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5 March 1944 Mission #46 Target: Bordeau-Cognac

Aircrews were initially briefed for the Robert Bosch Electrical Equipment works at Potsdam outside Berlin on 4 February only to have it scrubbed before take-off. On this date, an airfield at Cognac was struck and between 0400-0530 hours (28) aircrews were briefed. The 577th with Lt Colburn as lead Bombardier and 578th with Lt Joachim as Bombardier in the lead were assigned primary aiming points to hit a briefed target of Chateau Bernard airfield. At 0830 hours, (28) aircraft began takeoffs. Weather over France prevented the primary target from being struck. Targets of Opportunity were hit instead with (19) aircraft bombing an airfield at Landes de Buddac with fair results and the remaining striking the Cognac airdrome with poor results. All aircraft bombed releasing a total of (336) 500# GP weapons. Six (6) twin engine enemy fighters were encountered with no gunner claims. Flak was light but accurate. A total of (16) aircraft were battle damaged; (12) by flak and (4) by enemy aircraft. One aircraft, #489 ‘Q’ for Queen and a veteran of the Gotha raid, was lost for causes unknown with 2nd Lieutenant C. J. Hunter’s crew all from the 577th Squadron. Aircrews arrived back over base around 1710.

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MISSING AIR CREW REPORT SECTION

5 MARCH 1944
TARGET: BORDEAU-COGNAC

MISSING AIRCREW REPORT: #03585   AIRCRAFT: #42-7489 "MALFUNCTION" "Q" 32nd Mission

AIRCREW: HUNTER     *    SQUADRON: 577th

CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:

P   2/LT Hunter, Clifford J. KlA
CP  2/LT Huston, Paul N.     KIA
N   2/LT Gilman, Jack P.    (Returned to Duty)
B   2/LT McBrayer, James N.. KIA
R/O S/S  Sichau, Walter R.  (Returned to Duty)
EnG S/S  Macklin,Cecil D.   (Returned to Duty)
BG  S/S  Mills, Elwood J.    KIA
WG  S/S  Grimes, J.T.       (Returned to Duty)
WG  S/S  Morrow, Wallace L  (Returned to Duty)
TG  S/S  Nelson, Verne A.   (Returned to Duty)

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: There were no eyewitness accounts given by returning crews concerning the missing status of this crew. However, it was learned from crewmember survivors shortly thereafter, that this plane had been forced to ditch in the English Channel on the return route, (30) miles south of Brighton, England. This location of the plane’s ditching had been marked on a route map in the MACR of about (35) miles due south of Brighton on the southern coast of England.

INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: There were extensive accounts given by some of the surviving crewmen on their ditching emergency. Air Sea Rescue launches ultimately came to the rescue of these survivors. A summary of this event follows. Six (6) men were rescued and all suffered cuts, bruises and shock with three having broken bones. Three (3) of the other (4) crewmembers who perished were reported to have been in the plane when it sunk; the 4th man, the Pilot Lt. Hunter had swam away but did not get to the dinghies and was thought to have drowned before the Air Sea Rescue unit arrived on the scene. The Flight Engineer rendered a full report later on the crew emergency leading up to the ditching, and the rescue following. In summary, this account stated that: the planes were crossing France just at the coast-line (later OMAHA Beach area) when the fuel pressure on #4 engine dropped followed by the Co-Pilot feathering this engine; immediately following, #2 engine was feathered by the pilots; fuel transfer had been accomplished correctly according to the Engineer and he then noticed that approximately (100) gallons of fuel remained in #4 tank whereupon he requested the Pilot to re-start #4 engine, which was accomplished. Following these events, the Engineer 'leveled' the fuel tanks in the three operating engines and all were operating. In the interim, the Radio Operator had gotten out of the Top Turret and began working the radios to send SOS signals which were begun as the ship left the coast of France. Shortly thereafter, the Pilot gave word to prepare for ditching and all equipment possible was then thrown overboard by the crewmembers, and all assumed their proper ditching stations. The account then said that at about 7,000 feet, the engines began cutting out, and the plane started descending at a 1200 foot-per-minute rate at an airspeed between 140-145 MPH. As the ship hit the water, all members not in crew seats were braced for impact, and the Engineer was literally thrown from the top hatch immediately following, but escaped along with the Radio Operator who exited the same opening and then went aft to release the life raft doors over the wing. The Radio man had been cut around the head and was bleeding such that the Engineer had to pull the rafts out and get them inflated and over the side. The Radio Operator took the left raft off the left side to the waist window area and with great effort (using his teeth into the clothing of the Navigator Gilman to do so) pulled (3) members aboard this raft. All men in this raft were suffering from broken arms and hurt badly with cuts. At this time, the Engineer pulled the Pilot onto the wing and inflated this member’s Mae West life preserver. He then pulled the other Waist Gunner into a raft from in front of the plane, but found this man had drowned. This crewmember was given artificial respiration by the Engineer, but to no avail as there was no pulse or heart beat and bleeding from the mouth existed. Following this action, he rescued the Tail Gunner into the second raft, and by this moment the aircraft had begun to sink. In the process of tying two rafts together moments earlier, both the Engineer and Radio Operator observed Pilot Hunter standing on the wing of the ship, looking dazed, and who would not go into the water to get to the rafts at their calling for him to do so. As the plane sunk, the Pilot jumped off the wing the wrong way and away from the rafts and began swimming in an opposite direction. The two rafts were paddled toward him, but the distance was too great to close since by they had been distanced from the ship’s wake by its sinking for safety reasons. At this time, several P-47 fighters did circle overhead having been alerted to the red flares previously fired by the crew while still airborne. Shortly thereafter, an Air Sea Rescue seaplane landed to pick these survivors up, and a request was made immediately for the rescue boat also coming to look for the missing Pilot, all later proving fruitless in this search. The other account given by the Radio Operator essentially duplicated that of the Flight Engineer on key particulars: that he had been riding the Top Turret from bombing the target in France when he was surprised suddenly by an engine being feathered; the French coast was going under them at this time but he did not know the extent of the plane’s trouble, however, he went down to his radio station to begin sending distress signals on all radios and SOS by Morse Code key, as well as IFF or the EMERGENCY setting. He followed these actions with the firing of red flares as they headed over the Channel, an action he repeated several times while also asking the Co-Pilot to send a distress message over VHF radio ("D" channel was preset for such emergencies). After handing up oxygen bottles to the Pilot, the Radio man got into his ditching position as ordered by the Flight Engineer and had just braced himself before the plane struck the water. He egressed the ship through the top hatch, but found he was bleeding badly, such that he could not pull the life rafts from their compartments over the wing. Suffering from exhaustion at this moment, he called for the Engineer’s help - which account tracked with the latter’s above. He later found the Navigator Gilman floating alongside the left waist window, badly hurt, and tangled in the shreds of a parachute which had opened. Using his teeth on this crewmember’s clothing and holding onto the Navigator’s Mae West, the radio man managed to roll him finally into the raft. Gunners Grimes and Morrow, also in the waist window area, were then assisted into this raft. The account on the attempts to get the Pilot off the wing into one of the rafts were identical. The Pilot was coaxed repeatedly, but seemed to remain frozen in action as he stood on the wing by the body of the Tail Gunner Mills. At the time the plane began to sink, the rafts now tied together had drifted about (25) yards away. As the aircraft began to go down, Pilot Hunter then jumped off the wing and began paddling in an opposite direction of the rafts which were trying to close the distance to him. The Pilot had by then called out for help and was away from the plane when it went completely under the waves, but he was never seen again from this time on. On the survivors being picked up by the WALRUS rescue flying aircraft, the appeal to have the oncoming surface boats search for him was passed and relayed. The ensuing search failed to locate him. Following their rescue, four of the crewmen were hospitalized for their injuries: Gilman, Morrow, Nelson, and Grimes. They and Radio Operator Sichau and Flight Engineer MackIm were returned-to-duty status later. The Co-Pilot Huston, Bombardier McBrayer, and Assistant Engineer Mills perished in this mishap, and their bodies were never recovered. As a final note, none of the survivor reports mention anything about any enemy action which might have contributed to this aircrew emergency though a number of aircraft on this particular mission were damaged by flak and enemy fighters, but all others did return safely to Wendling base.

BURIAL RECORDS: The four deceased crewmember’s names are listed on the WALL OF THE MISSING at the U.S. National overseas Cemetery at CAMBRIDGE, England: Lts. Hunter, Huston and McBrayer as well as Sgt. Mills. Lt. Hunter is recorded having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart and the Air Medal and the Purple Heart awards are noted for each of the other three crewmen.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: Only the information pertaining to the deceased crew members is recorded in the MACR: Hunter (Father, Clifford B., Crescent City, Florida); McBrayer (Sister, Mrs. Hays’ K. Glare, Chattanooga, Tennessee); Mills (Father, John D., Cape Girardeau, Missouri); and Huston (Mother, Clara C., Guthrie, Oklahoma).

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CREW LOADING LIST FOR
5 MARCH 1944

MISSION #46      Target: Bordeau-Cognac



5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 692

P Neff, C.L. 1st Lt.
CP Simpson, H.L. 2nd Lt.
N Smith, C.W. 2nd Lt.
B Hadeka, A.A. 2nd Lt.
E Benham, C.E. T/Sgt.
R Diaz, C.A. T/Sgt.
AE Hale, J.L. S/Sgt.
AR Pennington, E.B. S/Sgt.
AG Walter, C.D. S/Sgt.
G Ware, J.W. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 598

P Hestad, E.A. 1st Lt.
CP Madden, T.E. F/O
N Tyson, E.E. 2nd Lt.
B Tudor, J.R. 2nd Lt.
E Finley, G.E. S/Sgt.
R Folda, G. T/Sgt.
AE Slagle, C.I. S/Sgt.
AR Twitchell, F.O. S/Sgt.
AG Troup, D. S/Sgt.
G Wilson, L. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 371

P Mathias, W.E. 2nd Lt.
CP Jones, L.C. 2nd Lt.
N Mateyka, M.R. 2nd Lt.
NG Malloy, P.D. S/Sgt.
E Chambless, S.L. T/Sgt.
R Slyhoff, K.G. T/Sgt.
AE Blackwell, R.B. S/Sgt.
AR Smock, J.M. S/Sgt.
AG Weverka, J.E. S/Sgt.
G Hoover, A.L. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 651

P Ford, J.H. 1st Lt.
CP Bunting, D.W. 2nd Lt.
N Duncan, R.H. 2nd Lt.
B Thompson, M.A. 2nd Lt.
E Lewis, G.F. T/Sgt.
R Kramer, A.W. T/Sgt.
AE Roberson, L.P. T/Sgt.
AR Saucedo, J.A. S/Sgt.
AG Overholt, H.R. S/Sgt.
G Harvison, W.P. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 976

P Ellison, B.M. 2nd Lt.
CP Hurd, J.S. 2nd Lt.
N Plunkett, F.A. 2nd Lt.
B Hurdle, Q.C. 2nd Lt.
E Samples, H.F. T/Sgt.
R Jean, R.P. T/Sgt.
AE Tupper, J.A. S/Sgt.
AR Patenaude, E.J. S/Sgt.
AG Picking, H.E. S/Sgt.
G Anderson, C.S. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 576th Sqdn.
A/C 835

P Wittel, E.F. 1st Lt.
CP Marsters, W.R. 2nd Lt.
N Karl, J.F. 2nd Lt.
B Zuk, J.C. 2nd Lt.
E Cannada, V.P. S/Sgt.
R Smith, R.C. S/Sgt.
AE Williams, R.F. S/Sgt.
AR Jarrett, C.W.  Sgt.
AG Farmwalt, W.H. Sgt.
G Roti, D.A. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 824

P Anderson, E.F. 2nd Lt.
CP Maben, J.F. 2nd Lt.
N Cashen, E.J. 2nd Lt.
B Linzey, J.D. 2nd Lt.
E Farren, E.L. S/Sgt.
R Masteka, G.F. S/Sgt.
AE Cagle, W.C. S/Sgt.
AR Manville, F.E. Sgt.
AG Hardic, A.M. Sgt.
G Apgar, D.R. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 826

P Haffermehl, G.T. 2nd Lt.
CP MacMullen, D.H. 2nd Lt.
N Parks, K.C. 2nd Lt.
B Poppel, S.B. 1st Lt.
E Parker, E.S. T/Sgt.
R Nemeth, P.J. S/Sgt.
AE Mitchell, J.W. S/Sgt.
AR Wagner, F.J. S/Sgt.
AG Harwick, M. S/Sgt.
G Landry, L. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 546

P Ambrose, D.N. 2nd Lt.
CP Dorrell, W. 2nd Lt.
N Lindberg, V.A. 2nd Lt.
B Tierney, J.F. 2nd Lt.
E Cummings, D.L. T/Sgt.
R Sawyer, G.H. S/Sgt.
AE Davis, J.A. S/Sgt.
AR Hall, E.A. S/Sgt.
AG Oasheim, G.W. S/Sgt.
G Dunham, H.D. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 195

P Gonseth, F. Jr. Capt.
CP Slipp, F.E. 1st Lt.
N Beatson, R.J. 1st Lt.
N Delach, J.J. 1st Lt.
B Colburn, R.F. 1st Lt.
E Jennings, H.C. T/Sgt.
R Kirkpatrick, H.L. T/Sgt.
AE Driver, D.M. S/Sgt.
AR Feller, N.L. S/Sgt.
AG Whalen, J.S. S/Sgt.
G Warren, J.D. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 489

P Hunter, C.J. 2nd Lt.
CP Huston, P.N. 2nd Lt.
N Gilman, J.P. 2nd Lt.
B McBrayer, J.N. 2nd Lt.
E Macklin, C.D. S/Sgt.
R Sichau, W.R. S/Sgt.
AE Grimes, J.T. S/Sgt.
AR Morrow, W.L. S/Sgt.
AG Nelson, V.A. S/Sgt.
G Mills, Ellwood J. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C ?

P Tiefenthal, D.E. 1st Lt.
CP Clifford, R.R. 2nd Lt.
N Chichetto, A.F. 2nd Lt.
B Gordon, A.M. 2nd Lt.
E Wright, A. T/Sgt.
R DiCroce, J.A. T/Sgt.
AE Hull, W.W. S/Sgt.
AR Sopchak, J. S/Sgt.
AG Schulz, W.G. S/Sgt.
G Stevens, R.K. S/Sgt.
Horton, H.E. S/ Sgt.


5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 497

P Egan, R.L. 1st Lt.
CP Basham, F.G. 1st Lt.
N Harris, W.B. 1st Lt.
B Gray, W.L. 2nd Lt.
E Hurley, W.F. T/Sgt.
R Pope, F.B. T/Sgt.
AE Hurley, A. S/Sgt.
AR Stogner, O.T. S/Sgt.
AG Salisbury, J.F. S/Sgt.
G Kennedy, B.S. S/Sgt.
Roper, D.W. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 577th Sqdn.
A/C 432

P Scheltens, G.A. 2nd Lt.
CP Vaughan, H.C. 2nd Lt.
N Coward, D.M. 2nd Lt.
B Fain, J.M. 2nd Lt.
E Morr, R.J. T/Sgt.
R Borden, K.L. S/Sgt.
AE Mandelkow, E. S/ Sgt.
AR Crotty, W.L. Sgt.
AG Thompson, I.F. S/Sgt.
G Freeman, J.B. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 187

P Young, M.N. 1st Lt.
CP Goodwin, J.J. 2nd Lt.
N Dunphy, R.J. 2nd Lt.
B Cunningham, R.B. 2nd Lt.
E Triplett, W.F. T/Sgt.
R Whitmore, B. T/Sgt.
AE Teater, R.S. S/Sgt.
AR Porter, C.C. S/Sgt.
AG Rickey, J.J. S/Sgt.
G Ross, J.D. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 466

P Edwards, C.E. Capt.
CP Polking, W.A. Maj.
N Untiedt, L.F. Capt.
B Joachim, W.F. 1st Lt.
B Ward, M.E. 1st Lt.
E Mellow, N.J. T/Sgt.
R Braddock, W.A. T/Sgt.
AE LeBleu, L.W. S/Sgt.
AR Jones, N.J. S/Sgt.
AG Hill, R.E. S/Sgt.
G Phelps, G.A. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 624

P George, F.A. 1st Lt.
CP Stephens, L.M. 2nd Lt.
N Sweeney, P.J. 2nd Lt.
B Kelly, F.B. 2nd Lt.
E Parker, J.D. T/Sgt.
R Sweeney, L.F. T/Sgt.
AE Ellingson, H.E. S/Sgt.
AR Harris, J.N. S/Sgt.
AG Goodall, W.J. S/Sgt.
G Theodore, R.N. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 465

P Lishka, A. Jr. 1st Lt.
CP Feld, B.H. 1st Lt.
N Moorehead, J.C. 1st Lt.
B Brockway, O.E. 1st Lt.
E Carlson, C.E. T/Sgt.
R Dohm, H.E. S/Sgt.
AE Halstead, H.C. S/Sgt.
AR Maxwell, R.J. S/Sgt.
AG Drylie, J. S/Sgt.
G Dedmon, S.E. S/Sgt.
NT Schwartz, E.S. 2nd Lt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 518

P Carnine, G.D. 1st Lt.
CP Spears, K.E. 2nd Lt.
N Mastron, V. 2nd Lt.
B Byers, W.F.  2nd Lt.
E Hopson, N.A. T/Sgt.
R Barbee, B.B. T/Sgt.
AE Ostroski, L.B. S/Sgt.
AR Norby, M.W. S/Sgt.
AG Knies, G.R. S/Sgt.
G Kwasnycia, N. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 478

P Johnson, R.L. 1st Lt.
CP Buchanan, R.P. 2nd Lt.
N Johnson, D.C. 1st Lt.
B Hunter, R.M. 1st Lt.
E Stancik, M. T/Sgt.
R Wohlstrom, T.C. T/Sgt.
AE Reynolds, H.D. S/Sgt.
AR Milliken, E.W. S/Sgt.
AG White, T. S/Sgt.
G Nixon, A.D. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 981

P Cohen, S. 1st Lt.
CP Shoenhair, R.D. 2nd Lt.
N Mardirosian, A. 2nd Lt.
B Valker, G.E. 2nd Lt.
E Hayes, F.W. S/Sgt.
R Buckley, G.J. S/Sgt.
AE Carr, H.L. Sgt.
AR Dellinger, T.C. Sgt.
AG Thrower, W.E. Sgt.
G McGee, R.C. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 578th Sqdn.
A/C 127

P Sherwood, W.B. 2nd Lt.
CP Anderson, J.B. 2nd Lt.
N Sheridan, J.J. 2nd Lt.
B Bowen, H.A. 2nd Lt.
E Todd, R.E. S/Sgt.
R Mohr, D.C. S/Sgt.
AE Coveney, C.M. Sgt.
AR Grybos, T.J. Sgt.
AG Phillips, E.L. Sgt.
G Carroll, J.B. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 308

P Books, D.O. 1st Lt.
CP Gray, H.E. 2nd Lt.
N Kornman, H.C. 2nd Lt.
B Jones, D.C. S/Sgt.
E Morris, E.N.Sgt.
R Slack, G.E. S/Sgt.
AE Womer, W.S. S/Sgt.
AR Porter, C.T. Sgt.
AG Strickler, C.C. Sgt.
G Hampton, R.G. Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 990

P Spartage, G. 1st Lt.
CP Kern, R.B. 2nd Lt.
N Tauskey, W.A. 1st Lt.
B Campbell, R.A. 1st Lt.
E Warren, O.J. S/Sgt.
R Worthington, P.A. T/Sgt.
AE Helmke, E.F. S/Sgt.
AR Draper, J.W. S/Sgt.
AG Ridgeway, J.W.  S/Sgt.
G Riedlinger, A.J. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 473

P Shea, P.F. 1st Lt.
CP Hay, S.N. 2nd Lt.
N Lowder, L.L. 2nd Lt.
B Heilman, J.A. 2nd Lt.
E Darling, L. T/Sgt.
R Mahoney, J.E. T/Sgt.
AE Moore, H.R. S/Sgt.
AR Dudley, W.R. S/Sgt.
AG Luchak, A. S/Sgt.
G Adams, B. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 261

P Nugent, W.A. 1st Lt.
CP Sassaman, F.J. 2nd Lt.
N Davis, W.X. 2nd Lt.
B Krause, W.N. 2nd Lt.
E O'Brien, J.J. T/Sgt.
R Demming, F.H. T/Sgt.
AE McGahey, G.L. S/Sgt.
AR Lander, W. S/Sgt.
AG Pawlyshyn, M.J. S/Sgt.
G Sowers, D.R. S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 117

P Sharpe, W.G. 1st Lt.
CP Bandura, N.A. 2nd Lt.
N McGuire, W.C. 2nd Lt.
B Richardson, F.E. 2nd Lt.
E Huffman, R.R. T/Sgt.
R Wallace, F.C. S/Sgt.
AE Anderson, C.A. S/Sgt.
AR Cugini, M.W. S/Sgt.
AG McGowan, W.J. S/Sgt.
G Maylander, N.  S/Sgt.

5 Mar 1944 579th Sqdn.
A/C 469

P Darnell, J.F. 1st Lt.
CP Slagle, E.E. 2nd Lt.
N Stasney, A.J. 2nd Lt.
B Ward, L.E. Sgt.
E Whitaker, J.W. S/Sgt.
R Mandel, R.F. T/Sgt.
AE Sundo, J.R. S/Sgt.
AR Courtney, E.J. Sgt.
AG Rego, M.A. S/Sgt.
G Beseda, J.F. S/Sgt.




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