Monthly Archives: August 2012

Mission#11 August 23, 1943 and Lt. Robert C. Peters Crash.

Date: Aug 23, 43

Dispatched: 44 Aborts: 0

Mission: Sweep Haamstede/Rotterdam area  Field Order: 43/111

Time Up/Down: 14.39 hrs 16.27 hrs Leader: Major McCollom

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group made landfall over Haamstede at 24,000 ft, continued south-east to Woensdrecht and Rotterdam, out at South Gravesende at 27,000 ft. Major McCollom led the Group with Major Duncan, Lts Stafford, Rose and Herfurth [Herfurth is not listed in any of the Squadron flight plans, but likely flew with the 352nd if he did fly] of Group HQ participating.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 14.43 hrs. T/D 16:22 hrs. Total flight time 1.39 hrs. Several bursts of heavy flak reported in the vicinity of Rotterdam but inaccurate as to altitude. Long convoy sighted off east coast of East Anglia.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt John B. Rose
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Harold W. Long
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry (Spare)
1st Lt John L. Devane (Spare with 351st)

That evening 2nd Lt. Robert C. Peters of the 350th Squadron was up slow-timing a P-47 (a/c 42-8405 LH-X). As the light faded he tried to land at the unfinished Debach airfield but crashed into some cement bags, completely wrecking the aircraft after fire took hold. Lt Peters climbed from the aircraft unhurt and was picked up from Debach that evening.

2nd Lt. Robert C. Peters crashed LH-X (a/c 42-8405) at Debach. He escaped unhurt.

351st: Major McCollom. T/U 14:39 hrs. T/D 16:06 hrs Total flight time 1:27 hrs.

Major Loren G. McCollom (Gp & Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt William R. Burkett
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
Major Shannon Christian (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre
1st Lt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt John L. Devane (assumed)

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U –:– hrs. T/D –:– hrs. Total flight time –:– hrs. Destination: Clacton, Haamstede, Woensdrecht and Rotterdam. One Me109 flew between two flights south of Rotterdam and dove for the deck.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt Charles J. Hoey
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
2nd Lt Robert T. Murden
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William F. Streit
F/O Glenn C. Callans
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt James N. Poindexter (Spare?)
F/O Earl W. Perry (Spare?)

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Mission#10 August 19, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Date: Aug 19, 43

Dispatched: 42 Aborts: 6

Mission: General Support to 2nd TF 60 B-17s Field Order: 39/107

Time Up/Down: 17.01 hrs 19.24 hrs Leader: Major McCollom

Target: Gilze Rijen

Claims Air: 00-00-01 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group made landfall at 25,000 ft over Haamstede and made rendezvous with bombers over western tip of Tholens Island, escorted bombers to Gilze-Rijen and thence to Geertruidenberg, out at Noordeval, 26,000 ft. Group was led by Major McCollom with Lts Stafford, Thistlethwaite and Major Duncan from Group HQ participating.

350th: Major McCollom. T/U 17:01 hrs T/D 18:54 hrs. Total flight time 1:53 hrs. Squadron suffered one mechanical abort and a further aircraft acted as escort. Halfway between Woensdrecht and Gilze Rijen Lt. Hurst reported approximately nine Me109s positioning themselves for a head-on attack on the bombers. The flight led by Major McCollom turned into the formation preventing the attack. On the way out heavy flak was seen troubling the bombers far to the left of the course of the Squadron in the general vicinity of Ostend.

Major Loren G. McCollom (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst
1st Lt Robert L. Newman
Major Glenn E. Duncan
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
2nd Lt Walter L. Angelo
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry
1st Lt William W. Odom

351st: Major Christian. T/U –:– hrs. T/D –:– hrs. Total flight time [unknown]. As the bombers were on their way out from Gilze-Rijen airfield, Capt Walter Beckham’s flight saw five or six e/a attacking the second box of bombers. Capt. Beckham led his flight in a dive on the last two aircraft. The Me109s evaded Beckham’s guns by rolling to the left and he overshot. His wing man, 2nd Lt. Harold Morris, was able to fire and was credited with a 109 damaged.

Two pilots from the Squadron, Lts Emory and Edwards, flew as spotters to cover the return of the Group. They saw a pilot with his chute in the water signaling with a heliograph. Circling the spot, they transmitted for a fix and headed home, finally landing at Metfield at 19.32 hrs. The next morning, however, they were told that German Air Sea rescue had picked up the Allied pilot.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
1st Lt George N. Ahles
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (spotter)
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards (spotter)

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 17:06 hrs. T/D 18:50 hrs. Total flight time 1:44 hrs. 2nd Lt Victor Vogel was flying #4 in Wakeford White flight when he heard ‘Wakeford White 4, Break right!’ Turning right he noticed an unidentified aircraft on his tail, closing in. He half rolled and headed home on the deck. Going out he noticed three small boats in a harbour and fired on these, observing no results. Further on, a flak boat fired on him and put a hole through one of his propellers.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
F/O Maurice Morrison
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
F/O Glenn C. Callans
1st Lt William F. Streit
F/O Earl W. Perry
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
2nd Lt Leslie P. Cles

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Mission#9 August 18, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Date: Aug 18, 43

Dispatched: 40 Aborts: 0

Mission: Sweep Dutch coast (Abortive weather) Field Order: 39/107

Time Up/Down: 10.13 hrs 11.40 hrs Leader: Major McCollom

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

The mission was a sweep over the Dutch coast. The weather was so bad that the Group started to return at 10.45 hrs. At 10:49 hrs the controller told leader to make a 160-degree turn because e/a were following the bombers at 22,000 ft. The Group climbed to 26,000 ft. Nothing was encountered (it was later reported that German R. F. D. [Radio Fighter Direction] picked up the Group and called their fighters back). The Group started home at 11:05 hrs per instructions controller. Group was led by Major McCollom of the 56th Fighter Group, with Major Duncan an Lt. Rose of our Group HQ participating.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 10:15 hrs. T/D 11:30 hrs. Total flight time 1:15 hrs. Squadron left English coast but were unable to see continental coast due to vast cloud formation. Contrails at 25,000 ft.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Joseph F. Furness
Major Glenn E. Duncan
1st Lt John B. Rose
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson

351st: Major Christian. T/U 10:15 hrs. T/D 11:30 hrs. Total flight time 1:15 hrs.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
1st Lt Jack R. Walsh (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert (Listed assumed spare)

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 10:13 hrs. T/D 11:22 hrs. Total flight time 1:09 hrs.

Major Loren G. McCollom (Sqdn and Gp Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert T. Murden
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
F/O Maurice Morrison
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame

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Mission#7 and #8 August 17, 1943 – the Group’s first confimed victory

Date: Aug 17, 43

Dispatched: 37 Aborts: 5

Mission: Penetration support to 1st TF 180 B-17s Field Order: 38/106

Time Up/Down: 09.23 hrs 11.23 hrs Leader: Major McCollom

Target: Regensburg

Claims Air: 01-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

The Group picked up the bombers and made landfall at Haamstede at 10:05 hrs at 23,000 ft, continuing to climb and levelled off at 26,000 ft. Because of reports of bandits at 30,000 ft, Group climbed to 27,000ft. Twelve Fw190s were seen diving on the bombers but due to their speed the Group was unable to head them off. Group left the bombers 5 miles south-east of Diest. At 10:25 hrs they met about twelve Me109 and made a port turn to attack them. Major McCollom shot down the last Me109G of the formation at 10:28 hrs [you can read his combat report HERE]. The Group left the coast just north of Walcheren Island at 24,000 ft at 10:47 hrs. Group was led by Major McCollom (then of the 56th FG). Major Duncan of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major McCollom took lead flight and Major Rimerman led Squadron. T/U 09:27 hrs. T/D 11:30 hrs. Total flight time 2:03 hrs. The Squadron met bombers at appointed time at Haamstede. Saw 12 to 15 e/a in vicinity of Rotterdam (scattered ME109s). Passes made at bombers from level head on, breaking down and away. Approximately 10 miles east of Diest, Lts Long and Hurst fired on an Me109 and Fw190 respectively but scored no hits. Major McCollom shot down an Me109G at 10.28 hrs to claim the Group’s first confirmed victory.

Major Loren McCollom (Gp Ldr)
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell
2nd Lt William J. Price
Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Harold W. Long
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier
1st Lt John L. Devane
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt John Sullivan (Spare)

351st: Major Christian. T/U 09:25 hrs. T/D 11:17 hrs. Total flight time 1:52 hrs. The Squadron lost the rest of the Group when a sharp orbit was made. The Squadron swept the area of Antwerp, Diest, Schaffern airfield and came out over Walcheren Island. No enemy encountered, though many were reported by the controller.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
1st Lt George N. Ahles
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 09:29 hrs. T/D 11:17 hrs. Total flight time 1:48 hrs. No e/a encountered. Lts Gonnam and Burlingame made early returns.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
F/O Glenn C. Callans
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert T. Murden
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame

Date: Aug 17, 43

Dispatched: 42 Aborts: 2

Mission: Withdrawal support for 2nd & 3rd TF 240 B-17s Field Order: 38/106

Time Up/Down: 15.55 hrs 17.33 hrs Leader: Major McCollom

Target: Schweinfurt

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

The Group made landfall over Noorderhoofd. At 26, 000 ft made port turn and escorted bombers out at Nieue Souis at 27,000 ft. The Group then made a search of friendly coast between Lowestoft and Aldeburgh. The Group was led by Major McCollom (then of the 56th Fighter Group). Major Duncan and Lt Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 16:00 hrs. T/D 17:31 hrs. Total flight time 1:31 hrs. Major Rimerman reported heavy flak troubling bombers a few miles south of Antwerp. No e/a encountered.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Harold W. Long
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Price
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John Sullivan
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Robert L. Newman (Spare)
2nd Lt Joseph F. Furness (Spare)

351st: Major McCollom. T/U 15:54 hrs. T/D 17:34 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs.

Major Loren G. McCollom (Gp & Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
Major Shannon Christian (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt George F. Perpente

352nd: Major Duncan. T/U 15:58 hrs. T/D 17:34 hrs. Total flight time 1:36 hrs. Withdrawal support to Malings and St Nicholas. Lt. Vogel made an early return.

Major Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Jordan
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel

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Mission#6 August 16, 1943 – the loss of Lt. Col. Joseph A. Morris

The mission on August 16, 1943 was a disaster for the Group. It was their first real taste of combat and they had the misfortune to run into a skilful and determined enemy. It cost the Group their leader, Lt. Col. Morris, who was probably shot down by a covering enemy aircraft when he dived after an Fw190. The 353rd were engaged in numerous combats in the Paris area and returned home low on fuel and split in singles and pairs. Major Loren G. McCollom, from the 56th Fighter Group, was given command as an experienced leader to steady the shaken Group. You can read a bit more about Mac McCollom in his official USAF Biography. He remained officially with the 56th until August 18, when his orders formalised the take-over of the 353rd. Major Duncan acted as Group Commander, in name only, during the interim period. Note also the three 56th FG pilots on this mission (Adrianse, Lamb and Day). They may have flown to make up numbers or perhaps were part of a continued effort to give the 353rd the benefit of their experience on these early missions.

Date: Aug 16, 43

Dispatched: 44 Aborts: 0

Mission: Penetration Support to 180 B-17s Paris Le Bourget airfield

Field Order: 37/105

Time Up/Down: 08.26 hrs 10.24 hrs Leader: Lt. Col. Morris

Claims Air: 00-00-02 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-02

The Group left Metfield at 05.58 hrs and flew down to Thorney Island for the mission. Group made landfall at 09:02 hrs over Fecamp at 25,000 ft, orbit off coast made and bombers picked up about 30 miles from French coast and escorted over Elbouf towards northwest outskirts of Paris. There was lots of smoke seen over the north section of Paris. Ten plus E/A (Fw190) were seen coming from above this Group down on the bombers from the direction of Paris. Enemy aircraft (both Fw190s and Me109s) were scattered over a large area in singles and in pairs. Numerous combats ensued during which Lt. Col. Morris led his flight down to port in an almost vertical dive on the tail of a Fw190 attacking the bombers. Lt. Herfurth, his wing man, drove off an Fw190 from his tail, coming out of the dive below 13,000 ft after which he did not again see his leader. Lt. Juntilla leading the second flight in the squadron led by Lt. Col. Morris reported seeing a P-47, believed to be Lt. Col. Morris’ ship, firing at an Fw190. The Fw190 appeared to be hit and out of control emitting a large cloud of black smoke. Lt. Juntilla was then engaged by other Fw190s and when he turned again toward the leading flight he saw a plane hit the ground and a chute nearby and two P-47s peeling off in front of him.

During engagement with E/A the Group split up and returned independently, 24 planes landing to refuel at advance bases [The report states 18 down at Metfield 10:24 hrs, 9 down at Manston 10:10 hrs (6 from 350th, 3 from 352nd), 6 down at Woodchurch (2 from 352nd, 4 from 351st), 5 down at Lewes (4 from 351st, 1 from 352nd), 1 down at Ashford (352nd)]. E/A reported with black dirty brown camouflage and yellow nose. Light flak over Rouen between 15,000 ft and 18,000 ft, black bursts leading. There was heavy flak over Paris at bomber height. R/T was good with slight whine over the French coast and slight jamming on the way out. Channel “C” jammed from take-off on. Weather was excellent, practically no clouds.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 08:26 hrs. T/D 10:24 hrs. Total Flight Time 1:58 hrs. The Squadron made landfall at Fecamp at 23,000 ft at appointed time. Passed over Elbeuf and escorted bombers to northwest outskirts of Paris. E/A consisting of single ME109s and FW190s were encountered, scattered over a large area. Lt Fortier led his flight down to a FW190 and broke off when it went for the deck. Lt Hurst saw one FW190 spinning down in smoke over the airfield at Moulen. Large fires were seen in the vicinity of Abbeville. Light flak was encountered over Rouen, between 15,000 ft and 18,000 ft. E/A making passes at the bombers came in from head on and below, looping over the top. Lt Fortier had three .50 cal bullet holes in his fuselage – one aft of pilot by about three feet with the inner cooler doors damaged and supercharger line hit.

Times stated are for Group mission from Thorney Island as Squadron records only detail T/U 06:12 hrs and T/D 12:20 hrs from Metfield. Six Squadron aircraft, low on fuel, had to land at Manston.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Harold W. Long
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)  LH-?  42-7903
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
Capt Stanley Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell Spare
Lt Lamb (56th FG)

351st: Major Christian. T/U 08:26 hrs. T/D 10:24 hrs. Total Flight Time 1:58 hrs. The Squadron observed Fw190s all over the sky attacking the bombers over Paris. 1st Lt. Kinkade led his flight to attack several 190s above and behind the bombers. He closed to 400 yards on one and fired four short bursts, before the 190 rolled out of sight. His wing man, 2nd Lt. Herbert K. Field also fired but observed no strikes. He reported being fired on by a 190 on his tail.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
Lt Adrianse (56th FG)
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Jack R. Walsh (Flt Ldr) R41
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell  R42
1st Lt William R. Burkett  R45
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris  R46

The Squadron was scattered and low on fuel as they returned. Four aircraft landed at Woodchurch and four at RAF Lewes. One of them, 2nd Lt Lloyd A Thornell (Roughman 42 flying a/c 42-8372) ran out of fuel completely and had to belly-land there.

352nd: Lt Col Morris. T/U Thorney Island 08:36 T/D Metfield 10:23. Total Flight Time 1: 57 hrs. The lead flight dived to attack an Fw190 and each member was drawn off by further enemy aircraft. Lt. Col. Morris was presumed shot down and listed as missing in action. Lt. Junttila leading the second flight reported seeing a P-47, believed to be Lt Col Morris, firing at an Fw190. The Fw190 appeared to be hit and out of control, smoking badly. Major Duncan of the lead flight claimed an Fw190 damaged and Lt. Corrigan of the second flight claimed and Me109 probably destroyed. Corrigan’s victory, however, was not confirmed and Lt. Col. Morris and Major Duncan were awarded an Fw190 damaged. The Squadron lost close formation and returned to station singly and in pairs (three down at Manston 10:10 hrs, two down at Woodchurch 10:10 hrs, one down at Lewes, one down at Ashford 10:10 hrs). F/O Perry (Wakeford 56) was heard asking for emergency homing which was given to him. He was recorded as not yet returned, but actually landed at Chailey at approximately 10:00 hrs due to gasoline shortage. F/O Perry telephoned RAF Gatwick at 10:30 hrs requesting his home base be notified of landing. Returning to home base at 20:45 hrs at which time this base had not been notified of his landing at Chailey.

Lt   Col Joseph   A. Morris (Gp Ldr) W19 42-7990
1st   Lt Herman Herfurth
Major Glenn   E. Duncan
F/O Earl   A. Perry  W56
1st   Lt Wilbert   H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
2nd   Lt Donald   J. Corrigan
1st   Lt Edward   M. Fogarty
2nd   Lt Leroy   W. Ista
Major William   B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd   Lt William   J. Jordan
1st   Lt Thomas   J. Forkin
2nd   Lt Leslie   P. Cles
Capt Raynor   E. Robertson
2nd   Lt Robert   T. Murden
Lt Day (56th FG)

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Mission#4 and #5 August 15, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Date: Aug 15, 43

Dispatched: 40 Aborts: 0

Mission: Diversion Sweep Knocke/Gravelines Field Order: 35/103

Time Up/Down: 07.42 hrs 09.36 hrs Leader: Lt Col Morris

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group made landfall 5 miles east of Knocke at 08:30 hrs, 25000 ft. Made a sweep covering Knocke, Eccloo, Menin, Ypres and out east of Gravelines on time at 24,000ft.Encountered heavy flak at Mardyck and east of Calais. Group led by Lt Col. Morris with Lts Herfurth and Rose of Group HQ participating.

350th: Lt Col Morris with Sqdn as Group lead, Major Rimerman Sqdn lead. T/U 07:42 hrs. T/D 09:25 hrs. Total flight time 1:43 hrs. All returned. L/F made north of Knocke at 25000ft. Flak was encountered over Dunkerque, inaccurate, low and off to the side. No e/a encountered, no balloon barrages, no shipping.

Lt Col Joseph Morris (Gp Ldr)
1st Lt John B. Rose
1st Lt Robert L. Newman
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Harold W. Long
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Irvin E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Price
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart

 

351st: Major Christian. T/U 07:46 hrs. T/D 09:30 hrs. Total flight time 1.44 hrs. Destination: Knocke, Rouliers, Ypres, Gravelines.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
1st Lt Jack R. Walsh (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Francis N. King
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
1st Lt Frank N. Emory

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 07:43. T/D 09:24. Total flight time 1:41 hrs. Destination: Eccloo, Walcheren Island, Raulers, Gravelines.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert T. Murden
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
1st Lt Herman Herfurth (Assumed)
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong

Mission#2

Date: Aug 15, 43

Dispatched: 44 Aborts: 0

Mission: Abortive Escort to Brussels Field Order: 36/104

Time Up/Down: 19.23 hrs 20.53 hrs Leader: Lt Col Morris

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

Group left 6 minutes late due to last minute changes in mission. Group left coast at Aldeburgh at 15,000ft, entered enemy coast at Mardyck, 25,000 ft and exited 5 miles east of Calais and accompanied bombers to just east of Clacton on Sea. Lt Col Morris led Group with Major Duncan and Lts Rose and Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participating.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 19:23 hrs. T/D 20:54 hrs. Total flight time 1:31 hrs. All returned. Sweep north and West of Ostend to Dunkerque. No penetration into enemy territory. Flak over Dunkerque, light intensity with black color burst, at height of between 20000 and 25000ft. No e/a encountered and no enemy shipping.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Harold W. Long
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
Capt Stanley Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John B. Rose
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Joseph F. Furness

 

351st: Lt Col Morris. T/U 19:25 hrs. T/D 20:30 hrs. Total flight time 1:05 hrs. Destination: Dunkerque, St Omes, Calais.

Lt Col Joseph A. Morris (Gp & Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite
Major Glenn E. Duncan
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
1st Lt George N. Ahles
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt George F. Perpente

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 19:27 hrs. T/D 20:44 hrs. Total flight time 1:17 hrs.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
F/O Earl A. Perry
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
F/O Maurice Morrison
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
F/O Glenn C. Callans
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
2nd Lt William J. Jordan
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Leslie P. Cles
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame

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Mission#3 August 14, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Date: Aug 14, 43

Dispatched: 40 Aborts: 0

Mission: Practice Escort  Field Order: 34/102

Time Up/Down: 16.40 hrs 18.30 hrs Leader: Lt Col Morris

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

This was the first mission flown as an independent Group. Reached Lowestoft at 15000 ft, south of Egmond at 26000 ft turned over the Hague and came out at Noordwaal. Found bombers 25 miles west of coast and escorted them off Orfordness. Lt Col. Morris led Group and Major Duncan and Lt. Rose of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 16:44 hrs. T/D 18:17 hrs. Total flight time 1:33 hrs. All returned. No e/a were seen; no shipping. Flak over the Hague at 26000ft. L/F made between Ijmuiden and Noordwijerhout.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry
2nd Lt William J. Price
Capt Stanley Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
2nd Lt Walter L. Angelo
1st Lt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt John Sullivan
2nd Lt Roland N. McKean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

351st: Major Christian. T/U 16:43 hrs. T/D 18:22 hrs. Total flight time 1:39 hrs.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt William J. Maguire
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
2nd Lt Jack Terzian

352nd: Major Duncan. T/U 16:43 hrs. T/D 18:23 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs. Destination: Egmond, Alkmar, Hague. Major Duncan’s flight position is assumed on the basis that the third flight had only three members listed in 352nd records.

Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Jordan
2nd Lt Leslie P. Cles
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
F/O Maurice Morrison
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan

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Mission#2 August 12, 1943

Date: Aug 12, 43

Dispatched: 32 Aborts: 5

Mission: Sweep Westhhoofd – Eccloo – Ostend area Field Order: 32/99

Time Up/Down: 10.42 hrs 12.15 hrs Leader: Major Tukey (56th FG)

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

The Group crossed the enemy coast at Westhoofd at 27,500ft at 11:18 hours. It then penetrated to Eccloo and came out at Ostend 27,000 at 11:32 hours. No E/A were seen. Weather: 2-3/10ths cumulus at 5000 ft increasing to 4-4/10ths inland. Visibility: Excellent. Light non-persistent contrails at 29,000ft. A small amount of heavy flak accurate for altitude but behind was encountered over Ostend. Radio interference was moderate at 8,000ft over England, increasing to very intense at altitude over enemy coast rendering reception from controller nearly impossible. Lt. Col. Morris and Maj. Duncan from Group HQ participated.  The 351st FS did not participate. I do not know why Tukey led the mission instead of Morris.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 10:42 hrs. T/D 12:05 hrs. Total flight time 1:23 hrs.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Robert L. Newman
2nd Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Irving E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Price
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
Capt Stanley Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
2nd Lt Walter L. Angelo

352nd: Major Bailey. Five a/c aborted – two R/T trouble, one oxygen supply, one engine and one escort. Pilots aborting were: Lts Durlin, Dansky, Gonnam, Kipfer and Streit. T/U 10:44 hrs. T/D 12:09 hrs. Total flight time 1:25 hrs.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla
1st Lt Charles V. Kipfer
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam
1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin
F/O Glenn C. Callans (Spare)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman (Spare)

There is an alternative flight plan available for the Squadron for this mission. The high abort rate undoubtedly caused problems and possibly some or all of the aborting pilots were not given credit for the mission. The alternative flight plan is as follows:

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Charles V. Kipfer
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty
1st Lt William F. Streit
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin
F/O Glenn C. Callans (Spare)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman (Spare)

A second sweep was prepared that evening but aborted (FO 33/100). The 350th FS records show that twelve aircraft were dispatched (Time up 14:47 Time down 17:31 for a 2:44 hour flight in total). No flight plan is available and the records states the mission was recalled.

The 352nd also flew (Time up 16:44 Time down 17:21 for a 37 minute flight in total). This mission was also recalled before being accomplished. The flight plan was as follows:

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Leslie P. Cles
F/O Maurice Morrison
1st Lt Charles V. Kipfer
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin
2nd Lt Donald C. Corrigan
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt James N. Poindexter (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William F. Streit
2nd Lt William J. Jordan
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista

Group Aborts/Early Returns:

42-8376 ABT radio SX-Q
42-7999 ABT radio [unclear s/n] SX-?
42-8383 ABT engine trouble SX-?
42-8390 ABT engine trouble SX-?
42-8374 ERTN escort SX-D

 

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Mission#1 August 9, 1943 – 353rd Fighter Group

Today, on the sixty-ninth anniversary of the first operational mission for all three squadrons of the Group, I am embarking on an extended experiment. One of my aims behind this blog is to provide a readily accessible source of chronological information on the 353rd’s activities. To this end, I plan to sequentially post details on all the missions they flew during World War II and also note any other significant events. The 353rd were operational for some twenty-one months and in that time flew 450 missions. So you can see this is going to be quite some task and should take me roughly the same amount of time.

I do not at this stage know if my plan will work out. I have a busy few months coming up and I imagine that keeping up with their operational schedule will be pretty difficult at times (especially as the pace of operations increases around D-Day) – so be patient if I am a little sluggish posting. I’m also concerned that it might hinder me writing other differently themed posts so do not be surprised if I veer off course for a bit of variety at times. The other worry is that keeping up with operations will mean 450 email notifications to those following the blog. I welcome feedback, so if this does become too tiresome let me know and I’ll come up with a plan B.

The basic format will be along the lines set out below. I will include the number of aircraft on the mission, the mission purpose, the field order number, time up and time down, mission leader, target, claims (destroyed, probable and damaged) in the air and on the ground and finally any losses or damage suffered by the Group. I will then detail specific Squadron information and flight plans. One thing I’m not planning on doing is including combat reports/accounts – my eyesight is too precious and my typing skill too poor to make it practical. Hopefully, it will not be all dry statistics and as I come across photos or points of interest I will include them. My overall idea is to learn something more about the history of the 353rd and in doing so create a research resource for everyone. I welcome contributions from you either directly or via the comments function at the bottom of the posts – your piece of information might just be the one needed to make all the others make sense. The level of success of this experiment depends on you out there as much as me.

So without further ado, here is the 353rd’s first mission flown August 9, 1943 as separate Squadrons with the 4th, 56th and 78th Fighter Groups…

Date: Aug 9, 1943

Dispatched: 48  Abort: 5  Mission: Sweep         Field Order: 28/95

Time Up/Down: __ hrs __ hrs    Leader: No overall   Target: Various

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00

Lost/Damaged: 00-00

350th: 16 a/c from Halesworth, swept Holland as a Squadron with 56th FG. Col Zemke led. Flight plan unknown (can anyone help?).

351st: 16 a/c from Debden, swept Le Touquet/Dunkirk as a Squadron with 4th FG. Major Christian led Squadron. T/U 15.55 hrs T/D 17.35 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs.

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt George N. Ahles
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
1st Lt William R. Burkett
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite

352nd: 16 a/c from Duxford, swept Abbeville as a Squadron with 78th FG. Major Duncan led Squadron. T/U 16.40 hrs T/D 18.20 hrs. Total flight time 1:40 hrs.

Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Victor L. Vogel
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
1st Lt Charles V. Kipfer
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin
1st Lt William F. Streit

Group Aborts/Early Returns:

42-22462 ERTN oxygen leak SX-P
42-8390 ERTN oxygen leak SX-?
42-7904 ERTN oxygen leak SX-F
42-7910 ERTN turbo light malfunction SX-J
42-22458 ERTN oxygen leak SX-L

 

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Capt Horace Q. Waggoner, 352nd Fighter Squadron and Oral History

Memory is a funny thing – it’s not just a matter of recounting stories that have happened to us in the past. Memories are also very much about how we situate ourselves in the present. The stories we tell about ourselves and others now are a crucial aspect of the personality and identity we choose to present to the world. For this reason academic historians, as a rule, avoid using personal accounts from wartime servicemen written long after the event. They view them as too anecdotal to be useful and really more concerned with the present of the author rather than their past. In their eyes the value of a source often increases the closer it gets to being written at the time of the events being investigated. This is a shame because there is certainly some useful information in later personal accounts and it’s worth doing the work to find important stories. Perhaps it’s because there are so many contemporary sources available for the modern period – I don’t think Medievalists are so choosy!

Horace Q. Waggoner from Waggoner, Illinois (the town carries his family name) was an early replacement pilot to the 353rd. He flew his first operational mission as a member of the 352nd Fighter Squadron March 23, 1944 and went on to fly two tours of duty. He flew his last operational mission on April 19, 1945. After the war he stayed in the service and completed a further two tours of duty in Korea and also served in Vietnam. Retiring in 1974 he studied for his BA and MA degrees in History at Sangamon State University (now part of the University of Illinois) and was then employed in their oral history department. This was a happy occurrence for 353rd Fighter Group history because as part of his work there he recorded (and then arranged the transcription of) the 1983 Group Reunion. He also produced a taped interview and transcription of his own wartime experiences with the 352nd Fighter Squadron and was planning a full group history for which he had carried out extensive surveys and interviews of surviving members. Sadly, however, he died March 18, 1987 at the relatively young age of 62 leaving the project uncompleted.

Capt. Horace Q. Waggoner with Lt. Arthur C. Cundy in front of Cundy’s “Alabama Rammer Jammer.” Cundy was lost heading out on a mission on March 11, 1945.

Left to Right S/Sgt Edgar S. Welborn (Waggoner’s Crew Chief), Capt Waggoner, Lt Cundy and Sgt Schillinger.

If ever there was a significant contribution to the history of the group – Wag’s oral histories have to be it. Both the 1983 Memoir and his own personal Memoir are available on the internet and I can heartily recommend you read them for a fascinating insight into Group history and the personal experiences of one of the key members of the 352nd Fighter Squadron. Pilots who make an appearance in the 1983 recording are: Roy Anderson, Charles Briggs, Gordon Burlingame, Bill Cabanne, Lloyd Hunt, Bill Jordan, Charles Kipfer, Michael Martorella, Doug Reinhardt, Bill Streit and Horace Waggoner. There are also a number of ground personnel: James Cope, Hiram Spicer, Charles Wurtzler (352nd), Charles Graham, Joe Canipelli, Roy Seignemartin (350th) and Harman Wheeler (351st). Oral history has come a long way since the pioneering days of individuals such as Horace Waggoner. Back then it was very much about “recovery” – recording stories from people whose voice would otherwise be lost to history. This is still a large part of what oral history is about, but historians are also increasingly interested in the process and production of identity that I mentioned at the start of this article.

You should, of course, read both transcripts with a critical eye. An example from the 1983 Memoir demonstrates the dangers of accepting the stories verbatim. On page 25 Bill Jordan, another two tour veteran of the 352nd, recounts an event of which he actually has no recollection. Doug Reinhardt has told Jordan that he remembers him returning to Raydon from a mission and shooting a .45 calibre pistol over the head of an errant armourer. Doc Cope is on hand to explain why Jordan might not remember – he suggests he’s blocking out difficult memories. Alternatively, Reinhardt might be remembering the incident incorrectly. To further complicate things, Sgt Donald W. Knowlton was Jordan’s armourer and not Hogan. All this goes to show that memory can be unreliable and it is now probably impossible to get to the truth of the incident. Despite this the transcripts can be read and enjoyed as a unique insight into Group and Squadron life and Wag can be applauded for his efforts to record history now nearly 30 years ago.

This article also raises the problem of identities for Waggoner’s aircraft. It is quite an involved case, but hopefully I can explain the progression clearly. Gordon Burlingame was the pilot assigned to SX-M (P-47D-15-RE a/c 42-75875). He named his aircraft “Stinky Poo” (there was definitely an original and “2nd” and maybe also a “3rd”) in sympathy for his wife back home who was dealing with their first baby. From his second aircraft onward he also had a “Davy Don” college mascot painted on the engine cowl.

Burlingame’s first SX-M P-47D-2-RA (a/c 42-22482) “Stinky Poo.” This picture was taken after Lt. Robert P. Geurtz executed a one wheel landing at Metfield on October 14, 1943 following damage inflicted by an Me109.

Burlingame completed his first tour on April 23, 1944 and returned to the United States on leave. Waggoner joined the Squadron in March and flew a variety of aircraft until SX-M (a/c 42-75875) became his regular aircraft from April 24 onward. He named the aircraft “Miss Illini” as an obvious play on words – it has also been suggested on the internet that this might be related to the University of Illinois sports team name, but I cannot verify this. Waggoner flew this aircraft until sometime

around mid June when he received a new Thunderbolt. The original SX-M was re-coded to SX-M and became the regular aircraft of Lt. Donald L. Barber who named it “Gloria Ann” (I can confirm a/c 42-75875 was SX-M because Lt William McGarry had a recorded accident in it on August 13, 1944).

Waggoner’s new P-47 was a D-25-RE (a/c 42-26661) that was coded SX-M and also named “Miss Illini.” There is a picture of the aircraft and name artwork on page 204 of Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry. This aircraft had a chequered career with the squadron. Waggoner finished his first tour at the end of July. SX-M then passed briefly to Lt. James M. Tuttle and I have some pictures of him with the aircraft and the interesting “Florida Schools Amatilla” artwork on the left hand side of the aircraft. I have no idea what this actually was, but it is likely that it was some kind of war bond sponsorship of the aircraft.

Tuttle was lost flying another aircraft (SX-J) when he flew through the bomb blast caused by a fellow pilot on August 12, 1944. He managed to successfully evade and you can read his evasion report HERE. So when Gordon Burlingame returned from leave and started flying operations again on August 28 Waggoner and Tuttle’s old SX-M D-25-RE became his aircraft. He quickly had the “Davy Don” that you can see on page 204 of Jonah’s Feet Are Dry painted on to make it his distinctive aircraft. The Group converted to Mustangs in October and SX-M was transferred out of the Group. It was lost March 14, 1945 to flak and its pilot Lt. William A. Cunningham became a POW. You can read more of 42-26661’s subsequent history with the 406th Fighter Group HERE. Burlingame’s new P-51D-10-NA (a/c 44-14620) was coded SX-M and named “Davy Don Chariot.”

Waggoner returned to the Squadron and began his second tour of duty on

October 16, 1944. SX-M was no longer available so he received a new P-51D-15-NA SX-X (a/c 44-14802) that he christened “Miss Illini III.” There is a nice picture of this aircraft on page 249 of Jonah’s Feet Are Dry. There are references to a later P-51 “Miss Illini III,” but I cannot confirm the details at this stage.

If you have enjoyed the photos of SX-M throughout this post, take a second to note the “B Flight” team that kept Burlingame, Waggoner and Tuttle in the air throughout their tours. Surely the hard work of Crew Chief S/Sgt Otto J. Stopen, Assistant Crew Chief Charles B. Perkins and Armourer Sgt Joseph S. Mortorana also deserves recognition. They kept SX-M flying and thus played a vital role in ensuring the Squadron and Group could perform the missions they were assigned to carry out…

The well known photo of Burlingame’s SX-M (a/c 44-14620) “Davy Don Chariot” rarely has everyone identified. Left to right are Asst Crew Chief Charles B. Perkins, Capt. Gordon S. Burlingame, Armorer Sgt Joseph S. Mortorana and Crew Chief S/Sgt Otto J. Stopen.

Postscript: August 7, 2012

It occurred to me after posting that I was selling Stopen, Perkins and Mortorana short. They did, of course, continue to crew SX-M after Burlingame finished his second tour on December 11, 1944. Lt. John E. Davenport was assigned to the Squadron on October 28 and flew his first mission on November 6, 1944. After Burlingame finished, SX-M (a/c 44-14620) was assigned to Davenport who flew it operationally for the first time on December 18. He rechristened the aircraft “Lucky Leaky.” I don’t have any photos of SX-M in this guise, but do have a couple of photos of Davenport’s second aircraft P51C-5-NT (a/c 42-103363) named “Lucky Leaky II.”  That, I believe, completes the list of the pilots Stopen, Perkins and Mortorana crewed for.

Lt. John E. Davenport’s “Lucky Leaky II” (a/c 42-103363). It came to grief May 2, 1945 after its pilot Lt. Leroy O. Pletz switched fuel tanks and the engine cut.

The other side of the very broken “Lucky Leaky.”

Postscript: August 10, 2012

The 353rd have another connection with the 406th Fighter Group (the recipients of Waggoner’s/Tuttle’s and Burlingame’s SX-M D-25). Seventeen pilots from the 513th Fighter Squadron were stationed at Raydon from September 18 to 23, 1944 to assist in the supression of flak sites during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden.

Pilots of the 513th FS, 406th FG, 9th AF at Raydon, September 1944. The names are not known to me.

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