This B24, “Jodey B,” 42-52261, and crew were assigned to the 736th
Squadron of the 454th Bomb Group. The plane and crew were lost over
Cecina, Italy on February 16, 1944 when they were accidentally hit by bombs dropped from a higher aircraft. On January 17,
1950, four members of the crew were buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery at Section E206
Robert W Zachary
Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
Thomas R Zachary
Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
Philip C, Zachary
Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
James S Zachary Taylor Nat’l
2/LT Harry W Gay Florence
American Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Elbert H
Andrews Golden Gate Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Victor S
2/LT Ralph S Crawford
2/LT Bruce B Rabun Pilot Florence American Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Joseph F Hanke Florence American Nat’l
SGT Charles F Malitz, Jr. Florence Ameican Nat’l Cemetery
This B24 Liberator, 42-52479, “Little Lulu,” was assigned to the 776th Squadron of the
464th Bomb Group. On August 24, 1944, the plane was attacked by German
fighter pilots and exploded in mid-air as they were returning from the mission. There was one survivor. Eight members of the
crew were buried on September 2, 1949 at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Section E155-156.
1/LT James, John H Pilot Zachary Taylor Nat’l
2/LT Dunham, Erwin G, Navigator Zachary Taylor
SGT Ivan, Edward G Gunner Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Jeleniewicz, Eugene A Engineer
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
2/LT Maloney, Edward J, Copilot Zachary Taylor
SGT Robinson, Ralph Gunner
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Watson, Thad J Sr Gunner
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
2/LT Weaver, Walter W Jr Bombardier
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Gleason, Felix E.
Gunner Lorraine American Cemetery
SGT D’Amore, John F.
The 464th Bomb
Group in WWII - Our Allies
My name is Jiri Sasek and I am working to open a museum in Jindrichuv Hradec, Bohemia in the Czech
Republic. As soon as the museum is open (circa 2008), I'll mail photos of the show cases dedicated to the bombers
of the 464th BG. This is the results of my research into the events of 24 August 1944 when the 15th USAAF attacked targets
There were 368 bombers sent to oil refineries at Pardubice (55th Bomb Wing), Kolin (304th Bomb Wing)
and the airfield in Pardubice (5th Bomb Wing).
At 12.40, German fighters engaged the first bombers over the Czech Republic near Jindrichuv Hradec.
The B-24 “Little Lulu” 42-52479, piloted by 1/LT John H. James, was
shot down and crashed near Vlcice, Czech Republic. The only survivor of this crew was the Radio Operator, John F. D'Amore.
D'Amore recalls, "On August the 24th, after successfully dropping our bombs on the target we were starting
on our way back when we were attacked by several Me 109 fighter planes. As the radio operator my battle position was the left
waist gun, the attack came from the right side and also from the rear. Six 20 mm shells came into the fuselage about six inches
from my toes, then the ship went into a flat spin. I was thrown to the floor and pinned there due to the centrifical force
of the spin. Then the ship exploded and broke into several parts, leaving me in the rear section and 1/LT James in the front
part. As soon as my parachute opened I hit the ground and I never saw any member of the crew from then on. (Both his legs were broken upon landing; the villagers who lived near where the plane
crashed turned him over to the Germans, in part so that he could receive medical care. The rest of the men were buried by
the villagers, and later reinterred in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, KY.)
It is my belief that a shell exploded in the front of the plane and killed everyone up there, thus causing the flat
spin, I know if 1/LT James was alive he would have recovered from the spin. To me and the crew he was the best pilot in the
world. I only knew 1/LT James for four months, but in that length of time I got to know him as a good officer, a good pilot,
and a good sport - a combination very seldom encountered in this army. I feel as if I lost nine brothers. Every night I say
a prayer for them."
B-24, Little Gismo II, no. 42-78376 (776th BS) piloted by 1st/Lt. Virgil A. Leverett exploded in mid-air
after heavy damages over Cimer (Czech Republic). The wreckage crashed directly on Cimer killing two crewmembers and grand
dame, Sophie Bohm (92).
B-24, Black Hall, no. 42-51083 (779th BS) came near Gross-Gerungs (Austria) with a burning right wing.
Shortly after, the pilot 1st/Lt. Kermit F. Dannehl gave the order to bail out. The plane crashed near Kehrbach, close to Gross-Gerungs.
Two men were killed-in-action.
B-24 Red-O, no. 42-52520 (776th
BS), flown by 1st/Lt. Thomas N. Vague's crew was heavily damaged over Jinrichuv Hradec and lost altitude. The plane crashed
near Klagenfurt, Austria. Seven men managed to survive, but the other three were killed.
B-24 Journey’s End, no. 42-78437, (Black K, 779th BS) piloted by 1st/Lt. Joyce W. Lewis recovered
first from the German attack over Jinrichuv Hradec and with serious damage headed back to the south. During the battle T/Sgt. William F. Wrinn and four injured crew members bailed out. The plane landed late
that afternoon on the base in Bari. T/Sgt. Richard L. Du Pre died of his wounds. All 10 men were awarded the Silver Star medal.
But not only American losses were in this battle. About 6 Fw 190s and 4 Bf 109s were shot down by the
American gunners' defensive fire.
Strmilov -Vlcice [Strmillov / Vlchitse] Aug 24, 2004
Two men set out for this trip into the Southern Moravian-Bohemain border heading for the small town
of Strmilov midway of the Telc and Jindrichuv Hradec route [Taelch] in Moravia [Yindrzhickoov Hruddaets ]
in Bohemia - me and another member of our Plumlov Cz AA No 9 member who had been born there and aged 8 he saw
the Luftwaffe fighters attacking an bunch of American heavy bomber planes on August 24, 1944.
Vlcice Aug 24, 1944
There was a beautiful
sunny day on August 24, 1944, sky over the town of Strmilov without a single cloud. At 11.00 a.m. the noise of American bombers
flying at the altitude of 20 thousand feet on the 020 course in groups of 7 ships came to my ears. There was a black bomber
mid each “seven” and other six ones were in silver.
I counted 22 “sevens” but I might have been wrong cause there was a no fix point in the
sky to launch counting from. At about 11.30 hours the last seven was coming out of sight heading Northwest. NOTE –
Objective: Refineries in Pardubice and Kolin.
At 12.25 were the bombers returning on the course of 200 at the same altitude. There was no ship missing
in single seven. I saw 2 silver fighter planes taking the left curve above the fifth “seven” of the bombers. Later
I saw none of the silver fighter ones.
Approximately the mid “seven” of the bundle came under attack of the Luftwaffe fighter
planes approaching as a pack from the West in the course of 90.
The black ship of this seven got it first making its tail dive first. This plane descended like a falling
leaf swinging 5 or 6 times like this – my attention was being paid to the German fighters going down at this moment,
so I wasn´t able to give the correct number of the swings.
At the altitude of 1200 – 1500 ft the engines of the black ship roared. The nose up, the plane
nearly stopped. At this moment one white chute appeared. Several German fighters were going down doing somersaults and black
chutes of their pilots came in my sight.
Before this black ship`s touching the ground, the left front airship of the same ‘seven’
accelerated and about 8 white parachutes turned up. At the same moment the left rear bomber of this ‘seven’ was
being abandoned by its complete crew. This ship started to fall several seconds later and the detonation was heard in a while.
About 12 German fighter planes were downed. This ‘seven’ kept flying Southwest box-shaped though reduced to four
Because the crashsite of the black bomber was about 2km far, I rushed there riding my bike. Passing
the dam of the Hejtman [Haeytmun] pond I noticed one German pilot climbing down the tree. His chute was in the tree and the
pilot was complaining to one civilian from the Rozkose [ Rozkooshae] village by Strizkovice [Strzheezhkovvitse]. His plane
had been hit by the American fire before opening the fire of his own. But I did not care and rode on towards the wreck being
in flames in the field about 200 metres North of the village Vlcice [Vlchitse] at the distance of 25 m from the mud road to
German village of Olesna -Nova Olesna [Novvah Ollaeshnah] now and 150 metres from our pond / rented by my father/
NOTE : German village means the village settled only by the Germans.
The rear turret of this black ship was in the brook flowing into this pond, at the distance of about
60 metres from the bomber`s wreckage. An American airman – gunner- was lying on the outer ploughshare next to the road,
approximately 30 metres far from the crashsite. He was dead with lots of shots.
The only member of this crew leaving the bomber at the last possible moment landed with his chute about
80 m form the crashsite near birch trees. Because he broke his leg – his ankle was dislocated at the angle of 90 –
he was immobile. He introduced himself as James saying one word more I did not understand. Apart from English he spoke
also French. We carried him into the house opposite to the village chapel. He was laid onto the owner`s bed. The saved man
wore battledress. Then one young man pedaling from the town of Kunzak [Koonzhuck] arrived at the scene. He spoke to the airman
in French and translated their conversation into Czech. Later Gestapo ie.German Secret Police came and took away as the airman
as this young Czech man. This civilian never came back from a Nazi Concentration Camp.
The airship was on fire for two days. It must have been full of ammo. There were lots of 12.7.cartridges
in the turret mentioned above. The cartridges were of brass color, bullets blunt with red tips. Compared with the German ammunition,
the American one was longer. The German 20mm cartridges were shorter, black coloured and bullets round shaped.
The other American airmen from the above mentioned two silver bombers of the same seven landed on the
territory of so-called Sudety frontier Region and the Czechs were barred from entering it. NOTE : annexed by Hitler after
the Munich Agreement signed by Prime Ministers Daladier – France and Chamberlain – Britain, as well as by Hitler
– Germany and Mussolini – Italy on September 30, 1930. The Czechoslovak Republic was betrayed by its two Allies.
About 6 airmens` chutes landed in the trees by the pond of Ratmirov [Rutmeerrov]. There was lots of
rumors among the Czechs that the American airman landing on his chute in the field had been pierced by the pitchfork handed
by one Sudety-Austrian working there. The airman was said neither to provoke or defend himself.
The remains of Lts. John J. James, Edward Maloney, Erwin G. Durham, Walter W. Weaver, as well
as of Sgts. Eugene Jeleniewicz, Ralph Robinson, Edward C. Ivan, Thad J. Jackson and Felix B. Gleason were buried into
six graves by the Western wall of St. Andrew`s small church on August 26, 1944. This place was at the distance of about 150
m from our house, passing the churchyard on my way to school, me and Miluska Stranska laid bunches of meadow flowers on these
graves. Though there was a man keeping an eye on these graves to prevent us – and not only us – from doing so,
we did laying them at the time of his temporary absence. Mrs Cermakova –
the tailor Cermak`s wife – was seen
by me to put big bunches of flowers onto these six graves. And these ones were all the time covered in flower till the winter
Pieces of plastics as well as aluminium had been found by me and the other boys in the forest near
the pond of Hejtman and the surrounding ones. After the field at Vlcice ploughed and harrowed was, me and my 12 year old cousin
Milan Povolny went to see the crashsite of the No 42-52479 black B-24 bomber. The soil was black within the 11 step-wingspan
and the one of 12 steps within the ship`s length.
An amount of little bones – metacarpals, phalanges and metacarsals was scattered there. These
bones had not been picked by the Germans and that is why me and Milan collected them and put into a bag. The bag was laid
by us into one of these six graves.
Shortly after the end
of WW II in Europe about 82 American soldiers in polished limousines and motorcycles arrived in Strmilov. Two soldiers were
in each car and one on each motocycle, so the Square of Strmilov village was filled to the brim. The soldiers had clean and
neat uniforms, armed with rifles. Strmilov residents and above all girls were in frenzy of enthusiasm.
The mourning ceremony
was performed by them at the gravesite of these American airmen being watched by the Red Army soldiers. In several minutes
after this festive ceremony, the Soviets brought one plain clothed German and shot him dead beyond the churchyard`s wall.
This man was buried at the wall, but within the churchyard. The way the Soviets did not hesitate to spoil the sentiment of
the American ceremony was shock for all the residents of Strmilov. In August
1945 were the remains of the American airmen transported somewhere to France to find their final resting place there.
I must have my say on one issue more. Some articles published in this country inform about 4 ships
downed on Aug 24, 1944. They are wrong. I could see only three bombers going down and the black one differed from the two
ships in silver. I`m not sure whether the black bomber downed on Aug 24, 1944 really an B-24 type was. I could see the ship
shortly before her falling on the ground – the nose up – and there was not a two-fin rudder construction seen
by me at all, possibly cut off by the fire of German fighters, as well as the above mentioned tail turret. The fourth American
bomber seen by me at 1 pm to fly on two engines only and going down in the surroundings of Strmilov on January 7, 1945. The
bunch of airships eyewitnessed by me on that day was not flying in such a nice formation as the one of Aug 24, 1944.
Bombers were missing in several groups of 7 ships heading southwards and lots of them flew only by
three engines in action. The bunch on the course of 200 was at the lower altitude as the one on Aug 24, 1944. that is why
I was able to recognize props of the damaged engines.
The incident was seen
by me from the firm Satrapa – now Strojobal Strizkovice – premises. One of the bombers kept on decreasing guarded
by two Mustangs. Flying at the altitude of 1800 ft the ship came out of my sight beyond the forest towards the Krvavy pond
and my deduction is, she must have crash landed somewhere in the territory of Lomy, Clunek, Hospriz. There were no black airships
in any “seven “ of this bundle of US bombers on Jan 7, 1945. All were silver and of B-24 type.
Recalled by Boleslav Povolny
NOTE : Mr Povolne [Povvolnee]
has been a long standing Member of Czech Republic`s Airmen Association. He had served for more than 20 years as a pilot in
the Czech Republic Air Force, even picked by a head constructor of the Albatros jet plane Mr Vlcek to join the staff of the
test pilots. After a suspicious death of the Mr Vlcek the staff of test pilots was disbanded. Declining to train Lybian pilots
in their homeland, Mr Povolny was sacked and had to do his living as a teacher.
Me accompanied by Mr Povvolnee arrived at the churchyard of Strmilov on Aug 24, 2004 to take part in
the ceremony there. One woman wearing the Czech Army festive uniform from the Jindrichuv Hradec garrison came to the scene
in addition to Mr Burian, the Czech Military History hobbist. No one from the US Embassy at all !
I was shown the crashsites of the No 42-52479, as well as of a tail turret and tail gunner.
This B17 Flying Fortress, 44-6328, and crew were assigned to the 342nd Squadron of the 97th
Bomb Group. On April 20, 1945 the plane was lost over Innsbruck, Austria. On December 7, 1949, six members of the crew were
buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Section E214-215.
T/SGT Tichy, Robert G
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
S/SGT Bonner, Thomas W Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
S/SGT McKinney, James E Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
S/SGT Porter, James D, Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
S/SGT Tomaszycki, Alfonsc J Zachary
Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
2/LT Wilcox, John E
Zachary Taylor Nat’l Cemetery
SGT Connor, Victor C.
SGT Dudek, Chester A.
2/LT Sullivan, Earle L.
S/SGT Weinstein, David
Long Island National Cemetery
2/LT Townsend, Gordon K.
Bombing of Innsbruck
in World War II
Innsbruck, an Austrian city, was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938. It was bombed 22 times by the Allies in World War II, suffering heavy damage.
The widespread area bombing of Innsbruck began in December 1943
and went on until April 1945. Innsbruck is a main transport hub where four rail lines (Arlbergbahn from the west, Mittenwaldbahn
from the north, Westbahn from the east and Brennerbahn from the south), converge. A key function as a railroad supply center
for Italy made Innsbruck an important strategic target for the Allies.
Until autumn 1943, Innsbruck was too far away for the Allied air forces.
With the establishment of the Fifteenth Air Force (15th AF) in November 1943, the success of "Operation Husky", (the name for the Allied invasion of Sicily) and the subsequent construction of several bases near Foggia in Italy,
the city was then in range.
The first two raids (December 15 and 19 1943), happened unexpectedly:
the residents of Innsbruck did not use the air-raid shelters therefore there was a high death toll (259 + 65 people killed).
During the next six months attacks were suspended by the Allies because of preparations for Operation Overlord in Normandy, (France). In this break the military and urban administration of
Innsbruck rearranged the anti-aircraft defenses and expanded the air raid shelters. These shelters were mainly constructed
by forced labor from the Arbeitslager Reichenau in Innsbruck. 25 underground shelters with a total length of 11,2 km
and space for 28,755 civilians were built in 1944.
The third attack on June 13, 1944 concentrated on the marshalling
yards in Innsbruck. 37 aircraft of the 484th Bomber Group/5th Wing of the 15th Air Force were originally destined for targets
in Bavaria, (Oberpfaffenhofen near Starnberg, Allach near Munich, Milbershofen near Dachau and Neuaubing near Munich). Due
to bad weather conditions and strong air defenses over Munich, Innsbruck was the alternate target. The narrative report of
Mission 31 states:
"Maybe men had been wounded, but remained heroically at the assigned
posts. Approaching the target, for the second time on this mission the formation encountered heavy, intense and accurate anti-aircraft
fire. In the face [of] repeated bursts of murderous enemy gun-fire, the group leader kept his remaining force intact and led
the formation on a perfect bombing run for a brilliant peace of precision bombing."
The bomber group, with about 350 crew members, suffered heavy
losses: four killed, four wounded and 54 missing. 56 tons of bombs killed two civilians, and destroyed the marshalling yards
and the Wilten monastery.
The bomber crews received a "Presidential Unit Citation."
The 13th attack on Innsbruck on December 16, 1944, indicated
a change in the stratetic approach: a higher percentage of delayed-action and incendiary bombs (600 high explosive and 45
delayed-action bombs and 12,000 incendiaries). Innsbruck was no longer treated as a strategic target. The high number of civil
buildings destroyed and the high death toll (40 persons killed) indicates "morale bombing".
The 21st attack on April 10, 1945 was the only night operation. This
raid was carried out not by the USAAF but by No. 205 Group RAF. 31 people were killed.
The war ended in Innsbruck on May 3, 1945, when the resistance
movement liberated and units of the US 103rd Infantry Division entered the city. From December 1943 to April 1945 60 percent
of the buildings in Innsbruck were damaged, 461 people were killed.
Besides the marshalling yards, many historic monuments were destroyed,
including: the Servitenkloster monastery (1614–1616) and the Bartholomäuskapelle, one of the oldest buildings in Innsbruck
(13th century). The Landhaus or old federal state parliament of 1724, city hall, St. James's Cathedral (1717–1724),
Stift Wilten monastery (1651–1667), the Jesuit Church (1627–1637) and several buildings in the historic center
were badly damaged.
97th Bombardment Group
From Nov 1943 to Apr 1945,
engaged chiefly in long-range missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria,
Yugoslavia, and Greece, attacking oil refineries, aircraft factories, marshalling yards, and other strategic objectives. Received
a DUC for leading a strike against an aircraft factory at Steyr on 24 Feb 1944 during Big Week, the intensive air campaign
against the German aircraft industry. 2nd Lt David R Kingsley, bombardier, was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the life
of a wounded gunner on 23 Jun 1944: during a mission to Ploesti, Kingsley's B-17 was seriously crippled and the tail gunner
was injured; when the crew was ordered to bail out, Kingsley gave his parachute to the gunner, whose own had been damaged,
and assisted him in bailing out; Kingsley died a few moments later when his bomber crashed and burned. The group received
its second DUC for a devastating raid against one of the Ploesti refineries on 18 Aug 1944. Other operations of the 97th included
pounding enemy communications, transportation, and airfields in support of Allied forces at Anzio and Cassino; bombing coastal
defenses in preparation for the invasion of Southern France; and assisting US Fifth and British Eighth Army in their advance
through the Po Valley. Inactivated in Italy on 29 Oct 1945.
to Algeria in November 1942, assigned to the new Twelfth Air Force in North Africa and upgraded to B-17Fs. Raided shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and airfields, docks, harbors, and marshalling yards in north Africa, southern
France, Sardinia, Sicily, and the southern Italian mainland in a campaign to cut supply lines to German
forces in north Africa. Helped force the capitulation of Pantelleria Island in June 1943. Bombed in preparation for and in support of the invasions
of Sicily and southern Italy in the summer and fall of 1943.
Reassigned to the new Fifteenth Air Force and the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) in southern Italy, November 1943, flying combination of B-17Fs and new B-17Gs.
From Southern Italy engaged in very long range strategic bombardment missions, attacking targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece, attacking oil refineries, marshalling yards, aircraft factories, and other strategic
objectives. Participated in first shuttle-bombing mission to Russia (Operation Frantic) in June 1944.
Returned to the United States after the German Capitulation in May
1945, prepared for transition to B-29 Superfortress aircraft and deployment to Twentieth Air Force in the Pacific Theater. Japanese Capitulation in August ended training activities, squadron was
demobilized and inactivated in October.