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, March 16, 2010

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
carefully.

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
happy."
(- 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..(?)

2 comments:

  1. There is a high probability that your dad not only worked in the CIA; but also worked as an employee at Area51. 555OSS refers much to Dreamland.
    My Reference is
    http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AMCI11-301_POPEAFBSUP_I.pdf

    Check Page 101 for Dreamland.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My dad worked for Operation Sonnie, too.

    ReplyDelete