Bill’s blog archive: Daily Posts

WINDYCITY1 B24bestweb
WINDYCITY1 B24bestweb
WINDYCITY1 B24bestweb
WINDYCITY1 B24bestweb
WINDYCITY1 B24bestweb

Three Sprained Ankles

Luck played such a large role in it all.  For some, Lady Luck frowned, but for others, she gave her friendliest smile.  Such was the case for a crew with the 451st Bomb Group of the 15th Air Force, B-24 tail # 42-7757, nicknamed “Windy City”.

On June 6, 1944, flying back to Italy from their target, the oil fields of Ploesti, Romania, “Windy City” was hit by German anti-aircraft.  The bombardier, 2nd LT Alex Chesbowitz, told what happened next:

“About 1200 the plane caught on fire; we were 50 miles south of Belgrade. All crew members bailed out at 10,000 feet altitude. We were then brought together on the ground by the Chetniks and given food and shelter…”

And the luck of the crew of “Windy City” continued.  Shortly after the crash, the pilot, 2nd Lieutenant William R. Harris, was able to send a cable to the War Department in Washington, DC.  He notified them that the entire crew of his bomber was safe, and would be waiting at an airfield in Yugoslavia for rescue.  In fact, over 40 American and Royal Air Force flyers were waiting there.  By August 11, 1944, the crew of “Windy City” was safe back in Castelluccio, Italy.

The only injuries sustained by the crew?  According to LT Harris, just “three sprained ankles.”

The crew of “Windy City” was:

  • 2nd Lieutenant William R. Harris, Jr. (Plymouth, IN)
  • 2nd Lieutenant Donald J. Smith (Chicago, IL)
  • 2nd Lieutenant Floyd C. Pedersen (Elizabeth, NJ)
  • 2nd Lieutenant Alex Chesbowitz (Brooklyn, NY)
  • Technical Sergeant Richard D. Gilson (Council Bluffs, IA)
  • Staff Sergeant Clell M. Card (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Staff Sergeant Willie L. Gantt (Leesville, SC)
  • Staff Sergeant Frederick S. Koffel (Belfry, PA)
  • Staff Sergeant Richard H. Knowlton (Caspar, WY)
  • Staff Sergeant Denzil D. Radabaugh (Masontown, WV)

The B-24 shown in photos 1 and 2 in this post are the actual plan in this incident; however, the crew shown in photo 2 is unidentified. If you can identify any of the crew in this photo, I’d love to hear from you.

  1. Nicole Morrice (maiden name Smith)Nicole Morrice (maiden name Smith)06-06-2014


    My name is Nicole Morrice, maiden name Smith. My father, Maj General Donald J Smith, is in the photo of the crew of Windy City. He is bottom row, second from left.

    • Bill BeigelBill Beigel09-24-2014

      Hi Nicole:

      Sorry for the slow response to your comment. Do you have any information, stories and/or photos about your father or any other members of the crew you might like to share?

      Best regards, Bill

  2. James GrecoJames Greco11-02-2014

    My Father August J. Greco flew on windy city on May 31, 1944 to Ploesti
    His pilot was Fred Fulton-They flew Tail-end Charlie.

    They were Crew #19 451 BG
    Hotchkiss-a photographer received a purple heart
    from a slight scratch on the cheek from flack
    Windy City was assigned to pilot Carlson

    Feel free to contact me I can send you a color drawing of windy city
    My cell is 585-750-3518.

    Best Wishes,

    Jim Greco

    • Bill BeigelBill Beigel11-19-2014

      Hi Jim: I would love to see a color drawing of Windy City. Is it something you can scan in and send me?

      Best regards, Bill

  3. Bill BeigelBill Beigel03-31-2015

    Update: Jim Greco did send me his drawings of Windy City. I included it in a blog post by that name, which you can see here:

    Thanks again for sharing these, Jim!


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