January 14, 1945

Sunday

Wayne continues to ignore his journal . . . .

In England Verne continues to record the happenings of his day.

01-14-45

Duty crew today. Thank heaven, because the mission was very rough. We lost at least eight 17s. Lots of fighters. Destroyed the target – underground oil tanks. No mail today.

On 14 January, this Group encountered its first heavy enemy aircraft attack since September 1944. Approximately 100 FW-190’s and ME-109’s were encountered by our “C” squadron and none returned. Nine (9) A/C were lost in this encounter. This is the only enemy aircraft encounter for the month. This Group was given credit for destroying twenty-one (21) FW-190’s; destroying one (1) ME-109; destroying one (1) unidentified; probably destroying two (2) FW-190’s; and damaging four (4) FW-1909’s. 1 “C” squadron, on this mission, was the 568th Bombardment Squadron.

Another view of this disaster is provided by Roger Freeman in The Mighty Eighth:

On January 14th a force of over 600 heavies engage in the Eighth’s first large scale strategic mission since the Ardennes emergency. With a bright clear day promised the operational planners turned to their first priority, oil, sending part of the 2nd and all of the 3rd Division to refineries and storage sites in North West Germany. A strong force of Mustangs cossetted the bombers, anticipating the combination of a fine day and an oil target would bring the Luftwaffe to battle. The Mustangs, however, managed to deflect the majority of enemy fighters before they reached the bombers.

North-west of Berlin the escort for the head of the third division column surprised the whole Geschwader preparing for a “company front” assault. About a score of FW190s, with a few Me262s and Me109’s covering them, managed to get to the 95th Group, making single head on passes which brought them no successes. Fortress gunners climbed five of the enemy and those of the 100th Group claimed eight in a similar fruitless attack by the same, or similar, enemy force a little later. The third group of the Fortress wing, the 390th, was not so fortunate. Its low squadron, comprised of only eight aircraft, was lagging due to supercharger trouble in their leading aircraft. When the Luftwaffe appeared on the scene, this unit was flying some 2000 feet below and behind the rest of the group, presenting the obvious choice of target. The German fighters showed signs of inexperience, for they attacked mostly in pairs from the rear, without any apparent coordination and often opening fire at maximum range; it took them the best part of half an hour to dispatch the eight B-17s and one other from the main formation. The 390th gunners claimed a score and were allowed 14. For the Group it was their unluckiest day, the highest losses of a single mission and, incidentally, the last sustained assault by a Luftwaffe formation on a single 8th AF heavy bomber unit.2

The following are the B-17s lost during this attack on Derben:3

390 “A” Squadron
Command Pilot – Maj. McHenry

A/C 665 (2nd Lt. E. R. Hanneke) of the 571st Bombardment Squadron was lost at 25,000’ to E/A attack with approximately 100 FW 190s and ME 109s which hit lead and lows squadrons of 13 “C” group. The A/C was last seen in vicinity of 53° 00’N 12° 00’E at 1240 hours.4 When interrogated, none of the crews of the lead squadron recalled any particulars concerning loss of this A/C and its crew of nine men.

390 “C” Squadron — 568th Bombardment Squadron
Command Pilot – 1st Lt. J. W. Bone aboard A/C 480

A/C 677 (1st Lt. Gerald W. Johnston)5
A/C 673 (2nd Lt. J. W. Lewis)6
A/C 744 (1st Lt. W. R. Wiegand)7
A/C 8426 (1st Lt. A. J. Morman)8
A/C 337 (1st Lt. R. R. Richter)9
PFF 480 (1st Lt. D. A. Thumlert)10
A/C 956 (1st Lt. P. Goodrich)11
A/C 526 (1st Lt. L. F. Niebergall)12

All were lost during intense fighter attacks by approximately 100 FW-190s and ME-109s in the area between 53° 00’N 12° 00’E and 52° 20’N 12° 50’E about 1240 at an altitude of 25,000’. Due to the fact that the entire squadron was lost during these encounters, there are no particulars available on the attack and the subsequent loss of A/C. Approximately 14 chutes reported seen from 8 A/C lost in this squadron. No parachutes were noted for the other 60 crewmembers of the aircraft shot down.

Attacks at all angles by enemy fighters persisted for about 30 minutes. Friendly fighters gave good support, but were unable to keep off attacking enemy fighters.

Notes & Commentary

1 Operations Historical Report for January 1945. Headquarters 390th Bombardment Group (H), Office of the Operations Officer, 16 January 1945. microfilm B0426 Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frame 986.

2 Roger A. Freeman. The Mighty Eighth. London: Cassell & Co., 2000. pp. 206-207.

3 Operations Narrative of Mission #243, 14 January 1945. Headquarters 390th Bombardment Group (H), Office of the Operations Officer, 16 January 1945. microfilm B0426 Maxwell AFB, AL: Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1973, frames 921-922.

4 Crew:

Emery R. Hanneke, Jr.
Leonard E. Andrew
Harry D. Carlson
Fred K. Getz
Julian J. Gurbindo
Eugene M. Johnson
Victor J. Kendall
Eugen F. Miles
Walterine A. Moseley

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701636/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11723”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 43-38665, no nickname, 571st Bombardment Squadron.

5 Crew:

Gerald W. Johnston
Matthew R. Robinson
Donald L. Lash
Frank D. O’Neill
William J. Parks
Russell P. Hardy
Ben Marshall
James S. Lawman
Dayton C. Kelly
Joseph L. Redpath

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701974/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11725”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 42-102677, Mississippi Mission, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

6 Crew:

Joseph W. Lewis
Mike Klemenck
Jerome J. Katzman
Robert L. Battleson
John B. Ruane
Kenneth E. Huber
Earl Y. Morrison
John W. Porcher, III
John J. Koralewski

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701793/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11724”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 42-102673, no nickname, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

7 Crew:

Walter R. Wiegand
Herbert O. Bracht
James R. Blaire
Wallace B. Shipplett
Martin Schwartz
William L. Bongard
Kenneth G. Richardson
Noble E. Barker
Carl F. Packer

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701072/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11720”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 42-31744, Little Butch III, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

8 Crew:

Alvin J. Morman
Floyd M. Vevle
Jack A. Simon
Robert C. Springborn
Robert G. Hehr
Mario J. Manfedini
James F. Stieg
Samuel W. Barton
Leon J. Cousineau

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46700766/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11719”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 44-8426, no nickname, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

9 Crew:

Robert R. Richter
William T. Sink, Jr.
John B. Hankey
Vernon T. Harl
William L. Blankenship
Raph G. Beighley
George W. Gaylor, Jr.
James E. Bumbalough
Mario Rose

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701199/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11721”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 43-38337, Cloud Hopper, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

10 Crew:

Daniel A. Thumlert, Jr.
John W. Bone, Jr.
Harold J. Lynch
Philip B. Taylor
Richard Keith. Brown
Cosimo A. Cardone
John Zite
Dale E. Firof
Frank R. Kelly

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46708455/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11826”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 44-6480, no nickname, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

11 Crew:

Paul Goodrich
Raymond E. Thomas
Erwin M. Lutzer
Frank H. Piston
George J. Zadzora
Jim K Thomas
James M. Horan
Leonard A. Losch
Ralph K. Spence

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46702228/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11726”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 42-102956, Doc’s Flying Circus, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

12 Crew:

Louis F. Niebergall
Norman D. Comstock
Jay K. Bowman, Jr.
Lorenzo H. Herring, Jr.
Victor J. Perrotta
Robert J. Putt
William L. May
Jack C. Palmer
James R. Kidd
Lennard Albert Hokom

Victor J. Perrotta was reported to have been shot and killed on February 13, 1945, supposedly shot by a German civilian as he was attempting to surrender after escaping from Wetzlar-Klesterwald. He was buried in a local “Cemetery for Russians”. A report of the circumstances surrounding Victor Perrotta’s death was submitted to a War Crimes Commission office then operating at Governors Island, New York.

Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 , digital image, Fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/46701372/ : accessed 29 December 2014), “Missing Air Crew Report, #11722”, B-17G, Aircraft Serial Number 43-38526, Star Duster, 568th Bombardment Squadron.

NOTE: For information on the FW-190, ME-109, and Me-262, the is no better source than William Green’s Warplanes of the Third Reich, New York: Galahad Books, 1990, pages 194 – 220, 524 – 572, and 619 – 638, respectively.

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12 Responses to January 14, 1945

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Duty crew?

    So he was not flying that day?
    Also is this the group you are refering to…?

    https://www.390th.org/learn-about-390th/gallery/

    Like

    • a gray says:

      From the context of Verne’s entry in his diary, the “duty crew” appears to be a crew that on any given day was responsible for administrative and/or maintenance-related functions of the squadron. Given the Group’s horrific losses on this day, it was his lucky day. It was only a roll of the dice that the Germans attacked the 568th Bombardment Squadron and not the 571st.

      390th Memorial Museum (https://www.390th.org/), which is located at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, commemorates the 390th Bombardment Group (H). It is worth a visit. The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force(http://mightyeighth.org/), at Pooler, Georgia outside of Savannah, is also a museum that should not be missed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mustang.Koji says:

    Unbelievably sad…

    Like

  3. Richard Lewis Boughton says:

    My uncle, 1st Lt. Joseph W. Lewis, was pilot of AC 42-102673, Good-O Yank/Preferred Risk , that day. His MACR reports 571st BS 390th BG. I am trying to gather information for the family. Any information, whereabouts of any crew members etc., anyone might have would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks for any help you might be able to supply

    Like

    • a gray says:

      Have you reviewed the 33-page MACR available on Fold3: http://www.fold3.com/image/46701788/?

      Like

      • Richard Lewis Boughton says:

        Yes sir, thanks to author and good friend, Jerry Whiting, I have this on a cd provided by accident-reports.com. There are many fingers in the fire. I have been in touch with the wonderful people at the Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands, who provided me with photos of his name on a monument there as well as a crew photo. Why his name would be on a monument in the Netherlands is a bit of a mystery to me as his plane was shot down near Berlin, but they were very friendly and helpful. The 390th museum in Tucson (also friendly and helpful) has been a great source of information. I have written the US Army Human Resources Command for anything they may provide under FOIA. This I suspect will take some time for a response. I have located the co-pilot of this aircraft who unfortunately passed away last year. He lived about 100 miles from me and I regret I didn’t have this information sooner. I would have loved to have spoken to him.
        I am 68 and a Viet Nam Vet and have been half heartedly working on this for some time.
        It was Jerry who finally sent me in the right direction and I can’t thank him enough. Now that I have broken the ice, I hope to gather as much information as quickly as I can.

        Like

      • a gray says:

        What sort of information are you seeking? When gathered, what do you plan to do with it?

        Like

  4. Richard Lewis Boughton says:

    BTW…that co-pilot’s name was Mike Klemenok. He has a son and a daughter that live close by and plans are in the works to contact them.

    Like

  5. Richard Lewis Boughton says:

    Originally this was strictly to enhance the family history. Who knows where it may lead, it’s a very sad story being so close to the end of the war and deserves more than a footnote. I am looking for stories or any remembrances that might have survived through other family’s that were involved.

    Liked by 1 person

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