392nd Bomb Group

Wendling England Aircrew, Ground Crew & POW Stories

The following stories were complied by the researchers of www.b24.net. These stories and diaries were either submitted by one of the crusaders, their relatives, complied from other publications, or taken as narratives from the crusaders. There are several more stories under each of the Stalag Lufts in the POW Research section.

Flying the Northern Route to England - Richard Hoffman, Ball Turret Gunner, 579th Squadron, tells his story flying from Alamogordo, NM to England.

Flying the Southern Route to England - Burrell Ellison, Pilot, 576th Squadron, tells his story flying from Morrison Field, FL to England.

Manny Abrams, Navigator, 579th Squadron - THE INVISIBLE LIBERATOR - We were not invisible. We were simply sitting on the wrong airfield and talking to the correct control tower. So - after another embarrassed takeoff (if such is possible) we made a new landing on the correct airfield, and came to our final stop on the apron in front of the tower.

Various Eye Witnesses to the Crash of Alfred - At about 2:30 p.m. I heard the sound of an aircraft and then saw a B24 Liberator approaching low over the sea. The bomber was very obviously in trouble, with al least two of its four engines out of action. As it cleared the cliff top and began flying inland, it veered to the left, almost as if the pilot was trying to turn hack and crash land in the sea, close to shore. However, during the turn, the crippled bomber lost height and its right wing struck trees at the edge of a wood on rising ground, an area known locally as Pretty Corner.

M/Sgt. Ernie Barber - 578th Crew Chief - The Diary of Ernie Barber from the beginning to the end of the war.

M/Sgt. Ernest Barber - (as told to Greg Hatton on Sept 16, 1989) Another one of Greg Hatton's great interviews. M/Sgt. Barber was a crew chief for the 578th squadron. He came to Wendling with the original cadre of the 392nd.

Staff Sgt. Bert M. Beals - Nose Gunner - The mission Diary Bert Major Beals Jr on the Slayten Crew. Covers his missions from September 25, 1944 through April 20, 1945. Submitted by his son, Zachary Beals.

Berlin - April 29, 1944 - Annette Tison shares her in depth research of the 29 April 1944 mission to Berlin flown by the 8th Air Force on April 29, 1944, with an emphasis on the role of the 392nd Bomb Group. After several years of research on The Wyatt crew, including her uncle, 2Lt Douglas N. Franke.

Staff Sgt. Jim Blanco - Engineer 579th - As a member of Bell's crew I remember quite vividly the experience of that day. The mission started about 2300 hours of 19 June, when the C.Q. came to roust us out of our sacks with the usual info of breakfast and briefing times. After breakfast, briefing. I still recall the feeling in the pit of my stomach, because the excess trace line of our route in and out of the target area was not visible on the floor. This meant a long haul. The first two missions, or maybe five, it's still an adventurous experience. After that you start to sober.

Landon H. Brent - I flew thirty one missions with the 392nd bomb group 578th bomb squadron

Guy D. Carnine - Colonel Bernt Balchen's B-24 Airline - 578th Sqdn

Captain Bill Cetin - Lead Bombardier, Cassell crew as dictated to Mary (Rocky) Rothrock in January, 2000 This diary begins with Bill's notes on the Friedrichshafen raid on March 18, 1944 and continues with his missions notes through January 16, 1945. Rocky Rothrock, close friend and post war neighbor, was a gunner with this 579th crew.

2nd Lt. John B. Cihon - Nose Turret Gunner - This is the journal of 2nd Lt Cihon being shot down on "Poco Loco", during the Gotha mission, February 24, 1944 and his time in as a POW.

Robert D. Copp - Pilot AC # 27491: "Pregnant Peg" April 29, 1944 - One of the original crews from the 577th squadron and possibly, the only one to complete the tour of twenty-eight missions. This story is an account of the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944. This raid lost eight planes out of eighteen for the second highest lost ratio in the 392nd history.

Staff Sgt. William B. Dowling - 578th Crew Chief - The Story of William Dowling from being drafted to discharge.

Ray J. Dunphy - 578th Navigator - This is an excellent diary of the 392nd missions from December 13, 1943 through July 12, 1944.

Charles E. Dye - Charlie Dye was an Ammunition Officer with the 1825th Ordnance Supply and Maintenance Company - Well written story of his time from graduating from Ordnance Officer Candidate School on January 31, 1943 to coming home on the Queen Mary arriving at New York Harbor Pier 90 on June 20, 1945

Charles Dye and Guy Spinelli - LOADING THE BOMBS - We inspected individually every bomb that came in to the bomb storage area, referred to fondly as the "Bomb Dump." We inspected each bomb to ensure that the threads, the nose and tail fuse, the fins were all right so that there would be no problem inserting the fuse in the tail fin.

Burrell Ellison - OUR CREW - Pilot 576th Sqdn. Excellent written story on the first crew to finish all of their missions in the 576th Sqdrn.

Sgt Robert L. Erfurth - While flying missions with the 577th Sqdn from February to April 1945, Sgt Erfurth kept a detailed diary which is a wonderful source of information about combat missions late in the war..

Victor Ferrari, Navigator, 578th Squadron - What Happened To Ferrari And Roberts After Their Bomber Crashed is a story of what happened to them after being shot down on 13 November 1944 and bailing out. Great escape and evasion story.

2nd Lt. Douglas N. Franke - Wyatt crew AC# 42-7510: "El Lobo" April 29, 1944 - Douglas' brother, Robert, tells the story and the circumstances of the Wyatt crew who were all killed in the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944.

John Gilbert - John recalls several interesting events when his family moved to the Wendling base after their home at Unthank Road, Norwich, was destroyed in the heavy bombing raids on that city in April 1942.

Col. Lawrence G. Gilbert - (as told to Greg Hatton on Sept 16, 1989) This is a well written account of how the 392nd was formed and it gives great insight of the operational and logistical challenges that could only be told by Col. Gilbert, the base C.O. at Wendling.

S/Sgt. Oliver Guillot - Waist gunner Kaminitsa crew, 576 sq. S/Sgt. Oliver Guillor relates his experience with the 576th, his last mission and life in Stalag 17b. Submitted by Greg Hatton.

2nd Lt. George Graham - Co-pilot Kaminitsa crew - Down 29 April 44, There are so many things that I think of now that I had forgotten these past years. Some days, out of a clear blue sky, I'II think of a thing that happened which I hadn't thought about in thirty years. I flew 9 missions with Kamenitsa's crew, but I had 22 missions all together.

1st Lt Gordon L. Hammond - Pilot, 579th Squadron - This "Statement or Report of Interview of Recovered Personnel" provides details on 1st Lt Hammond's last mission (April 22, 1944) and his imprisonment at Stalag Luft III.

Navigator Robert J. Harron - 577th Squadron - Schuster Crew - The Story of Navigator Robert Harron, KIA January 28, 1945, Mission #231, after a collision with 577th Sq. Dodd's plane over target.

S/Sgt. Hyman Hatton - waist gunner, Ofenstein crew. B24.NET POW researcher, Greg Hatton, interviews his dad on September, 1974, a 392nd POW from the Offenstein crew. One of the best historical documents of life at a WWII POW camp.

Final Thoughts from Ruth Hatton - One evening in July, 1945, Hy called me from Halloran Hospital on Staten Island; it was the first time I had heard from him since he became a POW. He had not changed his mind about marriage and wanted to come to the west coast as soon as possible: "Let's get on with our lives."

2nd Lt Milton Henderson - CoPilot on the Gotha Mission. - Another pass just after bombs away and they got #3 engine and set it on fire. Number 4 engine was un-feathered in hopes we could keep up with the Group, but since it had no oil, it promptly ran away. Johns put the airplane in a steep dive to try to blow out the fire; #4 tachometer had wound around beyond the numbers-screaming away.

Hugh Malcolm Hinshaw - HEAVEN TO HELL - Malcolm Hinshaw's story about being shot down and a POW

Box cars to Barth: S/Sgt. Hyman Hatton (392nd BG)  - Camp evacuation from Luft 4 to Luft 1 January 1945 as told by S/Sgt. Fred Weiner (44BG).

2nd Lt. William Kamemitsa - Part 1 - Pilot AC# 41-100371 One of the most colorful stories I have read of the life of a very articulate and interesting 576th Sq. pilot. This story begins with his training in the US through the Berlin raid, April 29, 1944. Lt..

2nd Lt. William Kamemitsa - Part 2 - Lt. William Kamenitsa down April 29, 1944. Kamemitsa was POW at Stalag Luft 3

Lt. Jack Kaplan - An airman's experience in combat. This is a interview by Miriam Zverin of Lt. Kaplan and his experiences at Wendling as a navigator for the 577th.

Col. Myron Keilman - Friedrichshafen, A MOST DISASTROUS MISSION, March 18, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - The Gotha Mission, THE BIG WEEK, February 24, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - UNLUCKY HARRY, Col. Myron Keilman remembers Harry.

Col. Myron Keilman - I REMEMBER EDDIE WHITE !

Col. Myron Keilman - THE BOMBING OF SWITZERLAND, April 1, 1944.

Col. Myron Keilman - THE NO-BALL MISSIONS

Memoir of FO John C. Kenyon - copilot on Hubbar crew

S/Sgt. Vitold Krushas - Engineer-Top turret Offenstein crew. When we came home, we were still 24 or 25 years old. We got home and it was all an experience. You've had a rough time in the Army, but somehow you were enjoying this stuff. We didn't know our lives hung in the balance, every time we took off in training. We didn't realize that it was always that way; and it will be that way with generation after generation; no matter what war. When they tell you;" One out of five of you aren't going to come back"...It's not going to be your crew. It will be one of the other planes:" Not me! Too bad fellas; one of you isn't coming back".

John Krejci - Right waist gunner Kaminitsa crew and former president Stalag 17b organization. - "I got torn loose from my machine gun and drawn up straight. I figured: "We're down what's the sweat?" Just about that time, the nose dropped down and I sailed clear across the length of the fuselage...right straight through until I pancaked against the front bulkhead, behind the front cabin. By golly, I looked over and Ollie Guillot was right there on the other side of me. Archie Young looked up and saw two people sailing over his head and he said he saw us both pancake into the bulkhead about the same time......."

Sgt. Maurice Lampe - Letters and documents describing the Whitemore crew's final mission on 23 June 44

T/sgt. Robert Longo, Waist Gunner Rogers' crew, Down April 29 1944; Luft 1, 4 and 6 - "The fighters only made one pass. The bullets went right down the middle of the plane. The bombardier, Kane got killed; I heard him holler when the fighters first attacked us. Eddy Gienko, in the top turret, had his flak suit hanging up there and said he could hear the bullets hitting it. Two bullets hit Bob Danford, the ball turret gunner. One bullet hit me in the back, but it didn't do anything; it just went in and came out again through my leather jacket. The whole ship was ablaze, so I called them over the intercom and said, " Everything is hot back here!" The co-pilot, Dick Weir, heard me and says: Bail out......"

T/sgt. Robert Longo, Above the Clouds at Thirty Below. The before, during and after war memories of Robert "Smiley" Longo as told and written by Max Pottinger. Over 130 pages.

Joe Maloy - Sgt. Joe Maloy (BT) describes the Shere crew's final mission and his bail-out.

Lt. Col. James R. Maris - OUR UNFORGETTABLE MISSION - 578th Sqdn, Mission 23 was worth every "Penny" of it! - "Engineer to pilot, engineer to pilot: Our number one engine has been blown off the wing. Number three is stripped of its cowl and supercharger There's a three-foot wide hole in the left wing between engines one and two. The bomb bay doors are crushed in. And we've got a bomb hung up on the shackles in the bomb bay......."

Lt. Col. James R. Maris - THE SMALL SQUARE OF STEEL - When checking the B-24 next day, a hole in the left side of the cockpit was identified as the place where the shrapnel penetrated the airplane and, very fortunately, had struck my flak jacket. The doctor assured me that the shrapnel would have gone into my heart if it hadn't been stopped by that small square of steel. (I've kept the small section of flak vest and shrapnel and they're now part of my collection of memories from my B-24 days.)"

Jim Marsteller's search for info on his uncle's death. - This is the incredible story of Jim's search on the March 18, 1944 Friedrichshafen mission. His uncle, Jim Morris, was the engineer on the Books Crew, who was killed in action when the B-24 bomber crashed near Hart, Germany, March 18, 1944. Many authors and historians have commented that his research is one of the most extraordinary efforts ever made on a single WWII mission.

The John McCormick Story - This article explains why S/Sgt John E. McCormick is buried in the Dutch town of Zoetermeer and describes why he is still remembered and honored there more than 61 years after his death.

Lt. James McCutcheon, 576th Squadron - COMBAT MISSIONS LOG

Bill McGuire, son of Lt. William C. McGuire, 579th Sq. - SECOND GENERATION AUTHOR/RESEARCHER SPEAKS OUT. This interview not only tells the story behind the book, "After the Liberators," but also underlines why discovering the facts about WWII history and of the sacrifices of our fighting men continues to be important for all of us."

William McGinley, Tail-gunner B-24 "Sally Ann", 579th Squadron - THE STORY OF HIS CREW AT WENDLING. "Our crew, commanded by Lt. Stukas, had arrived at Wendling on October 15, 1943 as one of the early replacement crews and had completed eight combat missions when, on January 29th, 1944, we were awakened in the very early hours for our ninth and what eventually turned out to be our last mission."

George W. Michel, Radio Operator/Gunner, 576th Sq. - THE SIG ROBERTSON CREW'S 10TH MISSION ON 11 JULY 1944 TO MUNICH, GERMANY. The excellent written story of being shot down over Germany, trying to keep the airplane airborne out of enemy territory, the crash and capture, then the Switzerland internment and final escape of George Michel.

S/Sgt. Jack A. Money - Diary of Missions of S/Sgt. Jack A. Money 8th Air Force, 392 Bomber Group, 579 Bomber Squadron October 4, 1943 to March 18, 1944

Jack Morris - Navigator, 576th Squadron, July 7, 1944 - On their 32nd Mission, flying B-24J 42-94772, the 392nd They were shot down after bombing an aircraft factory in Bernberg. Jack and crew ended up in POW camp, Stalag Luft 3.

Francis Nashwinter - MY MEMORIES - 578th Sqdn, Francis Nashwinter's memories - written 2001.

Lt. Leo Ofenstein, 392nd BG/576sq. KIA 29 April 44 - A tribute by his son and brother. - "In the violent skies over Berlin, two men held a badly damaged B-24 aloft through shear determination. Because of them, five crewmen escaped the flaming aircraft and had a chance to bail out. Three generations later, the names Leo Ofenstein and John Wall are still revered by the families of those who survived......."

Capt. Robert V. Pardue - The journal kept by this 579th Sqdn pilot is a gripping account of service in two very different bomb groups. Pardue writes so vividly you'll feel like you were in the cockpit with him!

Margaret Meen-Parker, English schoolgirl, WHEN THEY ARRIVED, I WAS NINE - There are so many memories of the airfield at Wendling, both happy and sad: being given "lifts" home from school, sitting on the crossbar of the GI's bicycles; sadness in the classroom at Wendling School when we learned that planes had not returned; the excitement and relief as we watched the stragglers, badly-damaged solitary planes, at first appearing as tiny specks above the distant horizon,

Ted Parsons, RAF Detachment - The RAF personnel were just as much involved with the tense atmosphere of an impending deep penetration mission as the American ground and flight crews were. At that time it seemed as if the war could go on for several years and the grim sight of severely battled-damaged and crashlanded B-24s and the occasional RAF Lancaster bomber brought that home most forcefully.

2nd lt. David Purner, Navigator, Ofenstein crew, Down on 29 April 1944, Mission: Berlin - "When we were hit, I knew where we were - I had just logged a position report because it was a good pinpoint - the weather was clearing up but I couldn't see Hanover........"

Diary of Lt. David Purner - This diary starts with his application for cadet training in February 1942, enlistment on April 4, 1942, arrival Wendling on March 24, 1944, shot down April 29th, 1944, captured May 1, 1944 and sent to Stalag Luft III. Forced march to Nuremberg in January 1945, then to Moosburg in March 1945 followed by the POW camp liberation by Gen. George Patton on April 29, 1945. This historical account ends with some vivid reflections of the POW life.

Oak Mackey's Life Story, "My Army Air Force Story". Written 60+ years after his discharge. While stationed in England with the 392nd BG he kept notes about each of his combat missions and after returning wrote a larger version. This story is 60 pages of well documented events of the 392nd BG and Oak Mackey's experiences.

Oak Mackey, "Crunch Landing" at Seething. Without any thought and perhaps with instinct, I pushed full left rudder that caused the airplane to slew around to the left and we touched down in a sideways attitude. The landing gear snapped off, the two outside engine propellers broke off and went cart wheeling across the airfield. We slid sideways on the fuselage for a long way on the ice and snow; it seemed like forever.

"Double Trouble Mission Notes" A firsthand account by S/Sgt George J. Reade George J. Reade was a young 19 year old from Brooklyn, NY, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He was one of four brothers; three served in Europe and the fourth in the Pacific. All returned safely home at the conclusion of the war in 1945. These are George's first hand contemporaneous notes from his 28 missions aboard "Double Trouble" with the 392nd Bomb Group, Squadron 578. They were contributed by Audrey-Ann Byron and Michael Reade.

The combat diary of S/Sgt Theodore A. Rausch - 26 TRIPS TO HELL - The 26 missions of the H.W. Miller crew from December 1, 1943 to March 24, 1944.

Lt. Jim Reynolds (cp) - Final mission of the Hummel crew, down 23 March 1945 (Wesel Mission). "In the last 81 hours, I had flown from England to Germany, been shot down, wounded, captured, rescued, hospitalized, hitch-hicked across part of German and Belgium... then flown back to England."

S/Sgt. Robert H. Richards  - The RW gunner on the Beuchler crew, completed 20 missions between July 11 and Sept. 12, 1944. S/Sgt. Roberts spent the winter at Luft 4. In Feb. 1945, he took part in the forced march across Germany that ended in Halle, Germany on April 26

James M. Ross - OUR TURN NEXT - as told to his son, James E. Ross The complete history of a WWII Crusader from induction to the missions he flew , to being shot down, to being captured, to life in 3 different POW camps and death march survivor, to liberation and discharge. This is the story for all educators to know the life of a WWII soldier.

Everett F. Satterly - The history of the engineer of James Sibley's crew of the 578th Bomb Squadron.

Birdie Schmidt Larrick - THE WAY IT WAS, Reminiscences About the American Red Cross Aeroclub at Wendling by Birdie Schmidt Larrick. Birdie was the ARC Program Director at the 392nd BG from December 1943 to early 1945. She was so well-liked that one of the Group's planes was named in her honor. This story and the many photos that accompany it provide a picture of life at the 392nd that is not otherwise documented.

Memoirs of George Schutz - Chippawa Herald March 2008

Birdie Schmidt Larrick - The American Red Cross Aeroclub At Wendling, A brief history and stories of the American Red Cross Aeroclub from the 20th Century Crusaders book in four sections.

Maj. Clinton F. Schoolmaster - Maj Schoolmaster joined the 392nd BG in early 1943 as 578th Sqdn Operations Officer. In November 1943, he assumed command of the 577th Sqdn. Against his wishes, he was transferred to the 95th Combat Wing Headquarters as senior controller on May 22, 1944. On May 25, he was killed in the line of duty while helping aircraft form up for an operational mission. Information from the letters he wrote his wife (and which she later transcribed and shared with the 392nd BGMA) is at {link}; more information and several photos are at https://delawarewwiifallen.com/2023/10/06/major-clinton-f-schoolmaster/. The letters clearly show the burdens of command.

Sgt. Bernard Sender - 579th Turret Mechanic - Sgt. Sender tells about the day-to-day life of a aircraft mechanic at Wendling.

Louis M. Stephens - A SHORT SAGA - Our crew flew 7 more missions before being shot down September the 9th 1944 on a mission to Maintz, Germany. There were two explosions that destroyed JAW-JA-BOY immediately after going over the target. Bill Riddleberger and I were blown out of the aircraft by the second explosion which was the only way we could have gotten out.

Robert Tays, Pilot, 578th Squadron - FERRY CREW - Ferrying damaged B-24s from France back to England.

John G. Thiel - Sgt, Radio Operator/Gunner, 576th Sqdn - "I was a radio operator gunner on B-24s with the 576th squadron of the 392nd Bomb group flying out of Kings Lynn (near Norwich) England. I flew 30 missions and we were shot up and crashed on the last mission after dropping supplys to paratroopers in Holland. We also flew on D-Day. I have a list with dates etc. of every mission we went on plus a diary. I have many stories I could tell..........."

William L. Thomas - 578th navigator 2/Lt William L. Thomas - The title of Laura Anne Thomas's manuscript--"The Scrapbook and the Interview: Two records of a P.O.W. Experience" says it all. Using her father's scrapbook and a 2011 interview, Laura describes her father's early life, his military training, marriage and WWII experiences, both as a navigator and a POW. Copyright © 2020 by Laura Anne Thomas. This article was published originally by the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society in Our Heritage, Vol. 61, Nos. 3&4, 2020, pages 7-16.

S/Sgt. Jackson A. Tupper - His memories of as the Assistant Engineer on Lt. Burrell Ellisons Crew in the 576th B.S. 1943 - 1945

Bob Vickers Crew - The Niagara Special Legacy - The crash, the crew and the return to France This is the story written by Keith Roberts, Vickers Crew Navigator, about the crash and the events that took place when the crew returned to the crash site in 1998.

2nd Lt. John Wall (KIA 29 April 44) - Mrs. Carol (Wall) Williams remembers her brother - "My prayer is that this story will not glamorize the event of war. Words can never express the feelings families have when their young men are sent out to kill or be killed... no matter how noble the cause may seem to be; for there is no winner as the cream of that generation dies. Only by living through this period can anyone really feel the pains of war:"

"Farmer" From London Becomes Part Of Bomber Interior Clear-Out Crew - by David Ward - "As time passed, I was asked to clear out the Liberator's interior after returning from raids. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and was issued a "service bicycle." We then cycled over to collect a "bombing up" truck, a vehicle which was a type of tractor without a cab, supported on a chassis which ran on caterpillar tracks."

"Waugh Crew" In his manuscript, "Not Forgotten..." Doug Willies recounts "The Story of the B-24 Crew Who Were The First To Fly "Ginger", The Last To Fly "Alfred" And How they were Remembered Fifty Years Later." It describes the men who were part of 2/Lt Colby Waugh's crew, their training, their missions, their fatal crash near Upper Sheringham, Norfolk, England, on 4 January 1944, and the memorial in the village that honors them. Doug's extensive research was done "In gratitude for the Freedom that we enjoy today."

Wyatt crew - Dedication & Memorial April 29, 2004 - Annette Tison and family travel to the crash site of her uncle of the Wyatt crew and dedicate a memorial there. This is a great testimony of individual research combined with placing a memorial to the crew 50 years after the fact. This story should inspire others searching for information on a loved one lost in the war and what can be done to remember them over a half century later.

Stanley C. Zybort - Aircrew SGT - The last flight of Zybort and the events of being shot-down and a POW. - Taking one handful after another throwing the chafe out of the opening. I plug in my head set and reported to the plane Captain what had happened. Armetta is out of action. He looks shell shocked. In a daze! I'm throwing out the chafe. Split seconds later the flak hits the plane. A hole just to the right and slightly below me. A blast of orange and black fire ball is seen out of the hole. I bounce up. I'm hit. The calf of my left leg burns. My flight suit is ripped where I was hit....