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Gale B McGowan


1/Lt. McGowan was Killed In Action (KIA). He was a flying co-pilot with the Wallace Malone crew. Due to mechanical problems, B-24J - S/N 42-50491 had to ditch in the North Sea (notified RAF Air-Sea Rescue). The plane broke in half upon landing on the water. Seven of the crew were KIA and three were rescued. Thomas Strohaker (the ball turret gunner), Wallace Malone (the pilot) and Jack Heuser (the bombardier) were rescued.

Gale McGowan graduated high school Leadville Colorado in 1936 and then went to work in construction on the Seminoe Dam. Whilst there he made a new friend who had a sister Peggy - the future Mrs. McGowan. With the completion of the dam and the wartime boom in shipbuilding McGowan moved to Portland to work in the shipyards. Once settled he and Peggy were married in June 1941.

In 1942 Gale was in the Army, his first training in tank maintenance but at some point he managed a transfer to the Army Air Corps and qualified for pilot training. He was commissioned in January 1944 and eventually arrived at the B-24 training base in Tonopah Nevada, assigned to 422nd Base Unit, the centre for replacement crews. His wife Peggy with their baby son and her sister Bonnie made the 700 mile trip by Greyhound bus to visit him. The small mining town was packed with the families of servicemen scheduled for overseas and all they could find in the way of accommodation was a room over a bar. Interestingly it was the room where the 'going away party' was held and where officers and men - officially not supposed to fraternize - got together. At the party Bonnie met Andrew 'Jack' Maynard whom she was to marry in 1946.

McGowan co-pilot in the Bingham crew arrived at Flixton AFB 3rd August 1944 assigned to the 707th Squadron, 446th BG. He then flew thirty three missions- and was already flying extra missions due to a shortage of co-pilots- when he was allocated to a B-24 of 705th Sqdn whose co-pilot had gone sick. Taxiing for take-off there was a hydraulic problem and the plane was delayed by an hour. When trying to catch up with the main force over the Channel an engine failed and the pilot decided to abort the mission. There was a further loss of power, the plane lost altitude, flying too low for the crew to bail out and finally, unable to reach RAF Manston, ditched into the sea. Air Sea Rescue recovered three of the crew from a raft, seven men were lost in the freezing water; among them 1st Lt Gale McGowan. Their names are inscribed on the Memorial Wall at the American Cemetery Madingley.



  • Wallace Malone

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 446th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 707BS, 446BG, 8AF USAAF. Flew 35 missions, On 27-Dec-44 ditched in the North Sea (having notified Air Sea Rescue) plane broke in half on landing on the water. Along with ball turret gunner Strohaker and bombardier Heuser were rescued. RTD ...

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Units served with

  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    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...

  • 707th Bomb Squadron


  • 42-50491

    B-24 Liberator
    42-50491 was a replacement B-24J Jul 1944 for the 492nd BG, 856th BS. Aug 1944 the B-24J was transferred to 446th BG, 706 BS and then to the 707th BS. Engine problems forced plane to ditch in English Channel Dec 27, 1944. 7 KIA, 3 rescued.

Associated Place

  • Bungay

    Military site : airfield
    From late November 1943, the three bases of Bungay, Seething and Hardwick were the stations of the 20th Combat Wing of the Eighth Air Force. The base had previously housed individual squadrons of the 310th Bomb Group (Twelfth Air Force) and of the 93rd...


Event Location Date
Killed in action 27 December 1944


Date Contributor Update
07 August 2019 10:12:03 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography and events

Biography completed by historian Helen Millgate. Information sourced from correspondence files and articles related to the service of Gale McGowan.

Date Contributor Update
05 March 2015 16:53:38 AZ MAC Changes to highest rank and biography

Official USAAF 446th Bomb Group History

Date Contributor Update
05 March 2015 16:45:00 AZ MAC Changes to biography

Official USAAF 446th Bomb Group History

Date Contributor Update
18 January 2015 21:28:49 AZ MAC Changes to nickname, awards and place associations

Personal Military Records and personal family records

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:10:34 AAM AAM ingest

Combat Sup

446th BG Book page 231 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia