Crew 53 – Assigned 754th Squadron – October 1943

Standing: Acy Marchand – N, William Butt – RO, Charles Sanford – WG, Fred Angeloch – WG, Charles Peters – B.
Kneeling: Mel Watson – P, Paul Faggioli – E, Ernest Kelly – BTG, Carson Fisher – TG, Frank Fuggett – CP


(Photo: George Reynolds)

Completed Tour

 Rank  Name  Serial #  Pos Date Status  Comments
1Lt Melvin R Watson 0798384 Pilot Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
2Lt Frank J Fuggett 02045232 Co-pilot Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
1Lt Acy A Marchand 0811532 Navigator Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
2Lt Charles B Peters 1295479 Bombardier 03-Jul-44 CT Trsf to 12RD AAF 591 - Tour complete 
T/Sgt  William E Butt 35621166 Radio Operator  Aug-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
T/Sgt Paul S Faggioli 12162769  Flight Engineer Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Charles E Sanford 35497545 Aerial Gunner 10-Dec-44 UNK  Relvd from flying status
S/Sgt Frederick W Angeloch  32220382 Aerial Gunner Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
S/Sgt Ernest L Kelly 31219024 Aerial Gunner Jul-44 CT Awards - Distinguished Flying Cross
Sgt Carson L Fisher 33377676 Aerial Gunner 04-Jun-44 UNK Promoted to S/Sgt

Lt Mel Watson and crew trained in Tonopah, Nevada with the 458th during the latter half of 1943.  They moved to the ETO in January 1944 with the rest of the Group via the Southern Ferry Route.

The crew flew their first mission on March 5, 1944 in a B-24H named Dixie Belle II.  This aircraft would later become the 458th’s second assembly ship, Spotted Ape.  The crew had completed 15 of their 30-mission tour by the end of April 1944.  Towards the end of May, when they had about 27 completed sorties, Watson was assigned to fly the assembly ship, First Sergeant.  While on the ground, a flare was accidentally discharged causing a fire and the loss of the ship.  In getting out of the burning plane, Watson and Faggoli, the flight engineer, sustained burns and were hospitalized for a period of time.  It wasn’t until the latter part of June that Watson and crew flew their next mission.

While most of the original crews had completed their 30 missions before the month of June was out, it appears that Crew 53, being later than the rest of the original group, were required to fly 35 missions that became the requirement in the summer of 1944.  Most of the crew were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in July and were returned to the States or reassigned.

S/Sgt Carson Fisher was not listed with the other enlisted men of his crew in July, but it is probable that he completed his tour with them.  S/Sgt Charles Sanford evidently remained with the group through the month of December 1944, as his name is shown being “Removed from flying status” early in that month.


Date  Target  458th Msn Pilot Msn  Serial RCL Sqdn A/C Msn  A/C Name  Comments
05-Mar-44 BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC 3 1 41-28697 P Z5 1 DIXIE BELL II  
06-Mar-44 BERLIN/GENSHAGEN 4 2 41-28697 P Z5 2 DIXIE BELL II  
08-Mar-44 BERLIN/ERKNER 5 3 41-28697 P Z5 3 DIXIE BELL II  
23-Mar-44 OSNABRUCK 12 4 41-28682 I Z5 11 UNKNOWN 003  
24-Mar-44 ST. DIZIER 13 5 42-100408 D J4 4 LADY LUCK / THE BEAST  
26-Mar-44 BONNIERES 14 6 41-28697 P Z5 4 DIXIE BELL II  
27-Mar-44 BIARRITZ 15 7 42-100341 -- J4 5 SATAN'S MATE  
05-Apr-44 ST. POL-SIRACOURT 16 8 41-29295 K Z5 8 BOMB TOTIN' MAMA  
08-Apr-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 17 9 42-52404 Q Z5 5 BELLE OF BOSTON  
13-Apr-44 LECHFELD A/F 21 10 41-28738 O Z5 7 MEAT AROUND THE CORNER  
19-Apr-44 PADERBORN A/F 23 11 41-28682 I Z5 18 UNKNOWN 003  
24-Apr-44 LEIPHEIM A/F 26 12 41-28738 O Z5 11 MEAT AROUND THE CORNER  
26-Apr-44 PADERBORN A/F 28 13 41-29305 N Z5 14 I'LL BE BACK/HYPOCHONDRIAC  
27-Apr-44 BONNIERES 29 ABT 41-28682 I Z5 -- UNKNOWN 003 ABORT
27-Apr-44 BLAINVILLE-SUR-L'EAU  30 14 41-28682 I Z5 23 UNKNOWN 003  
29-Apr-44 BERLIN 31 15 41-28697 P Z5 5 DIXIE BELL II  
04-May-44 BRUNSWICK/WAGGUM 34 16 41-28697 P Z5 6 DIXIE BELL II  
05-May-44 SOTTEVAST 35 17 41-29596 R Z5 1 HELL'S ANGEL'S TAIL # WRITTEN OVER #697 
08-May-44  BRUNSWICK 37 19 41-29596 R Z5 2 HELL'S ANGEL'S  
09-May-44 ST. TROND 38 20 42-50279 T Z5 8 ENVY OF 'EM ALL  
11-May-44 EPINAL 39 21 42-95018 J Z5 8 OLD DOC'S YACHT SORTIE-LOW ON FUEL
13-May-44 TUTOW A/F 41 22 42-95163 K Z5 1 DIXIE BELLE  
20-May-44 RHEIMS A/D 43 23 42-95163 K Z5 3 DIXIE BELLE  
21-May-44 SIRACOURT 44 24 42-95163 K Z5 4 DIXIE BELLE  
23-May-44 BOURGES 45 25 42-95163 K Z5 5 DIXIE BELLE  
24-May-44 VILLEROCHE 46 26 42-95163 K Z5 6 DIXIE BELLE  
25-May-44 MULHOUSE M/Y 47 27 42-95163 K Z5 7 DIXIE BELLE  
27-May-44 Neunkirchen 48 ASSY 42-40127 Z Z5 -- First Sergeant Flare Accident Sta 123
20-Jun-44 OSTERMOOR 73 28 42-52274 H J3 9 UNKNOWN 029 MSN #1
21-Jun-44 BERLIN 75 29 42-95108 M Z5 14 ENVY OF 'EM ALL II  
23-Jun-44 3 NO BALLS 76 30 41-29596 R Z5 24 HELL'S ANGEL'S TGT #7 BLAUGERMONT
24-Jun-44 CONCHES A/F 77 31 41-29596 R Z5 25 HELL'S ANGEL'S MSN #1
25-Jun-44 ST. OMER 80 32 42-95018 J Z5 23 OLD DOC'S YACHT  
02-Jul-44 COUBRONNE 83 33 42-100362 A Z5 12 SWEET LORRAINE/BOOMERANG  
06-Jul-44 KIEL 85 34 42-95163 K Z5 23 DIXIE BELLE  
08-Jul-44 ANIZY, FRANCE 87 35 42-95163 K Z5 25 DIXIE BELLE  

Crew 53 and the Assembly Ships

The 458th Bomb Group’s first assembly ship, First Sergeant, met her end on the hardstand with Watson’s crew scheduled to fly

While preparing for assembly duties on the morning of May 27, 1944, Watson’s crew had to scramble out of the aircraft after a flare pistol accidentally discharged and set fire to the flight deck.  Acy Marchand and William Butt made it out through the bomb bay with no injuries, but Mel Watson and Paul Faggoli received 2nd degree facial burns while escaping via the same exit.  The aircraft was a total loss.

(Photos: Mike Bailey)

Crew was getting ready to start engines prior to take-off. The co-pilot had no arrived at the ship so the engineer was sitting in co-pilot’s seat. Swiches were turned on and I was starting the A.P.U. I had difficulty in starting it and as I was priming it I heard an explosion. I thought that the A.P.U. had backfired. I heard another explosion and a ball of fire went past my head. I noticed a fire on the flight deck. I jumped out of the plane to get the fire extinguisher which was out with the fire guard. By the time it was brought into play the flames were so intense that they could not be brought under control.

Acy A. Marchand
1st Lt, AC

We were scheduled to fly the assembly ship along with Major Henson who had not arrived at that time.  The pilot, Lt WATSON, and the Engineer were in the pilot and co-pilot’s seats making the checks before starting the motors.  Lt MARCHAND, navigator, was starting the auxiliary power unit.  The ground man was standing fire guard at #3 engine.  I had loaded one flare pistol laid it down and was loading another and was laying it down when it fired.  My efforts to put it our failed and I left the ship following the navigator.  T/Sgt Faggioli and Lt WATSON followed.  The ground man tried to extinguish it but his efforts also failed.  The plane then flamed and burned.

William E. Butt  3562116
S/Sgt, AC

After the demise of First Sergeant, the group was in need of a new formator.  B-24H-10-DT 41-28697 Z5 in the 754th Squadron was painted in the same scheme as her predecessor and became known as Spotted Ape. Prior to this, the aircraft had participated in eight combat missions under the name of Dixie Belle II.  Coincidentally, Watson and crew flew Dixie Belle II on the first seven of those flights.  This aircraft performed assembly duties until a landing accident on March 9, 1945 brought an end to her career.

(Photo: Karl Lake)