Mission#38 October 22, 1943 – Target: Cambrai – The Loss of Lts. Walter B. Stone and Alan W. Lowe, 350th Fighter Squadron

Date: Oct 22, 43

Dispatched: 51 Aborts: 5

Mission: Supplementary top cover to B-26s  Field Order: 165

Time Up/Down: 15:19 hrs 16:59 hrs Leader: Lt Col. McCollom

Target: Cambrai

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

Group made landfall in vicinity of Dunkirk at 15:55 hrs at 22,000ft. After flying thru solid wall of Cirrus clouds up to 30,000ft Group leader turned back, possibly crossing out enemy coast in the Boulogne area. One pilot went to 36,000ft before breaking out of the overcast. Weather: thin alto stratus base 16,000ft encountered opposite Manston. Dense cirrus merging into altostratus, no appreciable breaks, top of cirrus 36,000ft. Visibility excellent below cloud, less than 100 yeards in cloud. Intervals of extreme turbulence encountered up to 25,000ft. Lts. Lowe and Stone 350th MIA. Capt. Rose and Lt. Herfurth Gp HQ participated. Lt. Herfurth returned due to oxygen trouble.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 15:30 hrs. T/D 17:00 hrs. Total flight time 1:30 hrs. Squadron enterred enemy coast at Dunkirk, swept inland for five minutes, made right orbit and left coast. Group recalled by controller because of weather. Lt. Lowe, flying number 2 position in white flight was seen to spin out of left turn made by flight after turn was begun. Left turn made by flight after [a] right turn was begun. Left turn made to avoid aircraft on right. Capt. Newhart was last person to see Lt. Lowe as he spun out of turn. Lt. Stone, number 4 man of white flight, had to leave formation when left turn was made and flight went on instruments. He was last heard over the radio to call reporting that he had lost his flight. Major Rimerman ordered him to go out on his own. Lt. Stone failed to return from mission. Lt. Zolner’s ship sustained slight flak damage in wing and fuselage.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Alan W. Lowe MIA LH-D 42-8683
Capt John B. Rose
2nd Lt Walter B. Stone MIA LH-L* 42-7989
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Tom Lorance
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt William W. Odom
2nd Lt Joseph Rosenberg
1st Lt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt John L. Devane
2nd Lt John Zolner LH-Z 42-8480

*The source for this aircraft lettering is that Lt. Price was listed in the control Tower Log as flying LH-L on September 5, 1943. This can be cross referenced with the list contained in the accident report for that day. I’m not 100% convinced the CT log is accurate in this instance however.

It was a tragic day for the Squadron losing two recent replacement pilots. About 10 miles east of St. Omer, Capt. John B. Rose’s wing man, 2nd Lt Walter Buster Stone got into difficulties as Capt Rose reported:

On a true course of 183 degrees we entered a cirrus overcast at 15:43 at about 16,000 feet. At this time Lt. Stone was still on my wing after we had entered the overcast. I lost sight of Lt. Stone because of concentrating on flying the flight leaders wing.

The Squadron climbed to an altitude of about 27,000 feet when a 180 degree port turn was made, the Group Commander having ordered the Group to return home. I believe that Lt. Stone, who had been lagging most of the way, lost contact with the flight shortly before the turn was made.

Capt. Rose also had a lucky escape when his aircraft spun and he returned home alone. Lt. Stone was killed when his aircraft crashed and he is remembered on the tablets of the missing in the Ardennes American Military Cemetery. You can search for further details HERE.

About ten years ago I received a letter from France informing me that the crash site had been located in Tournehem Forest to the west of St. Omer and that engine and other parts of the aircraft recovered. I’m not totally convinced it was Lt. Stone’s aircraft as the letter mentioned black and yellow cowling sections being found which would not, given the date of the crash, have been in use at that time. A mystery that perhaps someone out there can shed some light on?

In Red flight that day, Capt Dewey Newhart’s wing man, 1st Lt Alan Ward Lowe, was also killed:

I was leading Red flight when the mission was recalled by the controller. My Squadron Commander made a turn to the left and a slight descend to return to base. After completing about 20 degrees of the turn, Lt. Lowe pulled up to the right and out of the formation in a vertical left bank, snapping to the right, and going down. He disappeared under the nose of my aircraft, and this was the last I saw of him. This happened between 26,000 and 27,000ft.

Lt. Lowe was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. You can see further details by searching at the American Battle Monuments Commission HERE.

351st   : Lt Col McCollom. T/U 15:19 hrs. T/D 16:55 hrs. Total flight time 1:36 hrs. Route: In at Dunkerque, orbited and returned to base bad weather.

Lt Col Loren G. McCollom (Sqdn & Gp Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
2nd Lt Lloyd A. Thornell
F/O Joseph E. Wood
Major Shannon Christian
1st Lt William J. Maguire
1st Lt William R. Burkett
2nd Lt Harold J. Morris
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter
Capt Orville A. Kinkade
F/O Cletus Peterson
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
1st Lt Vernon A. Leatherman
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Benedict E Kraft
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
2nd Lt Edgar J. Albert

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 15:04 hrs. T/D 16:51 hrs. Total flight time 1:47 hrs. Major Bailey led the Squadron, making landfall at Gravelines at 15:55 hrs. There was a complete overcast at the coast, but the Squadron continued on course trying to climb out of it. The Group leader recalled and Squadron returned to station.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Russell Moriarty
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan ERTN
2nd Lt Glenn C. Callans
2nd Lt William S. Marchant
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin
2nd Lt Clifford Armstrong
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista

Group Aborts/Early Returns/Battle Damage:

42-74618 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t release LH-?
42-8634 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t release LH-X
42-7910 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t draw fuel SX-J
42-22465 ERTN   belly tank wouldn’t draw fuel SX-Y
42-8664 ERTN   oxygen system failure SX-? Lt.   Herfurth
42-8480 BD Cat   AC LH-Z Lt.   Zolner
42-8683 MIA LH-D Lt.   Lowe
42-7989 MIA LH-L Lt.   Stone
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