Ash Crew – Assigned 752nd Squadron – July 6, 1944
Shot down by flak Dec. 24, 1944 (MACR 11121)
|Rank||Name||Serial #||Crew Position||Date||Status||Comments|
|2Lt||Raymond S Ash||0701673||Pilot||21-Aug-44||RFS||TD AAF 101 Cent Med Bd|
|2Lt||Charles A Giesen||0764647||Co-pilot||24-Dec-44||KIA||Caddo Parish, LA|
|2Lt||Donald J McNeely||0712868||Navigator||24-Dec-44||KIA||Cuyahoga County, OH|
|1Lt||William R Beckley||0716904||Bombardier||06-Mar-45||UNK||Air Crew Leave|
|S/Sgt||Earl S Richey||39125139||Radio Operator||24-Dec-44||KIA||Mendocino, CA|
|S/Sgt||Marion E Funderburk||34649689||Flight Engineer||24-Dec-44||KIA||Chesterfield County, SC|
|S/Sgt||Bernard E Scavarda||36115687||Aerial Gunner||24-Jan-45||UNK||Rest Home Leave|
|Sgt||Stephen T Moleck||13172193||Aerial Gunner||24-Dec-44||KIA||Fayette County, PA|
|Pfc||Hubert A Moschella||15323395||Airplane & Engine Mech||04-Jan-45||RFS||Reclassified Nov 44|
|Sgt||Alphonse A Wolak||17051961||Aerial Gunner||24-Dec-44||POW||Stalag XIII-D Nuremburg|
The Ash crew was assigned to the 752nd Squadron in mid-summer 1944. Under 2Lt Raymond Ash, the crew flew seven missions before he was removed from flying status and Charlie Giesen took over the crew as pilot. The crew flew an additional thirteen missions between late August and December 24, 1944 with Giesen. On this maximum effort by the Eighth Air Force in support of U.S. forces in the Ardennes, the crew fell victim to flak over Belgium.
In the right hand co-pilot’s seat on this mission was 2Lt John E. Thompson. He was assigned to the 752nd Squadron on October 7, 1944 as an individual replacement. It is not known whether he was a part of the crew after Giesen took over or if he only flew this one mission with them. He was a POW until his release in 1945. The camp at which he was confined is unknown.
The crew did not carry a bombardier on their last mission. 2Lt William R Beckley, assigned with Ash’s crew in July, was transferred to the 755th Squadron on October 23, 1944 apparently to be trained as a lead bombardier on 1Lt Frank A. Hathaway, Jr’s crew. It is assumed that he completed or nearly completed a tour of missions. Group records show him going to an Air Force rest home in mid-February 1945 and on Air Crew leave on March 6, 1945.
S/Sgt James H Burke was on this fateful mission as a gunner. He and tail turret gunner, S/Sgt Edward W. Racek had transferred to the 752nd Squadron from the 1119th MP Detachment on July 14, 1944 and were reclassified as Armorer/Gunners. It is not known with whom these two men flew, or if they were used as replacement crewmen where needed. Racek states that he was flying in place of the regular tail gunner, who was in the hospital on December 24th and the only other person that he knew on the aircraft was Burke. He stated in a questionnaire after the war that he had seen Burke, “Lying either dead or unconscious in the piece of tail section I bailed out of.” Racek ended up in Stalag Luft III. S/Sgt Burke was killed in action.
S/Sgt Bernard E. Scavarda was most likely the regular tail gunner who was laid up in the hospital on December 24th. Not much is known about him, except that he went to an Air Force rest home on January 29, 1945. It is possible that he completed or nearly completed a combat tour.
Sgt Hubert A. Moschella was reduced to private on July 29, 1944. On November 9, 1944 he was reclassified as an airplane mechanic (MOS 747). He was later promoted to Private First Class.
“Shortly after ‘Bombs Away’ A/C 812 was seen to receive a direct flak hit just aft of the bomb bay. The A/C split in half and the tail was blown away. One crew reports that when A/C blew up they followed it visually to the ground where it blew up and that no one was seen to leave A/C. Two crews reported seeing one chute, but majority claim that no chutes were seen.”
Missions – Raymond Ash, Pilot
|DATE||TARGET||458th Msn #||Pilot Msn#||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn#||A/C Name||Comments|
|21-Jul-44||MUNICH||96||3||42-95050||J||7V||32||GAS HOUSE MOUSE|
|24-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA||97||4||41-29352||K||7V||40||WOLVE'S LAIR|
|25-Jul-44||ST. LO AREA "B"||98||5||42-100431||B||J4||30||BOMB-AH-DEAR|
|28-Jul-44||LEIPHEIM & CREEL A/Fs||SCR||--||41-28942||U||7V||--||HEAVENLY BODY||BRIEFED AND SCRUBBED|
|02-Aug-44||3 NO BALLS||101||7||41-29352||K||7V||44||WOLVE'S LAIR|
|03-Aug-44||2 NO BALLS||102||8||41-29352||K||7V||45||WOLVE'S LAIR|
|07-Aug-44||GHENT||107||9||41-29340||N||7V||43||YANKEE BUZZ BOMB|
|14-Aug-44||DOLE/TAVAUX||113||12||42-95179||X||7V||36||HERE I GO AGAIN|
Missions – Charlie Giesen, Pilot
|DATE||TARGET||458th Msn #||Pilot Msn#||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn#||A/C Name||Notes|
|25-Aug-44||LUBECK||118||1||42-95179||X||7V||40||HERE I GO AGAIN|
|09-Sep-44||MAINZ||124||3||41-29340||N||7V||52||YANKEE BUZZ BOMB|
|21-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR05||--||41-29577||E||466BG||T3||THE RUTH E-K||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|23-Sep-44||HORSHAM to ST DIZIER||TR07||--||803||P||T1||42-40803 P B-24D?||ON LOAN FOR TRUCKIN' 389BG|
|14-Oct-44||COLOGNE||133||ABT||41-29567||G||7V||--||MY BUNNIE / BAMBI||ABORT - LATE T/O|
|17-Oct-44||COLOGNE||135||4||41-29567||G||7V||1||MY BUNNIE / BAMBI|
|22-Oct-44||HAMM||137||ASSY||41-28697||Z||Z5||A23||SPOTTED APE||ASSEMBLY CREW - 752|
|08-Nov-44||RHEINE||144||6||42-51206||S||7V||17||THE PIED PIPER|
|10-Nov-44||HANAU A/F||146||7||42-52457||Q||7V||67||FINAL APPROACH|
|24-Dec-44||SCHONECKEN||157||FTR||42-109812||V||7V||50||UNKNOWN 016||DIRECT FLAK HIT|
Crew at an unidentified location
If anyone can identify the other crew members please contact me
(Photo: Jackson Granholm via Linda Lord)
Capt Jackson Granholm, lead navigator December 24, 1944
“As the bombs went away, our ship lightened suddenly. The other ships of the lead squadron dropped with us. A moment later a flak shell went off directly under the lead ship of [the] First Squadron, low element. This was the bomber directly behind and below us, heading the low-hanging triangle of the squadron formation box – it was Charlie Giesen’s ship.
I saw Giesen nose down, and out of formation. There was no external sign of damage to his aeroplane…no fire, no feathering engines. And then, suddenly, the whole tail section of Giesen’s aeroplane fell off, taking the tail gunner in his turret straight down into the trees below.
The fatally-stricken big Liberator eased lazily into a right turn. We could see the squadron letters, 7V, painted boldly on the left side of the fuselage. As Giesen’s ship swung more and more to the right, the turn tightened until it was a downward spiral, a tight spin and with the tail section gone, Giesen had no control whatever. I could picture him in the cockpit, terrified, pulling with all his might to move elevators that were no longer there, stamping wildly on rudder pedals that did nothing.
I looked anxiously for hatches to open, for crewmen to leap out, for the bomb bay to spill forth escaping people. There was nothing – no sign of anyone bailing out.
Ten, fifteen, twenty turns Giesen’s ship went, down and down into the snow and trees of the Ardennes Forest. I watched until it hit the ground, five miles down, and exploded in a vast ball of fire. Charlie Giesen had been shot down in a gruesome fulfillment of his own prediction.
As Giesen’s aeroplane exploded, setting the forest on fire far below us, there was a quiet comment from the waist section.
‘Oh, Jesus!’ said Dominic Giordano, peering out over his 50-caliber at the disaster below us. In my mind’s eye I could see him crossing himself.”
The Day We Bombed Switzerland, Jackson Granholm, Airlife Publishing Ltd, pp 117-118
B-24J-105-CO 42-109812 7V V
(Photo: George Reynolds)
S/Sgt Stephen T. Moleck
Veterans History Project – Alphonse Wolak Interview
Click here for this interview.