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Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery Memorial Page 8 "Maiden USA"

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Click the camera for Sgt Clifton
        Davidson Photo Album!
 

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The B-24, 42-78180, “Maiden USA” was shot down over North Arezzo, Italy on April 25, 1944. The crew was buried on August 22, 1949 in Section E 124 at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery. They were assigned to the 722nd Squadron, 450th Bomb Group.

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CREW

Back Row - Left to Right:


2nd Lt. Harmond M. Dessler - Pilot    POW
2nd Lt. Wayne H. Sullivan - Co-Pilot   KIA   Buried Arlington National Cemetery
2nd Lt. William J. Kelly - Navigatror     KIA  Buried Florence American Cemetery
2nd Lt. William H. Harvey - Bombardier   POW
Sgt. Bruce P. Hanson - Gunner        POW

Front Row - Left to Right:

Sgt. Clifton L. Davidson - Radio Operator   KIA
Sgt. Francis G. Miliauskas - Engineer  KIA
Sgt. Anthony Raffoni - Gunner      KIA
Sgt. James H. Mays - Gunner     POW
Sgt. Vernon L. Coil - Gunner        KIA

 

POWs

HARVEY WILLIAM H   2nd Lt    Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11

 

DESSLER HARMOND M    2nd Lt  Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11

 

HANSON BRUCE P     Sgt  Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11

 

MAYS JAMES H      Sgt      Stalag Luft 4 Gross-Tychow (formerly Heydekrug) Pomerania, Prussia (moved to Wobbelin Bei Ludwigslust) (To Usedom Bei Savenmunde) 54-16

 

MISSIONS

4/5/44 - Ploiesti
4/7/44 - Mestre
4/12/44 - Wiener - Newstadt
4/13/44 - Budapest
4/15/44 - Bucharest
4/16/44 - Brasov (Ploiesti)
4/17/44 - Sofia
4/20/44 - Treviso
4/21/44 - Ploiesti
4/23/44 - Wien
4/24/44 - Ploiesti
4/25/44 - Verese (Italy)
This was to be the final mission of “Maiden USA” and her crew.
They were shot down over North Arezzo, Italy by FW - 190's.

Bill Harvey was the bombardier when the B-24 "Maiden USA" was shot down on April 25, 1944. Six crew members were killed, four were taken as POW's.

Bill bailed out wounded, evaded for a short time but was captured and taken to Stalag Luft III, Sagan, Poland. In January 1945 the POW's were forced marched in a blinding snow storm and then box car-ed to Nurnburg. In April 1945 they were again forced marched, this time to Moosburg, Germany. The camp (and Bill) were liberated April 29, 1945.
 

HEADQUARTERS
450TH BOMBARDMENT GROUP (H) AAF

APO-520

US ARMY

S-2 NARRATIVE REPORT

 

MISSION DATE: APRIL 25, 1944



MISSION NBR. 56

TARGET: Varese, Italy - Aircraft Factory

I. CHRONOLOGY
Twenty-nine B-24's took off at 0829-0902 hours to bomb Varese, Italy, Aircraft Factory. Thirteen dropped 32.5 tons of 500 lb G.P. bombs on target of opportunity (Ferrara Marshalling Yard) at 1335 hours from 19,000 feet. Two dropped 5 tons on Riomaggiorie Marshalling Yard at 1252 hours from 18,500 feet. One dropped 2 ½ tons on airdrome from 23,000 feet. Four jettisoned 10 tons at various places because of adverse flying conditions and enemy fighter attacks. Nineteen returned to base a t1630 hours. Six Missing. Two landed at friendly fields and returned to base later.

II. ROUTE AND ASSAULT
Rendezvoused with the 449th Bomb Group over Manduria at 0929 hours at 600 feet and with the other Wing groups along the rendezvous line San Pancrazio and San Vito Di' Normanni at 6000 feet at 0934 hours; and with escort. Twenty P-38's which accompanied formation for 20 minutes. On course until 20 miles west of Ancona when weather conditions broke up formation. Fifteen aircraft continued on course as briefed to target, which was obscured by cloud cover, then to Milano, Piacenza and Ferrara when the marshalling yard was used as a target of opportunity. Attack was made on an axis of 130 degrees and the formation then proceeded to base. The other 4 aircraft who had become separated by weather attempted to locate the formation but finding this impossible, two bombed the marshalling yard at Riomaggiore while one bombed and airfield. They returned to base by flying down the west side of Italy over the Mediterranean.

III. RESULTS
Photographic coverage shows concentration of hits on industrial buildings in center of Ferrara with approximately 15 hits in marshalling yard and 35 car freight train leaving yard believed hit. All bombs fell short at Riomaggiorie Marshalling yard. No other results observed due to cloud cover.

IV. ENEMY RESISTANCE
A. Fighters: Enemy aircraft were first sighted about 30 miles NW of Ancona but cloud cover prevented any accurate orientation of their approach direction. They consisted of 10 FW-190's, 15 ME-109's and 1 ME-210. The first attack which commenced at 1130 hours, lasted approximately 30minutes and 11 encounters were listed, all occurring at 18,000 - 21,000 feet. While some were aggressive, the majority were not and attacks were seldom pressed home beyond 400 yards. They circled the formation shooting 20mm shells, then attacked singly from 3, 6, and 9 o'clock, both high and low. IN general, the basic tactic seemed to be to wait for any stragglers. Dense could cover caused the attacking aircraft to break off momentarily but it was renewed a fee minutes later. All attacks were broken off at 1200 hours by P-38 escort. One of our aircraft was definitely lost during this attack.
The second assault occurred at 1345 hour just east of Varli Di Commchio and was made by 4 ME-109's and 2 FW-190's who attacked from 4 and 6 o'clock high. Several ineffectual passes were made, breaking off at 400 yards as all showed a definite lack of aggressiveness. No further passes were made and enemy aircraft flew off to the north. Markings of enemy aircraft are as follows: yellow noses, grey wings and fuselages with large white hand all around fuselages just behind pilot's cockpit and large white bands all around each wing approximately in the center. Several ME-109's were first noted (they were the first enemy aircraft see) flying on either of the formation about 100 feet higher and waggling their wings so that the USAAF star and insignia could be seen. In as much as the ME-109's and the P-51's resemble each other, it was an evident attempt to confuse our gunners into believing that they were friendly escort.
B. Flak: At the primary target (Varese) slight and inaccurate heavy type flak was experienced. At Ferrara, moderate and accurate, heavy type; at Vercelli, slight and inaccurate, heavy type; at Malpensa, slight and accurate, heavy type; at Padua, moderat and accurate, heavy type; at Spezia, slight and inaccurate, heavey type; at Prato, slight and inaccurate, heavy type; and at Padova, moderate and accurate, hevay type. All bursts were black and 6 of our aircraft were holed.

V. OBSERVATIONS
At 1135 hours from 20,000 feet, 20 miles west of Florence, a B-24 attacked by FW-190 and seen to explode, 2 chutes seen to open. At 1140 hours from 21,000 feet, about 20 miles DW of Rimini, a B-24 seen to peel off from formation and head towards sea. At 1144 hours from 20,000 feet, tail blown off a B-24 and ship crashed, three chutes seen to open.

VI. CASUALTIES
Two bombers were lost in fighter attacks, 10 chutes seen to open. Four other bombers missing, reason unknown. Six bombers received minor flak damage. Two crew members were slightly wounded by flak. Two bailed out of aircraft #205 as plane went into a spin.

                          September 17, 2009

Thank you for your wonderful site (the others look interesting also)! 

I am doing genealogy research for my cousins. Their father was Harmond M. Dessler. Here is some additional information you may wish to add to this site regarding him:

He survived the crash and was interned until liberated on/about 12 Jun 1945. He married on 7 Jan 1946 and had 5 children. 
He died on 11 Sep 1978 and is buried in Barrancas National Cemetery, Section 25, Site 488, Naval Air Station, 80 Hovey Road, Pensacola, Escambia County, Florida.

In the two pictures you have of Harmond and his crew, one is labeled incorrectly showing him as the fourth from the left. The other has it correct - he's the first person on the left of the top row.

May I have permission to copy the information and pictures on your organization's site that mentions Harmond? His daughters and sons would love to have the information included in the genealogy information I am gathering. 

Thank you for considering my request.

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Sgt Clifton Louis Davidson

December 29, 2010

My name is Mark Grossman, and my cousin is Sgt. Clifton Louis Davidson, the waist gunner on the Maiden USA when it was shot down over Italy on 25 April 1944. A family photograph of Clifton is attached to this e-mail.

The aircraft that Clifton was on was hit, according to the air reports I was able to get from the National Archives, not over North Arezzo, but over Cesena, Italy, where the plane crashed. Clifton and other members of the crew could not get out because the plane exploded in mid-air. Several years ago, I found the bombardier, 2nd Lt. William H. Harvey, in retirement in Florida, and he told me that he tried to get the others out of the plane but that only Frances Miliauskas, the engineer, was still alive but he was horribly injured and he could not escape.

I see that members of the family of the pilot, Harmond Dessler, e-mailed you, so I am doing the same. I tried for the longest time to find any surviving members of the crew, only able to locate Harvey to be still alive.

As for my cousin, he was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 March 1923, the son of Louis Davidson and his wife Ella (née Moore) Davidson. Louis (1879-1946) served in the US Army in France during the First World War; when he returned home in 1919, he met an Irish girl, Ella Moore, in a bar in Boston, got her pregnant, and then married her in Boston on 15 September 1919. They had three children: Irving Earl Davidson, known as “Dave” (1920-1989), Clifton Louis Davidson (1923-1944), and Rita Davidson (1924-1929). 

Clifton’s father never got over his son’s death in the war; he died of heart failure in 1946 at the age of 67. His widow, Ella Moore Davidson, died in 1958 at age 64. They are buried together, with their daughter Rita, in Boston. Irving, who I knew as “Dave,” served in the CIA during the Second World War and was instrumental in the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953. He died in 1989, aged 68, and is buried in Maryland. Clifton’s body could not identified from the remains recovered from the plane crash from the others killed in action, and they eventually were buried in a common grave in the Zachary Taylor Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

As part of my duties with being the genealogist of my entire family, I discovered the reports of Clifton’s mission, his entire life (including rare letters from him to his parents), his commendations (while alive and posthumously), and other information on him not found anywhere else.

If you wish to have any of these images, let me know and I will be happy to send them to you for use on your site.

I thank you for your time.

Mark Grossman

Grossman_Research220@hotmail.com

 

 

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"Maiden USA" Missing Air Crew Report 4618

December 29, 2010
Frank:

Glad to be of assistance! Please post the entire e-mail at your leisure, and add my e-mail address with the proviso that I would love to hear from anyone who wishes to know more about the crew of the plane (more relatives of the POWs or KIAs?) or what happened to them.

Even though it is late here, let me send you this stuff...I am sending some (because otherwise your e-mail box would be filled to capacity); more will follow by tomorrow. Much more. As I said in my initial note to you, I found William Harvey in Florida, and spent a few hours on the phone with him, and he told me what happened when the B-24 was hit by F190s and cartwheeled before exploding. It was incredible to speak to this man who was one of the last people to see this entire crew, as well as my cousin Clifton - who was known as "Biff" - before most of them were killed.

As I understand, I don't want any of this copyrighted. I am enclosing now the ENTIRE Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) on the Maiden USA, from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The original copy is rather poor, so forgive me for its condition. For each page of the report, I have listed it as Number 8, followed by the letter (A, B, C, etc.), in descending order. So, 8B comes before 8C, and so on. (I ran out of letters, however: so, 8Z comes before 8ZA.) This just happened to be the 8th document on Clifton in my file on his family, the Davidsons. I have to do this because I am handling over 500 people in my current genealogy chart and without some numbering system I would go nuts. So this is the one I use.

Just to let you know, but Clifton's father, Louis Davidson, joined the US Army in 1916 and fought with "Black Jack" Pershing in Mexico chasing Pancho Villa before serving in the Ambulance and Medical Corps in France in the First World War. I don't know if you have any interest in Clifton's father Louis or his brother Irving - who served with the CIA in Iran - but if you are I can send info on them as well. BTW, for your information, Louis Davidson's younger brother, Phillip Davidson (1889-1948) is my great-grandfather. I have spent the last 17 years mapping the entire Davidson family, from Russia to Massachusetts and beyond.

Thanks again for the e-mail...and keep up the good work!

Mark Grossman
Grossman_Research220@hotmail.com

 

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Zachary Taylor Nat'l Cemetery grave marker E124  for Sgt. Clifton L. Davidson, Sgt. Francis G. Miliauskas, Sgt. Anthony Raffoni and Sgt. Vernon L. Coil.

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