Crew # 555

Crew # 555
Crew # 555 - planes flown: DAMIFINO , DIXIE, LET ER RIP, TIMES A WASTIN

1st. LT. J. William Smith

1st. LT. J. William Smith

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recruit, William Frame Smith, Army of the United States

Great Grandfather, William Frame Smith: Born July 11th. 1839 - Died July 22 1889. Volunteered Company H 26th. Illinois Infantry. Wounded in Battle of Farmington. Discharged as disabled....Disability Documents show "Gunshot wound to the left hand in the line of duty at the Battle of Farmington, rendering him unable to fire a musket, disability 25%"...Re-enlisted after recovery to Company I, 5th. Illinois Cavalry. Mustered out of the Army Of The United States, May 22, 1865.

His Future Brother in Law, James M. Duncan was also a member of the 5th. Illinois Cavalry, Company B. Killed in Battle at Helena Arkansas, March 11, 1863

William Frame Smith fathered 8 boys with Mary Jane (Duncan) Smith before his passing. My Grandfather, Claude O. Smith pictured seated at lower left.
Edward Smith.....Hays Smith.....Art Smith
Harry Smith.....Ollie Smith
Claude Smith....Ray Smith......Jess Smith.....Mary Jane Smith

Here Sue...I added some more family history...I have more. Contact me via e-mail if you are interested. I would like more information on James C. Smith's military record.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crew #568, 785th. Squadron- S/Sgt. Frank Cox

Recently had correspondence with Frank Cox , who's Father S/Sgt. Frank Cox, flew at the same time as my Dad. My Father was on Crew #555 , 785th. Squadron Frank's Father flew with Crew #568 , 785th. Squadron. His Dad's main aircraft was "Dixie", which my Father also flew aboard. Frank's Father sadly passed away in the 60's. He shared with me an account of his Dad's missions from another crew member written in 1968. Frank shares the following photos...S/SGT. Cox is 3rd. from left , kneeling. crew #568 ....Crew was Piloted by Lt. Wm. Lee (19 - 20 yrs. old) He was highly liked...Quote from Frank Cox :"The navigator in the crew was Ray Carlson. He is kneeling in most shots – he was the tallest guy. A B-17 gunner once told me that 6 ft. was maximum height for being on a crew. He was 6’ 4 inches. Asked how he made it and he said when the doctor said he could not get into a flying crew because he was over 6 ft., he corrected the doctor and said he was only 5’ 11. Doctor said if he was 5’ 11 he could get into the program and that was the end of that."

Airman Cox kneeling on far right. Ground crewman can be seen on the wing, and fuel lines are strung on the ground behind them. Frank thought they had likely just returned from a mission when this photo was taken. They are a pretty stoic looking group.... crew #568

"Dixie" Jacket Patch from Airman Cox's flying jacket.

Monday, June 28, 2010

466th. Bomb Group Crews Training...The Calm before the Storm

A fishing expedition , June 7th. 1943 at San Isabel Louisiana I believe.

This photo just surfaced among Dads' photo collections. Dad & Mom are both 2ND. from the left seated & standing. From left to right:
George Shriver, J.W. (Bill) Smith, Wesley Rhodes Vawter (Dads' Co-Pilot), Burrel Weaver, Paul Bridgman (Dads' Pilot), Wayne Wolfe.
I will do further research to find out the later crew attachment of Shriver, Weaver, and Wolfe. I know that Dad kept in close touch with Vawter & Weaver until their passing.
Bottom row, Left to Right:
"June", "Bea" (my Mother), "Fannie", "Max", and "Laurel".

Mom told me of a story where the "guys" weren't having a lot of luck fishing so upon coming across a fish hatchery they decided to increase their odds , jump a fence and fish at the hatchery....apparently the fishing expedition went unopposed and they caught a few....

The description on back of above photo

Photo below taken in Montgomery Alabama, at the Capital, during Cadets Flight Training.
Dad (right) is photographed with fellow Cadet, Hal Orndorf.
Another recently found Photo of Crew #555 Co-Pilot Wesley Rhodes Vawter. Dads' close buddy who passed away in May of 2009.
B-24 Aircraft # 44 - 50548 2U J+ " Let' er Rip" Assigned 446th BG Transferred to 466th BG......another plane flown by crew #555 , 466th. Bomb Group

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

466th Bomb Group ,Crew #555, Pilot, Paul West Bridgeman

I recently had correspondence with the namesake and nephew of Pilot Paul W. Bridgeman. Pilot Bridgemans' nephew, Paul W. Bridgeman sent me the following:

(Click to enlarge)

Pilot Bridgeman had a career with the Military. I never knew that he continued flying after WW2.......He tragically lost his life in 1959 in a boating accident.

Stolkholm Sweden Photo, 1945 and now......

This photo was taken by Dad during one of his Stolkholm Sweden OSS Missions in 1945. He said it was a group of statues near a railroad station.

I contacted the Stolkholm equivlant to our "Chamber of Commerce" and they directed me to the "Kunst" (?)...a sculpture which still stands today near the concert hall in Stockholm. (Not sure if that is the name of the statues but that is what Google Earth labels it.......)

The railroad station is now gone but the statue still resides in its' 1945 location.

Another photo taken in Stolkholm by Dad in 1945. Don't know of its' actual location in the city.

OSS Missions in April 1945

Dad, 2nd. Lt. Smith, during what I now find were OSS Missions.....cameras weren't allowed as a part of their gear so Dad had to be discreet with his camera......

The photo below (in earlier posts) was taken by Dad in Stockholm Sweden in April of 1945. I've been reading "Attlebridge Arsenal", a book by Earl Wassom (also 466th veteran) & Chris Brassfield , and found some other interesting information. Dad flew the Sweden missions with Pilot Melvin Westbrook and Co-pilot Bill Pond. In their records Mr. Brassfield found:

"After their time with the 466th. Mel Westbrook and his Co-pilot Bill pond were transferred to the 492nd. Bomb Group 'Carpetbaggers" where they flew two missions to Sweden for the OSS (precurser to the CIA) in all black painted B-24's."

Never knew Dad was an early "CIA agent"....

After studying crew photos I also found the identity of the crewman on the far left. William Estep, was the Engineer and originally a member of crew #671, the "Merritt Crew" On the far right is Co-pilot Bill Pond and on his right is Pilot Mel Westbrook. The crew man on Westbrooks right is still unkown to me, but I might be able to identify him as time goes on.

Bill Estep was the Flight engineer on the Sweden OSS missions.

"Operation Carpetbagger", here some more info. found......

Although most of the Carpetbagger sorties took place from Harrington, supply and agent dropping missions were carried out from other airfields. In April 1944 a detachment was dispatched to Leuchars in Scotland from where a totally different undercover operation took place. This was Operation Sonnie, which was to fly back to the UK several thousand Norwegian aircrew trainees and American internees from Sweden. These trips were very hazardous and were usually undertaken when cloud cover was available. The B-24s used were ostensibly civilian aircraft with civilian markings, the crew wearing airline clothes. Sonnie B-24s flew to Bromma airport, Stockholm, and were serviced by American engineers living as civilians in Stockholm.

These personnel were under constant surveillance in Stockholm by German agents, who did their best to discover the route taken by the American aircraft. It was found that although some were daytime flights, they suffered no more interception than normal night supply missions. A supply and agent dropping operation from Leuchars - this was code named Operation Ball. Six B-24s flew these missions from July 1944. These trips were more hazardous than the European operations, several squadrons of Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters were always on hand to hammer the unwary. There were many more abortive sorties over the mountains and fjords of Norway. Out of 65 attempted drops only 37 were successful

Another interesting "Operation Sonnie' Story.....

Helpful Enemies

"Bromma Airport in Stockholm was a beehive of international activities
during WW2. German Lufthansa transports landed there regularly after
trouble-free flights in Germany-controlled airspace. Allied military
transports, disguised as civil airplanes, arrived in a steady stream from
Leuchars in Scotland after flying in hostile skies during moonless nights.
They brought with them VIPs, diplomats, vital machinery parts, film and
photo-chemicals, books, fresh newspapers. When they left Bromma on
other moonless nights they were loaded with new VIPs, Norwegian
resistance people, roller bearings, special steel products, and whatever
was needed back there in the West.

During the last years of the war this clandestine traffic was intensified
and organized by old polar bear Bernt Balchen in what was called
"Operation Sonnie." The standard plane was Consolidated C-87 Liberator
Express. On Bromma, German and American airplanes were mixed
together in a comic hodgepodge, and the two parties watched each other

One day, one of Balchen's Liberators cracked a cylinder head on a flight
from Leuchars. They could have sent for a spare cylinder from Scotland,
but Yes-Vee-Do-It-Balchen did it his own way . He knew that the DC-3s the
Germans were operating between Berlin and Stockholm used the same
engines, so he asked his friend Carl Florman, of the Swedish airline ABA,
to borrow a spare cylinder from the Lufthansa representative at Bromma.
The German replied that he didn't have one on hand in Stockholm, but
would arrange for one to be sent up from Berlin on the next plane. The
following day Lufthansa delivered a cylinder from an American B-24 which
had crashed in Germany. Balchen installed it in his Liberator and flew
back to Leuchars. There he got a spare cylinder and took it to Stockholm
the next day to replace the one borrowed from the Nazis. Everybody was
(- Bernt Balchen: Come North with Me)

Here is right side photo of "Dixie" sitting in her revetment....

Dad flew B-24 "Times A'Wastin on a few missions. Below is a photo of her #2 engine which had the propeller blown off by flak on June 18th, 1944. She was repaired and still flying when crew #555 flew her later in 1944.

Below is supposed to be left side photo of "Damifino" in her revetment, but the tail markings do not match with other records I have found. Records show "O+" rather than the "K" on her "RCL" Tail Marking..(?)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

466th Bomb Group Tribute

Top left: Pilot Melvin Westbroook

"Sister" Bomb Group in Color

Saturday, February 13, 2010

466th. BG Crew #555 Fate of Planes Flown


My research finds that this aircraft was lost after raid on marshalling yard at Celje, Yugoslavia on Feb. 14th. 1945....
have never seen records of missions there so might be some mis-information floating around?

My father with "DIXIE"......AIRCRAFT SERIAL #44-10499

Dixie's location was last noted at Walnut Ridge Arkansas in Jan. 1946 where she was likely scrapped.

Appears the Damifino's life also ended at Walnut Ridge Arkansas in Jan. 1946

Pictured #555 crew members: seated on left, Allen D. Miller Engineer,

I have all the other crewmens names below but cannot quite tell who is who comparing my photographs......

Full crew Photo:

Standing Left to Right : Bridgeman, Paul W. "AKA Paul" (P) ; Porter, Elijah "AKA Porter" (R/O) ; Norton, Corodon "AKA Stud"(WG),

Gilbert, William E. "AKA Bill" (NG) ; Vawter, Wesley Rhodes, "AKA Wes" (CP) ; Smith, John W. "AKA Smitty" (N)

Kneeling Left to Right : Weckerly, Raymond E. "AKA Weck" (TG) ; Hallet, Tom D. "AKA Tom" (B) ;

Miller, Allen D. "AKA Al" (E/TT) ; Atterholt, James R. "AKA Att" (BTG/WG)

LET" ER RIP" .... AIRCRAFT SERIAL # 44-50548

NO PHOTOS YET FOUND......Following military serial number records also shows "Let Er Rip" ending up at Walnut Ridge January 17th, 1946.....likely had the same fate in the scrapyard

Dads last flight plan (Mel Westbrook , Pilot) from Goose Bay Labrador shows "B-24M AIRCRAFT # 0884" Have not yet been able to identify that aircraft.....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Attlebridge Airfield / Attlebridge Diaries

I believe John H. Woolnough was the official 8th. Army Air Force historian. He wrote a book entitled "The Attlebridge Diaries". I've been trying to find this book for a few years. I see it offered on "Amazon" but the paperback editions run from $149.00 to $190.00. I was aghast to see such a price on a paperback book! I was snooping around looking again and found a first edition hardback version for less than any paperback I've seen....The edition is also signed by the author. The book was found in a little out of the way bookstore in England. I am excited to see the book as it has dozens of photos in it.......Another book called "Attlebridge Arsenal" was also written but is even harder to find....the search will go on.......

A few photos of Attlebridge.......

A Quonset hut which still survives......

Another relic still standing...........

The Airfeld

The flight line.

The Control Tower today........still standing.

The Control Tower in 1944.........

A portion of the Air Base Shown
Main Air Field