Shannon Crew – Assigned 753rd Squadron – November 23, 1944

Standing: Robert Ward – E, Fred Caudell – G, Grant Ordiway – G, Charles Given – G, Gene Hamilton – G, William Weber – RO
Kneeling: Les Gruner – N, Allen Jewett – CP, Larry Shannon – P, Norm Cameron – B

(Photo: Norman Cameron & Ray Kendeigh)

Crashed on Practice Mission – 13 February 1945  AR45-2-13-529

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date  Status   Comments
2Lt Lawrence R Shannon  0719769 Pilot 13-Feb-45 DNB Wright County, MO
2Lt Allen K Jewett T128265 Co-pilot 13-Feb-45 DNB Cambridge American Cemetery
F/O Leslie J Gruner T131834 Navigator 13-Feb-45 DNB Cambridge American Cemetery
F/O Norman W Cameron T6887 Bombardier 25-Feb-45 FEH Rest Home Leave
Sgt William L Weber 17166654 Radio Operator 13-Feb-45 DNB Hutchinson, KS
Sgt Robert L Ward 34776546  Flight Engineer 13-Feb-45 DNB Cambridge American Cemetery 
Sgt Frederick M Caudell 34674937 Aerial Gunner 13-Feb-45 DNB Cambridge American Cemetery
Sgt Charles E Given 35655818 Aerial Gunner 13-Feb-45 DNB Kanawha County, WV
Sgt Gene P Hamilton 39136367 Aerial Gunner 13-Feb-45 DNB Contra Costa, CA
Sgt Grant D Ordiway 33407044 Armorer-Gunner  13-Feb-45 DNB Clarion County, PA

2Lt Lawrence R. Shannon and his crew arrived at the 458th Bomb Group on November 23, 1944, Thanksgiving Day, and were assigned to the 753rd Squadron.  Their first mission was flown on Christmas Day to bomb the marshaling yards in Pronsfeld, Germany.  Nine missions followed their first, spanning a 48-day career on combat operations. All of the crew’s missions were flown to Germany.

On February 13, 1945, Shannon’s crew took off around 12:30 in the afternoon for a practice mission.  They were flying B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40281 J4 Q named A Dog’s Life, formerly one of the original AZON ships to come to the 753rd Squadron back in May 1944.  They had flown this aircraft on two separate occasions to Germany and back without and serious problems.

Their luck, however was about to run out, as squadron records state: “During a practice mission on 13 February, A/C 44-40281, piloted by 2nd Lt. Lawrence R. Shannon, was approaching the base with a feathered engine when it lost altitude and crashed on Old Catton Road.  Because of the low altitude at the time of the crash and the explosion which followed immediately, there were no survivors.”

F/O Norman W. Cameron, bombardier, was not on this practice mission.  Records show that he was removed from flying status on February 14th, the day after the crash.  He was placed back on flying status on February 18th.  He flew additional combat missions where needed as navigator or bombardier, a few possibly with the crew of 1Lt Robert C. Hadden as Cameron went on Air Crew Leave with them on February 25, 1945.

The Old Catton Website contains a fine tribute to Shannon’s crew and the John McArthur crew from the 467th Bombardment Group (H), which was also in the same Combat Wing (96th) as the 458th. This crew also crashed on a training mission in Old Catton on January 22, 1945.

Ray Kendeigh, relative of Grant Ordiway, relates
“Grant had a brother, Virgil Ordiway in the 101st Airborne.  He had been wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.  Virgil was recovering from his wounds in England and they had a chance to see each other before Grant was killed.”


Date  Target 458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
25-Dec-44 PRONSFELD 158 1 44-40281 Q J4 22 A DOG'S LIFE  
30-Dec-44  NEUWIED 161 2 42-110163 M J4 43 TIME'S A WASTIN  
01-Jan-45 KOBLENZ 163 3 44-40283 I J4 27 LASSIE COME HOME  
07-Jan-45 RASTATT 166 4 44-40283 I J4 29 LASSIE COME HOME  
28-Jan-45 DORTMUND 174 6 44-40285 H J4 54 TABLE STUFF  
31-Jan-45 BRUNSWICK 176 7 44-40281 Q J4 31 A DOG'S LIFE RECALL - SORTIE CREDIT 
03-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 177 8 44-40118 S J4 32 WE'LL GET BY COMPOSITE SQDN w/466
09-Feb-45 MAGDEBURG 179 9 42-100408 I J4 35 LADY LUCK / THE BEAST  
13-Feb-45 Practice Mission -- ACC 44-40281 Q J4 -- A Dog's Life Crash on T/O Old Catton

F/O Norman Cameron

Norm Cameron (right) with two unidentified officers

“We were scheduled that A.M. to bomb Helgoland, a little island fortress in the North Sea.  No mission credit although they had anti-aircraft guns and put up a lot of flak.  Gruner and I often traded jobs – he liked to bomb.  On a previous mission I had bumped my nose on a turret gun and was having trouble clearing my ears.  When they said it was a practice mission I goofed off and went on sick call.  When I came out of the hospital I seen the ship go down, I didn’t realize it was my crew until a little later.  I flew my missions after that as a navigator or bombardier as needed.  The crew had told me they were going to put my name on the flight book, I found out they didn’t.  I was sent to the “Flak House” after that accident for about three weeks, then I was on flying as a replacement where needed.”

B-24JAZ-155-CO 44-40281 Q J4  A Dog’s Life

A Dog’s Life, an original AZON ship, had been in the 753rd Squadron since May 1944.

(Photo: George Reynolds)

At approximately 1246 hours on 13 February 1945, B-24-J, No. 44-40281 crashed about one mile South East of Station 123. Ship had just taken off on a practice mission, with a crew of nine (9) and 2,700 gallons of gasoline.

Pilot contacted tower shortly after take-off reporting a runaway prop, ship was cleared to land immediately, but crashed before landing could be accomplished.

No evidence could be obtained from the crash as the ship was completely destroyed by fire.

RECOMMENDATIONS: That all B-24 Pilots be reminded of the necessity of their meeting satisfactory Emergency Procedure Requirements, especially the danger of turning into a dead engine.

On our way to town Tuesday M/Sgt’s Goodroe, Carlisle, Seyler, and T/Sgt Metts and myself noticed a J-4 [753rd Sqdn] airplane with #2 engine feathered. At this time the airplane was flying at about 700 feet parallel with runway 23. We were on Fifers Lane and he passed directly over us. He continued to fly south for about a mile and then started turning to the left. He was skidding rather then [sic] banking it, however, the left wing would drop and he would bring it back up. He still didn’t seem to be in trouble and had the airplane headed North East [sic] when the airplane went into a glide. He was almost out of sight behind the trees when the left wing dropped vertical and he went in out of sight behind the trees. After about ten seconds flames and black smoke came up.

Crash Site

Aerial view shortly after the crash, possibly taken from a 466BG Liberator

(Chris Brassfield via Earl Wassom)

Top photo shows military personnel and British firemen at the accident site, which was still burning. 
The bottom photo was created by Nick Stone, depicting the same site in 2011.

The site after the fires had died down.  According to the Old Catton website, The crash only narrowly missed the house next door; the house where Anna Sewell wrote her famous Black Beauty book. Today, it is easy to see the brickwork used to repair the damage to the house in this picture.

Norwich War Diary for 13 February 1945, and a diagram of the crash site.
Click for larger images

Sgt Grant D. Ordiway