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Arthur Henry Vanderbeek


Henry Arthur Vanderbeek
April 16, 1923 - February 18, 2009

This is the story of Arthur H. Vanderbeek, who enlisted in the Army Air Force in mid 1944 to halt Germany who was determined to rule the world. To say that dad was patriotic is an understatement. He was a hero in the eyes of his parents, his sister Maria and to his family of 6 children, and his loving wife, Geraldine, who were married for more than 65 years.

This chronicle lists the 35 missions (European Theater) he flew and the 10 ‘Milk Runs’ which delivered desperately needed fuel to General Patton’s army in France in a decisive moment of the war.

After training at a Navigation School, he was assigned to the 8th Army Air Force stationed at Horsham St. Faith, in Norwich, England. He was part of the 458th Bomb Group and served from August 25,1944 to March 24, 1945. He was a Navigator on a Liberator B-24, which was often referred to the ‘Widow Maker”, due to the tremendous loss of life on these planes. They were built for quantity, not quality.

History records that the war was won from the sky as the bombers could pinpoint and destroy the armament factories and distribution networks which crippled Germany’s capacity to produce armaments. At one point dad said ‘How Germany can go on with the continued bombing she is getting is beyond me. Day after day, night after night, she keeps right on fighting. But she cannot forever’.

Dad took part in some of the most critical bombing raids in the war, where the entire 8th (Mighty Eighth) Army Air Force dropped bombs on major German cities such as the “Big B’, or Berlin. One of these missions to Berlin included 1,200 Allied bombers, all flying in formation. He was likely part of this raid.

Many of his missions were harrowing — losing an engine or trying to navigate through heavy cloud cover. Or flying through heavy flak which claimed a vast number of planes and brought them down. Or flying when it was minus 50 degrees and his navigation instruments froze.

It is said that the Navigator’s job was ‘fraught with danger’. The statement ‘the position of Navigator is one of the most important in the combat team. The Pilot and Bombardier are dependent upon his skill and speed in making necessary calculations and the safety of the entire crew is dependent upon his accuracy and reliability under all conditions’, (a quote taken from a letter to the parents of a Navigator who was accepted into Navigation school).

Sadly, during the briefing after Mission #14 over Schonecken, Germany, dad learned that a ship of a very good friend, Joe, was on, who he went to Navigation school with, went down over the target. They had flown missions together before, and had always done their pre-flight planning together before each mission. He said, ‘I pray to God that he may be safe. Chutes were seen by other fellows, on the mission to open as his ship went down. Maybe Joe is sleeping in the woods somewhere near Magdeburg, Germany, starting his adventures of working his way out of Europe, as so many of the airmen have done previously...I hope so.’

This is the story of a very brave man, part of a very brave America who entered WWII after Germany declared war on her, and when America’s freedom hung in the balance.

Dad rarely spoke of his time in the war. After reading this memoir we hope to know more about the humble man he was, and his role during a very dark time period in America’s and the world’s history.

Please share this Memoir with others so that we may remember how valiant the men and women were who fought the war. Let them not be forgotten.


The Vanderbeek Family

Henry, Susan Peter, Laura, Clare & Hugh


Units served with

  • 458th Bomb Group

    458th Bomb Group

    The 458th Bomb Group (H) entered combat with the 8th Air Force in February 1944. Based at Horsham St. Faith in England, the combat crews participated in the decisive Campaigns 'Big Week', 'Big B', D-Day and the assault on Germany's oil industry waged...

  • 754th Bomb Squadron


  • 41-29596 "Hell's Angel's"

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 754BS, 458BG, 8AF USAAF. On 23-Feb-45, while returning from the 458th Bomb Group's mission to bomb the Gera and Reichenbach Marshalling Yards in Germany, 2Lt Daniel F Hunt, Jrs crew (754th Sqdn), flying B-24H 41-29596 "Hell's Angel's"...

Associated Place

  • Horsham St Faith

    Military site : airfield
    Horsham St Faith was an RAF Bomber Command Station opened in June 1940. It was home to Bristol Blenheim medium-bombers, and was for a time occupied by fighters, including those of No. 19 Squadron and No. 264 Squadron. From September 1942 the airfield...

  • Dorr Field

    Military site : airfield


Event Location Date


Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 14:45:09 Casitadelsol2 Changes to biography

Daughter Clare

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 14:43:34 Casitadelsol2 Changes to suffix

Daughter clare

Date Contributor Update
15 October 2018 14:40:34 Casitadelsol2 Changes to biography


Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 17:00:25 Casitadelsol2 Changes to place associations

Family records, missions

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 16:55:10 Casitadelsol2 Changes to biography

Grammatical Correction.

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 16:50:53 Casitadelsol2 Changes to biography

Mission logs, research.

Date Contributor Update
10 October 2018 16:05:01 Casitadelsol2 Changes to middlename, suffix and nickname

Provided by daughter Clare Vanderbeebeek.

Date Contributor Update
09 October 2018 12:56:23 Casitadelsol2 Changes to awards

These medals were identified and selected by the family of Arthur Vanderbeek.

Although it is noted that he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, by the time he asked his family to contact the government for the designation, all of his comrades had passed away.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:04:06 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Page 432 in the book 2ND AIR DIVISIONby Turner Publishing Company, 1998 edition (D790.A2S45) &