Tebbs Crew – Assigned 752nd Squadron – August 8, 1944
Standing: Alfonso Colaiacovo – G, James Gallagher – E, Lewis Stevens – G/2E, James Marshall – RO, Jesse Beard – G, Bobby Giles – G
Seated: John Balyeat – CP, Eddie Jacques – B, Jim Isaacks – N, Merlin Tebbs – P
(Photo: Tim Falls)
|1Lt||Merlin E Tebbs||0699473||Pilot||Mar-45||CT||Crew completed combat tour|
|1Lt||John T Balyeat||0772258||Co-pilot||Feb-45||CT||Promoted to 1st Lieutenant|
|1Lt||James D Isaacks, Jr||0722853||Navigator||08-Jan-45||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|1Lt||Edouard J Jacques||0772975||Bombardier||May-45||CT||Trsf to 70RD for return to ZI|
|T/Sgt||James S Marshall||36565480||Radio Operator||08-Jan-45||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|S/Sgt||James F Gallagher||31059368||Flight Engineer||12-Dec-44||RFS||Relvd from flying status - Med|
|S/Sgt||Jesse T Beard||15097896||Armorer-Gunner||08-Jan-45||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|Sgt||Alfonso J Colaiacovo||32158863||Aerial Gunner||11-Sep-44||POW||Flak over Koblenz|
|Cpl||Robert L Giles||34649573||Aerial Gunner||08-Jan-45||CT||Rest Home Leave|
|S/Sgt||Lewis S Stevens||35701073||Aerial Gunner/2E||21-Mar-45||CT||Promoted to S/Sgt|
Merlin E. Tebbs and crew were assigned to the 752nd Squadron in August 1944. The first mission entry shown for pilot Tebbs is Assembly duty on August 12th. The crew’s first combat mission came a full two weeks later when they flew on the raid to Dulmen, Germany. The crew did not fly on September 11th, but one gunner, Sgt Alfonso J Colaiacovo, filled in on the crew of 1Lt Thomas G. Horgan on the group’s mission to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Magdeburg, Germany. Horgan’s aircraft, ETO Playhouse was hit by flak and the crew forced to bail out. All 10 men survived as prisoners of war. Colaiacovo was sent to Stalag Luft IV.
Shortly after this, the 458th was pulled off of combat operations and took part in ferrying gasoline to Patton’s Third Army in France. Skeleton crews flew B-24’s modified to carry gasoline from Horsham to newly liberated airfields in France. These were called “Truckin’ Missions”, but air crew received no credit. Tebbs flew a total of nine gas hauls to the Continent and back for 10 days in September.
At some point in their career at Horsham St. Faith (most likely in mid-October), bombardier Edouard Jacques was removed from the crew and assigned to the 755th Squadron as a lead bombardier. His new crew, under the command of 1Lt Fred J. Eisert, had also been assigned to the 752nd Squadron for a short period. Tebbs’ crew, from this point forward, flew with no bombardier.
In October the crew (and the group) went back on combat operations. Early in December, S/Sgt James Gallagher, the crew’s engineer, was removed from flying status due to undisclosed medical reasons. It is believed that S/Sgt Lewis Stevens, who also held a rating as a flight engineer, took his place. Before the end of the year the crew had completed just over half of their required 35 missions and on January 8, 1945 were sent to a “Flak House” for a well deserved two-week leave. Upon their return they completed one combat mission and another flight in Spotted Ape as an assembly crew (no credit) to close out the month of January.
The crew flew seven missions in February – no doubt their most harrowing trip that month coming on the 22nd. On this date the 458th was assigned as its target two railroad marshalling yards, Peine-Hildesheim near Hannover, Germany. The group was bombing at the extremely low altitude of 10,000 feet when, as the bombers were passing Hersfeld a burst of ranging flak blossomed out, followed by a full pattern. One plane in the 752nd Squadron, piloted by 2Lt Joseph E. Szarko, received a direct flak hit between the number 3 & 4 engines. The right wing was ripped off and flew back to hit Tebbs’ aircraft, taking off a piece of their left rudder and the entire left elevator. While controlling the aircraft was undoubtedly difficult, they managed to make it back to England, landing at Woodbridge emergency airfield.
The crew rounded out their combat tour with eight missions in March, flying their last on the 19th.
|Date||Target||458th Msn||Pilot Msn||Serial||RCL||Sqdn||A/C Msn||A/C Name||Comments|
|12-Aug-44||MOURMELON||111||ASSY||41-28697||Z||Z5||A10||SPOTTED APE||ASSEMBLY CREW - Maj LaROCHE|
|27-Aug-44||FINOW||121||2||42-100311||P||7V||46||YOKUM BOY||MISSION CREDIT IN NOV|
|20-Sep-44||HORSHAM to CLASTRES||TR04||--||41-29352||K||7V||T2||WOLVES LAIR||CARGO|
|23-Sep-44||HORSHAM to CLASTRES||TR07||--||42-50290||M||389BG||T1||MARTHA R.||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|25-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR08-2||--||41-29303||H||752||T6||LIBERTY LIB||2ND FLIGHT - CARGO|
|26-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR09||--||41-29303||H||752||T7||LIBERTY LIB||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|27-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR10||--||42-100404||S+||445BG||T5||THE GRIM REAPER||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|28-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR11||--||42-100404||S+||445BG||T6||THE GRIM REAPER||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|29-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR12||--||41-29577||E||466BG||T11||THE RUTH E-K||1ST FLIGHT|
|29-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR12||--||41-29577||E||466BG||T12||THE RUTH E-K||2ND FLIGHT - DID NOT DELIVER|
|30-Sep-44||HORSHAM to LILLE||TR13||--||41-29301||Z||453BG||T3||VAMPIN' VERA||TRUCKIN' MISSION|
|14-Oct-44||COLOGNE||133||ABT||42-95165||L||7V||--||COOKIE||# 1 ENG FEATHERED|
|15-Oct-44||MONHEIM||134||ABT||42-95165||L||7V||--||COOKIE||#1 ENG -RUNAWAY PROP|
|26-Oct-44||MINDEN||138||5||42-51110||M||7V||45||TOP O' THE MARK|
|02-Nov-44||BIELEFELD||140||6||42-51206||S||7V||13||THE PIED PIPER|
|05-Nov-44||KARLSRUHE||142||8||42-51110||M||7V||47||TOP O' THE MARK|
|09-Nov-44||METZ AREA||145||ANA||42-100407||R||7V||55||LITTLE LAMBSY DIVEY||SEE OPS REC - NO SORTIE|
|10-Nov-44||HANAU A/F||146||10||42-95316||H||7V||55||PRINCESS PAT|
|21-Nov-44||HARBURG||148||11||42-95050||J||7V||57||GAS HOUSE MOUSE|
|30-Nov-44||HOMBURG||151||13||--||--||--||--||No FC - Sqdn Rec's|
|10-Dec-44||BINGEN||154||15||42-51206||S||7V||23||THE PIED PIPER|
|31-Dec-44||KOBLENZ||162||18||42-95179||X||7V||67||HERE I GO AGAIN|
|02-Jan-45||REMAGEN||164||19||41-29340||N||7V||58||YANKEE BUZZ BOMB|
|03-Jan-45||NEUNKIRCHEN||165||ABT||41-29305||N||Z5||--||I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC||ABORT - NO DETAILS|
|29-Jan-45||MUNSTER||175||20||42-51514||B||7V||6||BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER|
|31-Jan-45||BRUNSWICK||176||ASSY||41-28697||Z||Z5||A54||SPOTTED APE||ASSEMBLY CREW|
|14-Feb-45||MAGDEBURG||181||22||42-51270||A||7V||8||MY BUNNIE II|
|22-Feb-45||PEINE-HILDESHEIM||186||25||42-51206||S||7V||38||THE PIED PIPER||SZARKO'S WING HIT RUDDER|
|03-Mar-45||NIENBURG||195||28||42-51110||M||7V||82||TOP O' THE MARK|
|05-Mar-45||HARBURG||197||29||42-51514||B||7V||21||BIG CHIEF LIL' BEAVER|
|10-Mar-45||ARNSBURG||201||31||42-51206||S||7V||51||THE PIED PIPER|
|18-Mar-45||BERLIN||206||34||42-51110||M||7V||90||TOP O' THE MARK|
February 22, 1945
Excerpt from Liberators Over Norwich
On 22 February the combined might of the USAAF and RAF Bomber Commands based in Britain and Italy, and consisting of well over 2,000 heavy and medium aircraft, were directed against the Nazi communications network in a two-day operation code-named Clarion. The 2BD’s contribution involved 452 aircraft, thirty-four of which came from Horsham. Marshalling yards concentrated in an inverted geographic triangle, with Hannover and Magdeburg as its baseline, formed the Division’s targets. Hildesheim and Peine lay east of Hannover, and separate formations of eighteen and sixteen were respectively allocated for the twin assault.
A feature of the day’s operations was the low bombing altitude of 10,000 ft announced at briefing. This was a matter that would not have impressed the crews, because although the Luftwaffe was basically a spent force, this state did not apply to the provision of flak batteries throughout the Reich. In fact, the enemy gunners would be directly or indirectly involved in the extremely low tally of MIA bombers (7) out of 1,372 completing the mission. However, a gut feeling that the low altitude approach was tempting fate would come true in two instances within the group ranks.
Bad Hersfeld, around 30 miles due west of Eisenach, was not noted for possessing real industrial output; on the other hand, flak dispositions were not
exclusively committed to the defence of cities or towns involved in key war production. B-24H-30-DT 42-51215 7V T, flown by Lt. Joseph E Szarko, was
stationed at the rear of the formation. This crew had completed ten missions, while the RCM operator was on his sixteenth. As the bombers were passing Hersfeld a burst of ranging flak blossomed out, followed by a full pattern. The first shell exploded squarely inside Lt. Szarko’s bomb bay and the
airframe erupted, one wing shearing off in a fascinating slow motion manner.
A single parachute was observed to issue briefly from one waist window before it and its hapless wearer were drawn back into the mass of flames that was now a cruel substitute for a proud, multi-ton aircraft. No other member among the ten on board was seen to emerge, and their deaths within or free of the plunging wreckage were subsequently confirmed. The dreadfully effective destruction of Lt. Szarko’s bomber could have been easily paralleled by the accompanying group aircraft of Lt. Merlin E Tebbs, flying in charge of B-24H-30-DT 42-51206 7V S The Pied Piper. One wing tip on the doomed bomber smashed into his B-24 and excised one of the rudders, something that could easily have thrown it out of control.
In spite of this crippling degree of damage Tebbs and his co-pilot managed to maintain sufficient maneuverability to hold station and finally divert into
Tribute to Edouard Jacques
This is a true story that follows Captain Edouard J. Jacques, a WWII Bombardier and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, and his crew from childhood through thirty bombing missions over Germany with the 755th Squadron, 458 Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force from 1944 through 1945. It’s a remembrance of ordinary men doing extraordinary feats in their quest to defeat the seemingly invincible Third Reich. Included in their stories are those they left behind — their wives, girlfriends, and family. Through interviews, their stories are told, and it is apparent that while not similar in background or culture, they were similar in their strength of character and love of country. Those who are no longer with us had their stories told by those interviewed. The history of the battle for Europe, 1944-1945, is told in detail.
Please take a moment and take a look at the website World War Two Heroes, created in tribute to Edouard Jacques and his crew. Read an excerpt of the book, see pictures, listen to audio interviews of the crew, and watch a one hour long documentary on Ed Jacques.