• 11 July 1944
  • Mission #129
  • Target: Munich

The bombing options for this target were two, the airfield if visual bombing could be conducted, or the marshalling yards if the target area weather necessitated PFF bombing. At 0500 and 0600 hours, (24) crews were given briefing and at 0825 take-offs began. A total of (19) ships went over the target dropping (112) 1000# GPs on the marshalling yards because of 10/10th cloud cover. Results were not observed. No fighter aircraft were encountered but flak was intense which accounted for the loss of two crews who may have landed in Switzerland. From the 578th in ship #033, First Lieutenant G. L. Bridson’s crew was last seen at 1245 hours after target with #4 engine feathered, dropping back out of formation, and being heard to report on radio that they would try to make Switzerland. The ship was last seen being escorted by friendly fighters in that direction. In ship #106, First Lieutenant S. J. Robertson’s crew from the 576th was observed with flak damage over target at 1245 and #1 engine feathered. The crew also announced intentions of heading toward Switzerland. Other mission aircraft returned to base around 1700 hours.

MISSING AIR CREW REPORT SECTION

11 JULY 1944 - TARGET: MUNICH
MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #07495 AIRCRAFT #42-51106 (NO NICKNAME)   "A"    16th Mission
AIRCREW: ROBERTSON    *    SQUADRON: 576th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   l/LT  Robertson, Seigvart J. SWISS-INT
CP  2/LT  Willis, Vincent C.     SWISS-INT
N   2/LT  Gates, John S.         SWISS-INT
B   2/LT  Drake, Chester W.      SWISS-INT
R/O T/SGT Michel, George W.      SWISS-INT
EnG T/SGT Landry, Gerald E.      SWISS-INT
WG  S/SGT Kintana, Frank T.      SWISS-INT
WG  S/SGT Burdette, Joe L.       SWISS-INT
TG  S/SGT Moore, J.T.P.          SWISS-INT

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: Returning eye-witness accounts reported this plane in the target area, then heading for Switzerland with one engine feathered. One surviving crew member account, that of Sgt Michel, Radio Operator, later noted that the plane had left the formation about (10) minutes after ‘bombs away; that no crew member had bailed out; and that the Pilot had given all members the option of either bailing out or riding the ship on to Switzerland (where they would have to make a crash landing). All members stayed with the ship; there had been no one injured; and the plane did make a crash landing at Altenrhein, Switzerland with all members safe. They all were interned subsequently at Adelboden, Switzerland, at an internment camp. In another survivor’s report on one of the crew men whom, ostensibly, the War Department did not have further data on, the Bombardier, Lt. Drake, it was stated that the Lt. had last been seen at the Adelboden camp, but much later Lt. Drake had visited the survivor’s Father in the States to relate things about their stay in Switzerland. One other crew member in his reporting later stated that Lt. Drake had escaped from Switzerland in late 1944, or early 1945, to France and was returned to the ZI. Still another member reported as receiving a Christmas card from Lt. Drake in December 1945, and the latter’s address was given as 6258 Elaine Street, Detroit, Michigan.

BURIAL RECORDS: There were no wartime casualties on this crew from this mission.

According to T/Sgt Michel, "Sig [pilot 1/Lt Robertson] rang the bail-out bell twice. First, when we were leaving the target area and could not keep up with the formation even with full power on #1 and #2 engines but with #3 cutting in and out and overheating and #4 windmilling like crazy. That's when we as a crew decided that, after what we had helped do to Munich and with 10/10 cloud cover beneath us so we had no idea into what we might be jumping, Robertson, Willis (Dumbo...his nickname), and Landry could somehow keep us in the air. At that point four P-51's answered our call for fighter cover because we had fallen far behind the formation and were just a sitting duck for any German fighters that might have seen us. Our heading was toward Switzerland and the Alps that were sticking up through the cloud cover. When Lt. Richard "Pete" Peterson, the lead pilot in that covey of four P-51's, turned his Hurry Home Honey and the other three planes north, saying that they weren't allowed to get any closer to Swiss air space, we saw the first hole in the cloud cover since we had left England. Sig took the plane down through that opening only to have the flak guns of Friedrichshafen give us a terrific barrage and Sig headed the plane out over the Boden Zee only to have the Swiss start shooting at us. Dumbo lowered the wheels, the recognized signal that we were finished and were trying to come down, but he didn't tell the fellows still in the nose of the plane that he was going to do it. When the nose wheel dropped out, so did John Gates our navigator. He managed to catch himself by his elbows and work his way back into the plane but accidentally popped his chest pack parachute during his frantic but successful effort to get back inside the plane. At the same time this was happening, Sig was ringing the bail-out bell a second time and telling us that parachuting into the Boden Zee was a better option than riding the plane down. Gates in no uncertain terms made it clear that he didn't have a parachute so we decided again we were in it together and nine men with eight parachutes meant that we'd ride it down and take our chances. It worked." (For more details on his last mission, their interment in Switzerland, and subsequent escape, see Mr. Michel's account in the "WWII Stories" section of www.b24.net.)

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: No data was recorded in this crew MACR.

(Note: Regarding the recovery of this crashed Liberator, a record exists which notes that the plane was recovered by 8th Air Force reclamation teams 25 October 1945).

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MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #07497 AIRCRAFT: #42-95033 "SILVER CHIEF" "X-Bar" 16th Mission
AIRCREW: BRIDSON    *    SQUADRON: 578th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   l/LT  Bridson, George L.      SWISS-INT
CP  2/LT  Green, James A.         SWISS-INT
N   l/LT  White, Ralph L.         SWISS-INT
B   2/LT  Willemin, William W.    SWISS-INT
NG  l/LT  Italia, Santo (NMI)     SWISS-INT
R/O T/SGT Paolucci, Umberto (NMI) SWISS-INT
EnG T/SGT Ashcraft, Blaine (NMI)  SWISS-INT
WG  S/SGT Seery, James B.         SWISS-INT
WG  S/SGT Stafford, Jacob A.      SWISS-INT
TG  S/SGT Powers, George (NMI)    SWISS-INT

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: A returning eye-witness report (Lt.Cheek, crew Pilot, 578th) stated the ship had dropped out of formation after dropping bombs with one propeller feathered; that the Pilot (Bridson) had radioed to say they would try to make it back; and this aircraft was then being escorted by friendly fighters when last seen. A survivor’s statement later reported that the crew had landed safely at Altenrhein airfield in Switzerland and no member had been injured; and that their plane had been hit over the target (presumably by AA fire) at about 1200 hours, altitude 26,000 feet while they were flying as Lead ship of the second element, leading the 578th Bomb Squadron.

In an account written long after the war, copilot James Green recalled that at the exact instant the bombs dropped, they caught a direct hit in the left outboard engine. From an altitude of 24,000 feet they went right down through the following formation, scattering airplanes in a desperate attempt to avoid collisions. He and the pilot finally pulled the ship out of the dive and got to level flight at 18,000 feet. An interphone check revealed that everyone in the crew was all right. Engineer Ashcraft then reported that they were losing fuel from the left wing tanks. On three engines, they could not keep up with the formation and were soon alone in the sky. To make matters worse, the radios slowly faded out so they could not call for help or even talk to each other. After several minutes of agonizing, pilot Bridson turned the aircraft toward Switzerland. A hold in the solid undercast appeared just in the nick of time and they could see both water and land. Navigator White assured the pilots they were over the western end of Lake Constance and that the small grass airfield they had been briefed about would be at the eastern end of the lake and on the Austrian border. They circled down through the hole in the clouds only to be met with anti-aircraft fire. Luckily, it stopped before the plane or crew were hit. As they approached the landing field, it became apparent that it was too short. According to Mr. Green, "With full flaps and power off, we nipped the fence at the edge of the field and touched down. It was instantly obvious that we were about to end up in Austria unless we could stop, and soon. George yelled for help on the controls to raise the nose wheel and then slam it down with enough force to collapse the gear and let the nose of the plane dig into the soft ground. This we did but it took two or three tries before the gear finally broke. The nose started plowing a furrow and slowing us almost to a stop, but not before the forward part of the nose section ended up just across the border into Austria!

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS QF CREW MEMBER FATES: No detailed reports were in the MACR, but one survivor did indicate that to his knowledge, all members had been safely repatriated back to the United States later. This account did report that all members had been taken to Adelboden Internment Camp in Switzerland.

BURIAL RECORDS: No casualties in this aircrew resulted from this mission.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: The MACR on this aircrew contains no data.

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CREW LOADING LIST - MISSION #129

11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 131
P Holliday, B.L. 2nd Lt.
CP Daniel, P.U. 2nd Lt.
N McCutcheon, J. 2nd Lt.
B Serna, M.M. 2nd Lt.
E Sevier, R.M. T/Sgt.
R Rambo, K.B. T/Sgt.
RW Johnson, L.A. Sgt.
LW White, P.W. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Negus, J.V. Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 617
P Martin, R.C. Jr. 1st Lt.
CP Hilbert, H.S. 2nd Lt.
N Freeman, G.L. 2nd Lt.
B Wear, H.E. 2nd Lt.
E Blees, K.H. T/Sgt.
R Thiel, J.G. T/Sgt.
RW Cannon, M.H. S/Sgt.
LW Minton, D.C. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Roberts, M.E. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 106
P Robertson, S.J. 1st Lt.
CP Willis, V.C. 2nd Lt.
N Gates, J.S. 2nd Lt.
B Drake, C.W. 2nd Lt.
E Landry, G.E. T/Sgt.
R Michel, G.W. T/Sgt.
RW Kintana, F.T. S/Sgt.
LW Burdette, J.L. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Moore, J.T.P. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 097 (no mission credit)
P Johnston, H.F. 1st Lt.
CP Merriam, H. 1st Lt.
N Berman, M. 1st Lt.
B Moos, A.J. 1st Lt.
E Zonza, F.S. T/Sgt.
R Thompson, T.E. T/Sgt.
RW Mackin, L.B. S/Sgt.
LW Ferry, C.W. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Porter, J.M. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 070
P Caldwell, R.R. 2nd Lt.
CP Harer, R.J. 2nd Lt.
N Thornburgh, J.W. 2nd Lt.
B - -
E Munden, F.R. S/Sgt.
R Westerfield, M.M. S/Sgt.
RW Conn, J.G. S/Sgt.
LW Maher, T.O. S/Sgt.
BT Montgomery, H. S/Sgt.
TG Bennett, D.F. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 106
P Paroly, B. 1st Lt.
CP McDonald, W.L. 2nd Lt.
N Tooman, H.K. 2nd Lt.
B Supp, J.W. 2nd Lt.
E Standley, G.A. T/Sgt.
R Conley, J.M. T/Sgt.
RW Albert, W.W. S/Sgt.
LW - -
BT Clarke, A.B. S/Sgt.
TG Tart, E.E. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 151
P Anundson, P.F. 1st Lt.
CP Hadley, L.R. 2nd Lt.
N Fehrenbacher, D.E. 2nd Lt.
B Scott, W.J. 2nd Lt.
E Cooke, W.B. T/Sgt.
R Clendening, R.D. T/Sgt.
RW Berry, H.F. S/Sgt.
LW Schliesmayer, R.N. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Kleber, W.M. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 867
P Pierce, W.R. F/O
CP Myers, J.W. Capt.
N Putziger, S. 2nd Lt.
B Beezley, D.D. 2nd Lt.
E Stand, A.J. S/Sgt.
R Rankin, R.P. S/Sgt.
RW Cooperman, G.F. Sgt.
LW Ferenc, F.J. Sgt.
NT Liske, J.R. F/O
TG Carrabba, C. Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 961
P Monroe, D.E. 1st Lt.
CP Neill, C.W. Jr. 2nd Lt.
N Schofield, D.J. 2nd Lt.
N Sackler, H.J. 1st Lt.
B Benenson, M. 1st Lt.
E Holmes, E.T. T/Sgt.
R Lancy, N.J. T/Sgt.
RW Hall, G.E. S/Sgt.
LW Wambach, J. S/Sgt
BT Lucas, L.M. S/Sgt.
TG Desonne, M. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 079
P Bay, R.A. 1st Lt.
CP Fisher, K.M. 2nd Lt.
N Clancy, E.A. 2nd Lt.
B Henderson, W.M. 2nd Lt.
E Weibusch, W.A. T/Sgt.
R Armstrong, G.H. T/Sgt.
RW Allen, A.W. S/Sgt.
LW DeSalvo, L. Sgt.
BT Hume, J.B. Sgt.
TG Duncan, W.R. Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 164
P Barron, J.N. 2nd Lt.
CP Stalsby, S.C. F/O
N Attinson, C. 2nd Lt.
B Feltman, D.S. 2nd Lt.
E Slater, D.L. T/Sgt.
R Osborne, R.C. S/Sgt.
RW Salvato, T.W. S/Sgt.
LW Garner, H.S. T/Sgt.
BT Demar, S. Sgt.
TG Cooper, J.T. Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 649
P Whitteaker, W.E. 2nd Lt.
CP Cook, L.B. 2nd Lt.
N Gillett, F.A. 2nd Lt.
B Allegretti, E.E. 2nd Lt.
E Holmes, G.T. S/Sgt.
R McGivney, P.J. S/Sgt.
RW Rinderer, R. Sgt.
LW Fantin, P.F. Sgt.
BT Surbaugh, E.R. Sgt.
TG Emery, R.G. Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 466 (no mission credit)
P Hamblen, C.W. 1st Lt.
CP McCarter, H.L. 2nd Lt.
N Hurst, F.B. Jr. 2nd Lt.
B Joyce, G.P. 2nd Lt.
E Sears, A.R. T/Sgt.
R Burnell, W.E. T/Sgt.
RW Harris, H.E. S/Sgt.
LW Butler, G.R. S/Sgt.
BT McLain, B.G. S/Sgt.
TG Lindsay, V.R. S/Sgt.
Westbrook, J.W. 1st Lt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 852
P Kohl, W.F. 1st Lt.
CP Shultz, G.R. 2nd Lt.
N Foote, B.F. Jr. 2nd Lt.
B Kerley, A.D. 2nd Lt.
E Higdon, R.E. T/Sgt.
R Scales, R.R. T/Sgt.
RW Ehring, E.O. S/Sgt.
LW Agalsoff, D.N. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Peters, J.M. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 293
P Henderson, P.B. 1st Lt.
CP Stull, R.B. 2nd Lt.
N Allen, H.W. 1st Lt.
B Williamson, R.D. 2nd Lt.
E Thompson, A.W. S/Sgt.
R Burns, P.J. T/Sgt.
RW Smith, G.R. S/Sgt.
LW Vantine, J.E. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Howell, J.L. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 241
P Cheek, C.W. 1st Lt.
CP Szenegato, J. 2nd Lt.
N Beddingfield, L.L. 2nd Lt.
B Morse, A. 2nd Lt.
E Curry, E.D. T/Sgt.
R Schroeck, L.A. T/Sgt.
RW Layman, H.A. S/Sgt.
LW Corcoran, R.G. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Miller, J.E. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 033
P Bridson, G.L. 1st Lt.
CP Green, J.A. 2nd Lt.
N White, R.L. 2nd Lt.
B Willemin, W.W. 2nd Lt.
E Ashcraft, B. T/Sgt.
R Paolucci, U. S/Sgt.
RW Seery, J.B. Sgt.
LW Stafford, J.A. S/Sgt.
NT Italia, S. 1st Lt.
TG Powers, G. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 002 (no mission credit)
P Shelley, J.H. 2nd Lt.
CP Scarpino, P. 2nd Lt.
N Maroun, N.P. 2nd Lt.
B Chinchilla, F.P. 2nd Lt.
E Kane, F.M. S/Sgt.
R Smith, P.E. S/Sgt.
RW Hollenbeck, C.E. S/Sgt.
LW Padgett, P.P. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Childers, J.E. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 212
P Thomas, J.F. 1st Lt.
CP Whitford, D. 2nd Lt.
N McFarlin, J.F. F/O
B Hyro, G.R. F/O
E Nicolson, A. T/Sgt.
R Haywood, H.F. T/Sgt.
RW Powers, R.J. S/Sgt.
NG McEvoy, P.S. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG O'Neill, W.P. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 433
P McMillan, H.L. 1st Lt.
CP Guckert, D.J. 2nd Lt.
N Jennings, C.H. 2nd Lt.
B Gallagher, J.R. 2nd Lt.
E Hill, T.H. T/Sgt.
R Lindberg, W.G. S/Sgt.
RW Dodge, F.V. S/Sgt.
LW Hardy, R.W. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Wiersma, S.A. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 897
P Cornell, J.T. 1st Lt.
CP Berger, J.E. 2nd Lt.
N Ingels, G.A. 2nd Lt.
NG Daywalt, J.E. S/Sgt.
B - -
E Hebert, I.L. T/Sgt.
R Kuchta, J. T/Sgt.
RW Stahl, W.H. S/Sgt.
LW - -
BT Siegel, G.W. S/Sgt.
TG Rawson, B.J. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 758
P White, H.A. 1st Lt.
CP Spencer, F.R. 2nd Lt.
N Forde, W.I. 2nd Lt.
B Green, H.J. 2nd Lt.
E Barnes, G.M. T/Sgt.
R Reynolds, J.J. T/Sgt.
RW Dunbar, R.J. S/Sgt.
LW Hassett, T.R. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Eller, M. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 308
P Menard, J.F. 2nd Lt.
CP Holmes, J.G. 2nd Lt.
N Krause, T.J. 2nd Lt.
B Hartwick, E.J. 2nd Lt.
E Walsh, D.A. T/Sgt.
R Blackford, L.N. T/Sgt.
RW Holton, Q.F. S/Sgt.
LW Redman, G.A. S/Sgt.
BT - -
TG Tubbs, H.L. S/Sgt.
11 Jul 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 990
P Leser, H.J. 1st Lt.
CP Smoley, E.J. 2nd Lt.
N Sellers, F.R. 2nd Lt.
B Fleck, E.R. 2nd Lt.
E Rodgers, B.A. T/Sgt.
R Licht, J. T/Sgt.
RW Weckel, W.R. S/Sgt.
LW Fowler, D.E. S/Sgt.
BT Asseln, E.O. Sgt.
TG Damiano, A. Sgt.