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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 the Missing Air Crew Report for this B-24, only the words “No one in this Group” are typed.

No sign of the plane or its crew were ever found. The crew was:

  • 2nd Lieutenant Norman E. Gross, Conway, PA
  • 2nd Lieutenant Willard D. Haskell, Belmont, MA
  • 2nd Lieutenant Francis E. Mek, Kansas City, MO
  • Flight Officer Milton Levine, Suffolk County, MA
  • Staff Sergeant Benjamin A. Hubel, Jr., Cape Girardeau, MO
  • Staff Sergeant Max I. Markowitz, Brooklyn, NY
  • Sergeant Charles A. McWilliams, Bloomfield, IA
  • Sergeant Stanley J. Benson, Pontiac, MI
  • Sergeant Harold O. Allensworth, Houston, TX
  • Staff Sergeant Henry B. Westoff, Jr., Syracuse, NY

It was the only loss suffered by the 487th Bomb Group on D-Day.

Gross Crew of Sweatin' It Out #42-52629 - B-24 of the 838th Squadron S/Sgt Max I. Markowitz (radio operator) standing 1st on left, 2nd Lt Norman E. Gross (pilot) standing 2nd from left, S/Sgt Benjamin A. Huebel Jr. (flight engineer) kneeling at the far left M/Sgt Vernon O. Lee (crew chief) and passenger on the trans-Atlantic flight is standing on the far right Others in crew: 2nd Lt Willard D. Haskell (co-pilot), 2nd Lt Francis E. Moke (navigator), F/O Milton Levine (bombardier), Sgt Charles A. McWilliams (nose turret gunner), Sgt Stanley J. Benson (Upper turret gunner), S/Sgt Henry B. Westhoff Jr. (ball turret gunner) (gunner), however their positions in the photo are not known All crew members died when aircraft went down in the English Channel on 6-June-1944 (Photo provided by Vernon O. Lee, through Ivo de Jong)

Gross Crew of Sweatin’ It Out #42-52629 – B-24 of the 838th Squadron
S/Sgt Max I. Markowitz (radio operator) standing 1st on left, 2nd Lt Norman E. Gross (pilot) standing 2nd from left, S/Sgt Benjamin A. Huebel Jr. (flight engineer) kneeling at the far left M/Sgt Vernon O. Lee (crew chief) and passenger on the trans-Atlantic flight is standing on the far right
Others in crew: 2nd Lt Willard D. Haskell (co-pilot), 2nd Lt Francis E. Moke (navigator), F/O Milton Levine (bombardier), Sgt Charles A. McWilliams (nose turret gunner), Sgt Stanley J. Benson (Upper turret gunner), S/Sgt Henry B. Westhoff Jr. (ball turret gunner) (gunner), however their positions in the photo are not known
All crew members died when aircraft went down in the English Channel on 6-June-1944
(Photo provided by Vernon O. Lee, through Ivo de Jong)

  1. James M. Bethoney IIIJames M. Bethoney III03-28-2014

    Bill, thanks for posting this picture. My Great Uncle was Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt. Willard Haskell. I’m sad I never got to meet him. Ironically his niece, Joanne Lenaerts married my Grandfather Fredderick(Fred) W. Baldau, who was radioman/top turret gunner on The Lady Luck 446th BBG, 8 th Army AirCorps. I know he crash landed in Belgium in 1944, but he told me he was on the Dresden Raid in Feb. 1945, there were no B-24’s on that raid, is it possible he and his crew were reassigned to a B-17?. Also, has our Govt. EVER tried to search for the wreckage and or remains of my uncle Willard and his crew? Thank you.

  2. Dave WalshDave Walsh01-24-2015

    Bill – taking this opportunity to connect with a relative, thanks for posting – James Bethoney,
    We share a great grandfather in common Frederick Wilhelm Baldau. I stumbled upon your entry while researching Fred Jr. your grandad. I can understand your frustration about researching plane crashes – there were a lot in WWII – my uncle Dave died in a B-24 crash over Yugoslavia also – The missing air crew report was extremely detailed – dental records as well… but even then, their co-pilots body was not recovered until 2006 – Time heals all wounds. At any rate, I was more interested in your grand dad Frederick Jr. I’ve been in touch with Betsi Baldau for a number of years but have very little info on Fred. Check out the J.Daniel Walsh family on ancestry.com. If you have any other details about his service – feel free to email me at davetvctv@yahoo.com – Dave Walsh – Boise, Id

  3. Marsha LevyMarsha Levy07-26-2015

    I appreciate the posting on the B-24 Sweatin’ It Out. My 2nd cousin Milton Levine of Boston, MA, was the bombardier. His picture is on the wall in many homes of our family members. I’m curious what was on the back of the Missing Air Crew Report. In 1963, my great aunt was said to have gotten a report from her Representative in Congress that human remains from the aircraft had been found afloat and buried at sea by a British vessel.

    • Paul WebberPaul Webber09-25-2016

      To James M. Bethoney III and Marsha Levy:
      Second Lieutenant Willard D. Haskell was copilot, and Flight Officer Milton Levine was bombardier on the heavy bomber crew of Lt Norman E. Gross in the 838th Bomb Squadron of the 487th Bomb Group at Lavenham, England. As you know, the Gross crew was lost on June 6, 1944. The crew’s aircraft, B-24H 42-52629, ran out of fuel on the return from the mission, and went down in the English Channel northwest of the Cherbourg peninsula. The remains of bombardier F/O Milton Levine were found in the Channel about one month later. The aircraft and remains of the other crew members were never found. There is complete information about this on the Find A Grave pages of these men:
      2/Lt Willard Davison Haskell:
      http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56290511
      F/O Milton Levine:
      http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56291730

      Regards,
      Paul Webber
      Secretary, 487th Bomb Group Association
      pwebber@pcisys.net

  4. JasonJason01-01-2017

    Was this B-24 shot down or simply ran out of gas because they say this B-24 was lost in combat.

    • Bill BeigelBill Beigel01-02-2017

      Hi Jason: the aircraft was lost on a combat mission, but the cause of loss will be forever unknown. Best, Bill

      • Paul WebberPaul Webber01-25-2017

        B-24H 42-52629 ran out of fuel and went down in the English Channel on the return from the mission of June 6, 1944. The aircraft was not shot down. The following is all from official records:
        In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, the 487th Bomb Group dispatched two Squadrons of B-24s on the first of three missions that the Group flew on D-Day. The Gross crew flew B-24H 42-52629 ‘Sweatin’ It Out’ on this mission. The 487th Bomb Group was assigned to bomb a choke point—a road junction—in Caen, France to disrupt German transportation. The Group’s assembly in the dark over England took five hours, much longer than planned. Then a complete undercast prevented the crews from bombing the target. On the return, the entire 8th Air Force heavy bomber force was routed away from the Allied shipping area to the west of the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. The Norman E. Gross crew went missing in action when their aircraft, B-24H 42-52629, ran out of fuel and went down in the English Channel. A station at Saffron Walden, England received a distress call from the crew at 0842, which indicated that the aircraft was about 35 miles northwest of the Cherbourg Peninsula, and all four engines were dead. The aircraft’s last reported position was 49°52’N, 02°38’W, some 20 to 25 miles northwest of the Channel Island of Alderney. Other 487th Bomb Group crews almost ran out of fuel before landing at bases near the English coast.
        The remains of Flight Officer Levine, the bombardier, were found by the crew of the British ship HSL 192 (High Speed Launch 192) and were buried at sea, in the English Channel, on July 3, 1944. The British did not give any details about the recovery or the condition of the remains, but the burial at sea was reported by a Staff Officer, Intelligence, C-in-C’s Office, Portsmouth, England. A statement typed on the Report of Burial shows that the remains were identified by a photograph (an “escape photo”) recovered with the remains, which was positively identified as being that of F/O Levine by friends and members of his unit. The identity was also confirmed by the laundry mark “3014” (last four digits of F/O Levine’s Army serial number) found on a piece of clothing. Also recovered was an Army Air Forces insignia shoulder patch.
        None of the other members of the Norman E. Gross crew was ever found.

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