Mission#46 November 25, 1943 – The Loss of Lt. Col. Loren G. McCollom and the Group’s First Dive Bombing Mission

Date: Nov 25, 43

Dispatched: 52 Aborts: 0 Mission: Dive bombing Field Order: 190

Time Up/Down 10:24 hrs 12:08 hrs  Leader: Lt Col. McCollom

Target: St Omer/Ft Rouge Airfield

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 01-06

16 aircraft from the 351st carried a 500 lb bomb fused 1/10 second nose, 1/100 second tail [first fighter bomber mission for the Group]. 350th Squadron and 352nd Squadron acted as close cover [with the 78th as high cover]. R/V with the 78th A & B Group was made at Cape Gris New at 11:02 hrs. The 351st Squadron with bombs were at 15,000ft, 350th Squadron at 17,000ft and the 352nd Squadron at 20,000ft. Course was flown to IP approximately 5 miles south of the target. After a left turn the bomb run was made from 14,000ft. Bombs released from 8 to 10,000ft. Most bombing believed to be short of the target and south of the airdrome, but 3 hits seen on the south dispersal. Out enemy coast at Cape Gris Nez, 11:17 hrs 12,000ft. Just prior to reaching the IP Lt Col. McCollom’s A/C received a direct hit by flak in the belly of the A/C. The skin of the belly was torn away from the cowling to the tail. A/C made two complete turns to the right and chute was seen to open approximately four miles east of Lumbres. 14 A/C dropped bombs and one jettisoned in Channel. No E/A seen. Flak intense from enemy coast to the target, accurate for altitude and direction. 6 ships of the bombing squadron suffered flak damage. Weather: Clear en route to Channel where 6/10 strata cumulus breaking to 2/10 over the Coast and target area. Extensive stratocumulus decks seen to north and south of the target. 2/10 altocumulus at 13,000ft. Visibility good.

350th: Major Rimerman. T/U 10:24 hrs. T/D 12:07 hrs. Total flight time 1:43 hrs. Squadron entered enemy coast at 17,500ft at Cape Gris Nez. Swept south of target. At IP one plane was hit by flak, parachute seen to open. Flak heavy and accurate as to height and lead. No e/a seen. Weather: low cloud at 7 to 10,000ft 7/10. Visibility: Horizontal unlimited.

Major Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Joseph F. Furness
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff
1st Lt Tom Lorance
Capt Wilford F. Hurst (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt William F. Tanner
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
2nd Lt Richard A. Stearns
Capt Stanley R. Pidduck (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Walter L. Angelo
1st Lt John L. Devane
1st Lt John Zolner
1st Lt John Sullivan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Chauncey Rowan
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt William W. Odom
Capt John B. Rose (Spotter)

351st: Lt Col McCollom.  T/U 10:16 hrs. T/D 12:01 hrs. Total flight time 1:45 hrs. Route: In N of Cape Gris Nez, south of St Omer, out at Blanc Nez.

Lt Col Loren G. McCollom (Sqdn & Gp Ldr) YJ-S 42-8395
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field
1st Lt Frank N. Emory
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt John G. Treitz
1st Lt David C. Kenney
1st Lt George N. Ahles
Major Glenn E. Duncan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton
Capt Charles L. Stafford
2nd Lt George F. Perpente
1st Lt William J. Maguire (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley
1st Lt Francis N. King
2nd Lt Irving Toppel
2nd Lt William T. Thistlethwaite (Spotter)

1st Lt. Frank N. Emory was flying second element in Lt. Col. McCollom’s flight:

I was flying Roughman White three, in Lt. Col. McCollom’s flight. As we neared our I.P., we closed formation and throttled back to slow up. As we came into position for the attack, Lt. Col. McCollom nodded his head to me and started to turn onto the target. Heavy flack [sic] was bursting close around us, and one evidently hit the Colonel’s plane in the engine.

There was a large black and orange flash, and most of the fuselage skin was either burnt off or blown away. The forward two-thirds of the fuselage was burning fiercely. The Colonel reversed his roll, turning into me, and rolling on his back. I could see into the lower part of the cockpit thru the open sides of the airplane. The canopy had turned a dirty orange color so that I could not see what condition the Colonel was in.

I barely managed to get out of his way as he rolled on his back. I did not see his canopy open, and assumed he had been killed. His bomb was still intact and in normal position.

I turned back onto the target as soon as I could, so did not see him or the airplane after it passed behind me.

1st Lt William J Maguire was able to confirm that the Colonel managed to bail out of his stricken aircraft:

I was leading Roughman Yellow flight as we neared the target, called my flight close in and put my attention on the lead flight.

The lead flight, led by Lt. Col. McCollom, pulled up for its dive on to the target. As the flight pulled up there was a blinding flash in the middle of the flight and the Colonel’s plane pulled up and rolled to the right out of his flight in flames. The plane did a two turn spin and then I saw a chute open behind and to the left of the ship.

Chute looked OK and looked like it was going to land just outside the town of Lumbres south of the target.

All the members of my flight saw the Colonel’s chute open, Lt. Stanley #2, Lt. King #3, and Lt. Toppel #4.

Though badly burnt, Lt. Col. McCollom survived to become a POW. You can read more about his time in Stalag Luft I HERE His USAF biography is also available HERE

352nd: Capt. Raynor E. Robertson. T/U 10:27 hrs. T/D 12:08 hrs. Total flight time 1:41 hrs. [Mission report missing]

Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Sqdn Ldr)
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison
1st Lt James N. Poindexter
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff
1st Lt Edward M. Fogarty (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Leroy W. Ista
1st Lt Leslie P. Cles
2nd Lt William S. Marchant
1st Lt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt William J. Jordan
1st Lt Robert A. Newman
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame
1st Lt Charles W. Kipfer
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong (Spare)

Group Losses/Battle Damaged:

42-74671 BD Cat   A YJ-T “Diseron”
42-22483 BD Cat   A YJ-G “Rabbit”
42-8002 BD Cat   A YJ-E “Sis”
42-8402 BD Cat   AC YJ-F “Devil’s   Thumb”
42-8401 BD Cat   A YJ-R “Dottie”
42-8395 MIA YJ-S “Cookie”
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4 Comments

Filed under Missions

4 responses to “Mission#46 November 25, 1943 – The Loss of Lt. Col. Loren G. McCollom and the Group’s First Dive Bombing Mission

  1. Patricia McCollom Bauchman

    In 2008 I received a contact from Hugues Chevalier concerning his book “Crashs sur le Pas-de-Calais 1940-1945.” One of the crashes that he investigated was that of Lt. Col. Loren McCollom, my father. He advised me that the day of the crash, a new flak facility became operational in the St.-Omer area and that the Army Air Corps Intelligence was not even aware of it. So it was a day of “firsts” — the first fighter bomber mission for the P-47, the first day of operations for the new flak facility in the Saint-Omer area, and then Dad was their first “success.” In 2004Hugues Chevalier located the site of the crash and recovered parts of the plane. He sent me a small piece (Shannon Christian’s plane “Cookie.”)

    • Thanks for this further information Patty. If anyone out there has further details of the St. Omer flak battery or the excavation of Col. McCollom’s aircraft (or indeed any further info) it would be good to hear from you.
      The 353 were certainly at the cutting edge here – nobody had worked out how to dive bomb with the Thunderbolt up to this point. This, and other missions to come, were extremely important to the development of ground attack techniques prior to the invasion.

      • Patricia McCollom Bauchman

        I have heard from Buzz Took, historian for the 56th FG, who has identified the officer in the photo with my Dad as Col. Hub Zemke. He says the photo was probably taken at Halesworth before Dad left the 56th FG to replace Lt. Col. Morris at the 353rd FG!

      • Thanks for this – a puzzle solved! Zemke makes sense and I can see the facial resemblance now it’s been linked to him. He (Zemke) does look a lot older than I expected though (he would have been around 29). It must be the photo quality, the light or plenty of Bryl cream (or the US equivalent) that is making his hair look grey – hence my thinking it had to be a ‘bigger wheel.’

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