Unit History: 757th Sq (01 MAR – 30 MAR 1944)

757th Bombardment Squadron (H)
Office of the Squadron Historian
A.P.O. 520

31 March 1944

SUBJECT : Historical Records.
TO : Commanding General, Fifteenth Air Force,
Attention Historian.
THRU : Channels.

1.  Unit History of the 757th Bombardment Squadron (H) for the period, 1 March 1944 to 31 March 1944.
    a. The present designation of the unit is 757th Bombardment Squadron (H)

    b. Changes in organization:
        (1) No change in designation
        (2) No transfers
        (3) No change in Commanding Officers
        (4) No change in Staff Officers

    c. Strength.    Commissioned    Enlisted
        (1) Month of March:
            (a) Beginning       92      397
            (b) Increase        --      ---
            (c) Decrease        3       8
            (d) At end      88      389

    d. Stations:    Same

    e. Movements:   None

    f. Campaigns:
        (1) Italian
        (2) Still in progress

    g. Operations:

March   Mission Sorties Target          Purpose
    2           1       10  Viterbo Air Field   Disperse enemy concentration and relieve the pressure on the allied troops at Anzio.
    3           2       10  Viterbo Air Field   To destroy enemy aircraft in an effort to knock out the German Air Force.
    7           3       10  Viterbo Air Field   To destroy enemy aircraft.
    11      4       8   Prato RR Yards  To destroy transportation facilities and prevent supplies in going to German forces.
    15      5       8   Casino  Relieve pressure bearing on 5th Army.
    17      6       8   Bad Voslau, Austria Knock out Airfield.
    18      7       8   Maniago Knock out Airfield.
    19      8       7   Klagenfurt  Knock out enemy aircraft and field.
    22      9       9   Bologna Railway yards.
    24      10  8   Nimini  Railway yards.
    26      11  6   Steyr, Austria  Ball bearing, machine and assembly plant.
    28      12  8   Verona  Railroad yards, destroy transportation.
    29      13  9   Milan   Railroad yards.
    30      14  9   Sofia, Bulgaria Bomb the city in an effort to have them withdraw from the war.

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S E C R E T

(Ltr Subj: Historical Record, dtd 31 March 1944, Cont’d)

h. Captain Frank B. Knepper, Squadron Commander has participated in nearly every mission that the squadron has taken part in.
i. Losses in Action:
  1) 3 March 1944, Viterbo Airfield, Italy    
  2)  Banger, Floyd A.    1st Lt.
       Goodrich, Gerald L. 2nd Lt. 
       Garfinkle, Irving   2nd Lt. 
       Jackson, James S.   2nd Lt. 
       Blaha, William J.   S/Sgt.
       Mihalovits, Ed F.   S/Sgt.
       Spoerer, Carl H.        Sgt.
       Vivian, Veronon V.  Sgt.
       Chrazda, Joseph D.  Sgt.
       Wilson, William H.  Sgt.
Ship blew up in air after attack by FW 190. All missing in action while participating in an aerial mission.

    3)  7 March 1944, Viterbo Airfield, Italy
    4)  Davis, Karl V.  S/Sgt.  
Killed in action while on bombing mission.
 
    5)  17 March 1944, Bad Voslau, Austria
 
    6)  Wood, Phillip S.    1st Lt.
            Brines, Grover S.   2nd Lt.
            Gorham, John H.     2nd Lt.
            Stear, Frank N. 2nd Lt.
            Rindos, Michael R.  S/Sgt.
            Montalbano, Warren J.   S/Sgt.
            Sellick, Joseph J.  Sgt.
            McAllister, Lyle    Sgt.
            Hays, Guy C.    Sgt.
            Goodman, Joseph M.  Sgt
Missing in action while participating in a bombing mission.

    7) 29 March 1944, Milan Railroad yards, Italy.

    8)      Musselman, Robert E.    2nd Lt.
             Barron, Paul                    S/Sgt.
After completing mission and while circling the field for a landing, the plane crashed just outside of Giulia field. Both men died from injuries sustained.

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j. Members who have distinguished themselves are: 

2nd Lt. Leo C. Fletcher: "at rear of the right wing flap there was a two foot hole from flak and 15 to 20 machine gun and 20mm holes in the right wing and the fuel lines were ruptured --- there were two large flak holes in the left wing, one about two feet and the other four feet in diameter our No. 2 and 4 propellers each had bullet holes --- the bottom third of the rudder was shot away and about a third of the elevators and stabilizers were in shreds --- the tail turret had a direct hit on it tearing a hole more than a foot wide and blowing the tail gunner back into the waist of the ship --- ball turret had been hit and oxygen regulator and hose cut to pieces --- and then a second hit blew off both doors and put one gun out of action --- the right waist gunner had been hit in the head and died instantly --- the No. 2 engine was shot out when a shell passed almost directly through the center of it --- bomb bay fuel, oxygen, electric, hydraulic reservoir was ruptured and leaking badly radio transmitter and ammunition belts were badly holed and twisted --- more than a hundred flak, machine gun and 20mm holes in the fuselage --- the ball gunner was blown out of his turret and the waist gunner hit twice in the shoulder by 20mm shells --- because hydraulic system was shot out had to lower wheels by cranking and could not let down at all was was left of the landing flaps --- and because control cables were shot away and elevator control could not be moved over 3 inches we had to come in and land about 140 miles per hour --- final checking of observations indicated we had laid all our bombs squarely on the target ---" 

The above extract is taken from the official report of a B-24 on a combat mission that was part of the 15th Air Force operation, and proved supplied additional evidence that the stout-hearted Liberators can take it just as gracefully as they dish it out. This particular plane skillfully piloted by 2nd Lt. Leo C. Fletcher, Pampa, Texas, took everything that Nazi flak, plus the fire-power of Me 109's and FW 190's could hand out, and still came safely back to base. 

Lt. Fletcher 27, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Fletcher, 1605 Caldwell St., Beaumont, Texas. He was graduated from Pampa High School and attended West Texas State College, where he was active in football. He entered the Army on Nov 26, 1940.

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(Ltr Subj: Historical Record, dtd 31 March 1944, Cont’d)
J. Members who have distinguished themselves are:

2nd Lt. LEO C. FLETCHER, (Cont'd) His wife, Virgie Sue Fletcher, is attending Texas Woman's College at Ft. Worth.

2nd Lt. FRANK N. STEAR: "Because the Bombardier was alert and acted with great presence of mind, and without thought of personal safety to himself, a fully-loaded Liberator bomber and its crew of 10 men was saved from disaster by the narrowest margin."

The above is contained in the report of a B-24 of the 15th Air Force which was roaring down the runway for take-off on a combat mission when something went wrong. The bombardier, Lt. Frank N. Stear, of Lake Charles, La., who was standing in his position during take-off on the narrow catwalk leading through the bomb bay, found his shoulders pinned by the bending of the metal uprights on either side of him. Meanwhile the bomb bay doors were wrenched off and the jar caused one of the 500 lb bombs to release itself from its now shackle and hang downward. Lt. Stear saw immediately that the rush of wind was causing the bomb to "arm" itself, which is the term given to the process whereby the safety devices of the fuse are nullified. He knew too that whhen the ship stopped the bomb would likely be thrown out and forward, and sinice the fuse would be set the bomb would be detonated. It would also blow up all the other bombs in the ship -- nnot however that that would make much difference.

All of these things, of course, took a great deal less time to happen than it does to read about them. Lt. Stear, although his shoulders were still pinned managed to squeeze himself far enough forward to reach and stop the whirling vane which was fast arming the bomb. He held onto this until the plane was brought to a stop.

At this juncture the rear shackle holding the bomb did let go, as he had foreseen, and at the same time the metal uprights were twisted back far enough to release Stear and he was thrown violently through the bomb bay doors, the bomb toppling down on him and partially knocking him out. 

As he sat on the ground half dazed he saw thundering down the runway right behind them another B-24 gathering speed for the take-off. The engineer of his own plane, Michael Rindos, 20, of Jersey City, N.J.

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2nd Lt. FRANK N. STEAR (Cont’d) had been thrown out by the crash onto the runway and lay directly in the path of the onrushing ship. Lt. Stear, again without thought of his own safety, ran out and dragged the engineer to one side a fraction of a second before the second plane roared by. Lt. Stear, 22, attended Landry Memorial High School at Lake Charles, where he was active in football and other sports. His father, Byron L. Stear, lives at 325 Atlanta Ave., Port Arthur, Texas, and his mother, Mrs. Florence Hellan, at 810 Orange St., Lake Charles. He is married to Mrs. Catherine Arliss Stear, of 511 Holloway St., Pineville, La. Lt. Stear entered the Army July 27, 1942.

  1. Enclosed is the war diary of this unit for the period February 10, 1944 to March 31, 1944.

For the Commanding Officer:

MICHAEL J. Kosloski,
1st Lt., Air Corps,
Squadron Historian

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