaged by flak while over the target.  Three engines were hit, one requiring feathering, considerable structural damage was inflicted, hydraulic lines severed and all radio equipment rendered inoperative.  Lieutenant Burman skillfully maintained control of his aircraft and successfully released his bombs in the target area.  Returning to friendly territory he expertly landed the damaged aircraft on two engines with the nose wheel jammed in the up position and a 2,000 pound bomb in the bomb bay without further damage or injury to the crew.  The superior flying ability and airmanship displayed by Lieutenant Burman on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.  Entered military service from Washington.

General Orders No. 176

ROBERT W. BURMAN, 0-718854, First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army.  For extraordinary achievement, while serving as Pilot of a B-24 airplane on a bombing mission to Germany, 9 April 1945.  Lieutenant Burman's aircraft was hit by flak while over the target and suffered considerable structural damage.  Lieutenant Burman skilfully [sic] maintained control of his aircraft and successfully bombed the target.  The prompt action, presence of mind, and superior flying ability displayed by Lieutenant Burman on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.

(Photos and documents: Alice Burman)

Public Relations Article - May 1945

AN EIGHTH AIR FORCE LIBERATOR STATION, ENGLAND – Technical Sgt. Alfred J. Ebbing of Quincy, Ill. was the Flight Engineer of the B-24 liberator bomber that recently took ground personnel of the 458th Bombardment Group who had been awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement, on a flying tour of Germany.  The purpose of the trip was to show the men the damage that was inflicted by the Eighth Air Force.  A highlight of the flight was a three-hour stop in Koblenz, where they toured the city and got a close-up view of the destruction.

Sgt. Ebbing (left) is seen in the above photo with his pilot Lt. Robert W. Burman (center) of Tacoma, Wash. And his navigator Lt. Harvey I. Putman (right) of Corpus Christi, Texas, holding the remnants of a Nazi battle flag.

Sgt. Ebbing, who is the son of Mrs. Anna Ebbing, 1529 Lind St., Quincy, Ill. has flown as flight engineer on 28 bombing missions with the 458th Bombardment Group over Germany and enemy occupied Europe.  He holds the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.  Koblenz was one of the many targets that he helped bomb and, while touring the city he had an opportunity to see many of the military installations that he had helped to destroy.

During his mission to Koblenz Dec. 31 his aircraft was severely damaged by flak over the target.  Two engines were hit, requiring overhauling, the hydraulic lines severed and the radio equipment rendered inoperative.  Lt. Burman, the pilot, skillfully maintained control of his aircraft and successfully released his bombs in the target area.  He landed on two engines in Belgium with the nose wheel jammed in the up position and a 2,000-pound bomb in the bomb bay without further damage or injury to the crew.  After four days in Belgium they were brought back to their base in England via another airplane.

Prior to his entrance into the armed forces on Oct. 10, 1942, Sgt. Ebbing was employed by the Gardner Denver Pump Co. of Quincy, Ill.  He has been overseas since Nov. 13, 1944.

The 458th Bombardment Group, which is a part of Maj. Gen. William E. Kepner’s Second Air Division, has completed 240 combat bombing missions over European targets.

June 1945

Members of the Burman Crew and ground men prepare to leave for the States
Operations Order Number 12

7 June 1945

Under authority contained in Letter ETOUSA, Subject: “Movement Orders, Shipment 10060”, File No. AG 370.5, OPGC, Dated 27 May 1945, the following A/C and personnel assigned thereto will proceed via Valley A/D by best available air route to Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, thence to Camp Miles Standish, Boston, POE.  Personnel will report to the AAF Base Commander at Bradley Field.  AAF personnel are being returned for the purpose of authorized TD for rest and recuperation and for further assignment.  Personnel listed on this order are on Detached Service and are being accounted for on Morning Report of the Air Echelon of the Squadron to which they are asgd.  TDN 212/50425  FSA 1942-45  60-136  P-431-02.


Shipment No. 10060-TZ  T-M-S: B-24J  A/C Serial No. 42-50502  Crew No. 11 of 18

 Name  Grade Arm/Svc  ASN  Crew Spec/Job MOS  Home
Burman, Robert W 1Lt AC 0718854 Pilot 1092 Tacoma, WA
Etscheid, Elmer G 2Lt AC 0829442 Co-pilot 1092 Chicago, IL
Putman, Harvey I 2Lt AC 02065183  Navigator 1034 Corpus Christi, TX
Ebbing, Alfred J T/Sgt AC 16074864 Flight Engineer 748 Quincy, IL
Clark, Junior K T/Sgt AC 36726064 Radio Operator 757 Woodlawn, IL
Peifer, Jr, John F S/Sgt AC 33232518 Gunnery Instructor 938 Camphill, PA
Sargut, Stanley F S/Sgt AC 11058188 Armorer-Gunner 612 Gardner, MA
Buening, Walter B S/Sgt AC 16053159 Gunnery Instructor 938 Effingham, IL
Grauer, Frederick M  Sgt AC 12099161 Gunnery Instructor 938 New Hartford, NY 
Kincaid, Jr, Lee C S/Sgt AC 35668195 Gunnery Instructor 938 Knoxville, TN
Zort, Gerrit M/Sgt AC 39082406 Crew Chief 750 Fergus Falls, MN
Koncel, Frank J Sgt AC 16101276 Airplane/Engine Mech 747 Chicago, IL
Hinman, Robert R M/Sgt AC 11038621 Crew Chief 750 Mt Horch, WI
Chuchvara, John T S/Sgt AC 33756693 Clerk-Typist 405 De Lancey, PA
Meadows, William V S/Sgt AC 14072917 Airplane Armorer 911 Franklin, NC
Lavelle, Earl M M/Sgt AC 37038951 Airplane Armorer 911 Greeley, NE
Nelson, Harry T Cpl AC 14161386 Power Turret/Gunsight Mech  678 Shelbyville, TN
Peterson, John E Pfc AC 17071645 Airplane Armorer 911 Lin Grove, IA
Pope, Jr, John D S/Sgt AC 38307684 Clerk, General 055 Dallas, TX
Byrd, Floyd E Pfc AC 34802072 Duty Soldier III 590 Tuscumbie, AL

Courtesy: Alice Burman