Hoffman Crew – Assigned 752nd Squadron – November 18, 1944

Standing: Bill Coleman – N, Ralph Hoffman – P, Bill Simmers – CP, F/O Bledsoe – B
Kneeling: Peter McWeeney – NTG, George Bily – TTG, Laurence Kannon – RO, Don Boudreau – TG, Oscar Loveless – E, Milton Randall – BTG

(Photo: Boudreau Family)

Flying at the End of Hostilities

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date  Status  Comments
1Lt Ralph O Hoffman 0678264 Pilot 30-Apr-45  FEH Rest Home Leave
1Lt William K Simmers T4472 Co-pilot 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave 
2Lt William G Coleman 02015137 Navigator 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
T/Sgt  Laurance H Kannon 18109601 Radio Operator 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
T/Sgt Oscar Loveless 39208219 Flight Engineer 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Peter B McWeeney  42070839  Aerial Gunner 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
Sgt Milton F Randall 11136548 Radar Crewman 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt George F Bily 16107191 Armorer-Gunner  30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
S/Sgt Donald A Boudreau 37490208 Aerial Gunner 30-Apr-45 FEH Rest Home Leave

Ralph Hoffman’s crew came to the 458th in mid-November 1944, and was assigned to the 753rd Squadron.  Their bombardier, F/O Bledsoe, was not assigned to the Group with the crew.  After the obligatory indoctrination period into the theater, they began their combat career on December 6th 1944 with a mission to Bielefeld, Germany. Missions to targets in the German towns of Koblenz, Neuwid, and Remagen followed.

On January 17, 1945 the 458th was briefed for a mission to bomb the oil refinery in Harburg. Unknown to navigators of the group their flight path took them directly into what later became known as the jet stream.  Tail winds of 200knots were encountered giving the bombers almost a 400knot ground speed.  According to navigator Bill Coleman, “the bombardier had to scramble like mad to get the bomb sight set up, but in about three minutes the bomb bays were open and the bombs went away.”  Realizing that their return flight would be against a headwind of 200 knots effectively making their ground speed zero, Hoffman led the flight in a diving turn, changing altitude and they made their way home.

Four days after this mission, on January 21st, the crew was briefed to hit the marshalling yards at Heilbronn, Germany, but heavy contrails from the lead group over the target obscured vision and necessitated a drop on a target of opportunity.  Hit by flak in the target area, which damaged their fuel system, the crew ran out of gas near Rhiems, France and Hoffman put their B-24 down in a field.  The ground was hard and the plane hit a furrow which drove the nose gear into the navigation compartment.  Most of the crew decided to stay with the plane while Coleman and Sgt McWeeney, the nose gunner walked to a nearby Allied headquarters, about 15 kilometers away.  As Coleman and McWeeney were entering the compound, a truck passed them carrying the rest of the crew who had been picked up after the two had left.  The crew were taken to Rhiems and put on an airplane to Paris.  After five days in Paris, they returned to Horsham and resumed their missions.

On February 21, 1945, the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron to be a lead crew.  They flew a number of squadron and group leads between February 21st and the end of the war.  On the last mission flown by the Eighth Air Force on April 25, 1945 to Bad Reichenhall, Hoffman led the third section over the target.

F/O Bledsoe, the bombardier who trained with the crew was not assigned with them to the 458th.  His status is unknown.  When the crew was transferred to the 755th Squadron, three additional crew members were added to the nose section. It is assumed that these three flew most, if not all of the lead missions with Hoffman’s crew. 2Lt Thomas E. Walsh, navigator, was assigned on November 18, 1944 with 2Lt William G. Everett’s crew.  2Lt Lawrence B. Timmons was a third navigator assigned on November 9, 1944 on the crew of 2Lt William C. Spratt.  The third member was F/O Walter W. Godsin, bombardier, also assigned on November 18, 1944 on 2Lt Donald G. Williams‘ crew.

Group records show the crew going to a Rest Home on April 30, 1945, their combat flying completed.


Date  Target  458th Msn  Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
06-Dec-44 BIELEFELD 153 ABT     41-28963 T 7V -- UNKNOWN 007 #2 ENGINE
11-Dec-44 HANAU 155 1     42-52457 Q 7V 70 FINAL APPROACH  
18-Dec-44 KOBLENZ REC --     42-95165 L 7V -- COOKIE RECALL DUTCH ISLE
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 2     42-51110 M 7V 59 TOP O' THE MARK  
02-Jan-45 REMAGEN 164 3     42-100425  O 7V 41 THE BIRD  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT 166 4     41-29352 K 7V 66 WOLVE'S LAIR LANDED AT WOODBRIDGE 
13-Jan-45 KAISERLAUTERN 169 5     42-51514 B 7V 1 BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER  
17-Jan-45 HARBURG 172 6     42-50740 Q J3 17 OUR BURMA BATTLE DAMAGE
21-Jan-45 HEILBRONN 173 7     42-95165 L 7V 56 COOKIE CRASH LAND FRANCE
06-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 178 8     42-50502 E 7V 29 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 179 9     42-50502 E 7V 30 LARRUPIN' LINDA  
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG 185 ABT     44-10618 T J3 -- UNKNOWN 038 FUEL LEAK IN BOMB BAY
23-Feb-45 GERA-REICHENBACH 187 10     44-10602 P J3 30 TEN GUN DOTTIE  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL 189 11     44-10487 L J3 31 Girl on surfboard (no name)  TYPO (S/B 487R)
28-Feb-45 BIELEFELD 192 12     42-50504 S J3 22 UNKNOWN 019  
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG 194 ABT     42-50575 O J3 -- UNKNOWN 020 #3 PROB GOV OUT
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART 196 13     42-50740 O J3 26 OUR BURMA  
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 14     42-95557 H J3 37 LADY PEACE  
21-Mar-45  HESEPE 209 15   L4 42-51939 G J3 27 UNKNOWN 028  
31-Mar-45 BRUNSWICK 216 16   L2 42-95628 K J3 23 UNKNOWN 038 REPLACED 669
04-Apr-45 PERLEBERG 217 17   L4 42-95628 K J3 24 UNKNOWN 038  
06-Apr-45 HALLE 219 18 SIMES D1 42-95557 H J3 46 LADY PEACE  
08-Apr-45 UNTERSCHLAUERSBACH  221 19 PHILLIP D1 42-95557 H J3 48 LADY PEACE  
14-Apr-45 POINTE DE GRAVE 225 20 PHILLIP D1 44-49910 D J3 8 UNKNOWN 044  
16-Apr-45 LANDSHUT 227 21 GOODFRIEND  D1 44-49261 A J3 20 UNKNOWN 042  
19-Apr-45 ZWIESEL SCR -- HENSLER L1 44-49902 M J3 -- UNKNOWN 043 SCRUBBED
20-Apr-45 ZWIESEL 229 22 HENSLER L1 44-50693 P J3 4 UNKNOWN 054 NEW SHIP
25-Apr-45 BAD REICHENHALL 230 23 BLACK L3 44-50667 R J3 1 UNKNOWN 053

After hours…

George Bily, Don Boudreau, Oscar Loveless
Possibly Stateside, prior to movement overseas

(Courtesy: The Boudreau Family)

January 21, 1945

Left: Heilbronn, Germany from 20,000 feet. On the right: a Pass for the Paris Area for gunner, Sgt Don Boudreau
Click images for a larger view

(Courtesy: The Boudreau Family)

B-24J-1-FO 42-50740 Q J3 Our Burma

Courtesy: Mark Styling

Our Burma at “Bombs Away” – Hoffman crew flew this aircraft on three missions including January 17, 1945


(Photos: The Boudreau Family)

May 8, 1945 – Rest Home

VE Day in South Port, England
George Bily, Oscar Loveless, Don Boudreau
Sitting: Peter McWeeney, Milton Randall, Laurence Kannon

(Photo: The Boudreau Family)

May 5, 1945

Pete McWeeney, Don Boudreau, Oscar Loveless

(Photo: The Boudreau Family)

June 1945

Standing, center three:  Bill Simmers, Ralph Hoffman, Bill Coleman
Kneeling, 3rd from left: Oscar Loveless; 5th from left: Peter McWeeney
Sitting, 2nd from right: Don Boudreau; Far Right: George Bily

(Click image for a closer view)


Hap and Lois Hoffman

(Photo: The Boudreau Family)

December 9, 2006 – Green Valley, AZ

Above, (L-R): Roger & Don Boudreau, Bill & Jane Coleman, Gary Boudreau
Left: Bill Coleman

(Courtesy: The Boudreau Family)