Rupley Crew – Assigned 754th Squadron – April 20, 1945

Standing: Raphael Matteo – N, Robert Rupley – P, Robert Fancher – CP, Lt. Davis – B
Kneeling: John Kauffmann – TTG, Mike Mansucto – E, Theodore Baltas – TG, Nelbert Peters – RO, Leland Schrader – BTG, Homer Potter – NTG

(Photo: Becky Cull)

Transferred from 453BG

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Robert J Rupley 0827734 Pilot 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
2Lt Robert F Fancher 02058136 Co-pilot 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
2Lt Raphael L Matteo 02008898 Navigator 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
T/Sgt Nelbert L Peters 39212213 Radio Operator 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG 
T/Sgt  Mike Mansucto 36660208 Flight Engineer 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
S/Sgt John H Kauffmann 33745853 Armorer-Gunner 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
S/Sgt Homer J Potter 38352252 Armorer-Gunner 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
S/Sgt Leland R Schrader 312788775 Armorer-Gunner/2E  20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG
S/Sgt Theodore C Baltas  31376161 Armorer-Gunner 20-Apr-45 FEH Assigned from 453BG

1Lt Robert J. Rupley and crew were assigned to the 458th on the day of the group’s 239th mission.  Five days later, the group flew number 240, the last Eighth Air Force combat mission of World War II in Europe. Rupley’s crew (along with several others) was transferred from the 453rd Bomb Group, stationed at Old Buckenham.  Why the transfer was made at this late stage in the war is unknown.  How many missions this crew had flown with the 453rd is likewise unknown.  They arrived too late to fly any missions with the 458th.

There is one entry in the 453rd book, The Liberator Men of Old Buc, that mentions Lt. Rupley on the mission of March 4, 1945:  Layers of clouds extending up to 25,000 feet and more were responsible for the unusual “mission” of March 4th. When weather prevented the assembling of the formation over England, the planes went to France. There also they found the clouds insurmountable and abandoned the mission. Lt. Rupley of the 733rd Squadron was unable to find the formation. Unaware of the abandonment, he went on, tagged onto a passing Fortress formation and bombed with them.

Assigned to the group with Rupley, were three additional men, S/Sgt’s Harry L. Albright 37676829, and Joe A. Baterson 16003217.  Both of these men were Radar Crewmen (MOS 514) and both were sent to the Palace Hotel, Southport, Lancashire on Rest Home Leave on May 16, 1945.  The third man was T/Sgt Daniel J. McDonald, 14031340, a Bombsight Mechanic (MOS 683).  On April 23, 1945, McDonald was reclassified as an Airplane Armorer-Gunner (MOS 612).

Robert Fancher’s Separation Record (below) shows that he arrived in the ETO on November 1, 1944 and that he had been awarded the Air Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters.  This would indicate that he (and, most probably his crew) flew at least 25 missions with the 453rd Bomb Group prior to the end of the war.

In June 1945, Rupley was assigned to ferry a Liberator back to the States along with his crew and several ground men from the group.

June 1945

Standing: James Evans (Bradley Crew – B), Raphael Matteo, Robert Fancher, Robert Rupley, Unidentified
Middle Row: Homer Potter, Mike Mansucto, Theodore Baltas, Unidentified, Leland Schrader, John Kauffmann, Unidentified
Sitting: Nelbert Peters, (next 6 men, unidentified)

(Photo: FOLD3)