Mission#15 August 31, 1943 and the loss of Lts. Robert T. Murden and Lester L. Dansky – 352nd Fighter Squadron.

Date: Aug 31, 43

Dispatched: 48 Aborts: 0

Mission: Withdrawal Support to 1st TF 120 B-17s Field Order: 36/114

Time Up/Down: 17.27 hrs 19.21 hrs Leader: Lt Col McCollom Target: Paris

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

Mission was general support to 80 B-17s bombing Amiens Glisy Airdrome [according to Group HQ report] Group left Metfield at 14.16 hrs and flew down to Thorney Island and flew the mission from there. The Group went in at Le Tréport, 23,000 ft, picked up the bombers near the target. The Group were at 28,000 ft. No E/A seen, escorted the bombers to 10 miles NW of Berck Sur Mer and came out at 18.45 hrs at 28,000 ft. Mid way between Doulens and Amiens at 18:35 hrs at 28,000 ft two P-47s collided in mid-air at 29,000 ft. One chute was seen to open, other pilot seen to open canopy and climb out of his ship but no chute was observed. Overcast in this vicinity rendered further observation impossible. Major McCollom led the Group with Major Duncan and Lt. Rose participating from Group HQ. Lts. Dansky and Murden of 352nd Fighter Squadron missing in action – both believed bailed out over France.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 17:40 hrs. T/D 19:18 hrs. Total flight time 1:38 hrs.  Left Thorney Island at 17:40 and entered French Coast at about 24,000 ft. R/V with bombers. No e/a seen. Flak heavy at Amiens.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Tom Lorance
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
Capt Irvin E. Venell (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William J. Price
1st Lt Charles W. Dinse
2nd Lt Dwight A. Fry
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt John B. Rose
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
2nd Lt Walter L. Angelo
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Charles O. Durant
2nd Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Robert L. Newman
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson (spare)
1st Lt John Sullivan (spare)

351st: Major Christian. T/U 17:27 hrs. T/D 19:21 hrs. Total flight time 1:54 hrs. Route: Letreport, Amiens, Glesy A/D, Le Touquet

Major Shannon Christian (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
Capt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump
1st Lt Jack R. Walsh (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
1st Lt Vic L. Byers
2nd Lt Jack Terzian
Capt Walter C. Beckham (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Orville A. Kinkade
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
1st Lt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
1st Lt David C. Kenney
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
2nd Lt John G. Treitz (assumed spare)

352nd: Lt Col McCollom. T/U 17:30 hrs. T/D 19:15 hrs. Total flight time 1:45 hrs. Up/Down Thorney Island. Destination: Amiens, Glesy. Flight listing is as per Squadron records.

Major William B. Bailey (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert T. Murden
Capt Charles J. Hoey
2nd Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
2nd Lt Leslie P. Cles
2nd Lt Lester L. Dansky
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
F/O Maurice Morrison
1st Lt Robert C. Durlin (Flt Ldr)

In an otherwise uneventful trip the Squadron experienced a tragic accident. On their way out at 18.35 hrs the Squadron were 10–15 miles north of Amiens at 29–30000 ft. Suddenly 2nd Lt. Lester L. Dansky (flying P-47D-2-RE a/c 42-7999) collided with the aircraft flown by 2nd Lt. Robert T Murden (P-47D-2-RE
42-8383). The collision tore the tail from Lt Murden’s aircraft off at the intercooler doors and he rapidly spiralled out of control. Lt Dansky’s aircraft cowling, right wing and propeller were badly damaged as a result of the collision. Lt. Ista followed the tailless plane down in a flat spin and observed it burning with a flame twice as long as the plane. Lt Murden was seen to bail out and the Squadron were later notified by his sister that he had become a prisoner of war. Lt Murden from Louisville, Kentucky had only joined the Squadron as an early replacement July 29, 1943 and so spent just over a month with the Squadron before he became a POW. He was held at Stalag 7A Moosburg Bavaria 48-12 (Work Camps 3324-46 Krumbachstrasse 48011, Work Camp 3368 Munich 48-11) for the duration of the war and liberated in 1945.

Twenty seven year old Lt Dansky, an original 352nd pilot from Wilmot, South Dakota, was less fortunate – he was also seen to bail out but his parachute did not open and sadly he did not survive the tragic accident. He is buried in the Mount Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota and his family paid tribute to the young flyer with a picture of a Thunderbolt on his headstone. There are also some further details and personal biographical information about Lt. Dansky available HERE.

As ever, I welcome contributions from anyone with an interest or further information on Lts. Dansky and Murden or the tragic circumstances of their loss.

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