William Baker was ball gunner on a B-24 with 707th Sqdn 446th BG on a routine training mission from Lowry Field in Colorado to March Field in Riverside California. They were carrying an extra co-pilot and a passenger, a ground crew corporal presumably along for the ride. At 10,000ft the order was given to put on oxygen masks but the masks were not checked. Baker was wearing his parachute over his flying suit but most of the others had them on seats.
As the plane climbed he heard a tearing sound 'like the ripping of metal', the plane peeled to the right and started to nose-dive. The crew were thrown all over the place, three of them jammed into the camera section and unable to move. The windows had been shut but Baker spotted the waist window had opened about six inches and he managed to force his leg through and eventually eject. He seemed to hit the ground almost immediately, landing about 50 yards from a house. He could already see the smoke rising from his crashed plane some two miles away. Sergeant Baker was the sole survivor suffering no more than a bruised knee; the other eleven men on board perished.
Units served with
The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...