Dane Crew – Assigned 754th Squadron – June 25, 1944

Back Row: Harold Dane – P, Charles Pool – CP, William Edkins – N, Howard McMorris – B, John Stanko – TTG
Front Row: Richard Brush – RO, Edward Lucas – TG, Jerry Reynolds – NTG, Joseph Shwallon – E/WG, Earl Diehl – 2E/WG

(Photo: George Reynolds)

Completed Tour

RankNameSerial #Crew PositionDateStatusComments
CaptHarold B Dane0699652PilotMay-45CTAwards - Distinguished Flying Cross
2LtCharles K Pool0764436Co-pilotDec-44CTTrsf to 70RD - Tour complete
1LtWilliam J Edkins0716391Navigator15-Apr-45CTTD to AAF 505 - Loran Trng
1LtHoward W McMorris0716752BombardierMay-45CTAwards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/SgtRichard K Brush12120039Radio OperatorMay-45CTTrsf to 70RD - Tour complete
T/SgtJoseph A Shwallon33439034Flight Engineer22-Feb-45CTMission Load List
S/SgtEdward A Lucas33746378Aerial Gunner22-Feb-45CTMission Load List
SgtJohn F Stanko13084547Armorer-Gunner22-Feb-45CTMission Load List
SgtEarl E Diehl35640176Flight Engineer22-Feb-45CTMission Load List
SgtJerry M Reynolds, Jr34137143Armorer-Gunner22-Feb-45CTMission Load List

2Lt Harold B. Dane and his crew were assigned to the 754th Squadron in late June 1944.  Their first mission was flown one week later on July 2nd to a No ball site (V1) at Coubronne, France.  The crew flew 14 missions in July and August.  In September, the 458th was pulled off of combat operations in order to ferry gasoline to Patton’s army in France.  It is not known if Dane’s crew flew any of these Truckin’ Missions.

On October 7, 1944 the crew flew their first mission with Lt Col Frederick M. O’Neill as command pilot when they led the group to Magdeburg.  Two days later the crew led the group again with Maj John A. Hensler when they hit the marshaling yards at Koblenz.  The group’s records show an abort, but the mission list of Sgt Jerry M. Reynolds, Jr. shows a credited sortie.  The crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron on October 23, 1944.  The 755th had become the group’s lead squadron, comprised only of lead crews.  Three more missions were flown in October, two as group lead and one as deputy group lead.

Lead crews did not fly as often as the regular, or wing crews.  Lead crews also required additional personnel, especially navigators.  In addition to Lt William Edkins (Dead Reckoning navigator), two other men were added to the crew.  2Lt Virgil L. Fisher who had been assigned to the 754th Squadron on August 8, 1944 with 2Lt Edward E. Klein and crew, came aboard as pilotage navigator.  1Lt Richard C. O’Brien came to the group as an individual replacement on October 21, 1944 and became the crew’s Mickey (Radar) navigator.  Co-pilot 2Lt Charles Pool was apparently transferred to another crew, as his seat would have been occupied by the various group officers that would fly with Dane as command pilot.  Pool, according to group records, completed his tour in mid-December 1944 and returned to the States.

The Dane crew’s remaining 19 missions would span the next several months, from November 1944 almost through March 1945.  On January 2, 1945, the entire crew was sent to AAF 120 at Attlebridge, home of the 466th BG, for G-H training.  They returned towards the end of January and continued to fly group leads.  In fact, all of the crew’s lead missions, save one, were out in front, leading the entire 458th.

Two crew changes were made during February and March. 1Lt William Edkins, navigator, was transferred to the 754th Squadron on February 27th.  He was sent on TD (Temporary Duty) to AAF 505 Neaton for Loran Training on April 15, 1945.  He was most likely still at this location when the Eighth Air Force ceased combat operations on April 25th.  1Lt Howard McMorris was transferred to the 753rd Squadron on March 19th as the squadron bombardier.  It is not known how many missions he flew in this capacity.

Most of the crew completed their missions on March 24, 1945 when they reached the required 30 combat flights (35 for wing crews).


DateTarget458th MsnPilot MsnCmd PilotLdSerialRCLSqdnA/C MsnA/C NameComments
05-Jul-44LE COULET, BEL A/F84242-95108MZ519ENVY OF 'EM ALL II
08-Jul-44ANIZY, FRANCE87341-28682IZ542UNKNOWN 003
16-Jul-44SAARBRUCKEN91441-28682IZ545UNKNOWN 003
21-Jul-44MUNICH96642-95163KZ531DIXIE BELLE
02-Aug-443 NO BALLS101742-110070EZ524ELMER
08-Aug-44CLASTRES108942-50768AZ55ARISE MY LOVE...
25-Sep-44HSF to LILLETR08-1--42-100408DJ4T1THE BEAST1ST FLIGHT
07-Oct-44MAGDEBURG13012O'NEILLL142-50954A+J31UNKNOWN 021
22-Oct-44HAMM13715HOGGL142-50954A+J32UNKNOWN 021
04-Nov-44MISBURG141ACC41-28709IJ3 --Lucky StrikeTaxiing Accident Sta 123 
08-Nov-44RHEINE14417HOGGL142-95557H+J311LADY PEACE
30-Nov-44HOMBURG15119--------No FC - Sqdn Rec's
02-Jan-45REMAGEN16421WILLIAMSONL144-48837LJ32UNKNOWN 041
15-Feb-45MAGDEBURG18222BREEDINGL144-48837LJ37UNKNOWN 041
05-Mar-45HARBURG19725BREEDINGL142-51936IJ318UNKNOWN 027
07-Mar-45SOEST19826PHILLIPL144-49544EJ36OH MONA!
09-Mar-45OSNABRUCK20027HOGGL144-49261AJ310UNKNOWN 042
12-Mar-45FRIEDBURG20228O'NEILLL144-49910DJ33UNKNOWN 044
24-Mar-45KIRKOFF21330BETZOLDL144-49902MJ35UNKNOWN 043

 November 4, 1944

B-24H-10-DT 41-28709 7V I  Lucky Strike
Note 2 duck “decoy symbols for the February diversion missions during “Big Week”

(Photo: George Reynolds)

1st Lieutenant HAROLD B DANE, 755th Bombardment Squadron, 458th Bombardment Group (H). AAF 123, APO 558.
Pilot on A/C 709, belonging to 752nd Bombardment Squadron, which had a taxiing accident on 4 November 1944.

“As I taxied from the hardstand and around the perimeter strip, I noticed that the ship was difficult to taxi; but I attributed it to the age of the ship. I turned down runway 17, then left onto runway 10, stopping about fifty to seventy yards short of runway 23, where I ran up the engines.

About the time I finished running up the engines I heard a B-24 (M-Mike) call the tower and tell them he was on the base leg, supposedly using 23. When I saw that he was lined up on 28 and heading directly for me on runway 10, I called the tower and asked if M-Mike was in trouble. Upon receiving the information that he had one engine feathered, I asked and received permission to taxi onto runway 23 so he could use 28.

I had taxied a few yards when the nose wheel began to feel like it was flat, but because M-Mike had an engine feathered I decided to continue onto 23. About 10 yards short of 23 the nose wheel strut broke and the ship set down on its nose. I was not using brakes at the time the nose wheel collapsed.”

Harold B. Dane

Full Accident Report

March 9, 1945

Lead Crew returned from Osnabruck, Germany

Back Row: Maj Fred Vacek – Grp B, Harold Dane – P, Richard O’Brien – Mickey Nav, William Edkins – DR Nav, Virgil Fisher – Pltg Nav
Front Row: Earl Diehl – 2E/WG, Richard Brush – RO, Edward Lucas – TG, John Stanko – WG, Joseph Shwallon – E/WG, Jerry Reynolds – TTG
Not pictured: Lt Col James A Hogg – Command Pilot on this mission

(Photo: George Reynolds)

Sgt Jerry M. Reynolds 1920 – 1947

“They flew ’em like this…”

(Photo: George Reynolds History IV)

There are several notes of interest (penned by his brother George) to be found that accompany Sgt Reynolds’ mission list:

July 21, 1944 – Munich, Germany: Pilots, engineer and his assistant cited, returned from over target to base with severe damage and on two engines
August 18, 1944 – Woippy, France: Mid-air collision with lead aircraft which made emergency landing. Took over and led formation over target, accomplishing mission
October 7, 1944 – Magdeburg, Germany: First lead crew mission
October 9, 1944 – Koblenz, Germany: Bombs from a higher formation fell through formation without damage to a single plane
November 16, 1944 – Eschweiler, Germany: First 2nd Air Division crew aloft. Took off in fog on solid instruments, group cited by General Doolittle in connection with mission
January 2, 1945 – Remagen, Germany: Thought to be the only mission scheduled to destroy a bridge which had a date with destiny on March 7, 1945. All bombs missed, and troops walked across the Rhine.
February 22, 1945 – Peine, Germany: Bombing altitudes were 10,000 feet and below
February 26, 1945 – Berlin, Germany:Group’s 200th combat mission
March 24, 1945 – Kirtorf, Germany:Third crossing of the Rhine, and largest combined air/ground forces operation of its kind in history [Operation Varsity].

Jerry M. Reynolds came through the flak filled skies of World War II unscathed. He died in a vehicle accident in 1947 at the age of 27. George Reynolds was 14 years old when his older brother was flying in B-24’s over Europe. He joined the Air Force when he became of age and served along with many bomber crewmen from the war. What started out as a search for his brother’s experiences turned into something much more.

George eventually became the 458th Bomb Group’s official historian. In an age when communication was by written letter or telephone, he gathered hundreds of photographs, documents, and stories on the veterans who flew in the same group as his brother. He wrote numerous stories and submitted many of the veterans accounts to the 2nd Air Division Association Journal. In 1974, most of the 458th veterans with whom George had interacted had given up on seeing their group’s history in print. George published a 60-page book, simply titled 458th Bombardment Group (H) containing mission calendars, a brief history of the group, and many pictures of personnel, aircraft, and shots of Horsham. As the years went by and his material grew, he published three more “Histories”- Volume’s II, III, and IV. Each one is about 70-80 pages and contain improvements upon the last.

When I first started researching the 458th, my main goal was much the same as George’s. I was out to find all I could on my father and his crew. I soon became absorbed in all of the crews and came across George’s History…Vol II. I contacted him and he very graciously extended a helping hand, loaning me hundreds of original photos for me to scan and many stories that he had written about the group, one of which appears below. He also put me in touch with many of the veterans that he had a rapport with. One of these men, when I called him, was reluctant to speak with me. When I mentioned that I had been given his number by George Reynolds, he said, quite cheerfully, “Oh! Well, what can I help you with?” Without George’s help, this website and the material contained on many of the pages would not be available.

I was extremely saddened to learn of George’s passing in February 2007. The 458th has lost an invaluable historian, a very fine gentleman, and a great friend.

Mission to Munich

Crew 67, 754th Sq. boarded a silver Lib, 95163-K, early 21 July 1944 for their sixth mission. Someone quipped, “No abort today this one is for the Air Medal.” Tense laughter was the only response, for the target was Munich, and bad news travels fast – even for novice crews. Eight and a half hours flight time, at best, and always flak to behold was the circulated comments from those who knew.

Cloud cover was forecast to extend to the target, and this was about the only good word for the briefer had for 23 crews on the mission. PFF was leading the raid on the Dornier aircraft works from 21,000 feet, and ragged cloud tops were up to 12,000 feet. Operations were routine en route except for a few rounds of harassment flak.

Over the IP, breaks appeared in the undercast and became more pronounced closer to the objective. Flak started increasing at bomb release, both in accuracy and intensity. A high burst rained shrapnel on 163-K, opening numerous screaming holes in her skin. As the bomb bay doors closed, a near-miss knocked out #4 engine and severed a control cable. The ship began a pendulum yaw to the right that her pilots could not stop, and the bail out bell clattered. Another flak burst popped closer to the bomber, and #1 engine?s prop started to windmill, refusing to feather. Fuel began pouring from the outboard tank. Now the bird started a pendulum swing to the left, and her crew prepared for a “nylon letdown” at the next bell. Co-pilot Charles Pool thoughtlessly flipped the autopilot on, cold, and got surprising results. The plane stabilized immediately, but the stall warning was almost as fast.

Pilot Harold Dane dropped the nose and quickly polled the crew, “Switzerland or home”? “Home,” was unanimous as sporadic shrapnel continued to open holes in the aircraft.

By now the ship was down to 12,000 feet and sinking fast, but at least the dreaded bell remained silent. Everything moveable went out hatches except the crew, and finally at 9,000 feet the pilots could maintain altitude. Flak had ceased, but wind screaming through the holes created an eerie cadence for the homeward flight.

The spilled fuel lightened the gross, but created a problem – a lack of it to get home. Also, remaining fuel would not feed except from one tank, and transferring it from the other tanks was necessary. Navigator William Edkins became very busy plotting a course for the shortest distance to Horsham. Another obstacle arose. Mountain peaks between their position and the Rhine were up to 10,000 feet or above, but cloud coverage began decreasing and the river was reached without incident.

Engineer Joe Shwallon found the cable break behind plywood paneling forward of the bomb bay. Available tools were used unsuccessfully to remove the panel. A gunner, Earl Diehl, ripped the planking away with his bare hands. Cable in the bomb hoist served to splice the broken line, but one end refused to stay put and forced Joe to use pliers to hold the mend fast. Just when the splice was secure, the right wing dropped as the autopilot quit, and manual control was resumed. Shwallon remarked, “I thought all along the autopilot was fouled up. It shouldn’t have held back there nor worked as long as it did.” He and Diehl continued alternating in holding the splice and transferring fuel as 163-K labored homeward on two fans and a windmill.

Over France another straggler (466 or 467 BG) overtook 163. It had #4 feathered and its right oval [rudder] was missing, but all guns were intact. Strength in numbers entered 20 minds, and the pilots began chatting on formation frequency. The other crew had been to Munich also. After a few moments, two enemy fighters were spotted heading for the cripples. As the Me-109s dove, so did the Libs – into a cloud deck ahead. It proved to be larger than expected and 10 minutes later 163 broke out into the clear with the other B-24 nowhere in sight. No radio calls were heard, (it was later learned they broke out just long enough for one firing pass by the 109s, which downed the plane minus her crew).

Radioman Richard “Fuller” Brush began juggling frequencies, and Pool made an urgent call on radio. Shortly three of the most beautiful P-38s in the ETO throttled back with 163 and gave it undivided attention to the Channel. Over England the pilots decided on going home because it was near and likely they could do a better job of bringing the ship in on familiar terrain. Four P-51s had picked up where the 38s left off, and 163 touched down at Horsham whistling her loud tune. Only now did it sound anything like merry.

The pilots, Shwallon, and Diehl received letters of commendation for their roles in bringing 163 home. She had 50 walnut to volleyball size holes and other assorted lacerations scattered over her silver skin. Looking after their kite in wonderment after 10 hours flying time, someone picked up the quip from early morning, “From now on, let’s skip the damned Air Medal jaunts!”

B-24H-25-FO 42-95163 Z5 K  Dixie Bell on August 9, 1944

For two full weeks sub-depot personnel applied the works, spit and polish on 95163-K, then sent her back on the line sleek and shiny.  But on 9 August her crew [Lt Glenn Hess on their first mission] aborted early from the mission to Saarbrucken because of a runaway prop governor.  A series of small mysteries occurred on final approach to Horsham, and the ship crash-landed.  Fortunately, only minor injuries resulted for the crew, but 163-K was hardly fit for salvage.  Apparently, she just wanted no more of the “metal jaunts” either.

by George A. Reynolds (from 2ADA Journal)