392nd Bomb Group

Burtonwood, England - 30 August 1943

The always stressful and often tragic events and circumstances which surrounded the 392nd’s combat operations on a daily basis during the Second World War, as was the similar case in many of the other seasoned forty-two (42) Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber and Special Operations units, saw many individual fatalities in the planes of men coming home to base with their crews; still others were lost during combat operational maneuvering enroute, practice training missions or in accidents while performing aircraft flight tests-all while still flying within friendly English air space and not over enemy held areas.

Adding to these lists were those inevitable few who also perished while performing the many burdensome tasks involved with the always on-going, around-the-clock ground combat support operations of the Group’s daily responsibilities.

2/Lt Maloney, Eugene V.     Navigator         578th   KILD
2/Lt McKnight, William M.   Navigator         578th   KILD
T/Sgt Murphy, Walter F.     Position Unknown  579th   KILD
T/Sgt Schwartz, Hyman.      Crew Chief        579th   KILD

T/Sgts Murphy and Schwartz were sent to Burtonwood, the 392nd's base supply depot, to crew a new B-24 being ferried to the 392nd. B-24H #42-7468 departed Burtonwood at 1700 hours on 30 August 1943; onboard were nine men including Murphy and Schwartz; Maloney, who were serving as navigator on the crew; McKnight, who was apparently on his way to the 392nd to report for duty; and the pilot, copilot, engineer, radio operator and a passenger, all from the 93rd Bomb Group.

When the aircraft was about 1 1/2 miles northwest of the airfield, the nose of the aircraft dipped towards the ground and it disappeared out of sight, followed by an explosion with flames rising some 200 feet high. The aircraft had struck a small earthwork about 32 feet high, known locally as "Battery Cob," in the middle of otherwise level farmland. When it hit, the aircraft was approximately on a 30 degree right turn, hitting the "Cob" with the right wingtip about three feet from its base. The force of the impact threw a major part of the aircraft over the top of the mound and scattered remains for about 200 yards beyond. All nine men were killed. (Crash information is from the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team.)

2/Lt Maloney is interred at Cambridge American Cemetery in Grave B-5-51. His home of record was New Jersey. No record of awards of any type are given for him. T/Sgt Murphy is interred in the Cambridge American Cemetery in Grave C-5-36. No medals or posthumous awards notations are given for him. His home was Massachusetts. Interment sites for 2/Lt McKnight, a native of Arkansas, and T/Sgt Schwartz, from Pennsylvania, are unknown; no record of awards of any type are given for these two men.

In an article in the September 1984 issue of the Second Air Division Association Journal, an unnamed author said Schwartz was from Philadelphia, "about 22, slim and tall and a great friendly smile." Murphy was "from New England, quiet, unsmiling, but congenial--an older man--as much as 26 or 27." After the crash, the article continued, "There was Sergeant Golub with tears in his eyes (he was much older--over thirty) repeating 'Our two best men; our two best men.' " Their deaths were especially hard to take as "That was before the 579th took its first combat losses--not that there is any special significance in that--they came soon enough.