First Lieutenant Gilbert "Gib" Hadley, the well liked young pilot in the 344th bomb Squadron of the 98th Bomb Group, and 9th Air Force. He named his airplane, Hadley's Harem, to denote how many women, he said, were fond of him. Hadley flew on Operation Tidal Wave to Ploesti, Romania, with his friends in the 344th Bomb Squadron of the 98th Bombardment Group. His plane took two direct flak hits in the nose, approaching his target, White IV, one killing his bombardier, and the other damaging two of his engines, before he approached and bombed his target, White IV. He survived attacking Ploesti and had joined up with Col. John Kane in, Hail Columbia, South of Ploesti, in order to fly to safety with company for his crippled ship. He made it as far as just past the the south Turkish coast close to Nicosia, Cyprus, but had to turn back from the group of straggler B-24s in the darkness with low engine oil and fuel. Hadley finally lost his fight with his failing, Harem, and crashed into the Aegean sea after losing his last two engines, just off the Turkish coast. Both Hadley and his copilot. Lt. James Lindsey, were trapped in the plane's collapsed cockpit and drowned. Aug 1, 1943.
1st Lt US AIR FORCE
World War II
1st Lt Gilbert B. Hadley 0-661482
22 year old pilot of his Disabled Bomber was forced down in the Aegean Sea Aug 1, 1943 after the low level bombing of Ploesti Rumanian Oil Center.
Son of Mr. & Mrs. Perry Hadley
Pilot 1st Lt. Gilbert B. Hadley DFC KIA
Hometown: Arkansas City, Kans.
Name : Gilbert Ben Hadley
Born : May 6, 1921 - Cowley County, Kansas
Death : August 1, 1943
ID : O-661482
Rank : First Lieutenant
Specialty : B-24 Pilot
Branch : US Army Air Corps
9th Air Force, 98th Bomb Group, Heavy, 344th Bomb Squadron
Status : Declared Dead (KIA) while Missing In Action (MIA)
Cause : Aircraft crashed en route to alternate home base after sustaining flak damage
Location Aegean Sea, south coast of Turkey
Gilbert Ben "Gib" Hadley was born and raised in Arkansas City, Kansas. He was the son of Perry Arthur Hadley and Beulah Pearl Bacastow. Hadley was born on May 6, 1921 in Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas. Kansas was his home and enlistment state, and Cowley County was included within the archival record.
Gilbert Hadley enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and served during World War II. as a B-24D pilot in the MTO attached to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. Lt. Hadley flew his B-24D bomber, Hadley's Harem, with his Copilot Lt. James Lindsey, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. On August 1, 1943, Lt. Hadley and copilot Lt. Lindsey took off from their base at Benghazi, Libya, to bomb the oil refineries and facilities at Ploesti, Romania. This was an especially dangerous mission, with the bombing to be accomplished at very low levels, as low as 20 feet, up to 250 feet over their target refineries, to clear the smoke stacks. Their B-24D bombers made for relatively easier targets for the anti aircraft flak guns at such low levels over the well defended oil refineries. Lt. Hadley sustained two direct flak hits approaching his target, White IV, killing his bombardier, Leon Storms, badly wounding his navigator, Harold Tabacoff, and setting his number two engine on fire. His flight engineer, Russel Page, immediately jettisoned their bombs to lighten the airplane, and Hadley feathered his burning number two engine, as they fought to keep their damaged airplane flying and to stay alive.
Hadley was able to fly his damaged plane south through, and away from, the flak guns south of the city, and joined up with Col. John Kane's shot up straggler Lead B-24, Hail Columbia, along with Walter Stewart in, Utah Man, with Lt. Royden LeBrecht undamaged and flying cover for them. Hadley knew his plane couldn't make it all the way home to his airbase at Benghazi. But, he was able to nurse his, Harem, as far as just past the south Turkish coast nearing safety at Cyprus. But, as they were nearing Cyprus, Hadley, seeing he was out of gas and probably engine oil, too, radioed a goodbye to his friend's, Col. John Kane, Royden LeBrecht, Johnny Young, and Bob Sternfels, and turned his airplane around back toward Turkey in the darkness. But, before he could nurse his failing, but beloved, B-24D, Hadley's Harem, all the way back to the Turkish coast, "Gib" Hadley's three working engines failed, out of fuel and oil. He crashed into the Aegean Sea just off the coast of Turkey, as he was descending to try for a ditching in the shallow water close to the Turkish beach. Lt. Hadley and his copilot, Lt. James Lindsey, were trapped in their crushed cockpit and drowned and died in the sinking plane, (KIA), with their bombardier, Lt. Leon Storms, previously killed by the flak round (KIA) that hit them square in the forward nose section. Seven of their crewmen who survived the mission and the crash, swam to shore and were interned by the Turks (INT-TURKEY).
First Lieutenant Hadley was reported missing (MIA) and ultimately declared dead (KIA) later in August, 1943. Recorded circumstances attributed to: Missing in Action. Incident location: Mediterranean Sea, south coast of Turkey. Lt. Gilber Hadley was just 22 years old when he gave his life for freedom and his country.
Hadley's lost B-24 was located under the shallow water close to the Turkish coast in 1966. His remains and some personal items were recovered from the Harem's cockpit, including his aviator sunglasses, his wristwatch, and one of his pearl handled Colt .45 caliber pistols. Lt. Hadley was brought home and laid to rest near his family at Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, Kansas.
Three casualties were identified that are related to the, 41-24311, incident on August 1, 1943 :
◼Gilbert B. Hadley :: Pilot (KIA)
◼James R. Lindsey :: Co-Pilot (KIA)
◼Leon M. Storms :: Bombardier (KIA)
Gilbert Ben Hadley is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.
★ Distinguished Flying Cross
★ Air Medal
★ Purple Heart
★ United States Aviator Badge Army
★ World War II Victory Medal
★ American Campaign Medal
★ Army Presidential Unit Citation
★ Army Good Conduct Medal
★ European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign
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