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Bill’s blog archive: Daily Posts

Irving Smith Aviation Cadet
Irving Smith Aviation Cadet
Irving Smith Aviation Cadet
Irving Smith Aviation Cadet
Irving Smith Aviation Cadet
Irving Smith Aviation Cadet

The Last Pilot of the Last Ship in the Squadron

The intended mission of Lieutenant Roger Pagels’ P-51 of the 357th Fighter Group was a patrol of the area SW of Guernsey Island on June 6, 1944. P-51 tail # 43-6397 was one of three combat losses for the unit this day. Another flyer, Captain Paul K. De Vries, was the last to see this Mustang. “….Lt. ROGER E PAGELS was the pilot of the last ship in the Squadron formation. I saw Lt. PAGELS' ship take off. That was the last time anyone is known to have seen or heard from Lt....
D Day Waco CG 4A USAAF Assault Glider 2013 6 5
D Day Waco CG 4A USAAF Assault Glider 2013 6 5
D Day Waco CG 4A USAAF Assault Glider 2013 6 5
D Day Waco CG 4A USAAF Assault Glider 2013 6 5

“Machine Guns Concentrated”

Technical Sergeant Arthur L. Perez submitted the following brief testimony: The glider carried a crew of two, as well as two infantrymen from the 82nd Airborne Division. But the glider’s cargo, in military eyes, was just as important, if not more so.  The equipment on board LJ 161 when it went crashed on June 6, 1944, near Blosville, France, was: 1 Jeep 1 Net Phone and wire Gun tools 15 rounds 57mm ammunition 1 57mm gun Pioneer tools Tow Rope Loading Equipment 1...
Heaven's Above B-24 WWII
Heaven's Above B-24 WWII
Heaven's Above B-24 WWII
Heaven's Above B-24 WWII
Heaven's Above B-24 WWII

Five From the 464th Bomb Group

The 15th Army Air Force, based in Italy, sent hundreds of B-24 Liberators against the Romanian oil fields at Ploesti on June 6, 1944. This mission cost one of their units, the 464th Bomb Group, five crews. It was one of the worst days of the war for the 464th. B-24 tail #42-52449, nicknamed “Hard Hearted Hannah,” left the formation for reasons that could not be determined by observers. A top turret gunner in another plane in the formation testified that “…there was no smoke,...
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission
465th Bombardment Group B 24 Mission

From Panatella to Ploesti

The 15th Army Air Force, based in Italy, sent hundreds of B-24 Liberators against the Romanian oilfields at Ploesti on June 6, 1944. This target, one of the main suppliers of oil to the war machine of the Third Reich, had been attacked many times before, but always managed to remain in operation. Flying out of Panatella, Italy, the 465th Bomb Group, part of the 15th AAF, lost 4 crews, for a total of 41 men, on this raid. B-24 tail # 42-52449, nicknamed “Patches”, was hit by enemy...
Cloudy Sea
Cloudy Sea
Cloudy Sea

Debut for Debach

It was the very first combat mission for the 493rd Bomb Group, based in Debach, England. Thirty-six B-24’s took off for their target on June 6, 1944. But when they reached their objective, a road and railroad crossing at Lisieux, France, it was completely covered by cloud. The decision was made for the group to return to England without dropping their ordnance. Somewhere over the English Channel, at 10:28 AM, two of the B-24’s collided.  A witness stated “the right wing of A/C...
RobertCFrascotti
RobertCFrascotti
RobertCFrascotti
RobertCFrascotti

Night Take-Off

The P-51 Mustang, tail #43-6685, prepared for takeoff early in the morning of June 6, 1944. The mission of its unit, the 352nd Fighter Group, was to support the ground troops landing in Normandy that day. The weather was listed as “changeable and at the time of the accident the sky was overcast and there was a slight drizzle.” At 0251 hours, the aircraft was seen to crash into one of the large lighting towers that surrounded the field at Bodney, in East Anglia, England. “The ship...
GrossCrew Sweatin It Out Tail 42 526291
GrossCrew Sweatin It Out Tail 42 526291
GrossCrew Sweatin It Out Tail 42 526291

Sweatin’ It Out

"Sweatin’ It Out," B-24 tail #42-52629, left its base at Lavenham, England, as part of the multitude of heavy bombers dispatched against France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Its target was the road network intersection at Caen. An SOS was received by the P-51 fighter base at Saffren Walden, in Essex, that the bomber had four dead engines. That was the last word received; the bomber and crew were never seen again. Under the "Persons who are believed to have last knowledge of aircraft" section in...
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder
B 26 Marauder

“Flying Around Beneath the Overcast”

Sometimes the reports are sparse, despite the tremendous loss of life and damage to property. On June 6, 1944, B-26 ‘Marauders’ of the 394th Bomb Group (Medium) were among those attacking coastal batteries at St. Martin de Varreville, in Normandy, France.  As students of the D-Day invasion know, the weather was very poor that day.  In the rainy bad weather and the early morning dark, two B-26’s of the 394th collided in mid-air, in the area of Gillingham, England. The crash report...
Kittyhawk Landing
Kittyhawk Landing
Kittyhawk Landing
Kittyhawk Landing

West of Terni

The city of Rome had been in Allied hands since June 4, 1944, but much fighting continued on in the area.  Sixty-five miles to the north, German forces were regrouping near the town of Termi. P-40 "Warhawks" of the 27th Fighter-Bomber Group at Santa Maria, Italy were ordered to attack these German positions on June 6, 1944. West of the city, a flight of four P-40’s went down low to attack 5 camoflaged German military vehicles. One of these planes, piloted by 2nd Lieutenant Ralph F....
459BG
459BG
459BG
459BG
459BG

Bailout Procedure Uneventful

While the world’s attention was focused elsewhere on June 6, 1944, the 459th Bomb Group, based at Giuilia, Italy, was sending its B-24 "Liberators" to attack the railroad marshalling yards at Braznov, Romania.  The pilot of their only B-24 lost on the raid was 2nd Lieutenant Joseph E. Buchler, of Ronkonkoma, New York. The plane’s nickname was “Jackie Boy”, tail # 42-52717 After bombing the target, another pilot noticed that “… (Jackie Boy) had begun to lag in the formation and I...
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