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M/SGT. JOSEPH E. KRENZELOK, U.S. AAF WW2
B-24 Ground Crew Chief, Italy
464th Bombardment Group (H), 776th Bombardment Squadron (H), 55th Wing of the 15th Army Air Corps WW2
“Contrary to popular belief, the planes did not belong to the flight crews. In a lot of cases they were privileged to paint the name on the side of the ship. No, the planes did not belong to the Army Air Corps, either. Despite what the crews and Uncle Sam thought, the planes actually belong to the crew chief and his ground crew. They were the men who sweated blood over the planes. They spent countless hours fixing the damage and worn systems on the ships until they were as perfect as humanly possible under the worst possible working conditions. If it had not been for these heroes the planes would have never gotten off the ground. Yep, the plane belonged to the crew chief: he was just loaning it to the flight crews.”
Taken from: The 464th Bomb Group in World War II by Mike Hill and Betty Karle
Above picture left to right: Cogne, Copp, Krenzelok, Seiver, Napolitano, Weorer, David and Ashely. We think taken before going over sea's I'm told. You can tell they are ground crew by the Overhauls and the hat with the visor turned up so they can see when they are looking into tight spaces . I'm being told that the above picture was taken in the US and the plane was probably a trainer plane that was used to train the Airplane Technicians. A Search to find this plane has not been successful. The 3 numbers ship give us the last 3 serial numbers and the olive drab color tells us it was built before 1944 when they were delivered in a bright finish. In my research of the above picture for each of the men Joe had written down the state he was from and I ended up searching on the Internet their last names and the state and called any possible persons looking for that man or relatives but I had no luck but did talk to many interesting people who talked about their WW 2 stories. I was really hoping to find and be able to talk to one of the men in this picture or find a relative.
M/Sgt. Joseph (Joe) Krenzelok was a ground crew chief with the 464th Bombardment Group (H), the 776th Bombardment Squadron (H), 55th Wing of the 15th Army Air Force stationed oversea in World War 2 in Italy. Right picture: Joe on the right taken some where in Italy. His friend looks like a Canadian or British airman. Joe is wearing 3 lower stripes showing at this time he is a Master Sergeant. Note: I have since learn the above right picture was most likely a British Airman. The British had several airbases in Italy. The British ran nighttime bombing missions and the American's ran daylight bombing missions. I am being told that this picture was most likely taken at the city of Bari, east of Pantanella where the headquarters for the 15th AAF was and many of the men took leave there. Future investigations may identify the building in the background . Throughout the late winter, spring and summer of 1944 the Royal Air Force 205 Group flew as part of the 15th U.S.Army Air force - the only RAF formation ever to fly under the operational control of another country.The 205 Group became part of the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force and was subject to the operational control of 15th USAAF. The British airfields were in the same area as of many of the 15th AAF airfields were giving the above picture of Joe with a British Airman making some sense. Leave was taken at the R.A.F. rest Camp in Sorrento or at the beaches of Manfredonia or at Bari Italy
NOTE 2006 OCTOBER 2006
I first started out this research on my uncle Joe in 2002 and at that time all I knew about Joe's service in WW2 was that I had a copy of his discharge papers that his son Jim had sent me. Discharge papers are a little hard to read if you do not know what you are reading and I also had a few old pictures of Joe with a couple of B-24's that my dad and my aunt Dolores had given me that their brother Joe had sent them during the war. I didn't even really known much about B-24s. On this website you will find lots of old and new updated information that represents my years of researching where and what Joe did during WW2. I have decided to leave this information in to show the many dead ends and changes in the research. So please excuse areas on the website that may be a little confusing. But one thing is for sure as of October 2006 with the addition of the 776th SQ roster with Joe's name on it that I found at Maxwell AFB this summer, I have him pretty well nailed down. In the future I will be hoping to fine tune areas of his military service like adding a copy of his second unit citation (With Oakleaf cluster) GO# 3507 which has taken me years to find. It has been wonderful detective work over the years with many people helping me out but no one more than Bob Hoskinson who served with the 464th BG during WW2. Without his help, patience and support it would have taken many more years of research to come to where I am today. I would like to thank all of those that have helped me with my research and thank those in the family that have come with me along for the ride, wondering at times I am sure if I knew what I was talking about. Also it is my conclusion that Joe was in the 464th BG from the beginning of it's formation as a Bombardment Group (H)
Signed: Greg Krenzelok October 12 2006
NOTE 2006 OCTOBER 2006
I had a chance to go to Italy with my brother John, Lisa and his family. Lisa had a business trip in Rome and I had and affordable chance to tag along. We had a wonderful trip seeing the Vatican, seeing the pope and endless wonderful historical sites and art that make up Italy. The one thing that kept tugging at me was that I was so close to where Joe was stationed during the war. I had a chance to go to Naples where Joe arrived in Italy with the 776 th Squadron and finally left Italy on his way to Trinidad to be part of Project Green on a Liberty Ship. I saw the island of Capri where Joe and many of our servicemen spent R and R. It was very exciting to be where once Joe had been during the war, probably seeing some of the sites that he saw when he was here. A little later in the week John and his family wanted to go to Venice and it was then that I decided that I would take the train south to the city of Bari where the 15th AAF headquarters had been and to the area where Joe was stationed at with the 464th BG.
I jumped on the train to Lecce with a stop at Bari. I had a great ride on the train and I spent the afternoon walking around in Bari. Got back on the train and went to Foggia where the heart was of all the Bomb Groups in the area. We pulled in to the town of Cerignola about 12 miles north of Pantanella. That was as close as I got but it was a lot closer that I had ever dreamed that I would be. As I rode the train down from Roma the hills had turned into the plains of Foggia a very flat land and the perfect place for those B-24’s of the 464th Bomb Group to take off from and land back from the Bombing runs from the soft under belly of Europe, where Joe and his ground crew would be waiting to put his ship back together and get it ready for the next mission. This was an unbelievable trip for me.
RESEARCH ON THE ABOVE PICTURE OF B-24 "FATSO 115"
E-mail from Bob Hoskinson 464th Bomb Group 778 th Bomb Squadron: Posted April 2004
I see you came up with a serial number for Fatso - 42-7115 - as posted on the B24bestweb site. If that's the case the pic was possibly taken at Pocatella. That would have been a Ford built B24E. Though I might come up with something on Joe Baugher's sight. His specialty is records of serial numbers and what happened to them. This number wasn't on his listing but close. The 464th lost an aircraft there and the serial number was close. Westover Field, MA had some in that series of numbers.
If you are able to get a copy of GO#3507, I would love to get a copy. Be glad to reimburse you whatever your cost.
Yep, the 464th still has newsletters, though Tony was a bit lax last year and only put one out. The next one will be closer to reunion time. This year it will be in Mobile, Ala in, I believe, October.
Best of Luck
I e-mailed the Best B-24 website and asked Dan about the 115 FATSO on July 28 2003
Click on the below link to there website:
The Best B-24 website
Looks like a "Training" bird to me. (I have no listing for "FATSO"). Thanks for your Participation and "Support
Daniel L. Stockton
Dan sent out e-mails to other men looking into the ID of Fatso
The Fatso is I presume - B-24E-FO 42-7115
Al - firstname.lastname@example.org
Note on above: I believe Al is figuring the 115 numbers is the last numbers of the serial number and He is probably right.'
Al, thank you for your reply. So you think the last numbers of the serial number is what ship she is? Can you tell me if the trainer ships stayed in the U.S.? Many thanks!
Return e-mail from Al - 7-28 2003
Yes, 42-7115 remained in the ZI. (US) In fact, no B-24Es at all were sent overseas
In May of 1944 as the War in Europe came to an end, so was the war now over for the 464th and in May and June the unit became part of the Air Transport Command. Because the B-29 was the preferred bomber in the war with Japan that was still going on no further B-24 Bomb Groups were needed for the war effort. Ground crews were still needed to get the planes back home and while some of the ground crews stayed to close Pantanella air base down most of the ground crews became part of a little known or remembered project called " PROJECT GREEN " who's job was to get the military back home from Italy. Many of the ground crews from the neighboring Bomb Groups were also part of this project.Joe became part of this project and was shipped out on the Liberty ship USS Lyons which carried the 464th crews and they left from the port of Naples to Waller Field on the Island of Trinidad off the north coast of South America and he was now assigned to the Air Transport Command. Aunt Anne says she remembered when her brother Joe was on a ship going to Trinidad around the time when Bette died. Joe finally left Trinidad in mid September for home. Look on Ed Krenzelok's page for a Ladysmith Newspaper article that places Joe at Trinidad in June 1945
Liberty ship USS Lyons in Naples harbor getting ready to go to Trinidad
FOLLOWING ARE EMAILS I RECEIVED IN MY SEARCH FOR THE 1107TH BASE UNIT
E-mail from Steve on 3-11-2003
According to my records 1107th AAFBU was the ATC base at Morrison Field at West Palm Beach, FL...It was point from which many flights of Army aircraft left the USA for Africa and Europe and even the China Burma area...It is now the site of the Palm Beach International Airport...
Hope that this helps you.
The 1107th Army Air Force Base Unit was an Air Transport Command base at Morrison Field near West Palm Beach, Fla. It was the headquarters of the Caribbean Wing of the ATC.
Hope that his helps you.
Posted by Joe's son Jim Krenzelok and their family
JOE ENTERED INTO THE SERVICE AT FORT SHERIDAN
Click on the below link to see pictures of Fort Sheridan
Fort Sheridan Pictures WW2
I have been trying to get copies of the 464th Bomb Group Unit Citations recently from the government. I was told that they are restricted and I could not receive them without authorization. They did send me a official copy of the 464th's History. I was please to find the above statement in the paperwork stating that the 464th's Inactivation was at Army Air Base Unit 1107th just as it is stated in Joe's discharge paper. And hopefully Joe's other pictures of his time with the 464th BG in Italy will surface and be enjoyed by other members of the the 464th and their families and our family too. I am stilling working on getting a copy of GO # 3507. I am being told that very few have received copies of this Unit Citation or have ever seen it because it was not awarded until later on. I am not sure of the reason why yet but it looks like General Order # 4096 was also known as GO # 93 and General Order # 3507 was also known as GO # 56.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2006
I have finally been able to get a copy of GO# 3507. Please look for the link down below
IMPORTANT UPDATE MAY 2008 ON ARMY AIR BASE UNIT 1107TH
I just came across this
CARIBBEAN DIVISION AIR TRANSPORT COMMAND
1100th Hq, Carbbean Division, ATC, West Palm Beach, Fla. Det Caribbean Division, ATC San Juan, P. R. 851 Miami
Det Caribbean Division, ATC Port of Spain, Trinidad (868 Miami)
1101th AAFBU Caribbean Div Reserve West Palm Beach, FL
1102nd Port of Aerial Embarkation Miami Beach, Fla.
1103th AAFBU 1st Foreign Service Station postwar Foreign Transport Station, then Port of Aerial Embarkation Caribbean Division, ATC, Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Fla. Det Caribbean Division, ATC Nassau, Bahamas 618 Miami
1104th AAFBU 1st Homestead AAB, FL
1105th AAFBU Foreign Transport Station Caribbean Division, ATC, Miami Army Air Field, Fla.
1106th AAFBU Foreign Transport Station Caribbean Division, ATC, Borinquen Field, P. R. 845 Miami
1107th AAFBU Foreign Transport Station Caribbean Division, ATC, Waller Field, Trinidad 695 Miami
1108th AAFBU Foreign Transport Station Caribbean Division, ATC, Atkinson Field, Br. Guiana 857 Miami
1109th ATC Traffic Technician's School Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Fla. 1110th AAFBU Foreign Transport Station Zandery Fld
NOTE: So it looks like the 1107th Army Air Force Base Unit 1107 was at Waller Field, Trindad, Joe's last asignment on PROJECT GREEN to bring home the planes and men from the war.
What were Army Air Forces Base Units
Answer: In the spring of 1944, because of manpower shortages overseas, the Army changed the way it manned and organized the support units reporting to it. This reorganization did not affect units in overseas theaters, but did apply to the Army Air Forces and the headquarters that reported to it.
Prior to this reorganization, units were manned according to tables of organization. Although there were some exceptions, this meant (for example) that a Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron at a large base was authorized the same number of personnel, grades, and specialties as a Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron at a small base. This resulted in wastage at the small base, while the larger one might not have enough people to perform the mission. This was replaced by a system in which Hq, Army Air Forces made bulk allotments of personnel to each of its subordinate commands, who determined in turn how many people and what skills and grades they should have to perform each base's mission. All existing AAF units that were not scheduled to move overseas were disbanded in April and May 1944 and replaced by Army Air Forces Base Units, including the 2d AAF Base Unit, which replaced Hq Sq, Army Air Forces.
This was not a one for one replacement. For example, at a crew training base, one Army Air Force Base Unit might replace a Base Headquarters & Air Base Sq, a Fighter Gp, 3 Fighter Squadrons, a Guard Squadron, and various detachments of other arms and services. Sometimes, lettered Squadrons or Sections were formed as part of the Base Unit. The usual practice was for all units on a base to be combined into one AAF Base Unit, although there were exceptions.
Because the various commands formed their own units, rather than relying on the Adjutant General's office for authority, the Army Air Forces alloted blocks of numbers for each command to use to designate its base units. (This allocation ignored the traditional reservation of the numbers 101-300 to the National Guard). Also, each AAF Base Unit was not only designated (1st AAF Base Unit), it was "described" with a parenthetical. In this example, the 1st AAF Base Unit (Base Headquarters).
Above information is compiled by Mark Borland and additions by Bernie Shearon
BELOW IS THE MOS (MILITARY OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY) NUMBER ID THAT IS ON JOE'S DISCHARGE PAPERS
Title MOS Number: Airplane Maintenance Technician, Airplane Crew Chief, MOS 750
I asked Bob Hoskinson about the Lapel Button on the bottom of Joe's discharge papers: Bob also tells me no where on his discharge papers does it refer to him being apart of the 464th BG. Bob says where on your uncle's discharge paper's states ( 1107th AAF Base unit ) Mine reads "1077th AAF BU", the place of Separation "Separation Center Camp Atterbury, Ind." this is where I was discharged from.
The reference to the "Lapel Button Issued", I am most certain is referring to the lapel button with a circle and an eagle on it and was referred to as the "Ruptured Duck". I think it had something to do with wearing a dress uniform after you were discharged. The "Ruptured Duck" was to indicate you were "Honorably Discharged" from the Armed Service. Am not sure what the ASR Score (2 Sept. 45) 97 indicates. Mine says "ASR Score (2 Sept. 45) 72"
A gold color metal lapel button 7/16 inch in height and 5/8 inch in width, a Dexter eagle with wings displayed perched within a ring which displays thirteen vertical stripes with a chief, the Dexter wing of the eagle behind the ring, the sinister wing in front of the ring.
I also asked Bob why there was such a long period of time when Joe left the states ( March 12 1944 ) and when he arrived at the MTO ( Operations Mediterranean Theater ) in April 8th 1944:
As for the amount of time between debarking from the USA and arriving in the MTO, the information I get in reading about the departures and arrivals of the 464th BG crews that went by Troop transport ships is it usually took about a month, given decent weather.
Best regards take good care
I RECEIVED THIS EMAIL ON JANUARY 13, 2008
Looking for some info I ran across your website page " Joseph Military ", and if you are still updating, I can add one minor bit of info. The following is from another email you have posted:
The "Ruptured Duck" was to indicate you were "Honorably Discharged" from the Armed Service. Am not sure what the ASR Score (2 Sept. 45) 97 indicates. Mine says "ASR Score (2 Sept. 45) 72"
ASR is Adjusted Service Rating. This was the points system adopted for releasing servicemen from the military at the end of the war. Points were awarded for time in service, months overseas, medals earned, being married, number of children, and a lot of other stuff. I don’t have the exact points for each handy, but you might get 5 points for a combat medal, 1 point for each month in service, 5 points for each month overseas, etc
At first, the ASR " magic number " was, I believe, 85, meaning if all your ASR points added up to 85 or higher, you were discharged immediately. Men with lower scores had to hang around until the higher numbers had been processed out.
Just a minor thing, but your page has some great info, and it looks like you have spent considerable time and trouble researching it all, so thought this might be worthwhile in deciphering a little more
Note: Thank you very much for the information Rich. I appreciate any corrections or added information on this website
Posted by Joe's son Jim Krenzelok and their family.
We are not too sure how Joe ended up working with B-24's and what training he had. It is very likely he did go to a Consolidated Aircraft school some where in the states and there were many training schools through out the country. Jim Closs remembered Joe having a love for the B-17 and can't remember Joe talking about B-24s. Jim remembers Joe's old war buddies would come to visit him at the bakery. The only place that Joe did talk about the war was at the bakery and even brought his medals in one day to show everyone.Jim remembers Joe saying he was in Idaho training before going overseas. But one thing we can be sure of is that the time he spent with the 464th BG he was only involved with B-24s. Most of the time ground crew members would get their training at schools all over the country and at the end of their training or when they were needed would be assigned to an air base amd at that same base Bomb Groups would be formed or transferred too and the Bomb Groups would pickup or have their ground crews assigned to them there. When all the units that make-up a Bomb Group were assembled they would all start training together as a Bomb Group and Squadrons and finish their training and start preparing to go overseas to the war.
" The Liberator " Consolidated, Ford Motor Company, Douglas Aircraft Company, and North American Aviation made more than 18,000 "Liberators."
This was copied out of the 1942 Ladysmith High School Yearbook
The 464th's Easy Maid was a B24J, 42-50796, 779th BS, Black Q,, lost on a mission on Aug. 27, 1944 to Blechhammer, Germany . Each ship was first known in the 464th by a Letter in this case " Q " and each of the 4 squadrons had that Letter painted a different color. So any ship with a Black colored letter would be in the 779th Bomb Squadron. The 464th and 465th both had aircraft named "Easy Maid".
Sergeant Michael J Rowan, unknown and M/Sgt. Joseph Krenzelok with the "Easy Maid" Both the 464th BG and the 465th BG had a Easy Maid and the conclusion from the boy's over at the 464th is that above was theirs. The 464th's Easy Maid was shot down on 08/27/44 at Blechhammer, Germany. I am not sure if Easy Maid was a ship Joe was the chief of or Joe and his ground crew just wanted to take a picture of. This is one of the problems with using pictures to ID Joe's placement. Easy Maid could have been at the next hardstand over or whatever. The hardstands is where a ship would park and the ground crews would work on her. Easy Maid was shot down in August 1944 and this picture was probably taken pretty close to that time as it looks like the weather was pretty warm according to what they are wearing.
Sergeant Herman E Lovett, M/Sgt. Joseph Krenzelok and M/Sgt. James P Toller II
"COM-BATTY" was stationed in Pantanella Italy and was lost to enemy action on August 24, 1944, on a mission to Pardubice Czechoslovakia. Also this B-24 went down on the mission the 464th receive Unit Citation # 3507. I'm guessing that the COM-BATTY was one of the planes Joe was the Crew Chief of. This looks like a picture taken when they were working on it. The planes first came overseas painted like the one above (Olive Drab) and in 1944 were delivered in their natural bright finish like the "Easy Maid" and "Jack & Charles's 21" . The above Com-batty was shot down on August 24 1944 Pardubice, Czechoslovakia.
Click on the below link:
B-24 Best Web ComBatty
B-24 Best Web their website
COM-BATTY MISSION REPORT: PARDUBICE OIL REFINERY CZECHOSLOVAKIA
On August 24 1944 the 464th mission was the oil refinery at Pardubice. The 464th `s ground crews were able to put up 28 B-24's for the mission and take off was at 0730 that morning. After dropping their bombs they were attacked by the full force of the Luftwaffe at 1235 on their way back to Pantanella. They came in from behind and were sitting back like a pack of hungry sharks. They seem to be sizing up their prey and everyone wondered where their escort fighters were.
They came in fast and hard and it was at this time that COMBATTY was lost. Aboard COM-BATTY from the 776th BS the crew was fighting the Focke-Wulfes. In the tail turret Sgt. Ed Gaspari was laying down a stream of tracers at the oncoming fighters. The wings and hoses of the Fw-190s began to blink like flashing lights. Twenty 20mm shells hit the Liberator in the tail section exploding in white blasts of smoke and flying shrapnel. The plane took several 20mm shell hits on the right side near the camera hatch. The right waist gunner was badly wounded in the leg and fell to the floor. Another shell hit the ball turret mortally wounding the gunner.
COM-BATTY was in deep trouble but still able to fly. Pilot Lt. Thomas Vague could not hold formation because of the damage to the plane. COM-BATTY descended to 10,000 feet and headed home alone. COM-BATTY had last been seen going down she was far from the formation but still in the air. With the fighters gone Ed Gaspari climbed from his turret and into the shattered remains of the fuselage. The left waist gunner and Gaspari managed to get the ball turret gunner out of the turret and laid him near the waist guns. They broke out the first aid kit and gave him a shot of morphine to ease the pain. Gaspari recalled that the plane was riddled with holes from the gunfire. As they neared Klagenfurt, Austria Gaspari started to move to the front of the plane to see what was going on and to report on the way things were in the back. As he got to the bomb bay he met Lt. Merle Riley the bombardier face to face on the catwalk. At that moment COM-BATTY was hit by flak and bounced around. The last thing I heard was Lt Riley yelling ! Get out, get out ! Gaspari could not remember whether he jumped or was thrown out of the plane. Lt. Riley had tried to get to the back of the plane to help the other men. Riley and Sgts. John Renz and Stanley Grzesik would ride COM-BATTY down to the ground. Ed Gaspari safely made it to the ground. The 464th would not know until after the war they would receive their second Presidential Award, which would be GO#3507 for this mission.
Joe and his ground crew would be searching the sky back at Pantanella waiting for the COM-BATTY to return, another ship that would never return. Their hardstand would be a lonely place that night. Joe and his crew would right away go over to the next hardstand and help that ground crew with their ship getting it ready for the next days mission until Joe would be assigned another ship. Can you imagine what the ground crew when through wondering if their ships would come back today.
Color Code for each of the Squadrons of the 464th BG
If you go onto the B24 BestWeb site you will see two pics of "Jack & Charlies "21"" that were submitted by Wade Ellerman, son of Lt. Howard Ellerman, co-pilot. He apparently flew a number of missions in Jack & Charlies 21. Wade sent me copies of those posted along with pics of the crew when they returned to the US at Hunter Field, Savannah, Ga. on May 31, '45 in "White V" "Wheel 'N Deal", an aircraft our crew had flown several missions in. I don't recall that he ever did give me a crew listing nor did he acknowledge the email I sent him giving him the serial number for J&C "21" which he had told me he didn't have
HERE IS THE INFORMATION I HAVE ON THE A/C (AIRCRAFT)
Possibly one of Joe's ships he was a ground crew chief of. I found this picture in a Krenzelok family album I put away 25 years ago. At the time I had no idea what it meant or who's picture it was. I ran a search on it and was pleased to find it is one of the 464th BG B-24 ships. The 3 pictures that I have all match up with the 464th BG in Italy and at Pantanella airfield. Joe sent this picture to my dad during the war.
JACK & CHARLIE'S 21
B24M - built by Ford - S/N 44-50425 - assigned to the 464th BG, 778th BS. Returned to the US in '45
B24H S/N 42-52520 464th BG, 776th BS, lost on a mission Aug. 24, '44 MACR 7967. While in the B24 BestWeb site go to the "Easy Maid" site and see if the picture, now numbered #2, doesn't look like the picture attached to this message. I submitted that picture to Dan in Dec. 2000, but at the time I didn't have the serial number, etc.
I have submitted corrected data to Dan but he hasn't corrected it.
The 464th and 465th both had aircraft named "Easy Maid". The 464th a/c was B24J, 42-50796, 779th BS, Black Q, Easy Maid, lost on a mission on Aug. 27, '44 to Blechhammer, Germany
The 465th a/c was B24G, 42-78352, 781st BS, lost Oct. 13, '44, mission Blechhammer, Ger. There is a gent who has posted on the "Easy Maid" (B24 BestWeb) that he flew on the Easy Maid on her first mission April 25, '45 and they were shot down. That aircraft was 44-49914. I paid the National Archives $68.00 to get the MACR on this and it finally came in yesterday but instead of the record being on paper, it is on MicroFiche. The last time I ordered MACRs it only cost me $17.50 and that was for 5 microfiche with 15 MACRs.
Greg, it still is my belief that the picture you had sent previously of your Uncle and Easy Maid is the 464th aircraft. It is a B24J, not a B24G.
I'm sure that "Wendy" would be glad to receive any pics you might want to send her. She is currently reworking the website.
Bob Hoskinson 464th BG, 778th BS
Re the "Easy Maid" (drop the 'en'), on the 464th BG website is a picture of her that comes from the collection of pics of "Gooch" - John Gottschalk of the 776th BS who passed away a few months back. Quite a few of the pics posted, like "Ginee", "Alley Oop", "Pistol Packin' Mama", etc were from his collection as were "The Indian" and "On To Tokyo", both of which were 465th A/C. The 465th had a "Alley Oop" too
Also on the site is a listing of the 200 missions of the 464th - from the base at Gioia del Colle to the final base at Pantanella - I think this can be entered from the history module. There are two pages and both will open with Internet Explorer, but only the first page opens with Netscape. Wendy is working on that.
On the "Flak" section under "aircraft data detail" is some info on a few of the aircraft pictured. I am asking Wendy to correct some bad data I originally gave her. "Big Fat Momma" is actually "Big Fat Mama", the serial number for Red Jig is 42-51886, and MACR should read "Missing Air Crew Report".
I don't have any good maps but the attached should give you an idea as to where the base was. 15th AF Hdq. was at Bari. The file wouldn't go thru with the graphic attached - will try to send it separately.
There was three entrances normally used. You could crawl in through the nose wheel doors, under the bomb bay doors, or the escape hatch (in the belly of the a/c) between the waist gunners position and the tail turret. Since I had two jobs before each mission I usually entered first via the bomb bay doors, climbed up to the radio position and set the frequency meter for the frequencies to be used that day, then would climb back out, don my parachute harness, toss the parachute into the escape hatch, climb in and do my little pre-flite check, oxygen connector OK, turret function OK, etc then sit back and wait for the officers to arrive.
Bob Hoskinson 464th BG, 778th BS
15th Army Air Force Tactical Unit History
M/SGT. JOSEPH KRENZELOK IS CREDITED WITH THE FOLLOWING CAMPAIGNS
Each man in a unit had the right to be placed on his record the campaigns that the Group action was involved in. So Joe being part of the ground crew was also credited any actions the air crew were involved with. The Air Crew were the men in the ships (Planes) and the ground crew were 3 to 4 men that took care of each plane and all the rest of the men supporting the Airfield.
Feb-April 1945 On April 19, Invasion of the PO Valley Northern Italy: the British initiated an attack towards Bologna. This was followed by the 5th Army attack that had been delayed by a couple of days. After fall of Bologna, the allies pushed out of the mountains and raced across the Po River valley. With much confusion, the Allies rapidly advance and chased the retreating Germans into the Alps
AIR COMBAT BALKANS
October 1 1943, Invasion of the Balkans: when bombers of the US 15th Air Force flew their first attack in the Third Reich (against Wiener Neustadt in Austria), Yugoslavian airspace became more and more important in the Allied plans. Many Allied bombers started crossing Yugoslavia to bomb various targets in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania. American bombers also attacked targets in Yugoslavia. The targets were mostly communications centers like Beograd, Maribor, Nis, Leskovac, Slavonski Brod, but sometimes also unimportant cities like Zadar and Podgorica only causing damage and casualties among civilian population. Very important was also the laying of mines in the Danube River, which was a very important communications lane for the German and Croatian Armies, and also for the transportation of Rumanian oil to Germany
NORTH FRANCE INVASION OF NORTHERN FRANCE
The Northern France Campaign of World War II began on July25, 1944, with General Bernard Montgomery launching Operation COBRA to break out from the Normandy beachhead, and concluded on September 14 with Belgium and most of France liberated from German rule. It looks like the 464th BG were involved in bombing on D-day
SOUTHERN FRANCE INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE
During the Southern France campaign, the Group hit gun sites and fortifications before and on D-Day. Before this, on 2 August, bombers pinpointed the narrow span of the Avignon Rail Road Bridge with such accuracy that the Group received a special commendation from Major General Nathan F. Twining, Commander, and 15th Air Force.
ROME-ARNO INVASION OF ROME
The Rome-Arno Campaign is the name assigned to the Allied fighting in Italy from January through August 1944. The day the Italian government surrendered and replaced the dictator Mussolini, the 5th US Army landed at Salerno, below Naples. Montgomery landed at the toe of Italy after an extensive artillery bombardment. Soon, both armies had captured the lower part of Italy, including the Foggia airfield and the valuable port of Naples. The Germans retreated to the natural fortresses along the Liri Valley just south of Rome. The Allies were about to attempt something that had only been done once in Rome's history; capture the Eternal city of Rome from its southern approaches.
RHINELAND INVASION OF GERMANY
September 5 1944 - March 21 1945, In September 1944, the long-awaited final victory over Nazi Germany seemed close at hand for the Allies. In the East, the Red Army moved inexorably towards the German frontier. In the skies over the Third Reich and the occupied countries, allied air power wreaked havoc on the Wehrmacht, German industry, and lines of communication. In the West, three Allied army groups stretched from the North Sea to Switzerland - poised for the final assault against the Nazi homeland
NORTH APENNINES INVASION OF THE NORTH APENNINES
Germans set up a defense line north of Rome along the backbone of the northern Apennine Mountains. Again, the British attacked along the east coast. The main crossing of the Apennines was Futa pass. This was heavily defended, so the main attack was at Giogo Pass to the east. This fighting was described as an all up-hill battle as several large peaks had to be assaulted. Both the 5th & 8th Armies were drained of men as units were pulled out for the invasion of Normandy and southern France. Without sufficient reserves, the fighting drew to a stalemate as the second winter in Italy set
Post by Dolores's picture collection: Picture of Joe at the Gas station by the Bakery
DECORATIONS AND CITATIONS
DISTINQUISHED UNIT BADGE WITH OAK LEAD CLUSTER
Distinguished Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster for additional award. Joe received this badge under General Order # 4096 and the Oak leaf Cluster would have been the second Citation the 464th BG received which was GO# 3507 which is not listed in his discharge papers. This badge would be place above the right pocket on the uniform.
The Distinguished Unit Badge is awarded to units of the United States Armed Forces for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or after 07 DEC 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant award of a Distinguished Service Cross to an individual. Extended periods of combat duty or participation in a large number of operational missions, either ground or air, is not sufficient
Distinguished Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster
GOOD CONDUCT METAL
The Army Good Conduct Medal was authorized on June 28, 1941. Originally it was for enlisted men only required three years of honorable service, but the time period was lowered to one year in 1943 for the duration of the war. A bronze clasp having the appearance of a series of knots indicates additional awards
THE EUROPEAN-ARFICAN-MIDDLE EASTER (EAME) CAMPAIGN MEDAL
Was awarded to personnel for service within the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater between 7 December 1941 and 8 November 1945
Ribbon colors decoded:
Background; brown represents the sands of North Africa and the Middle East green represents the forests and fields of Europe
Center Grouping; red/white/blue represents the United States
Left Grouping; green/white/red represents Italy
Right Grouping; black/white represents Germany
AMERICAN THEATER CAMPAIGN SERVICE METAL
For service in the US Armed Forces within the American Theater of Operations from 07 Dec 1941 to 02 Mar 1946.
Ribbon colors decoded:
Background; blue represents the United States
Center Grouping; red/white/blue represents the United States
Left and Right Groupings; black/white represents Germany, red/white represents Japan
AMERICAN DEFENSE SERVICE METAL
President Roosevelt created an American Defense Service Medal for military service during the period of national emergency between September 8, 1939, and the outbreak of World War II on December 7, 1941
THREE OVERSEAS SERVICE BARS
One Bar for each 6 months of overseas duty. Joe would have had this insignia with 3 Bars. He was overseas for 1 year and 6 months. A lot of the time you would receive a Overseas bar like the below and you would cut off the amount you needed for your uniform.
LAPEL COLLER DISK INSIGNIA
Most enlisted men in the Army Air Corps wore the US insignia on their right lapel and the wings with the prop on their left lapel. Officer's uniform would be the same except they were not a round disk.
HONORABLE DISCHARGE PATCH AND LAPEL INSIGNIA
The Origin of "The Ruptured Duck" Insignia
The original Ruptured Duck was a cloth insignia depicting an eagle inside a wreath. It was worn on uniforms above the right breast pocket by WWII servicemen and women.
It was issued to service personnel who were about to leave the military with an Honorable Discharge. It also allowed them to continue to wear their uniform for up to thirty days after they were discharged since there was a clothing shortage at that time. This showed the MP's that they were in transit and not AWOL. Well, the boys thought the eagle looked more like a duck; and, because it meant they were going home, the popular saying was, "They took off like a Ruptured Duck" hence the nickname.
Army ribbon bars are three-eighths inch (9 mm) high. Various devices may appear on ribbons. A bronze oak leaf cluster indicates an additional awards of the same medal. A silver oak leaf cluster is equal to five bronze ones. A star on a campaign medal indicates participation in a major engagement. A silver star equals five bronze stars. In 1944 a one-quarter inch arrowhead was authorized for wear on the campaign ribbons of those soldiers who particupated in a landing or combat jump on hostile territory
Ribbons are what you see on uniforms above the Left top pocket on a uniform. These tell all the campaigns and awards the service man has receive without wearing the full size Metals
This is a uniform that would have look like Joe's uniform and what he qualified to wear according to his discharge papers. On the right shoulder is a 15th AAF patch (Former Overseas Wartime Parent Unit) on the left shoulder is the Army Air Force patch. Above the right chest pocket is the Unit Citation with Oak leaf cluster for GO# 4096 and GO# 3507. And above the left chest pocket are the American Defense Service ribbon, the European-African-Middle Eastern (EAME) Campaign ribbon, Army Good Conduct ribbon and the American Defense Service ribbon. And on the shoulders are the rank chevrons of a Master Sergeant and also are 3 bars on the left lower cuff showing one and a half years of overseas duty.
THE GROUND CREW
There were usually three members to a ground crew for each plane, sometimes four. Ground crews repaired the planes, patched up holes, changed out engines--all the work needed to keep the aircraft loaded and ready for flying. B-24s could carry up to 8,800 pounds of bombs and had a maximum speed of 300 miles per hour, with a range of just over 2,000 miles.
We know that Joe was a ground Crew Chief and the second picture down on the left side of this page you will see Joe with three of his ground crew. On the back on this picture it states "This is company C or Complete Company". Note the tents in the back ground. Almost all the Airfields in Italy the men lived in these large Army tents all year around. These Airfield were just meant to be a Temporary Airfield on their way up to Europe. The below story is of a ground crew at the Pantanella Airfield in Italy. We now know Joe spent time here. All these men's living arrangements were pretty much the same and it's pretty likely that this was the same for Joe. We know Joe and his crew were living in a tent and so the below story will give us a pretty close idea of the way Joe was living.
Taken at Pantanella Airfield, Italy: Joe on the right and Sergeant Michael J Rowan, notice the Tufa Blocks behind the tent canvas.
Taken at Pantanella Airfield, Italy: Joe and " Crew Complete" it says on the back. Joe, Sergeant Michael J Rowan, Sergeant Edward Sanell and Sergeant Herman E Lovett
Pantanella Airfield, Italy 1944. The 464th was on one side of the air strip and the 465th was on the other side on the hill. Joe's tent would have been down the hill on the air strip where the ground crews would be close to their ships. Most of the air fields were located in Olive tree orchards.
THE GROUND ECHELON BY JOHN W. GRAHAM OF THE 464TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H), 776TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (H) WW2
Click on the below link to read Master Sergeant John W. Graham's Ground Chief story
464th website stories
About your query about John Graham - he is listed as deceased in the "464th BG Membership Roster of 2000".
M/Sgt. John Graham and M/Sgt. Joseph Krenzelok were both Master Sergeants in the 776th Squadron and most likely knew each other and were friends. Through John's story we can get a pretty good idea what it was like for Joe too.
PERSONNEL ROSTER FOR THE 776TH BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON (H0, 464TH BG (H) WW2
Click on the below link to go to the 776th's Roster
Personnel Roster for the 776th Bombardment Squadron -
MGT. SERGEANT JOHN GRAHAM'S STORY ABOUT BEING A B-24 GROUND CREW CHIEF AT PANTANELLA, ITALY, WW2
The Ground Echelon did not live on the hill but had tents on the flight line, each with six men. M/S William Barron, S/S John Booth, M/S John Olive, Dudley, S/S Willis Burke and myself lived in tent #51. Olive, Dudley and Burke crewed the first radar equipped aircraft on the field; it was painted a dull gray. I was the crew chief of the Pistol Packin' Mama plane at Pantanella Hill in Italy.
The above picture give us a look view of the 464th's Pantanella hill and the runways and hardstand. At the top of the picture are the 464th's and 465th's runways. It sounds like most of the ground crew lived down at the hardstand close to their planes. The 465th BG was located on the next hill over.
Because of G.I. ingenuity, we had four-foot hi side walls of tufa block, a floor made of foot square tiles and a stove made from a bomb fin and an oil drum in the tent. Water was heated on a five-gallon 'jerry' can fastened to the back of the stove. The Army cots issued were not very comfortable for 6'8" Barron or the 240 lb. Graham. Barron was an excellent welder and with scrounged pipe we soon had a 7-foot by 3-foot double deck bunk with rope springs.
This picture come from Dolores's picture collection. Here is a picture that came up from the Ladysmith family get together in Ladysmith in the summer of 2005. This is a picture that Joe sent Dolores during the war. This is most likely a picture of a B-24 Joe is working on. It looks like is was taken stateside because the runways are paved instead of metal. Could have been taken while Joe was at a training base or when he started to train with the 464th BG at Pocatello AAF field, Idado. It's great to finally have a picture that is one of Joe's while working on B-24's. Joe maybe in this picture.
At full strength, each squadron had 16 aircraft, making group strength 64 planes. As a crew chief and ground maintenance man, I had (and have) great admiration for the combat crews. It took a special brand of courage to fly day after day on missions, not knowing what fate had in store.
NOTE JUNE 3 2004
I keep getting different numbers on the amount of planes in each Squadron and I know things were always changing under battle conditions and things I am sure were different in each BG so the figure seems to between 12 to 18 ships per squadron at full strength.
To help us understand what Joe did as a Ground Crew Chief, each plane had 3 to 4 men that would service the plane. From changing engines out to repairing the combat damage of the plane. The above picture shows a Ground Crew Chief in the center talking to the pilot on the left before taking off for a mission. The man to the right is fueling the plane. The relation between the Ground Crew Chief and the pilot was very close. Anne, Dolores and Robert all remember how their brother Joe felt about what he called "His Planes". The ground crew lived down close to the airfield and their plane. Many planes never came back and it must have been very hard for the ground crew to lose their plane. It is safe to say that a few of the ships Joe was asigned to went down. Joseph was also a Master Sergeant, the highest rank an enlisted man could get. Not many men became a Master Sergeant. All this helps us to understand what M/Sgt. Joseph Krenzelok did in the war.
The 464th taking off for a mission at Pantanella. They would take off at 30 second intervals. The planes on the left of the picture are ships parked at their handstands.
The landing field at Pantanella, Italy was being built by the U.S Army engineers and as the steel matting was laid on the ground the squadrons of the 464th Bomb Group 776, 777, 778, and 779 planes began to land and take their respective positions according to squadrons. There was no housing for any of the men and so tents were thrown up that held ten men each. That was to be our quarters for the duration of our stay.
The layout of the Hardstands
At Pantanella we were allowed to shower once per week, outdoors, with hoses connected to two water truck tanks, one hot and one cold with a pump on each one. The mess hall was a huge tent. Everything prepared there was dehydrated and mixed with water.
There was no privacy and our toilet consisted of a long narrow trench. But, everyone was issued their own roll of toilet paper. A steel pot with hot water, G.I. soap and a washboard handled our laundry. Most of the time I slept with my clothes and shoes on because the temperatures were unbearably cold. We built a stove out of iron pipes welded together, heated with 100-octane aviation gas. It afforded a little heat and occasionally we would cook dried beans in our helmet over our homemade stove. Some of the tents went up in flames but we were one of the lucky ones. Indeed, somebody up above was looking over us. The purpose of our stoves was to afford a little heat and warm up a bite to eat.
Many of the non-flying personnel had provided themselves with other shelter. Walls were made of Tufa. Tufa is soft sandstone quarried locally and sawed into concrete block size pieces. Some of these tufa shelters had corrugated steel roofs, some had a tent roof. They all had a door and glass windows. The entire living area (including the mess hall and other "group" buildings) was a "slummy" looking village. The only thing that gave it a semblance of order was that the tents and tufa huts were in aligned rows.
Three Cornered Kid from the 464th BG crash lands at Pantanella from the June 26th mission to Florisdorf Oil Refinery. Her landing gear was shot out over the target from a Flak burst and she landed with only her nose and left wheel. This picture gives us a pretty good idea of what life for the ground crew was like at Pantanella. I like to think Joe maybe is some where in this picture and you can bet he did see many seens like this and probably a couple of his own ships. Notice the boom truck at the right of the picture getting ready to move the sticken B-24. Pantanella with located in wheat fields and olive orchards like so many Bomb Group airbases in Italy. This picture was sent to me from Bob Hoskinson
NOTE: the below explain why it states on Joe's discharge papers Air Transport Command. Joe also was heading back to the states on November 17 1945 according to his discharge papers.
After the war ended in Europe, I went by truck to Naples and loaded on a ship for Trinidad. We were assigned to the ATC (Air Transport Command) and we serviced planes that were returning the Fifth Army back to the States from Italy. I enjoyed the tropical climate but I wanted to go home. On V J day the natives celebrated with marimba bands and dancing.
Mid-September 1945 found a group of us on a plane for Miami and then by train to Jefferson Barracks, MO for discharge
This is what is left of Waller Field airfield at Trinidad today, gone are the hangers and buildings and the men who served here during WW2. It's hard to believe that planes were landing and taking off from this landing strip and that Joe was once working here on B-24's and other planes that were on their way home from a long war.
Tail Marking and the different Wings that made up the 15th AAF Bomb Squadrons : Constituted as the Fifteenth AIR FORCE on 30 Oct 1943. Activated in the Mediterranean Theater on 1 Nov 1943. Began operations on Nov 2nd 1943 engaged primarily in strategic bombardment of targets in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans until the end of the war. Inactivated in Italy on 15 Sep 1945
UNIFORM INDENTIFICATION WW2
PLACEMENT OF INSIGNIA ON THE ARMY SERVICE UNIFORM WW2
The below information came from Rodney Ploessl’s website "The US Army in the Second World War" Please click on the below link
The US Army in the Second World War
1 Distinctive Unit Insignia/Unit Crests
2 Grade/Rank Insignia
3 U.S. Insignia
4 Branch Insignia
5 Current Parent Unit
6 Former Overseas Wartime Parent Unit
7 Single Skill Badge
8 Service Ribbons of Decorations and Medals
9 Second Skill Badge and Marksmanship Badges
10 Unit awards
11 Service/Enlistment Stripes
12 Overseas Service Bars
13 Officer Braid
Joe Krenzelok wearing his Service Ribbons of Decorations and Medals around 1945 Ladysmith Wisconsin. Picture taken on the side of the bakery. Note: I am very likely wrong about the date of this picture. It is likely taken while on leave before 1945
Joe with Ma and Pa. You will find some of the pictures that we have of Joe posted on the 464th Bombardment Group's website. More research is needed and if you enjoy doing research please help us out. You will find it very interesting!
Joe with his sister Bette before she passed away in 1945 when Joe was stationed at Trinidad at the time. Joe is wearing the rank of a Sergeant. It looks like the above 3 pictures were taken on the same leave. This picture is posted by Joe's brother Paul's son Ed Krenzelok who received this picture with others from our relatives in Poland on a recent visit there. Joe's mother Elizabeth send pictures to our Poland relatives for years and she may have sent this one during the war. It is nice to finally have it back in the US Krenzelok family. Ed will be sharing with us some of these pictures and even someone's of the old bakery that we have never seen before with John and Martha Kobielus
464th BG Photo Gallery
464th BG Photo Gallery Crews
Bob Hoskinson sent me this layout map of the BG's in the area of Pantanella Airfield mark with a red dot.
Click on the below link to view more Italy Operation Maps from 1943
Italy Operation Maps 1943
Posted 4-16-2003 - M/Sgt. Joseph Krenzelok was with the 464th Bomb Group which was part of the 15th Air Force in Italy where he serviced as Ground Crew Chief for their planes. We have researched General Order #4096 on his discharge papers that give us this information. I have been working with many of the men of the 464th BG, they have reviewed his discharge papers and this is their conclusion that he was a member of the 464th Bombardment Group because General Order # 4096 is unique to the 464th BG that lead the Mission to Florisdorf Oil Refinery and Marshalling Yards at Vienna, Austria on Jul 8, 1944. The citation which is " With Oak Leaf Cluster" was to Pardubice, Czech on Aug. 24, 1944. The 464th has a very nice website and we can go there and enjoy their website knowing Joe was part of this group in Italy at the Airfield at Pantanella with the 464th BG was stationed during the war .
464TH BOMB GROUP WEBSITE
Click on the below link:
464th BG website
EMAILS FROM BOB HOSKINSON IN REGARDS TO GENERAL ORDER NO. 4096, APRIL 13, 2003
I have come across some info today that might interest you. When the 464th was dismantled in approx Sept '45 they were no longer a "Bomber Group", thus were assigned to the Air Transport Command. A large number of the ground crew went to Trinidad. Those with the most time overseas got to return to the states.
One of your questions was something to the effect "Was the ground crew assigned to "Pantanella Airbase" and functioned in both the 464th and 465th BGs. No, each individual was assigned to a Group and Squadron. That didn't mean you couldn't venture over to the other group and admire their art and vice-versa, or go to the NCO or Officers clubs.
Frank Ambrose was assigned to the 465th BG, 781st BS, but being an Army Air Corp photographer he had access to most any of the aircraft at the Base, thus you will notice on his website that a large number of the Aircraft are 464th.
The 464th was awarded its first DUC for a mission to Vienna on Jul 8, 1944 and the second for a mission to Pardubice, Czech on Aug. 24, 1944. I have a copy of GO #4096 in my service folder given me when I left Italy in May '45. Your Uncle would have been there when the 464th "Easy Maid" was lost on Aug. 27, '44. The serial number for that a/c is 42-50796. "Black Q" of the 779th BS. As for scanning the copy of the GO 4096 that I have - there are two reasons I cannot do so - #1. The document is on a 8 x 13 page and my scanner will not accept anything over 12 inches. #2. The paper is very brittle and the prong clip on the folder hasn't been opened in 57 years. What I have done instead is typed the info to a legal sized document in a MS Word .doc and attaching it to this message
It seems a different "GO" was assigned to each "Citation Award". "GO #4096" was for the 7 July 1944 mission which the 464th BG lead. Something that very few 464th BG personnel were unaware of was the fact that "GO #3507" was awarded for the mission of 24 August 1944 thus entitling them to a "Distinguished Unit Citation", or to an "Oak Leaf Cluster" to mount on the badge in lieu of a second badge. It seems that it took Headquarters a long time to get around to awarding the citation. According to an article that I read last night indicates that the DUC was renamed "Presidential Unit Citation" in 1961.
When the 464th went to Trinidad, it was no longer a Bomb Group, the war was over, and thus it was assigned to the ATC at Trinidad. They still needed Ground Crews and aircraft maintenance. Yes, your uncle was assigned to the 15th Air force and was a member of the 464th Bomb Group until the transfer to Trinidad where he now became part of the Air Transport Command.
"So if the 464th received GO # 4096 and it was unique to the 464th does that place my uncle with the 464th servicing their planes " I asked Bob ?
My reply to the above question is, a very definite YES.
If I come up with anything else, I will let you know.
Bob Hoskinson, 464th BG, 778th BS, B-24 Turret Gunner
I would like to thank Bob Hoskison and all the other men from the 464th BG, 465th BG, 460th BG and the 485th BG but it is Bob that has shown so much interest in helping me with trying to figure out Joe's placement and research in the 464th BG. We hope to uncover more information in the future.
Bob has actually flown missions in several of the 464th's aircrafts including the Green Hornet, Home for Christmas, Ruthie the Raider, Wheel'N Deal and a few others.
He was a member of what they called a "replacement crew", thus they were not assigned to any one aircraft but flew whatever was available, even if it meant using and aircraft from another squadron. He managed to get in 32 sorties out of the 53 missions needed to go home before the in the ETO ended.
Bob had periodically, worked in the photo lab at Pantanella after the missions and debriefing were over and on some of his off days when we weren't on real or practice missions
Bob recommends reading " History of the 464th BG by Michael Hill " Bob says to be aware that there are many mistakes and miss spellings in the book.
Above photo was taken on 16 Mar 1945 when our crew was on its way to Naples/Capri for a week of R&R.
(Standing L-R) Morris Apsel Radio Operator/Gunner, Herschel Higdon Co-Pilot, E. Burroughs Pilot, George McMillan Navigator, Harry Player Engineer/Gunner
(Kneeling L-R) Robert Flammer Ball Turret Gunner, Howard Farling Nose Gunner, Robert Hoskinson Tail Gunner
IN REMEMBRANCE OF ROBERT (BOB) N. HOSKINSON, JUNE 15, 2009
I cannot begin to express my grief at the loss of my mentor and friend, Bob Hoskinson. It will be strange not to be able to just email him with a question about the 464th Bomb Group or anything related. Bob was the one who put me on the path to my Uncle Joe’s research and I know he has helped countless others in their search for information. No one worked harder to preserve the History of the 464th Bombardment Group (H), 55th Wing of the 15th AAF during WW2. And I am honored and blessed to have known Bob.
Thank you for all your help Bob. “I Salute you”
Click on the below link for the 464th's Website's tribute.
In Remembrance of Robert N. Hoskinson, June 15, 2009
GENERAL ORDER NO. 4096, 1ST UNIT CITATION 464TH BOMB GROUP
FIFTEENTH AIR FORCE
22 October 1944
Citation of Unit 1
SECTION I - CITATION OF UNIT
Under the provision of Circular No 433, War Department, 1943, and circular No 89, Headquarters NATOUSA, 10 July 1944, the following unit is cited for out-standing performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy:
464th BOMBARDMENT GROUP: For outstanding performance of duty in armed conflict with the enemy. On 7 July 1944, the Group was notified to prepare maximum aircraft to lead a Wing formation on a mission to attack and destroy the Florisdorf Oil Refinery and Marshalling Yards at Vienna, Austria. A successful completion of this mission would seriously reduce the production of vital oil products vitally needed to supplement the dwindling oil supply of the Axis and would interdict the important rail traffic to the Southern and Eastern Fronts. With the strategic importance of this mission clearly in mind, the ground crew, enthusiastically and sedulously, applied their greatest efforts so that all aircraft maintenance would be at peak efficiency and every available plane ready to participate. Operations and intelligence personnel, untiringly devoted their coordinated efforts to ensure that all combat crews participating would be prepared with exact and complete information necessary for the mission's successful accomplishment. On 8 July 1944, twenty-seven (27) B-24 type aircraft loaded with maximum bomb tonnage, took off, and successfully rendezvoused with other units participating in this operation, and, after assuming the lead of the Wing, set course for the objective. On the approach to and over the target, extremely intense, accurate and heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire was encountered, together with determined attacks from approximately sixty (60) highly aggressive enemy fighters, which made violent efforts to defend these vital installations under attack. Despite continued heavy enemy opposition, displaying outstanding courage and determination, the gallant crews battled their way through the enemy defenses to the target. Despite severe damage sustained by their aircraft, relentlessly and with unswerving determination, they led the Wing formation through for a highly successful bombing run, with the entire bomb load of their formation concentrated in the immediate target area, inflicting grave damage to vital enemy installations and supplies. Leaving the objective, their formation was under continuous attack from hostile fighters which were utilizing rockets, cannon and heavy machine guns, in an effort to break up and destroy their formation. For twenty-five (25) minutes the courageous crews repelled the vicious hostile attacks, and, during the ensuing aerial battle, eleven (11) enemy aircraft were destroyed, six (6) probably destroyed, and one (1) damaged. Through their highly effective defensive fire and ability to maintain a compact formation, the group held its own losses to a minimum of three (3) bombers. Though their remaining ships were severely damaged, they were successfully brought through for a safe landing at base. By the conspicuous courage, professional skill and leadership of the combat crews, together with the highly technical skill and devotion to duty of the ground personnel, the 464th Bombardment Group has reflected great credit upon itself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
By command of Major General TWINING
OFFICIAL: R. K. TAYLOR, Colonel, GSC, Chief of Staff
J. M. IVINGS, Colonel, ACD, Adjutant General
A TRUE COPY: //s: Howard H. Stark//, Howard A. Stark, Capt, AC
R E S T R I C T E D
CLICK ON THE BELOW LINK TO VIEW THE ORGINAL COPY OF GENERAL ORDER NO. 4096
Orginal Copies of General Order # 4096
CLICK ON THE BELOW LINK TO VIEW THE ORGINAL COPY OF GENERAL ORDER NO. 3507 THE SECOND UNIT CITATION
Orginal Copies of General Order # 3507
464TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP BRIED HISTORY
464th Bombardment Group (Heavy) ACTIVATED 01 Aug. 1943
776th, 777th , 778th & 779th Squadrons
PANTANELLA, ITALY ; AWARDS Distinguished Unit Citations VIENNA and AUSTRIA 8 July 44 PARDABICE, CZECH. 24 Aug. 44
Formed May 1943 at Wendover Field, Utah created on paper only. Part of the 15th Army Air Force, The 55th Bomb Wing.The 464th BG ground crews arrived at Pantanella Airfield, Italy March and April 1944, The air crews and B-24's take the southern route across the Atlantic to the continent of Africa and go to Oudna, Tunisian in March of 1944 where they run training missions. April 20 1944 the aircrews and ships move to Gioia Del Colle, Italy and start flying their missions from there until they move to their permanent airbase at Pantanella, part of the ground crews move from Pantanella to Gioia Del Colle to service the ships. Italy Inactivated July 1945.
Colonel Bonner was the 464th's first commander who was shot down on a mission and Colonel Schroeder replaced Colonel Bonner and Colonel Andrew Jackson (AJ) Byrd replaced Colonel Schroeder early in the winter of 1944 - 1945 remaining in command until the end of hostilities and the deactivation of the group at Waller Field, Trinidad July 31 1945.
210 completed combat sorties were flown with a loss of 138 aircraft. Fortunately many B-24 type aircrews survived to return and fly again unless they were captured or interned in a neutral nation.
Wendover Field, UT 1 Aug
Gowen Field, Idaho 22 Aug 1943
Pocatello AAFld, Idado 2 Oct 1943-9 Feb 1944
Pantanella Airfield, Italy Mar 1944
Gioia, Italy 21 Apr 1944
Pantanella Airfield, Italy c. 1 Jun 1944-c. May 1945
Waller Field, Trinidad Jun-31 Jul 1945
Began training for combat with Consolidated B-24 Liberators, during their training cycle, and moved to Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho on August 22, 1943 and Pocatello Army Airfield, Pocatello, Idaho on October 2, 1943. On February 9, 1944, they began an overseas movement to the Mediterranean theater arriving at Pantanella Airfield, Italy on April 10, 1944. The air echelon trained for a few weeks in Tunisia before joining the remainder of the group in Italy. The 464th Bomb Group was assigned to the 55th Bombardment Wing (Heavy), 15th Air Force from April, 1944 to May, 1945. The group moved to Gioia, Italy in April, 1944 (the 776th on the 20th) and flew to Pantanella Airfield (776th on June 1) where it remained until June, 1945.
464th BG consisted of the : 776th, 777th, 778th, 779th Bombardment Squadrons
B-24's tails marked as above left picture is one of the 464th BG and a tail marking of the right picture would be one of the 465th BG who shared the same Pantanella airfield
464TH CITATION BOMBING MISSION G.O. NO. 4096, 1ST CITATION
SATURDAY, 8 JULY 1944 - Strategic Operations (Fifteenth Air Force): In Austria, 520+ B-17s and B-24s attack targets in the Vienna, Austria area bombing refineries at Vosendorf and Korneuburg, the airfield at Zwolfaxing, Markersdorf, and Munchendorf, and marshalling yard and oil storage at Vienna/Floridsdorf, and the airfield at Veszprem; fighters fly 200+ sorties in support of the bomber missions which are opposed by 100+ fighters; 14 US aircraft are lost; heavy bombers and fighters claim 50+ fighters shot down. The 464th lost 3 B-24's on this mission
464TH CITATION BOMBING MISSION G.O. NO. 3507, 2ND CITATION
THURSDAY, 24 AUGUST 1944 Strategic Operations (Fifteenth Air Force): 530+ B-17s and B-24s bomb 3 oil refineries at Kolin and Pardubice, Czechoslovakia; marshalling yard at Vinkovci, Yugoslavia; Szeged, Hungary; and Ferrara, Italy railroad bridge and several targets of opportunity; around 70-80 fighters escort the Czechoslovakian missions; and US bombers and escorting fighters claim nearly 40 air victories.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2006 I have finally been able to get a copy of GO# 3507. Please look for the link above next to GO# 4096 link below
Click on the below link for a full size image in a PDF form. Also check out the 464th's website for a lot more information
464th Functional Organization Chart
460th BG: As each bomber finished a mission, it's personal ground crew always added another bomb to the scoreboard on it's fuselage for another completed bombing mission or a swastika for each enemy fighter shot down. Here a ground crewman adds another swastika to the score of his plane the "Rattlesnake Hank" Donald E Cox said in the above e-mail that no work stands were available, so we worked off empty 55 gal drums. This picture was copied from the 460th BG book that was made at the end of the war. I was able to find a orginal book the 460th BG part of the 55th Bomb Wing and a sister group of the 464th BG.
15TH AAF SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS AND RESULTS 1943-1945
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15th AAF Summary of Operations and Results 1943-1945
I asked Frank Ambrose in 2003 when the nose art was painted on the planes
Unknown Army Air Force Serviceman painting nose art on a B-24 during WW II
Nose art would appear on the aircraft after arriving at it's assigned combat base. Generally the crew that flew the plane overseas from the states would have the option to name it since they would be flying it the most. Sometimes the ground crew maintaining it would name it. Many times they would start to name it and get shot down before they could paint it. Anyone would paint them, however if there was a good artist in the group- everyone would want that person to paint their aircraft. Many of the planes were never named since for each mission there was a different crew.
Hope this helps
Frank Ambrose was in Army Air Force assigned to the 465th BG who was located on the next landing strip over from the 464th Bombardment Group at Pantanella airfield. Frank was a wartime photographer in Italy during World War II and has a website. It was Frank that first directed to me that Joe was in the 464th BG because he knew GO#4096 was their Unit Citation number
Link Frank's website on the 465th BG:
Frank Ambrose's website
THE B-24 FROM STEPHAN AMBROSE'S BOOK "THE WILD BLUE"
The B-24 was built like a 1930 Mack Truck, except that it had an aluminum skin that could be cut with a knife. It could carry a heavy load far and fast but it had no refinements. Steering the four-engine airplane was difficult and exhausting, as there was no power except the pilot's muscles. It had no windshield wipers, so the pilot had to stick his head out the side window to see during a rain. Breathing was possible only by wearing an oxygen mask, it was cold and clammy, smelling of rubber and sweat and had to be worn above 10,000 feet. There was no heat, despite temperatures that at 20,000 feet and higher got as low as 40 or even 50 degrees below zero. The wind blew through the plane like a fury, especially from the waist gunner's windows and whenever the bomb bay doors were open. The oxygen mask often froze to the wearer's face. If the men at the waist guns touched their machine guns with bare hands, the skin froze to the metal.
The crews found that just entering their B-24s was difficult. The bombardier, navigator, and nose turret gunner were forced to squat down, almost on their hands and knees then they would slide up their stations through the nose wheel well of the ship. Inside, the three men had to squeeze them-selves into a cramped compartment. The bombardier squatted on a small seat right behind the nose gunner, where he hunched over the bombsight or simply sat on the floor. The navigator sat at a tiny retractable stool, really too small to sit on, with the navigator's table and holding his charts in front of him. It was little more than a thin shelf on the bulkhead that separated the nose from the flight deck. At eye level, he could see the feet of the pilot and co-pilot.
The other crew members entered the plane by crawling up through the open bomb bay doors about three feet off the ground. There was a switch on the fuselage to open the bomb bay doors. Once inside they would stand upright, step onto the narrow catwalk, and then move forward onto the flight deck or into the waist gun area. The radioman sat at a small desk facing his radio sets, just behind and below the co-pilot. The engineer stood between the pilot and co-pilot at takeoff, helping to monitor the engines and fuel gauges. In the air he took his position behind the pilot and just across from the radioman. When required, he climbed into the top turret, where he stood, his feet on a metal bar inches above the radioman's head.
The waist gunners and the ball turret gunner, and the tail gunner used the catwalk to get to their positions. The tail gunner, standing on a tiny platform, slipped his legs into the turret. There was not enough room for him to wear his parachute. The waist gunner - two before mid- 1944, one thereafter as the danger from enemy fighter planes diminished, stood. At altitude the bitterly cold wind howled through the open windows of the waist area making this position and that of the ball and tail turret gunners miserable, covering them and their guns with a thin veil of frost. The ball turret was the most physically uncomfortable, isolated, and terrifying position on the plane. The gunner climbed in the ball, pulled the hatch closed, and was then lowered into position. They were suspended beneath the plane, staring down between their knees at the earth below. If a bailout was necessary, they relied on the waist gunner if he was alive to engage the hydraulic system to raise the turret and help him out and into the parachutes.
There were no bathrooms. To urinate there were two small relief tubes, one forward and one aft, which were almost impossible to use without spilling because of the heavy layer of clothing the men wore. Plus the tubes were often clogged with frozen urine. Defecating could be done only in a receptacle lined with a wax paper bag. A man had to be desperate to use it because of the difficulty of removing enough clothing and exposing bare skin to the arctic cold. The bags were dropped out of the waist gun windows or through the open bomb bay doors. There were no kitchen facilities, no way to warm up food or coffee, but anyway there was no food unless a crew member had packed in a C ration or a sandwich.
With no pressurization, pockets of gas in a man's intestinal tract could swell like balloons and cause him to double over in pain. There was no aisle to walk down, only the eight-inch wide catwalk running beside the bombs and over the bomb bay doors used to move forward and aft. It had to be done with care, as the aluminum doors, rolled up into the fuselage instead of opening outward on a hinge like a B-17. If you fell off the catwalk on to the bomb bay doors you may go through the 100-pound capacity doors. So if a man slipped he would go through. The seats were not padded, could not be reclined and were cramped into so small a space that a man had almost no chance to stretch and none whatsoever to relax. Absolutely nothing was done to make it comfortable for the pilot, the co-pilot, or the other eight men in the crew, even though most flights lasted for eight hours, sometimes ten or more, seldom less than six hours. The planes existed and were flown for one purpose only, to carry 500 or 1,000-pound bombs and drop them accurately over enemy targets.
It was called a Liberator. That was a perhaps unusual name for a plane designed to drop high explosives on the enemy well behind the front lines, but it nevertheless was the perfect name. Consolidated Aircraft Corporation first made it, with the initial flight in 1939. Consolidated, along with the Ford Motor Company, Douglas Aircraft Company and North American Aviation together called the Liberator Production Pool. Together they produced more than 18,300 Liberators and about 5,000 more than the total numbers of B-17s. The Liberator was not operational before World War II and was not operational after the war. Nearly every B-24 was cut up into pieces of scrap in 1945 and 1946, or left to rot on Pacific islands. The number of people involved in the making it, servicing it, ground crews and in flying the B-24s outnumbered those involved with any other airplane, in any country, in any time. There were more B-24s than any other American airplane ever built.
It would be an exaggeration to say that the B-24 won the war for the Allies. But don't ask how they could have won the war without it. The Army Air Forces needed thousands of pilot, and tens of thousands of air and ground crew members to keep them flying. It needed to gather them and train them and supply them and service the planes from a country in which only a relatively small number of men knew anything at all about how to fly even a single-engines airplane or fix it. There are many stories how a B-24 had brought home it's crew with only 3, sometimes 2 or even just one engine running.
THE UNITED STATEDS UTILIZED PRIMARILY FIVE BOMBERS
The B-17 - a four-engine bomber that could carry three tons (6,000 pounds) of bombs a distance of 2,000 miles at a cruising speed of 187 miles per hour. Top speed was 287 miles per hour. It had a single tail and tail wheel. It was armed with thirteen 50-caliber machine guns. It was called a Very heavy bomber.
The B-24 - a four engine bomber with twin tails and a nose wheel. It could attain a speed of 303 miles per hour and cruise at 200 miles per hour. It had ten 50-caliber machine guns and could carry 8,8000 pounds of bombs. It was called a Very heavy bomber.
The B-25 - was a twin-engine, twin tail medium bomber with tricycle landing gear. It was the bomber used on the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo. It could carry 3,000 pounds of bombs. It had six machine guns and some models carried a 75 mm cannon in the nose. Its top speed was 275 miles per hour.
The B-26 - was a twin engine, single-tail bomber and had a top speed of 317 miles per hour. It and a dozen machine guns and could carry 5,000 pounds of bombs and was a medium bomber.
The B-29 - came into action in 1944, was the largest combat aircraft of the war. It had eight 50-caliber machine guns in remotely controlled turrets and a 20 mm cannon in a manned tail turret. It could carry 10 tons of bombs. It was pressurized and could fly in excess of 30,000 feet at a top speed of 365 miles per hours. Its maximum range was 5,830 miles.
Note: the above is taken from Stephen E Ambrose's book "The Wild Blue"
A LOOK INSIDE A B-24J LIBERATOR (WITCHCRAFT)
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A Look inside a WW2 B-24J Liberator (Witchcraft)
THE CREW'S EQUIPMENT AND PROTECTIVE PARAPHERNALIA
We flew most of our missions at an altitude of more than 21,000 feet, some of then lasting eight to ten hours, as in the case of our missions to Berlin and Munich. In an open unpressurized B-24 at this altitude there was not enough oxygen for you to function efficiently and it was also very cold, with temperatures in the range of 50 to 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, exposing any uncovered skin to numbing frostbite.
Above 10,000 feet you had to breathe oxygen through a mask connected by a tube to a large oxygen tank near your battle position. If you had to leave your position for any reason, you had to strap a portable oxygen tank around your neck. This tank held enough oxygen for about seven minutes.
On the crew's first mission Becchetti became trapped in the nose turret when the airstream loosened and jammed the turret door during a spin. This exposed Becchetti to a strong flow of air into the turret. He returned to base with his left cheek frostbitten by the few minutes of cold air.
At 50 or 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, it didn't take long for exposed skin to freeze. To combat this, each crew member was clothed in a fur-lined flying suit and boots and a heated flying suit, with heated gloves and heavy heated boots plugged into the suit, which in turn was plugged to the B-24's electrical system. This equipment was somewhat delicately wired, so it was not unusual for a part of it to malfunction and turn out no heat. When it failed, you simply endured the cold with whatever clothing you had and cursed the equipment.
The crew was held together by an intercom system, in which every crew member could hear every message. To speak to a specific person, you used such a phrase as this, "Pilot to bombardier, begin your bomb run." All other members of the crew would hear this message. You wore a leather helmet with a built-in headset and a snap-on throat microphone, both with a separate cord plugged in at your position. If you had to leave your position, as in the case of McHenry's going out into the bomb bay to release a hung bomb, you would be out of communication, so you made sure that somebody was watching you whenever something pulled you away from your intercom connection.
FLAK AND BODY PROTECTION
Flak or the shrapnel from anti-aircraft shells exploding near your plane was the principal danger, especially over the target. A direct hit could bring down an airplane, of course, but the explosions also projected jagged pieces of metal of varying sizes that could penetrate the thin aluminum skin of the B-24. Depending on the nearness of the explosion, these pieces of metal could enter the plane and merely fall to the floor without doing any damage except for the hole in the fuselage or they could come through the fuselage at bullet-like speed and cause serious damage to the plane's equipment or serious and sometimes fatal injury to a crew member. Occasionally, a piece of metal would enter the plane and ricochet noisily and frighteningly off the inner walls and structure two or three times before falling to the floor. On one of our missions a piece of flak ricocheted in this manner until it struck our waist gunner, lodging itself in his temple just below the skin. Fortunately, the flak had spent itself, or it would have killed the gunner.
A flak vest and a metal helmet were our protection against flak. The vest had two panels held together by snaps at the shoulders, so that the chest and back were protected. Each panel was constructed of cloth-covered squares of metal attached so that the suit would be flexible.
The myth among bomber crews was that flak bursts usually occurred below the airplane, sending flying metal upward into the plane, thus endangering their masculine virility. Because of this and because of the weight of the flak suit, many airmen chose to sit on at least one of the protective panels, if not both of them. Needless to say, flak suits were always in demand, because airmen hoarded them and hid them. The ideal was to wear one flak suit over your chest and back and to line your seat with another flak suit for double protection.
It was easy to put on a metal helmet, so you wore one in flak barrages over the target, if the helmet was available and if you remembered to put it on. Often, these helmets were never returned to base. They were often used for toilet emergencies and thrown out of the plane before landing, which may explain why helmets were not always available.
EMERGENCY OVER WATER
Crossing the North Sea at the beginning of a mission and the possibility of having to ditch on the return was reason enough for you to wear a "Mae West" life preserver on missions out of England. However, the waters of the North Sea were so cold that life expectancy was about five minutes in a ditching situation, but all of us wore the "Mae West."
EMERGENCY OVER AIR
As we discovered on our 32nd mission, parachuting or bailing out of an airplane is sometimes necessary. For this reason, with the exception of the pilot and the co-pilot, who had back parachutes which formed part of their seats, all of us wore a parachute harness over our flying clothes and kept a chest parachute near at all times to hook onto the harness for a bail-out.
The chest parachutes were "right handed," that is, the ripcord was on the right when the chute was correctly hooked on the harness. To bail out, you first checked that all parts of the harness were hooked together properly and that the harness was snug on your body, especially around your legs, where a loose harness could injure you seriously in the groin area when the parachute opened and stopped your free fall.
In a controlled bail-out, you left the plane by the camera hatch, at the rear between the waist section and the tail gun. In an emergency, you left the plane through any opening available, trusting that you would fall clear of the tail section.
In our bail-out on July 31, 1944, we used the camera hatch. Six of us bailed out first, so we were able to check one another's harness before hooking our chest pack on the harness. With arms crossed over the parachute, each of us in turn faced the front of the plane, squatted on the front edge of the camera hatch, and then fell backwards down through the hatch and out of the plane. McHenry bailed out alone a few minutes later without the advantage of having others check his equipment.
THE COMPLETELY EQUIPPED BOMBER CREWMAN
Thus when fully equipped and protected, you were thoroughly bundled against the sub-zero cold. You had a fur-lined flying suit over a heated suit with electrical connection to your gloves and to your heavy fur lined boots. You had your yellow "Mae West" life preserver draped around your neck and strapped at your sides. Over this you wore the flak suit, covering your chest and back. In case of a bail-out or a ditching at sea you could quickly unsnap the two panels of the flak suit and let them drop to the floor. Finally, you clipped on your parachute harness, making sure that it was properly hooked together and snug on your body and legs. On your head you wore a light leather helmet with intercom earphones sewn into the helmet, and around your neck you snapped on a throat microphone. Over the leather helmet, you wore a steel helmet through flak barrages. You wore goggles to prevent frostbite around the eyes and, of course, an oxygen mask covering the mouth and nose connected by a tube to an oxygen tank.. At high altitudes it was necessary every few minutes to swing aside the oxygen mask to shake off the frost and to dry off your face. And you always had your chest parachute within easy reach in case you had to hook it on the harness in a hurry to bail out.
B-24 CREW MEMBER DUTIES
The pilot was responsible for the safety and duties of the crew at all times. Technically he was in charge of the crew for twenty-four hours a day. As the aircraft commander, the efficiency of the crew as a team was dependent on his ability to do just that: to command. Like any leader, the pilot had to be fair, judicious, and impartial in order to command the respect and trust of his crew. During the mission, he was charged with keeping the aircraft in tight formation to avoid casualties
The co-pilot was the man who executed the duties of the pilot. Both the pilot and co-pilot had to be fully competent with their flight instrumentation, and were trained in their operation. Essentially, the skills and duties of the two were the same. If the pilot were killed or injured on a mission, the co-pilot would have to take charge, and therefore must be familiar with all the pilot's duties. For this reason some have argued that the duties of the co-pilot were more difficult than that of the pilot. He may not have all the experience of the pilot, yet at a moments notice he may well be forced to take over the aircraft.
In addition, the co-pilot had to be as knowledgeable as the navigator, during daytime or night bombing missions. He also had to have command of "dead reckoning," and the operation of the cockpit radio.
Located in the top turret in the upper fuselage of the aircraft, the radio man had to be constantly listening and reporting to command and to other aircraft. This, whenever the integrity of the mission could not be compromised due to "radio silence." He was instructed to give his aircraft's position reports every half-hour. The efforts of the bombing mission, damage, and casualties were his responsibility. He was obviously in charge of distress, or S.O.S. dispatches. In addition, he had to have first aid knowledge and be proficient in the operation of some camera gear. (The radio man took some of the photographs in this web site.) Most importantly, he "pre-flighted," or tested the radio gear and kept an accurate flight log.
The engineer, or flight engineer was usually the senior man on the aircraft. On many B-24s he was the top turret gunner in addition to knowing everything about the function of the aircraft. Mission success and the livelihood of the crew depended on the proper functioning of the aircraft and therefore, on him. Of utmost importance was the job of monitoring fuel consumption. If necessary, he was in charge of emergency handling procedures such as the manual operation of the hydraulic landing gear in the event of damage during a mission. Many old wartime photographs show flight engineers with fifty "bombs" painted on their leather flight jackets. The bombs represented the number of missions accomplished. Since the tour of duty was twenty-five missions, the love of their duty was shown by the number of missions flown. In addition, many of the flight engineers have spoken the kindest and sincerest words for their respective aircraft, since they knew the workings of the B-24 and the abuse endured during a mission.
Without a good bombardier the mission would be fruitless. His efforts and calculations contributed to the success of the mission. It must be understood that as he flies the aircraft over the target he is virtually unprotected and at the whim of any enemy fighter. This, after he has crawled on his stomach to the nose of the aircraft. During the five minutes duration of the bombing run, the bombardier is in complete control of the aircraft. As the accuracy and thus, the success of the mission lie in his hands, he cannot be overruled. Therefore, he instructs the pilot as to his needs. Until the " Bombs Away ! " command is given, he alone is in charge.
He must deals with sub-freezing temperatures and the drafty nose of the aircraft, looking through the bombsight and making minute corrections. All this while flak buffets the air around him and the nose gunner fires above him.
The navigator was the master of the instruments. He used his good sense of direction and dead reckoning in tandem with the airspeed and elapsed time to calculate approximate position. The use of pilotage, or the sighting of ground landmarks was fine for daylight runs with good weather, yet it afforded the enemy an equal advantage. Therefore, the navigator was well versed in celestial navigation and instrumentation. My father claims that all combat navigation was by pilotage in case of a necessary break from formation due to damage and the necessity for visual contact with the target. I have found that most textbooks agree. In fact, " The Soldier: B-24 Liberator," claims that many lead or formation ships would substitute a navigator for the nose gunner, "just to watch the ground." The increased use of navigational instruments meant a corresponding increase in calibration. The most important function of the navigator was to be certain the instruments were calibrated. In fact, the best navigator in the war may be useless during a night bombing raid, or during flak bursts, or in poor weather. Thus, he was responsible for maintaining an alternate route back to base in the event of separation from the formation for whatever the reason. His knowledge was invaluable and the key to the success was the dialogue between himself and the pilot. The discussion concerned weather, alternatives, course, and airspeed, with any changes being discussed between both crewmen.
The last and certainly not the least crew classification was that of the gunner. The gunner had excellent instinct, reaction time, and the most dangerous position on the ship, especially at the waist gun stations. In addition, the side windows were removed, (as can be seen in the photo gallery page), during combat. The waist gunner was afforded the least protection at perhaps the coldest spot. With the aircraft at greater than 20,000 feet, it is understood that the temperature drops three degrees for each thousand feet of altitude. Therefore, with temperatures at fifty below at times, it is amazing that a human being can function, in a heated suit or not. In fact, my father has mentioned the incredible number of Purple Hearts given for frostbite during World War II. Also, many gunners and other airmen withstood severe electrical burns from short circuits in their electrically heated cold weather gear. All were experts in enemy aircraft identification, and knew where the respective kill zones were on respective aircraft in order to minimize ammunition usage.
Concerning the ball turret gunner, small men were obviously chosen for this position, and without a parachute. The turret was in "perpetual" motion in order to spot approaching enemy fighters. The gunner did not enter the turret until near the battle zone, and he was lower into position since the turret caused increased drag while in flight. Also, the turret would protrude during landing, and even with tricycle landing gear would have scraped upon landing. The designers of later models removed the ball turrets to save weight for added fuel and bomb loads. Finally, the drafty nose turrets subjected the gunners to intense cold, and susceptibility to flak hits, dreaded far more than enemy fighters. Can you imagine evading fighters with flak bursting all around, in the middle of a bomb run? The noise, the cold, the shaking of the aircraft, and almost no way to communicate with an oxygen mask on? It is absolutely amazing that so many succeeded, and equally unfortunate that so many men were lost
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U.S. AAF Aviation Cadet Robert Krenzelok, WW2
Krenzelok website Homepage
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