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Charles Emro Lipscomb

Military

Assigned to 586 and 587BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF.

Born and raised in rural Lincoln County, West Virginia, USA (15APR1917), a 24-year-old Charles “Charlie” Lipscomb traveled by bus to Fort Hayes, OH to enlist in the USAAF on 06JUN1941. Per capita, more West Virginian natives both enlisted and died during World War II than the residents of any other state in the Nation. That culture of extreme patriotism, paired with the severe shortage of employment opportunities, prompted Charlie to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a pilot. By his calculation, this was his one-and-only chance to get behind the controls of a state-of-the-art aircraft.

In-processing, one of the very first tests for prospective flight school candidates was for stereoscopic depth perception. The candidate aviator had to use a stereoscope to gauge their ability to maintain visual focus with both eyes (binocular vision) and accurately judge relative distance (depth perception). Unfortunately, Charlie failed this basic screening test - - miserably - - which, coincidentally, was his mood for some time thereafter. His dream of becoming a pilot-in-training abruptly ended.

He was instead enrolled in six months of training at Scott Field, Illinois, Radio-Gunner School, graduating in late DEC1941 (Class No. unknown). As it turns out, this twist of fate actually ended up saving his life.

Charlie spent all of the next two years, 1942 and 1943, in training; navigating around the eastern United States (see map). “One a day in Tampa Bay” was one of the catch phrases Charlie often used when describing his days in training, which many did not understand until learning just how many aircraft and airmen were lost Stateside. Charlie kept a handwritten record of many of his first flights on the back of an 8 x 10 portrait of his girlfriend (see media), which he carried with him throughout his entire 52-month military career.

The 394th Bombardment Group (Medium) was officially activated on 05MAR1943, originally based at MacDill Field, Florida. A few months later, they moved to Ardmore Army Airfiled, Oklahoma (12JUL1943), and then again to Kellogg Field Army Airfield (AAF), Michigan (19AUG1943).

Almost constantly in motion, from Scott Field to Jackson, Mississippi, Columbia, South Carolina, Dallas, Texas, Jackson, Mississippi, Tampa, Florida and finally Kellogg AAF, Battle Creek, Michigan, the 394th completed their training and then prepared for their long flight to RAF Boreham, Essex, UK (Station 161), flying first to Hunter Field, Savannah, Georgia, on 30JAN1944. On 02FEB, they flew on to Morrison Field, near West Palm Beach, Florida, and then to Borenquin Field, in Puerto Rico, on 08FEB1944.

Completing the southerly route (see map) via Ascension Island and Marrakesh, they landed at RAF Boreham, Essex, a little over two weeks later, on 26FEB1944.

(At this point in time, Charlie stopped keeping any records of his movements - - as per OpSec - - and did not resume diary entries until 11SEP1945 - - when he began his long trip back home.)

RAF Boreham became the very first home “Over There” for the 394th “Bridge Busters”, but it was short-lived. Only five months later, on 24JUL1944, the 394th was relocated to RAF Holmsley, Christchurch, and then again (22AUG1944) to Tour-en-Bessin Airfield, in the Normandy region of northern France. This Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) “A-13” had been established only a month earlier, on 12JUL1944, shortly after the Allied landing in France. Tour-en-Bessin was the first of three ALGs that the 394th occupied.

All told, the 394th had seven (7) official “homes” while serving overseas:

11MAR1944-24JUL1944 – RAF Boreham, Essex, UK
24JUL1944-25AUG1944 – RAF Holmsley South, Hampshire, UK
24AUG1944-08OCT1944 – Tour-en-Bessin (ALG A-13)
18SEP1944-08OCT1944 – Orleans/Bricy (ALG A-50)
08OCT1944-21MAY1945 – Cambrai/Niergnies, France (ALG A-74)
21MAY1945-11SEP1945 – Venlo, Netherlands (Y-55)
12SEP1945-FEB1946 - Kitzingen Field, Deutschland

The 394th Bombardment Group was made up of 3,727 members and over 200 B-26s.

While some flew from one base to another, many service members traveled via train, Landing Ship, Tank (LST), G.I. truck, Jeep, taxi, ship and boat during the course of the War. For instance, a C-47 carried service members from Cambrai to Venlo (28APR1944). And on 20AUG1944, members of the 394th landed at Omaha Beach via LST (2,400 U.S. troops were killed, wounded or went missing there only a few weeks prior, on D-Day, 06JUN1944).

En route from the Advanced Landing Ground at Orleans/Bricy to their new home at Cambrai, France, the G.I. truck stopped at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. All of the elevators were broken, so the airmen had to walk up using one of the four stairwells (For those who don’t know, the climb is long, tiring and treacherous for the faint of heart. But it was Paris. So they climbed!).

A year later (12SEP1945), Charlie returned for a second visit to Paris. This time, however, all of the elevators were all in working order.

Like many WW II Veterans, Charlie very rarely spoke of the events he experienced overseas; especially those between JUL1944 and VE-Day, 08MAY1945. There was one story, however, that “Emro” frequently shared with family and friends. It involved a mission launched on 18DEC1944 from RAF Boreham, bound for stronghold and airfield targets at Epinoy, France.

Engines roaring and ready to taxi, Charlie was leaning forward, head down, strapped into his radio operator’s seat with his headset on. With an unexpected tap on his left shoulder, Charlie quickly turned and looked up to see a superior officer, 2Lt Milton I. Waters, Jr., suited-up, ready to fly.

Second Lieutenant Waters extended his right thumb and hand, then quickly bent his elbow and raised it over his shoulder; signaling Charlie to exit the aircraft. Not much was said between the two over the noise of the engines, but it soon became apparent why Charlie was being ejected from the flight crew.

His superior, trained as a Bombardier/Navigator and assigned to the 586th Bombardment Group, needed to fly only one more mission before he would become eligible to be shipped back home. At the very last moment, he had decided to bump Charlie from the flight and take his seat. The idea, of course, was to return home just a little earlier than he otherwise would; if he had waited to fly the next scheduled mission.

Without questioning, Charlie dropped out of the B-26 to find the officer’s Jeep and driver idling alongside the apron. Charlie rode back to an empty barracks, where he spent the balance of the day passing the time; waiting for his fellow flightcrew members to return.

However, his flightcrew did not return. Neither did another ship and crew.

High over the target at Epinoy (A-75), two B-26s (42-96207 and 42-34212) were involved in a fatal mid-air collision (Category 4 damage). Both aircrews perished, including all of Charlie's crewmates (42-34212). The Killed in Action (KIA) included:

Cpl Jacob Arzowian (Gunner)
2Lt Lawrence Brashear (Gunner)
Cpl Horace Bunting (Gunner)
Cpl Vincent A. Cherescavich (Engineer/Gunner)
2Lt George Clearwater (Pilot)
2Lt William E. Cook (Pilot)
Cpl Elmer Dash (Gunner)
Cpl Samuel A. Devereux (Tail Gunner)
2Lt Ibin Gaj (Co-Pilot)
1Lt Edward A. Thompson (Pilot/Bombardier)

Abruptly, sadly, Charlie’s first and worst "War Story" ends here. But his life was spared.

(2LT Milton Waters, Jr. is today interred at Golden Gate National Cemetery, in California, where his father, Milton Waters, and mother, Genevieve Marie Dowling Waters, are also buried; both of whom served in WWI.)

The 394th was finally relocated to a captured German airfield near Venlo, Holland (Y-55) at the end of APR1945. Little did they know that, weeks later, they would all be celebrating VE Day (08MAY1945) in the streets of nearby Venlo.

Of the more than 200 B-26s in the 394th, 52 had been lost in action: Three to enemy aircraft, 23 to Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA), and 26 in enemy action (including collisions and crashes).

Finally, the 394th was once again relocated, this time to occupied Germany. Kitzingen Field became their home on 11SEP1945. On that same day, Charlie began his long trip home. Traveling by truck, train and boat, he spent a month in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and southern England; en route to the Port of South Hampton.

He set sail for America on 11OCT1945, and on 16OCT, Charlie and over 11,000 fellow service members arrived at Pier 90, New York City, USA, sailing past the Statue of Liberty aboard the S.S. Queen Mary.

Charlie in-processed at nearby Fort Kilmer, New Jersey, and was discharged the very same day, 16OCT1945, at Fort Meade, Maryland. His Mustering Out Pay, combined with $20.65 for travel, totaled $519.70. Charlie had also earned a Good Conduct Medal, two ribbons, an ASR of 100 - - along with a lapel button for "NO DAYS LOST UNDER AW 107". No illness. No injury. No drunk or disorderly conduct.

Charlie returned to his native West Virginia, joined the Air National Guard (ANG), and began working full-time for the US Postal Service in the capital city of Charleston. There, on the workroom floor of the Main Post Office, he met Mary Ella Treadway. The couple married in 1949, honeymooned in Virginia Beach, and remained married for over 52 years.

Less than two years later, on 02APR1951, several members of Charlie’s ANG unit were killed in the tragic crash of a C-47, on approach to what is today Yeager Airport (named for a fellow Lincoln County, West Virginia native, Chuck Yeager). Eleven of his cohorts perished in the incident. Ironically, they were returning from the funeral of a fellow airman who had been killed in another ANG plane crash.

Once again, fate had intervened to prevent Charlie from flying that day. For a second time, his life had been spared.

Working for the R.T. French Company (based in Rochester, New York, owned by Reckitt & Colman plc, UK) for over 35 years, Charlie remained in West Virginia for the rest of his years. Father to two children, Gregory and Peggy, and grandfather to Charles “Chad” Lipscomb, Joshua and Rachel Weber; Charlie lead a long and fruitful Life, passing away in 2001 at the age of 84.

Coincidentally, his son, Greg, subsequently accepted an assignment with the U.S. Army in Europe, based at a U.S. Army Garrison in Rhineland-Palatinate, Deutschland; a state which was a frequent target of the 394th Bombardment Group. While living/working there (2010-2013), Greg visited many of the airfields and targets of the 394th. On the 65th anniversary of VE-Day, he and his wife went to the very same small bar where his father and his comrades in arms had celebrated the actual event, in Venlo, Holland.

On his birthday anniversary, 15OCT, Greg returned to Paris and climbed the stairwell of the Eiffel Tower, accompanied by his son, Chad.

On the mezzanine level, Greg stopped to rest and tell Chad the story - - about how his grandfather and namesake, Charles, had first visited the Eiffel Tower on the very same date in 1944, sixty-eight years prior - - and precisely ten years before Greg was born.

A native Parisienne, sitting nearby, overhead Greg telling his son the story and politely interrupted.

“Do you know why the elevators were all broken that day?”, he asked.

Of course, Chad and Greg did not. And neither did Charlie or any of his cohorts.

“Hitler was coming to Paris to shoot a propaganda film,” the Local National explained. “He wanted to be seen looking over the skyline of Paris, in triumph, from atop the Eiffel Tower.”

“When the French Resistance learned of this plan, they organized a group to cut and remove the long steel cables that operate the elevators.”

“Upon his arrival, the film crew explained to Hitler the problem with the elevators, and informed him that the only way up was via the stairway. Hitler declined. The film segment was never completed.”

There is no doubt that twenty-eight-year-old TSgt Charles Emro Lipscomb, Radio-Gunner, would have loved to know that story in 1944, or anytime before he passed in 2001. Hopefully, now, wherever he is; Charlie now has decent Internet access. If so, and if he is still a good navigator, then Charlie can manage find this web address:

http://www.americanairmuseum.com/person/246013

Service

People

  • Thomas Abshier

    Military | Sergeant | Radio / Gunner | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Lt Myron E Brown Crew [#5].

  • Donald Adler

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-pilot | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Crew #1.

  • Donald Aggers

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Toggelier | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Awards: WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medals.

  • Hazen Annis

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Crew #3.

  • William Ardiff

    Military | Sergeant | Radio / Gunner | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Crew #4.

  • Eber Arnold

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Haltern, hit by flak crashed Haltern, Germany 22-Mar-45 Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 13040 Awards: PH.

  • Jacob Arzouian

    Military | Corporal | Radio / Gunner | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Fatal Mid Air Collision over Epinoy, crashed in 42-96207 No MACR as accident Killed in Action (KIA). 18-Dec-44. Awards: PH.

  • Weldon Babin

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Dassburg rail bridge in B-26 43-34300 left formation shortly after IP, last seen vicinity of Ettelbruck. 23-Jan-45. Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 11924 Awards: PH.

  • Donald Bergeron

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Engineer / Gunner | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. 35+ missions. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Haltern, hit by flak crashed Haltern, Germany 22-Mar-45 Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 13040 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Rufus Berry

    Military | Sergeant | Engineer / Gunner | 394th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) mission to Dassburg rail bridge in B-26 43-34300 left formation shortly after IP, last seen vicinity of Ettelbruck. 23-Jan-45. Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 11924 Awards: PH.

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Units served with

Aircraft

  • 43-34212

    B-26 Marauder
    Assigned to 586BS, 394BG, 9AF USAAF. Fatal Mid Air Collision over Epinoy, crashed pilot 1st Lt William E Cook.

Associated Place

  • Boreham

    Military site : airfield
    Built in 1943-1944, it was used by B-26 Marauder bombers of the Ninth Air Force's 394th Bomb Group in 1944. The 315th Troop Carrier Group were temporary lodgers at the airfield in 1945, shortly before it closed. ...

  • Holmsley South

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1941-42, Holmsley South opened in September 1942 as a Coastal Command base before construction was complete. It eventually had three concrete runways, 35 pan and three loop hardstandings, and five T2 hangars. The 1st American residents,...

  • Venlo

    Military site : airfield

  • Tour-en-Bessin

    Military site : airfield

  • Cambrai/Niergnies

    Military site : airfield

  • Orleans / Bricy

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 June 2020 14:46:53 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
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Correction of dates

Date Contributor Update
02 March 2020 15:14:21 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
01 March 2020 16:58:22 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
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Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2020 18:25:45 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
28 February 2020 17:44:42 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2020 20:38:16 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2020 18:09:15 Greg Lipscomb Changes to person associations
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2020 18:05:39 Greg Lipscomb Changes to unit associations
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Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2020 18:05:00 Greg Lipscomb Changes to place associations
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
27 February 2020 17:58:52 Greg Lipscomb Changes to biography
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

Date Contributor Update
26 February 2020 17:24:39 Greg Lipscomb Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role and media associations
Sources

Greg Lipscomb

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