Mitchell Crew – Assigned 755th Squadron – August 9, 1944

Standing: *Ward Walhay – Mickey Nav, James Summey – RO, Robert Weiler – B, Ray Peters – CP, Bill Dotschkall – WG, *Glen Allen – N
Kneeling: William Matthews – TG, Claude McConnell – E, Milton Jakobowitz – BTG
Not Pictured: Charles Mitchell – P, Leonard Folk, N and James Zeiner – WG
*Not original crew members

(Photo: Don Peters)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Charles E Mitchell 01998583 Pilot May-45 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
1Lt Raymond Peters 01998585 Co-pilot 26-Apr-45 CT Suspended fr flying AAF Reg 35-16 
1Lt Leonard Folk 0722833 Navigator 18-Feb-45 UNK Rest Home Leave
1Lt Robert L Weiler 0772904 Bombardier 22-Mar-45 UNK Air Crew Leave
T/Sgt James H Summey 18160978 Radio Operator  Apr-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete
T/Sgt  Claude H McConnell  34735551 Flight Engineer Apr-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete
S/Sgt William O Dotschkal 33618503 Aerial Gunner Apr-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete
S/Sgt Milton L Jakobowitz 12177238 Aerial Gunner May-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete
S/Sgt William A Matthews 18229122 Aerial Gunner May-45 CT Trsf to 70RD - Tour Complete
Sgt James K Zeiner 13153712 Aerial Gunner 23-Oct-44 UNK Trsf to 754th Sqdn

The Mitchell Crew was originally assigned to the 755th Squadron upon arriving at the 458th on August 9, 1944.  They flew their first mission on the 24th, then three more to Germany before the 458th was pulled off of operations to participate in the Truckin’ missions, hauling gas to Patton’s army in September 1944.  The Group resumed combat flying in October, and Mitchell and crew flew four missions by mid-month when they were transferred to the 754th Squadron.

In December they were transferred back tot he 755th to be a lead crew, flying as deputy lead in the third squadron on the 28th.  They did not fly another lead mission until the Group’s mission to Peine on February 22, 1945.  After that they finished out their tour as a lead crew.  On the March 18th trip to Berlin, the crew suffered battle damage and were forced to land in Belgium (see below).  Most of the crew completed their required mission in early April and were either sent to the State or reassigned.

The crew picture above was taken at Horsham St Faith in front of a 755th Squadron Liberator Oh Mona!. Judging by the ribbons the men are wearing, it was most likely taken in the early Spring of 1945.  The two navigators pictured were not original crew members. 1Lt Ward L. Whaley was assigned the previous August with the crew of 2Lt Frank A. Josephson.  While Josephson and crew remained in the 752nd during their time with the 458th, Whaley was trained as a Radar Navigator and flew with lead crews.  1Lt Glenn C. Allen was originally assigned to the 755th Squadron on July 31, 1944 on the crew of 2Lt William R. Frederick.  On September 9, 1944, Frederick and crew went on a cross-country night mission and crashed near Petersborough, England, killing seven of the nine men aboard.  Allen and the bombardier, 2Lt Jack R. Hibbs were able to parachute to safety.


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Cmd Pilot Ld Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
24-Aug-44 HANNOVER 117 1     42-95316 N J3 40 PRINCESS PAT  
26-Aug-44 DULMEN 120 2     42-95316 N J3 42 PRINCESS PAT  
05-Sep-44 KARLSRUHE 122 3     42-100311 P 7V 47 YOKUM BOY  
09-Sep-44 MAINZ 124 4     41-29303 H Z5 40 LIBERTY LIB  
20-Sep-44 HSF to CLASTRES TR04 --     42-94952 A GJ T2 SHACK RAT ON LOAN TRUCKIN' 44BG
22-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR06 --     42-52441 I J3 T5 LAST CARD LOUIE CARGO
28-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR11 --     41-29551 H  389BG T1 NOT 458TH SHIP 2ND FLIGHT
28-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR11 --     41-29301 Z 453BG T2 VAMPIN' VERA 1ST FLIGHT
29-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR12 --     41-29551    389BG T2 NOT 458TH SHIP TRUCKIN' MISSION
30-Sep-44 HSF to LILLE TR13 --     42-99997 P 44BG T11 NOT 458TH SHIP  TRUCKIN' MISSION
03-Oct-44 GAGGENAU 127 5     42-51179 P J3 37 DUSTY'S DOUBLE TROUBLE  
06-Oct-44 WENZENDORF 129 6     42-51206 S J3 2 THE PIED PIPER  
07-Oct-44 MAGDEBURG 130 7     44-40475 D J3 4 JOLLY ROGER  
19-Oct-44 MAINZ 136 8     42-95183 U J3 49 BRINEY MARLIN  
02-Nov-44  BIELEFELD 140 9     42-51196 Q J3 8 THE GYPSY QUEEN  
04-Nov-44 MISBURG 141 10     42-110070 K Z5 43 ELMER  
30-Nov-44 HOMBURG 151 11     -- -- -- --   No FC - Sqdn Rec's
24-Dec-44 SCHONECKEN 157 12     42-50504 S J3 15 UNKNOWN 019  
28-Dec-44 ST. WENDEL 160 13 PHILLIP D3 44-10487 R J3 24 Girl on surfboard (no name)  
30-Dec-44 NEUWIED 161 MSHL     -- -- -- --   MARSHALING CHIEF
02-Jan-45 REMAGEN 164 14     42-50499 U J3 24 COOKIE/OPEN POST  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT 166 15     42-50499 U J3 25 COOKIE/OPEN POST  
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND 174 16     42-50504 S J3 18 UNKNOWN 019  
29-Jan-45 MUNSTER 175 17     42-50608 W J3 20 FILTHY McNAUGHTY  
08-Feb-45 RHEINE M/Y REC --     42-50516 V J3 -- STARDUST RECALL - WEATHER
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 179 ABT     42-50504 S J3 -- UNKNOWN 019 #1 SUPER CHGR INOP
21-Feb-45 NUREMBERG 185 18     42-50516 V J3 20 STARDUST REPLACED 575
22-Feb-45 PEINE-HILDESHEIM 186 19 GOODFRIEND L3 42-50516 V J3 21 STARDUST  
25-Feb-45 SCHWABISCH-HALL  189 20 WILLIAMS L2 42-50740 Q J3 24 OUR BURMA  
27-Feb-45 HALLE 191 21 BRECKENRIDGE  L3 42-51743 F J3 17 UNKNOWN 006  
02-Mar-45 MAGDEBURG 194 22 GARDNER L3 42-95557 H J3 26 LADY PEACE  
04-Mar-45 STUTTGART 196 23   L3 42-50504 S J3 26 UNKNOWN 019 REPLACED 837
09-Mar-45 OSNABRUCK 200 24 BLACK L3 42-95628 K J3 16 UNKNOWN 038  
15-Mar-45 ZOSSEN 204 25   L2 42-51939 G J3 25 UNKNOWN 028 REPLACED 557
18-Mar-45 BERLIN 206 26   L3 42-50684 B J3 14 A&G FISH SHOPPE EMERG LAND BELG B-58
02-Apr-45 TIRSTROP ABN --   L2 42-95557 H J3 -- LADY PEACE ABANDONED
04-Apr-45 PERLEBERG 217 27   L2 42-95557 H J3 44 LADY PEACE  
07-Apr-45 KRUMMEL 220 28   L4 42-51939 G J3 31 UNKNOWN 028 FLYING w/466TH "C" GRP
10-Apr-45 RECHLIN/LARZ 223 29     44-49910 D J3 7 UNKNOWN 044

B-24JSH-1-FO 42-50684 J3 D A&G Fish Shoppe

Unknown ground man with A&G Fish Shoppe – possibly the man on whom the artwork is based…

(Photo George Reynolds)

March 18, 1945

Co-pilot Ray Peters
The most memorable mission was on March 18, 1945. Target Berlin. 3700 gallons of fuel, 4×2000 pounders. Other missions they had taken several hundred flak holes to the plane, surface damage, and even the loss of most of one of the vertical rudders. On this flight they took only three hits, but they counted!

They were flying a ship named The A&G Fish Shoppe, approaching the target at 19000 ft. The flak started as they got over the target area. They dropped their load. Then shortly they felt a “lift” – flak. They had taken three hits. One to the #3 engine, which hit the oil line inside. Two other hits through the bomb bay. One wiped out the hydraulic lines, the other took out the bundle of electrical wires.

The #3 engine ran out of oil and the engine “froze”. The hydraulic lines had been cut, so they were unable to feather the prop. Eventually it started to “windmill” backwards and started to send vibrations throughout the ship. All this was going on while there was still flak going off and bouncing them around. The vibrations worsened, they were losing control of the plane and they dropped out of formation. They regained control to a degree and came out of the bomb run at 9000 ft. Dad,who had been bothered by Claude the whole time finally turned to him and said “what?”. Claude responded by saying “here” and held up one end of the electrical wire bundle. Dad said it was fanned out and looked just like a giant bouquet of flowers. Then looking down, he noticed most of the control panel was dead. Some basic dials were working as Claude had started the putt-putt and was able to get some electrical power to the plane. The #3 engine had the electrical generator, so no engine meant no power. Meanwhile the plane was vibrating even worse than before. Mitch gave the order to bail out. Claude said, “I can`t”. Mitch said, “why?”. Claude answered, “My chute is soaked with hydraulic oil!”. Mitch said, “Alright, I’m staying”. And one by one all the crew said the same.

The propeller was windmilling faster and faster when all of a sudden it twisted itself off from the plane. The good news was that the vibrating stopped and they regained full control of the plane. The bad news was what Dad saw outside his window. There, just a few feet from him, was an 8 foot propeller flying loose in “formation” with the plane. It was caught in the wing’s slip stream and just seemed to bob and float along with them. At the time it seemed forever, but shortly the tip of the prop hit the side of the plane just below Dad’s feet, cutting through the fuselage and banging on the cockpit’s armor decking, (Dad’s legs eventually turned black and blue from his knees on down) past the feet of the kneeling bombardier navigator, leaving a 3-1/2 foot by 11 foot gash in the bottom of the plane.

Meanwhile, most of the crew was in the waist. Claude had gone up front to get some maps for the navigator.(Mitch wanted to know where they were and have a heading). The rest were tossing out all things un-needed to lighten the plane. For the moment they had fighter protection as one of the “Little Friends” had dropped down to protect them. A sight that brought comfort to the crew. Eventually he had to leave them. They had plotted the shortest course to Allied lines in Belgium.

The B-24 went its way – the fighter, his way back to base. En-route they lost the #2 engine. They red-lined the remaining two engines for almost two hours in order to make Belgium. They were following some railroad tracks, when all of a sudden the air filled with flak. They had passed over a train that had an 88 mounted on a flat car and they were being shot at. Taking evasive maneuvers, they avoided being hit.

Finally they crossed the allied lines and they were looking for a place to set down. Then the #4 engine started to act up. They remembered passing over a small airfield which they had dismissed because of its size, but with the #4 engine acting as though it was going to quit, small was better then none. They turned and headed for the field. The #4 engine quit. They flew/glided with one engine until they were within sight of the field.

Then, upon approach, the #1 engine quit.  Before this had happened, Dad and another crew member had crawled down into the nose wheel compartment and “hand threw” the nose gear out into landing position. 

Above:  Mitchell and Peters in the cockpit         

Claude and others had hand cranked down the wing gear.  Remember – no hydraulics.  The rest of the crew had moved to the waist and tail of the plane.  Two of them had attached parachutes to the side windows in preparation for braking action upon landing.  So now they were in a dead-stick situation – no power, no flaps, no brakes, and a short muddy runway.  The plane mushed in, touched down, and everyone ran to the tail, keeping the nose up. The chutes were deployed.  The runway ran out and they plowed to a stop in a muddy field.  Everyone bailed out and ran from the plane fearing an explosion.  Nothing happened.  They went back to the plane and waited for help to arrive.  They measured the fuel supply and found less then 50 gallons in the whole plane.

The crew was picked up by allied troops and taken to an airfield, where four days later, they were flown back to England. All Claude could remember about the landing was seeing the Belgian peasants out the waist window. The thing that struck him was that they were wearing cowhide coats of all colors and were lined up and resting on the fence next to the runway, watching them land.

(Story and photos courtesy Don Peters)

Horsham St Faith

Standing: Leonard Folk – Nav, Charles Mitchell, Ray Peters, Milt Jakobowitz, Jimmy Summey, Unknown
Kneeling: Bill Matthews, Robert Weiler, Bill Dotschkal

(Photo: Don Peters)

Claude McConnell – 2013

At the City of Norwich Air Museum in front of a display of 458th items

(Photo: Karl Lake)