Soldiers from New York: Jewish Soldiers in The New York Times, in World War Two: Second Lieutenant Richard H. Davis – October 18, 1944

Lieutenant Richard H. Davis, from Belle Harbor, New York, was the subject of several news items during his military service.  Three such items appeared in The Wave (Rockaway Beach) on July 22, 1943, and May 18 and August 24, 1944, and covered his military training and deployment to England. 

On April 12, 1945 the sad news item covering Lt. Davis’ death – during an operational mission over Europe on October 18, 1944 – appeared on The Wave’s front page.  This announcement was accompanied by a photograph of the Lieutenant standing before a B-24 Liberator bomber. 

The article (found and accessed via Thomas M. Tryniski’s fantastic FultonHistory.com website) is presented below.

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Lt. Richard H. Davis Killed In Action

Lieutenant Richard H. Davis, 20-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Davis of 156 Beach 134th Street, who was reported missing October 18, 1944, was killed in action on that date in the European Theatre of Operations, his parents were notified by the War Department last week.

Lieutenant Davis was a navigator on a Liberator B-24 bomber with the 8th Air Force.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was called in February, 1943.  He received his training at Selman Field, Louisiana, and few to England in July, 1944, and attended combat training school in North Ireland.  While there he underwent a period of intensive training in high altitude bombing procedures used in the European Theatre of Operations.

Lieutenant Davis was the holder of the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.

He was a graduate of Public School 114 and of Far Rockaway High School, class of 1942.  Before enlisting in the service, he was active in Boy Scout Troop 112 and in the Beth-El Players Guild, having appeared in “It Can’t Happen Here,” “Out of the Frying Pan,” and “Our Town.”

Before enlisting, Lieutenant Davis was a Government Civil Service employee in Manhattan.

The B-24 serving as the backdrop in the photograph appears, based on the shape of the forward fuselage and bombardier’s window, to have been a modified “D” version of the Liberator, with a Consolidated A-6 tail turret – installed by the Army Air Corps Oklahoma Modification Center – replacing the conventional D-version’s bombardier “greenhouse”.  Given that such planes were assigned to the 8th Air Force’s 479th Anti-Submarine Group, the image probably was taken after Lt. Davis’ arrival in England, while he and his crew were undergoing additional training in that country.

By way of example…  The image below (Army Air Force Photograph 76493AC / A11897) showing a 479th ASG aircrew (Lt. Hill’s crew) and their B-24D was taken at Saint Eval, England, in 1943. 

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A month after the article in The Wave, on May 12, 1945, The New York Times carried an obituary for Lt. Davis.  The portrait of Lt. Davis was taken when he was an Aviation Cadet.   

Bombing Plane Navigator Lost in Europe Last Fall

Lieut. Richard H. Davis, navigator of a Liberator bomber and holder of the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, who was reported missing last Oct. 18, was killed on that date in the European theatre, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Davis of 156 Beach 134th Street, Belle Harbor, Queens.

Lieutenant Davis, who was 20 years old, entered the Army Air Forces in February, 1943.  He was attached to the Eighth Air Force.

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Nearly a year after the mission of October 18, 1944, The Wave – on October 25, 1945 – carried mention of a memorial tribute held in Lt. Davis honor at Temple Beth El, on Friday evening, October 19, 1944. 

Another year – October 20, 1946 – and Lt. Davis’ was mentioned in the “In Memoriam” section of the New York Times obituary page.

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Lt. Davis was and his crew were assigned to the 68th Bomb Squadron of the 44th Bomb Group, otherwise known as the “Flying Eight-Balls”. 

The following two images are from the Missing Air Crew Report (#10140) covering the loss of Lt. Davis and his crew in B-24H Liberator 42-50381 (WQ * K), piloted by 1 Lt. Julian H. Dayball.  As described in detail in Will Lundy’s 44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor and Casualties, during a mission to chemical works at Leverkusen, Germany, there was apparently a mid-air collision between WQ * K, and B-24H 41-28944 (NB * D, “Flying Ginny“) of the 67th Bomb Squadron, which was piloted by 1 Lt. Michael Bakalo.  This occurred over Belgium in severe weather, while their formation was returning to the 44th’s base at Shipdham, England. 

The planes crashed 1 kilometer from Petegen, Dienze.  Of the 21 men aboard the two aircraft there emerged two survivors – waist gunners S/Sgt. George J. Encimer and S/Sgt. Cecil L. Scott – who were both seriously injured after parachuting from Flying Ginny.

Richard Davis is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo. (Section 82, Collective Grave 114-115.)  Other crew members buried at the same site include Lt. Dayball; right waist gunner, Sgt. Couvillion; tail gunner, Sgt. Shea; flight engineer, Sgt. Fink; nose gunner, Sgt. Steinke, and radio operator, Sgt. Sicard.  The image below – from FindAGrave contributor “Remo” (Bobby Jean “Remo” Remelius) – shows their collective grave marker.   

Lieutenant Davis was awarded the Air Medal and two Oak Leak Clusters. 

His name never appeared in the postwar publication American Jews in World War Two

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Some other Jewish military casualties on Wednesday, October 18, 1944, include…

Killed in Action
– .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. –

Herman, Bernard L., 2 Lt., 0-817213, Co-Pilot, Purple Heart
Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin C. and Molly Herman (parents), 7301 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, Md.
Place of burial unknown
Baltimore Sun 2/6/45

American Jews in World War II – 140

Stern
, Jerome J., T/Sgt., 16105797, Radio Operator, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart

Mrs. Celia Stern (mother), 1656 47th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Place of burial unknown
Casualty List 2/6/45

American Jews in World War II – 455

Lieutenant Herman and T/Sgt. Stern, members of the 67th Bomb Squadron, 44th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, were crewmen on “Flying Ginny”, the loss of which is covered in MACR #15241. 

Witkin
, Leonard, 2 Lt., 0-701359, Navigator, Purple Heart, Ten Missions

United States Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 44th Bomb Group, 68th Bomb Squadron
Mr. and Mrs. Jacob and Sylvia S. Witkin (parents), 2851 Baxter Ave., New York, N.Y. / 980 Simpson St., Bronx, N.Y.
Born 9/2/21
MACR 9654, B-24J 42-50596, “Flak Magnet”, “WQ * O”, Pilot – 1 Lt. Edward C. Lehnhausen, 9 crewmen – no survivors
Wellwood Cemetery, East Farmingdale, N.Y.
American Jews in World War II – 474

Wasserman
, Gerald M., 2 Lt., 0-2060421, Navigator, Purple Heart, Four Missions

United States Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 390th Bomb Group, 568th Bomb Squadron
Mrs. Ruth W. Wasserman (wife), 1020 E. 7th St., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr. Samuel Wasserman (father), c/o Ferber, 732 N. 26th St., Allentown, Pa.
MACR 9484, B-17G 43-38189, “Powerful Katrinka / Bugs Bunny”, “CC * M”, Pilot – 2 Lt. Donald T. Drugan, 9 crewmen – 4 survivors, Luftgaukommando Report KU 3131
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo. – Section 84, Grave 235-239 (Buried 10/16/50)
American Jews in World War II – 465

Fiegelman, Joseph, PFC, 33603325, Purple Heart, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
United States Army, 90th Infantry Division, 358th Infantry Regiment
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel and Dora Fiegleman (parents), Lawrence and Louis (brothers), 520 S. Washington Ave., Scranton, Pa.
Dalton Jewish Cemetery, Dalton, Pa.
American Jews in World War II – 520

Gordon
, Oscar, Pvt., 31406940, Purple Heart

United States Army, 85th Infantry Division, 359th Infantry Regiment
Mrs. Sarah Gordon (mother), Bridgeport, Ct.
Florence American Cemetery, Florence, Italy – Plot D, Row 10, Grave 19
American Jews in World War II – 64

Marcus
, Herbert, Pvt., 32802905, Purple Heart

United States Army, 35th Infantry Division, 320th Infantry Regiment
Mr. Abraham Marcus (father), 4701 12th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England – Plot F, Row 7, Grave 102
Casualty List 11/28/44
American Jews in World War II – 387

Diskant
, Isaac, Pvt. (Died at Silute)

16th Lithuanian Rifle Division
Mr. Moshe Diskant (father)
Born 1922
Road to Victory – Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division – 293

Freedman
, Israel, Pvt., 4038716

England, Pioneer Corps
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis and Rachel Freedman (parents), 15 Mayland St., Stepney, London, E1, England
Born 1914
East Ham (Marlow Road) Jewish Cemetery, Essex, England – Block U, Grave 21
The Jewish Chronicle 10/29/44
We Will Remember Them – Volume I – 086

Gruzd
, David, Sgt. (Died at Silute)

16th Lithuanian Rifle Division
Mr. Gutman Gruzd (father), Pvt. Chaim Gruzd (brother)
Born 1915
Road to Victory – Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division – 294

Hurwitz
, Samuel Moses, Sgt., D/26248, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal

Canada, Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, Canadian Grenadier Guards, 22nd Armoured Regiment, No. 3 Squadron
Captured 10/18/44; Died of wounds 10/20/44
Mr. and Mrs. Harry and Bella Hurwitz (parents); Archie, David, Esther, George, Harry, Ian, and Max (brothers and sisters), 6093 Park Ave., Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Born Lachine, Quebec, Canada, 1/28/19
Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands – 9,F,1
The Jewish Chronicle 1/12/45, 6/29/45
Canadian Jews in World War II – Volume I – 46, 52
Canadian Jews in World War II – Volume II – 34

Kolsberg
, Mieczyslaw, Cpl., Poland, Mazowieckie, Otwock, Otwock Hospital

9th Infantry Regiment
Mr. Karol Kolsberg (father)
Born 1904
Andriolli Street Cemetery, Otwock, Mazowieckie, Poland
Jewish Military Casualties in the Polish Army in World War II – Volume I – 38

Lobel
, Alois, Pvt., B/1196 (Died in France, at Dunkirk)

Czechoslovakia, 1st Armoured Brigade
Born Czechoslovakia, Rajec, okres Diein; 5/23/21
La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St, Vaast, Pas de Calais, France – M,13
http://www.army.cz/acr/vuapraha/db/index.php
Zide v Ceskoslovenskem Vojsku na Zapade (Jews in the Czechoslovak Army in the West) – 246

Shamis
, Monia, Lt. (Died at Priekule, Latvia)

16th Lithuanian Rifle Division
Mr. Shmuel Shamis (father)
Born 1912
Road to Victory – Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division – 304

Wounded in Action

Dienstman, Samuel, Pvt., 33778251, Purple Heart (Mediterranean Theater)
(Captured on January 27, 1944, and escaped)
Mr. Raphael and Anne Dienstman (parents); c/o Morris Dienstman, 404 W. Rittenhouse St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Pvt. Benjamin Dienstman and Morris Dienstman (brothers), 1533 Devereaux St., Philadelphia, Pa.
Born Pa., 1924
The Jewish Exponent 1/12/45
Philadelphia Inquirer 1/7/44
Philadelphia Record 1/7/44, 2/29/44
Philadelphia Bulletin 1/8/45
American Jews in World War Two – 517

This photograph of Samuel Dienstman appeared in The Philadelphia Bulletin on January 8, 1945. 

Prisoners of War (Infantry)

Nadelman, Jack W., Sgt., 32822644, Purple Heart, 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
United States Army, 30th Infantry Division, 119th Infantry Regiment
(Also wounded ~ 9/22/44)
POW at Stalag 6G (Bonn)
Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Mary (Feber) Nadelman (parents), 58 E. 1st St., New York, N.Y.
Born N.Y., 1/6/26
Casualty Lists 11/22/44, 4/1/45, 7/6/45
American Jews in World War II – 398

Peters
, Abraham, Pvt., 42087543, Purple Heart

United States Army, 30th Infantry Division, 119th Infantry Regiment
POW at Stalag 2B (Hammerstein)
Mrs. Doris F. Peters (wife), 1664 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Casualty Lists 6/6/45, 6/15/45
American Jews in World War II – 405

Strauss
, Arthur, PFC, 32648586

United States Army, 1st Infantry Division, 18th Infantry Regiment
POW at Stalag 2B (Hammerstein)
Mrs. Klara Adler (sister), 140 Vermilyea Ave., New York, N.Y.
Casualty List 6/18/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Prisoner of War (Aviator)

Love, Harry Wilson, 2 Lt., 0-777006, Bombardier (On fourth mission)
United States Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 390th Bomb Group, 568th Bomb Squadron
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Edgar Wilson and Fannie (Genov) Love (parents), 1717 Parkview Ave. / 1590 E. 172nd St., Bronx, N.Y.
Born Bronx, N.Y.; 10/18/23; Died March 27, 2016
MACR 9484, B-17G 43-38189, “Powerful Katrinka / Bugs Bunny”, “CC * M”, Pilot – 2 Lt. Donald T. Drugan, 9 crewmen – 4 survivors, Luftgaukommando Report KU 3131
Casualty List 3/7/45
American Jews in World War II – Not Listed

Second Lieutenant Harry W. Love was one of the four survivors of Lt. Donald Drugan’s B-17.  In 1985, his account of his singular (…an understament…) experience was published in Volume II of the 390th Bomb Group Anthology

His story is presented below.

Birthday “Blow Out”
by Harry W. Love
Bombardier, 568th Bomb Squadron

My story begins like so many other bomber crews… at 0400 hours 18 October 1944.

As per schedule, the crews are awakened; the quick wash-up; off to the mess hall for the usual chow-down; back to barracks for completion of dress, storing of personal papers and finally, off to the briefing room.  As rhetoric will have it, this is basically the routine for any bomber crew in the 8th Air Force, flying out of England.

My story, however, departs from the traditional version espoused by so many others on 18 October 1944…  It was my 21st birthday.  My attitude, no different from any other 21 year old; I was happy, had a great crew and festivities were planned for that evening when we returned from the bombing mission.

At the briefing, we received our instructions.  Our mission was to Koblenz, Germany.  (Considerably less difficult or dangerous we thought than Berlin, Regensburg, Augsburg, or so many others.) During the briefing session, the members of the crew contemplated no unusually heavy problems.  At the completion of the general briefing, the pilots, navigators and bombardiers parted ways for individual briefings.  We then were driven to our assigned aircraft.

The plane we originally had been assigned to was the Silver Meteor.  It was, however, taken out of service for this particular mission because of heavy damage it sustained two days prior, on a mission to Cologne.  Therefore, we were reassigned to a brand new B17G.  It was a truly magnificent looking craft as we approached it that morning.

Inspection of armament loading procedures (which was my responsibility as Bombardier) was conducted and before too long, it was takeoff time.  Reflecting back I feel a few words are deemed necessary regarding my Pilot, Donald Druggan.  He was a masterful, highly prestigious, military man and competent in all aspects of his assigned field.  Our Co-Pilot, John Mohn, was very astute, tolerant and somewhat more pacific than Donald Druggan.  Our Navigator, Gerald Wasserman, a Brooklyn boy, was very dedicated to his job and an asset to our crew.

Take off was uneventful.  The weather was clear (although dark at the time of departure).  We found our assigned positions at the prescribed altitude.  Not too long thereafter, the British Coast was behind us.

The order to “check your guns, and fire your guns” was given.  The response traditionally heard was, “All guns firing properly and in order.”

We approached the coast of Europe at approximately 0830 hours.  Our target Koblenz was still an hour and a half away.  We encountered no enemy fighters en route, and the flak was light.

The bomb run over the target was considered very successful.  Upon making our turn off the bomb run (after release of bombs), we then headed in a northwesterly direction to meet up with the balance of the Wing which could be seen some 15-20 miles away.  At this time, it was quite apparent that we were some 5 or 6 minutes behind schedule in our rendezvous with the Wing for our trip back to England.  This necessitated our lead crew to change course some degrees further to the north which brought us over a portion of the Ruhr Valley.  On approaching this particular area, some 5 or 10 miles from our rendezvous, we began to pick up massive concentrations of flak fire.  One of the first bursts came within 100 yards of the front of our plane.  This was followed by 5 or 6 more immediately, thereafter, each one closer than the preceding one.  It seemed that we were well tracked down below by the antiaircraft crews.  At this time, I announced to the crew that the bursts were directly in line…  the Pilot, in accord, confirmed my communication.

Some 2 or 3 seconds later, we received a hit in the nose of the plane directly above the chin turret leaving a hole some 15-20 inches in circumference.  I immediately back tracked away from my chin gun position and took up a station to the right (which was the cheek gun).  The cyclonic rush of air that came through was impossible to control.  I recall vividly the Navigator stating over the intercom, “Nobody will know how close the Bombardier came to buying it…  the bursts of flak came through within inches of his right leg.”

The antiaircraft gunners on the ground weren’t finished tracking our plane, for at that instant we received a direct hit in one engine (starboard side) with shocking impact.  Massive vibrations developed and fumes and smoke filled the plane.  The pilot, without hesitation, pulled out of formation, and attempted to put out the flames within that particular engine by sideslipping the plane.

Upon looking at the right wing, it was obvious that the damage thereto, was extensive.  The entire right wing was oscillating up and down some 20-30 degrees.  On seeing this, I assisted the Navigator Gerald Wasserman in putting on his chest pack.  As Bombardier, I always wore my backpack throughout the entire mission.

I called to the Pilot in the customary technique…  “Bombardier to Pilot, do you have any instructions?” He replied, “Bombardier, I hear you.” Looking back at the wing again I could clearly see the oscillation increasing.  The Engineer, Sgt.  Parker, dropped down from his position to our station with the Navigator between us.  I instructed the Engineer to open the escape hatch located directly in front of him.  He complied immediately.  I again called to the Pilot asking if there were any further instructions regarding possible bail out.  The Pilot, once again replied, “Bombardier, I hear you,” but no instructions followed.

Looking out at the wing again (which was oscillating even more), it was obvious to me that the wing could not stay on much longer.  At this point, firmly believing the alarm bell and intercom were no longer operating, I directed the Engineer to bail out.  He (Parker) looked up to the Pilot for some expression of guidance…  he did not receive any.  He then looked back at me and the Navigator who was directly in front of me.  At this critical point (with little or no time for conversation), a mandated determination had to be directed and carried out.  The Engineer would have to bail out of the plane first, the Navigator second and then myself.  I, in a loud tone (after removing my oxygen mask), ordered the Engineer to bail out… again he hesitated.  I then began to physically push the Navigator in that direction stating, “We have to go, the wing is coming off.” The Navigator looked at me with quite an acceptable (and understandable) look of doubt, and shook his head.  At that instance, the wing came off!

It is apparent that with one of the wings off of a B17, it will not fly.  Our plane began to plummet down in a spiraling, leafy fashion to earth.  At this point, I would assume we were in the neighborhood of 20-22,000 feet.  Quite instantaneously, all within the craft were seemingly welded to their specific positions.  I was flung against the starboard cheek gun slamming my neck against it in a rigid fashion, unable to move a muscle due to the powerful centrifugal force exerted during the spiraling effect.  At this moment, I vividly recall thinking of one thing, and one thing only…  “What will Mom say or feel when she hears about me being killed in action?” There was no question or doubt in my mind that I was to meet “my maker” in a matter of moments.  There was no possible chance for anyone to successfully escape this situation.

Approximately two or three seconds later, there erupted a tremendous, all-encompassing explosive force, I felt my entire body weight being lifted by an unknown force.  I was literally catapulted through the air, head first and out the front plexiglass nose of the aircraft.  The plane had exploded.  The gas tanks (I am assuming), from the other wing or in the body of the craft, had been ignited by the flak we took.  Luckily I did not black out.  I was alert and fully cognizant of the entire situation.  I knew instantly that I was free from the aircraft.  I had the foresight, however, not to pull the rip cord immediately.  As I began to fall to earth, I could clearly see burning debris from our aircraft.  Far to the left, a chute opened; shortly thereafter on my right, another chute; and then a few seconds later, still another chute opened.  This chute (the latter), perhaps opened too soon, and as fate would have it, part of the burning debris struck his chute as it opened.  Which crew member it was, I could not identify.  I held my rip cord with a firm grasp for what seemed to be hours, but I’m sure it was only a second or two before making a move.  I saw clear areas around me.  I then pulled the cord and to my utter surprise, I felt no jerk, as anticipated.  My most prevalent thought at this time was, “The parachute must have been torn from my back when I was blown from the front of the plane.” I looked up and there it was … blossoming beautifully above me.  Perhaps the reason for not feeling the impact of the chute opening, can be attributed to the mental trauma I had so recently experienced, i.e., being blown out of the aircraft.  My thought at this time, “My God, I’m going to be safe.  I’m floating down to earth.”

At this juncture, everything began to go black, or more accurately, red.  I now realized I could not see.  I placed my hands over my eyes, wiped them and realized I did not come away from this situation unscathed completely.  I was bleeding profusely from head wounds received when I was blown through the front plexiglass of the craft.  I also realized that my shoes that were tied to my parachute harness were not there.  They had been snapped, or torn, off when I was blown out of the aircraft.

On descending, I could see a forest area and remembered some of the instructions we received concerning means of generating control over the parachute.  I was able to tug at the harness, thus controlling the direction of the chute so that my landing would be between some very large fir trees.  I landed on a 45-degree slope of a hill.  Not being proficient in parachute landings, I came down extremely hard, striking both legs in a rather awkward position, that later would prove to give me untold pain and discomfort.  The impact of landing so hard and abruptly, caused one of my legs to collapse on the base of my spine.

Reflecting back to military orders and instructions, concealment of the chute after landing was of the utmost concern.  I picked the chute up as quick as I possibly could and dug and scratched a large hole in a leafy area where I buried it under branches, twigs, etc.  I began moving in a westerly direction but soon, thereafter, collapsed.  The injuries I had sustained were not as minor as I initially thought.  Both of my ankles were swollen out of proportion, and the bleeding from my skull wounds were now in a hemorrhaging state.  I took stock of what medications I had and treated myself with sulpher for my scalp wounds and bandaged them the best I could.  I then constructed make-shift crutches and again attempted to move on.  As my arduous journey continued, I further realized I was experiencing pain at the base of my neck.  Later I found that my 2nd Lieutenant bar was bent completely in half.  Something most assuredly had struck it with a great impacting force to have caused it to bend.  The object which had struck the metal bar so precisely, had to have been metal; the 2nd Lieutenant bar undoubtedly saved my life.  I sustained a massive hematoma on my neck where the bar had originally been affixed to my collar.

I placed the time of my landing at 1230 hours.  I continued to move on through the afternoon.  I traveled for several hours in a westerly direction as best I could, and rested part of the night in a thickly wooded area.  I did not know for sure how many of the crew got out, but I had seen two chutes at a distance.  Later I was informed that a fourth airman had in fact gotten out.  There were only four survivors from our B-17G.

The following day, during the early hours after dawn, determined and still limping, I continued to move on.  The wooded area that concealed me began to echo with a terrifying sound; that of track dogs.  The area where I had descended was flooded with civilian and Wehrmacht troops.

I was finally detected and captured by the aforementioned group of people, at approximately 0900 hours on the 19th of October 1944.  I was taken to a town (to the best of my recollection, Oberursel) where my imprisonment began.

Some weeks later, during which time I spent a week of interrogation procedures in Dusseldorf, I had the heartwarming pleasure of seeing three of the enlisted members of my crew.  The Tail Gunner, Conwell, related to me that he was blown out of the tail section.  Raymond Hutt was blown out of the Waist Gunner’s compartment and the Radio Operator, Ledford, was blown out of the top section of the craft’s radio compartment.  I was further informed that the Ball Gunner, Stevens, had not emerged from the ball nor did he have his chest pack on at the time the wing disengaged itself from the aircraft.  Out of a crew of nine, only four survived.

After spending about eight months in prison camps, Stalag Luft 3, Sagan and Moosburg, I was liberated by Patton’s Third Army on 29th April 1945 and returned home in May of that year.

October 18th, Nineteen Hundred Forty-Four, was my day of infamy, it too was my Birthday .  .  .  my day of Rebirth.

This Is My Story.

Control Tower Log for 18 October 1944 shows one aircraft MIA

0715: All mission a/c off except 325T-hydraulics out – ship stuck off edge of r/w and field will be u/s (Ed: unserviceable) for landing a/c until at least 1030 – possibly later.

0930: 831-C aborted with #3 feathered, prop run away.  Will circle until 325 is cleared.

1130: 325 off r/w.  Ship 007-M (Lewis) lost a piece of 325 plexiglass nose on t/o.  No damage to 007.

1131: 831 C landed. (Ellis)

1542: All a/c returned except 189-M (Drugan)

J.H. Stafford 1 Lt. S.C.

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On August 9, 2002, Harry spoke about his wartime experiences – and other aspects of life – in an interview available at the New York State Military Museum.  

When Harry passed away on March 27, 2016, he was the last survivor of the crew of Powerful Katrinka / Bugs Bunny. 

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A photograph of Donald Drugan’s crew (contributed by FindAGrave contributor Patootie), taken during training in the United States, is shown below.  The names of the crew members are listed beneath the image. 

Rear (L – R)

Sgt. Jurl T. Parker (Flight Engineer – KIA)
Tamaha, Ok.
Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium – Plot D, Row 3, Grave 5

Sgt. Willis T. Ledford (Radio Operator – survived – Died July 3, 1996)
Cleveland, Ga.
Hoschton City Cemetery, Hoschton, Ga.

Sgt. Raymond L. Hutt (Waist Gunner – survived – Died Nov. 19, 2008)
Tecumseh, Ne.
Tecumseh Cemetery, Tecumseh, Ne.

Sgt. Robert Stevens (Ball Turret Gunner – KIA)
Long Beach, Ca.
Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium – Plot A, Row 38, Grave 47

Kaiser (Waist Gunner – did not fly on mission of October 18)

Sgt. Cleon Conwell (Tail Gunner – survived – Died April 6, 2006)
Monticello, In.
Buffalo Cemetery, Buffalo, In.

Front (L – R)

2 Lt. Donald Terrance Drugan (Pilot – KIA)
Portland, Or.
Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium – Plot D, Row 1, Grave 47

2 Lt. Jonathan V. Mohn (Co-Pilot – KIA)
Portland, Or.
Ardennes American Cemetery, Neupre, Belgium – Plot D, Row 5, Grave 30

2 Lt. Gerald M. Wasserman (Navigator- KIA)
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Mo.

2 Lt. Harry Wilson Love (Bombardier – survived – Died March 27, 2016)
Bronx, N.Y.

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These are pages from the Missing Air Crew Report (#9484) for Powerful Katrinka / Bugs Bunny, covering the crew list and technical details about the plane.

An account of the plane’s loss follows.

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This image of Harry, from Ancestry.com, shows him as an Aviation Cadet…

…while this image, also from Ancestry.com, is a photograph of Harry taken by the Germans shortly after his capture.  The picture is attached to his German Prisoner of War “Personalkarte”. 

  ____________________

Postwar reports on the loss of the bomber, by Harry Love and tail gunner Cleon Conwell, are seen below. 

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This image (WW II Army Air Force Photo 3200 / A45511) is captioned, “Lt. Maurice A. Bonomo, Bombardier, 333 W. 86th St., New York City, 18 daylight missions; holds Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters”.  The picture gives an excellent representative view of the the bombardier’s position in a B-17 Flying Fortress (specifically, a B-17G Flying Fortress). 

Lt. Bonomo, viewed as if looking forward from the navigator’s position, is facing the bombardier’s control panel.  Above the control panel can be seen a nose-mounted “flexible” port M-2 Browning 50 Caliber machine gun, with its ammunition feed chute hanging to the right.  (Another flexible M-2 Browning, out of view of the photograph, is mounted within the right side of the nose.)  The remote control for the aircraft’s Bendix chin turret (housing two M-2 Brownings) is visible – in its stowed position – to the right of Lt. Bonomo.  In front of Lt. Bonomo is the bombardier’s plexiglass nose “bubble”, which – despite variations in design among different versions of the B-17 – is so visually characteristic of the Flying Fortress.

Given that Lt. Bonomo is not (!) wearing his oxygen mask, and is directly touching the control panel without (!) gloves (neither of which would be advisable at altitude…) this is almost certainly a “posed” photograph, taken while the B-17 was on the ground.

Though the date of this photograph is unknown, what is known is that Lt. Bonomo, a member of the 401st Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, became a prisoner of war on July 20, 1944, during a mission to Leipzig, Germany.  On that date, he was a member of 1 Lt. Arthur F. Hultin’s crew in B-17G 42-102509, which was lost due to anti-aircraft fire.  Fortunately, all 10 crewmen survived as POWs.  The plane’s loss is covered in MACR 7274 and Luftgaukommando Report 2560, the latter document being unusually detailed in its description of the plane.

Maurice (serial number 0-754720), the husband of Janet A. Bonomo, of 333 West 86th Street, in New York, was imprisoned in North Compound 2 of Stalag Luft I, in Barth, Germany. 

His name appeared in Casualty Lists published on December 13, 1944, and (as a liberated POW) on June 15, 1945, and can be found on page 281 of American Jews in World War Two.

References

Books

Blue, Allan, The B-24 Liberator – A Pictorial History, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, N.Y., 1975

Davis, Larry, B-24 Liberator in Action (Aircraft No. 80), Squadron / Signal Publications, Inc., Carrollton, Tx., 1987

Dublin, Louis I., and Kohs, Samuel C., American Jews in World War II – The Story of 550,000 Fighters for Freedom, The Dial Press, New York, N.Y., 1947

Kulka, Erich, Zide Československém Vojsku na Západé, Naše Vojsko, Praha, Czechoslovakia, 1992

Leivers, Dorothy (Editing and Revisions), Road to Victory – Jewish Soldiers of the 16th Lithuanian Division, 1941-1945, Avotaynu, Bergenfield, N.J., 2009

Lundy, Will, 44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor and Casualties, Green Harbor Publications, 1987, 2004

Meirtchak, Benjamin, Jewish Military Casualties in the Polish Armies in World War II: II – Jewish Military Casualties in September 1939 Campaign – Jewish Military Casualties in The Polish Armed Forces in Exile, World Federation of Jewish Fighters Partisans and Camp Inmates: Association of Jewish War Veterans of the Polish Armies in Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel, 1995

Richard, Wilbert H.; Perry, Richard H.; Robinson, William J., The 390th Bomb Group Anthology – Volume II, 390th Memorial Museum Foundation, Inc., Tuscon, Az., 1985

Canadian Jews in World War II – Part I: Decorations, Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1948.

 Canadian Jews in World War II – Part II: Casualties, Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1948

Websites

44th Bomb Group

General Index: http://www.greenharbor.com/index.html

October, 1944: http://www.greenharbor.com/ROHPDF/ROHSO44.pdf

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