A Bomber crew of the 466th Bomb Group with their B-24 Liberator.
Handwritten on image: 'RG Gordon 279-55.'
The crew went down over Belgium on 20 February 1945. The control cable on B-24H-20-FO #42-50336 "Pale Ale" had snapped. "Pale Ale" was one of the oldest a/c flying with the 466th BG at that time having served for 9 months exactly at the time of her loss
Top Row Left to Right:
2nd Lt Henry Wynia, Bombardier
2nd Lt Jack D Campbell, Co-pilot
2nd Lt Robert G Gordon, Pilot
2nd Lt Ferdinand M Kjar, Navigator
Bottom row, left to right
Richard R Przybylski, Engineer
Harvey H Stamper Jr, Upper Turret Gunner
Harold H Hendrickson, Nose Gunner
Aloysius W McCloskey, Gunner
Sam Kessler, Radio Operator
Barney B Fisher, Tail Gunner
Gordon had left his seat to bail out, then noticed that Kjar and Hendrickson were still in the nose of the plane. He returned to the pilot's controls to try to gain control of the a/c for those two men to bail out. It was to no avail as the men were trapped by centrifugal forces. All three (Gordon, Kjar and Hendrickson were tragically KIA.
On February 20th 1945 our target was Nuremberg, Germany, though we never made it. Shortly after making the Belgian coast we hit heavy clouds. A recall message was sent but before we could decode the message our aileron controls went out. The waist gunner Aloysius McCloskey and Dick Przybylski, ball turret gunner Al McKloskey and I bailed out when we heard the bell ring.
I found out later that when the bombardier tried to open the nose wheel door, so the crew could bail out, the door would not unlatch. The bombardier, Hank Wynia, dived through the tunnel connecting the bomb bay and nose, where he bailed out. The radio operator Sam Kessler, flight engineer Barney Fisher and co-pilot Jack Campbell also went out the bomb bay.
The plane went into a spin before the armorer/nose gunner, Harold Hendrickson, the navigator Fred Kjar and the pilot Bob Gordon could get out of the plane and were killed in the crash. As I came down near the ground I saw a wood I was going to land in or on. I crossed my legs, put my left arm across my face and tried to look down. Before I could see the ground I hit it, but even with my legs crossed I was ok. Hank Wynia made a text book landing approach and broke his leg.
I did not know where I was, so I balled up my parachute and hid in a rack of long poles that were shaped like a tepee. Soon I heard the familiar sound of a jeep. I moved toward the sound, up a small hill and peeked over the edge. It was a jeep but I could see no one around. I decided if it had German equipment aboard I might steel it and head back towards Belgium or France.
However, it did have a British MP armband and some leggings on the seat. So I sat down until a Brit and a Belgian civilian, who had been looking for me, came along and took me into town. On the way we stopped and they introduced me to my first drink of calvados. Burned all the way down (good tho’).
The saviours spent several hours in a local hospital, St. Marie, in Remaix (or Ronse), Belgium and then we went by truck to Lille, France and to Armentieres, where we boarded a B-17 for the flight back to England. Our radio operator told me that it took 20 plus minutes to come down in the ‘chute. After that, the gunners in the crew spent a week in rest home (or Flak Home) in the Pangbourne House in Berkshire country, England. Then returned to Attlebridge and were assigned as spare crew.
Units served with
The 466th Bomb Group flew B-24 Liberators from Attlebridge, Norfolk, during the last year of the war in Europe. The Group flew 232 missions in the course of the year and celebrated the 100th one by inviting local people onto the base to mark the...
Military site : airfield
Attlebridge was constructed for RAF use and completed to that standard in 1942. However, with news that it was to be assigned to the American Air Force, the runways were extended and additional hardstandings and outbuildings constructed for the heavy...