422nd BOMB SQDN B-17F-20-DL, AIRCRAFT 42-3049 AND CREW
Photo JULY 10, 1943, taken after a mission to Caen.
FIRST ROW, KNEELING L—R
GEORGE CARRUTHERS, WIA POW, JUL 14
JOHN PERKINS, PILOT KIA JUL 14
CHARLES COX, NOT ON MISSION JUL 14
GEORGE FRIEND, WIA, POW, JUL 14
KENNETH VINCENT MEYER, KIA, JUL 14
THOMAS SEAY (PILOT NOT ON MISSION) JUL 14
CHARLES OTIS WIA POW, JUL 14
BERNARD RENSICOFF, NOT ON MISSION JUL 14
CLARENCE BRAUSER, NOT ON MISSION JUL 14
JOSEPH F. DEVINE KIA JUL 14
JOSEPH WENDALL, KIA, JUL 14
FOUR CREW MEMBERS WHO FLEW JUL 14 MISSION
NOT IN THIS PHOTO
ARTHUR LEWIS CO-PILOT, KIA, JUL 14
JOSEPH L. P. DUBE, KIA, JUL 14
HAROLD FEDERA WIA, POW, JUL 14
SIDNEY J. LESNEAU, KIA, JUL 14
TOTAL LOSSES, 7—KIA, 4—WIA FROM “MISSING AIR
CREW REPORT - 64." THE REPORT AND PHOTO
PROVIDED BY PATRIOT CARRUTHERS
Below is further information about some of the crew.
John Henry Perkins Jr. KIA JUL 14
Pilot 1st Lt. John Henry Perkins Jr. was born to John Henry and Clara Burgeedel Perkins Sr. in Chicago, IL on October 24, 1919. His father was born in England and his mother in Michigan. His mother died when John was 17. He graduated from Calumet High School. He attended Lewis Institute of Technology (later Illinois Institute of Technology). His photo from the IIT yearbook is at right. The photo does not look totally like the photo at left from a newspaper article. The man at right has blue eyes as John had. Here is an entry from the January 26, 1941 Suburbanite Economist (Chicago, Illinois). "Southtowner Cast for Play by Drama Club, John Perkins, Jr. 7644 Sangamon St, will play the role of John Thompson in "Two on the Island," three-act play to be presented by the Lew Drama Club on Friday in the Lewis auditorium Madison St. and Damen Ave. It will be the first play to be presented by students since the merger of the Armour Institute of Technology and the Lewis Institute into the Ilinois Institute of Technology. Perkins, who will portray one of the leading roles is a junior in the arts and sciences department, treasurer of the junior class, a member of the student council and news and annual staffs, and the badminton club. He is a member of the Gamma Rho fraternity and is currently enrolled in the government's civilian pilot training plan. In John's enlistment documents, he lists acting as his profession. He enlisted November 10, 1941. He did his flight training in Lubbock, Texas. His family received a report in late July saying he was missing in action and that other planes on the mission reported seeing seven parachutes descending. Sadly this was not to be the case as John and six of his comrades were killed. Only four parachuted to safety and imprisonment in German camps. John is buried in Epinal American emetery and Memorial, Epinal, Departement des Vosges, Lorraine, France, A row 12 Grave 33.
Arthur Carl Lewis. KIA JUL 14
Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Arthur Carl Lewis was born to Robert C. (1896-1955) and Clara Belle Blatzy (1896-1986)Lewis in Ray, Pinal, Arizona on November 3, 1919. His father, an accountant, was born in Florence, Arizona and his mother in Fargo, ND. Arthur had a sister, Emily Claire Lewis (Sutton). Emily's picture is at right. Arthur had worked as a timekeeper at Nevada Consolidated Copper Corp. Lewis indicated that he had several years of college before enlisting. Following enlistment and training at Williams Field in Arizona, Arthur was assigned to Rankin Aeronautics School, Inc., at Tulare, CA. Arthur graduated from Minter Field in Bakersfield, CA. Arthur received a bronze oak leaf cluster for his Air Medal for destroying one enemy aircraft.
From a newspaper article "Our Fighting Men"
First Lt. Arthur C. Lewis. Ray, Ariz. Copilot and sometimes tail gunner of the Flying Fortress "Boomerang," stationed in England, has won a second oak leaf cluster to add to his Air Medal, having participated in 10 successful missions and having gotten a "confirmed" on downing a Messerschmitt 109. He flies as tail gunner of the "Boomerang" whenever his squadron leads the group, because he is assistant operations officer.
Writing to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Lewis, Ray, he comments:
"The first time I flew as tail gunner, needless to say, I was scared--I was used to riding up in the nice, warm cockpit with never a worry of getting cold or of having my oxygen mask freeze, and now flying as tail gunner I didn't know what I might have to face.
"Well, I have an electrically heated suit plus a spare oxygen mask, and as yet I have not been troubled with either being cold or having my mask freeze. In fact, that first time I flew as a tail gunner I put in for a 'destroyed' on an Me.109 and I have officially received credit for it.
"Thanks loads for the candy bars--I don't know of anything I have missed more.
"You'd be surprised at some of the things we get to eat--ice cream once a week, radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, fresh strawberries, steak occasionally. In fact, we have many things you woud think we could not get. Oh yes, we sometimes have fresh fried eggs for breakfast and are they good!! Eggs and steaks are two things we really appreciate.
"This afternoon, Bob Hope and Frances Langford put on a show in our big Hagar x x x. I don't know when I have laughed so hard as I did at Bob Hope. My cheeks ached, my stomach was sore and tears streamed from my eyes. He is so darned casual x x x. Frances Langford sang several very sweet songs and for the first time in a long time I was actually homesick. Boy, can she sing sweet!"
As "Our Fighting Men" goes to press, Lieutenant Lewis' parents have just been notified by the War Department that he is missing in action after a combat mission over France July 14.
Arthur's remains were returned in October 1948 along with 27 other Arizona War Dead. He is buried in Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona. A gravestone was requested by his father November 6, 1948.
Charles Herman Otis. WIA JUL 14
Navigator, 2nd Lt. Charles H. Otis was born to George Madison and Othelia Elizabeth Krueger Otis on August 7, 1915 in Chicago, IL and moved to Milwaukee with his family. He graduated from Bayview High School there in 1932. He returned to Chicago in 1935, where he worked as a carpenter with Carpenters Local 839. He also worked for the Aetna Life Insurance Co. He enlisted on January 28, 1942. He married Edith Marie Jacobsen while on leave on October 2, 1942, in Cook County IL. Edith was the daughter of Christian and Paula Resby Jacobsen. His enlistment documents said he had three years of college.
Charles wrote of a bombing mission to Germany as a crew member on the Fortress Yardbird, where about 50 enemy planes met them when they were still 25 mile out in the North Sea. Otis wrote, "It was 27 below zero over Germany, but I was perspiring so much my jacket was wringing wet. The fighters attacking our group really were giving us hell. There they were sitting 30,000 feet up waiting for us. They came barrel-rolling right through our formation with their cannon and machine guns blazing. They then dropped like flies all around us. They showed nerve, though. Several came within 50 feet of our ship and one missed ur wingtip by only 10 feet."
Charles also was a member of the Fortress Black Swan crew. Here is a photo provided by his son, Wes Otis. Charles is third from left on back row. Second from right is pilot Frank Wesley Scott. Charles named his son Wesley in honor of Frank.
He parachuted to safety when his plane, the Windy City Challenger was shot down. He was discovered by a Roman Catholic priest who tended to his injuries. He was captured by German soldiers and imprisoned in Moosburg, Germany. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal with oak leaf clusters for his service. In 1949, Otis built his own house in Park Ridge, IL, where he resided until his death at 83 on January 18, 1999. He was a master with the Park Ridge Masonic Lodge and longtime leader of Boy Scout Troop 50 from the Park Ridge Presbyterian Church. He and Edith had daughter, Nancy Otis Koeber, daughter Faith Otis (William T. Bailey), a son Wesley (Tina). Nancy said he was a man of great integrity and conviction. He had a sister, Joan Otis Clemens. Charles is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Barrington, IL.
Magazine Article about Charles Otis' events following parachuting into France. The magazine was La Cahiers de la Brie Francais which was published from 1986 to 2016. Thanks to Nodie Murphy for help with the translation. We pick up the story when 28 year old Charles Otis parachutes into the gardens of the presbytery of a church in the town of Lieusaint. Photo of the church is at right. He is rescued by the parish priest, Father Jean Jaffre, who does so at the risk of his life at the hands of the Germans for aiding their enemy. Deportation to Germany or execution was the punishment imposed by the occupying German authorities. He treated Charles's wounds as the Germans approached. The seven dead airmen were given a military funeral. The villagers brought bouquets for the graves with flowers arranged in tricolor, however the Germans demanded that the flowers be separated. Charles was evacuated to the Corbeil hospital rather then that of Clichy before being sent to prison camp Stalag lll.
The magazine quotes a letter that Abbot Jaffre sent to Charles Otis in September 1947. Here we summarize information in the letter. He says that on July 13, 1943, the day before the bombing raid, someone in the village had heard on London radio that there was to be a raid the next day. (Why this would be is unknown to me. Maybe to alert villagers, however this would alert Germans also.) Father Jaffre says he was in the church garden about 8:30 AM when he saw Otis land. The Germans also saw him. Charles was injured in the right eye and his brow was open and blood was flowing. Jaffre washed the wound and applied a linen dressing. He thought Charles was dying so he decided to give Charles the last rites. He did not know whether he was Catholic or Protestant so he gave a conditional absolution. Following that he gave Charles some cognac which had a very positive effect. Many villagers came to see the American. That evening he was given a message that the Commandant wish to see him and that he would be arrested. At 10 pm a car from the Gestopo showed up and took him to the office of the Commandant. The Commandant accused him of aiding the enemy. Father Jaffre said he was simply helping a fellow human in need and would do it even for a dog. The Commandant asked if he would do it for a German soldier, he replied that he would. He was set free with a stern warning not to do it again. The German officers kicked him out of the presbytery and took it over. Father Jaffre mentions that Otis had sent him a photo and he will send one of himself. He also says he met a William Fanon from Chicago after the Battle of Lieusaint in August 1944. He says Fanon gave him cigaretts however he does not smoke. He says that if Otis wished to send him something, he would accept chocolate, cocoa, coffee and rice. He offers to show Otis around if he comes to Lieusaint and points out that it is only 29 km from Paris. He sends his loves to the Otis family. He signs it Abbé Jean Jaffre, Curé de Lieusaint, Seine-et-Marne-France. The article mentions that Charles H. Otis died on January 18, 1999. Edith died July 6, 1994. At left is a picture of Father Jaffre in a window in his church. The article contains a picture of Nancy Otis Koeber, daughter of Charles Otis.
This is Nancy Otis Koeber, daughter of Charles Otis who made a pilgrimage with her daughter, Pamela, to Lieusaint.
KENNETH VINCENT MEYER, KIA, JUL 14
Tail Gunner, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Vincent Meyer, was born on August 22, 1918, in Belleville, IL to Mr. and Mrs. Louis Frank and Katherine Myer of St. Louis, Missouri, He had two sisters, Bernice (Ward) and Cyrilla. Monument: Epinal American Cemetery Epinal, Lorraine, France
Kenneth operated an auto repair shop and service station in St. Clair, MO, before enlisting at the age of 26.
His parents had previously owned a restaurant in St. Clair but later moved to St. Louis. Kenneth's parents were notified in September that the German government had notified the Red Cross that Kenneth had been killed.
Kenneth barely escaped death earlier. On May 15, 1943, while serving as tail gunner B-17 42-29673 / Old Bill, Kenneth assisted in saving the plane from severe battle damage. Among a crew of 11, he and one other airman were the only ones uninjured. George H. Friend was also on the "Old Bill" flight. Below is a detailed description of that flight by John L. Frisbee June 1, 1993:
Valor: Ordeal for the Record by John L. Frisbee, June 1, 1993. On May 15, 1943, the 305th Bomb Group was dispatched from its base at Chelveston, UK, as part of a strike force against military installations near Wilhelmshaven on Germany’s northwest coast. The 305th was one of the earliest B-17 groups to arrive in England, flying its first combat mission on Nov. 17, 1942. Under the leadership of Col. Curtis LeMay, the group had risen from the status of combat novices to one of the premier veteran outfits. It had been a costly, often painful learning process.
Old Bill, a B-17 from the group’s 365th Squadron, was piloted by Lt. Bill Whitson on the Wilhelmshaven mission. Whitson knew that neither the AAF nor the RAF had fighters with enough range for escort into Germany. Enemy fighter attacks were inevitable as the squadron approached the target. Some distance short of Wilhelmshaven, bombardier Lt. Robert Barrall reported that the target area was blanketed with clouds. The group would proceed north to the island of Heligoland, an alternative that would not be uncontested. Already there were contrails several thousand feet above them. Seconds later, a swarm of FW-190s launched a head-on attack.
Closing at nearly 600 miles an hour, the FW-190s raked Old Bill with 20-mm cannon fire. Shell fragments cut deep into Whitson’s legs and severed oxygen lines to the flight deck. Dragging himself painfully from his seat, Whitson staggered to the rear of the aircraft to assess damage and gather walkaround oxygen bottles. When he returned to the cockpit, copilot Lt. Harry Holt was suffering from severe anoxia. A revived Holt took over while Whitson’s wounds were being cared for.
Returning to the left seat, Lieutenant Whitson was able, with difficulty, to hold formation as fighter attacks continued. The FW-190s concentrated on Whitson’s bomber, which clearly was in trouble. Another 20-mm shell exploded in the cockpit, fragments hitting the injured pilot and wounding Lieutenant Holt so seriously he could no longer help control the B-17 and had to be carried from his seat.
Almost immediately, 20-mm shells tore the Plexiglas nose completely away, killing navigator Lt. Douglas Venable and wounding bombardier Barrall. The top turret was shattered, leaving Sgt. Albert Haymon bleeding from head and arm injuries. Haymon stayed in the useless turret, hand-cranking the silent guns to a forward position that might discourage Luftwaffe fighter pilots. He then climbed down to help wounded radio operator Sgt. Fred Bewak.
With one engine out, a wing buckled, and hydraulics gone, Whitson could no longer stay with the formation. Checking with the crew, he found only two of his men uninjured. Those gunners whose weapons were still operating continued firing at enemy fighters as Whitson dove for cloud cover 5,000 feet below. The gunners claimed seven fighters destroyed during that screaming descent.
Exhausted from loss of blood and the strain of evasive maneuvers, Whitson was barely conscious. Seeing the pilot’s condition, Sergeant Haymon slid into the copilot’s seat and flew the plane while Whitson regained some strength.
When the bomber broke out of the clouds, Haymon saw an ME-210 peeling off to attack Old Bill and alerted the crew. Twice-wounded, Lieutenant Barrall climbed into the shattered nose section and manned the cheek gun, buffeted by a 150-mile-an-hour wind that blasted in through the open nose. Barrall kept firing until one of the -210’s engines exploded and the enemy plane plunged into the sea. He then climbed up to the flight deck and relieved Whitson, who would have to land the plane if they made it to Chelveston. Tailgunner Sgt. Kenneth Meyer, one of the two uninjured crew members, replaced Sergeant Haymon in the copilot’s seat. He and Barrall managed to maneuver the stricken bomber into the protection of a formation of B-17s returning to England.
Once they reached the coast, they were on their own. With a dead navigator, a copilot out of action, a wounded radio operator, and a barely conscious pilot, finding Chelveston among the welter of airfields dotting the Midlands was no small achievement. As they approached the field, Whitson took over the controls, shaking his head to clear his brain and retain consciousness. Because the plane lacked flaps and brakes, he flew the B-17 onto the runway far above normal landing speed and ground-looped when it ran out of runway. He then collapsed over the control column. No 305th B-17 had ever survived such a beating. It had been an ordeal for the record. Lieutenants Whitson and Barrall were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, all other crew members the Silver Star, and eight of the 10, the Purple Heart to become the most decorated crew of the 305th Bomber Group.
(This story does not mention four of the other crew members, one of which was George H. Friend who was also on the ill-fated Windy City Challenger flight. George, the photographer on the flight, manned guns of wounded crew members though wounded himself.)
JOSEPH F. DEVINE KIA JUL 14
Left Waist Gunner, Sgt. Joseph F. Devine, was born to Joseph A. and Edith J. Devine in Rhode Island on September 25, 1917. He had a younger brother, David, and a sister, Ethel (Mrs. Arthur Nolan). He resided in Willimantie, Windham County, Connecticut prior to the war, working at the American Thread Company.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on August 6, 1940, in Hartford, Connecticut. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment, as being employed in construction and also as single, without dependents. Sgt. Devine, in May, had received an Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial flight. His father, Joseph A. Devine, lived in Providence, RI. Sgt. Devines' remains were returned . He is buried in Long Island National Cemetery, East Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York. He served as bombadier on some flights.
JOSEPH CHESTER WENDELL, KIA, JUL 14
Tail Turret Gunner, Joseph Chester Wendell, was born December 10, 1914, in Portland, Oregon, to John Joseph (1879-1948) and Marie Mae Amelia Beier (1884-1958) Wendell. His siblings included , Raymond, Jack Jr., Edna Lester Edward Clarence, Donna Mae and Juanita Lorraine. His father was a marine engineer. Joseph served as a Technical Sergeant and Top Turret Gunner
From Portland, Oregon, he registered on October 16, 1940 in Glendale, CA. He is buried in Epinal American Cemetery Epinal, Lorraine, France
JOSEPH LOUIS PHILIPPE DUBE, KIA, JUL 14
Top Turret Gunner, Tech Sgt. Joseph L. P. Dube was born in June 10, 1921, to Joseph and Alvine (Elvine) Dube in Manchester, NH. His occupation involved weaving and textiles. He enlisted July 1, 1942, in Manchester, NH. His residence at the time was Hillsborough, NH. His education consisted of grammar school. He was single with no dependents.He was employed by Johnson and Johnson, Chicopee Manufacturing Co. He signed his name Philip L. Dube. In Monument: Epinal American Cemetery Epinal, Lorraine, France.
Son of Elvine Dube, 374 Main St, Manchester, New Hampshire
HAROLD J. FEDORA WIA, POW, JUL 14
Radio Operator and Gunner, Staff Sargent Harold John Fedora, born May 20, 1920 in Hennepin, MN, to John and Mabel Fedora. Harold served on the B-17F “Windy City Challenger” (#42-3049), 422nd Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group, Heavy, U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
Harold attended Robbinsdale High School where he participated in football, basketball and track. He graduated in 1938. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on October 14, 1941, prior to the war, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment as an actor, single and no dependents. He was a POW at Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser)
Harold's mother Mabel died on April 13, 1943 while he was in England. He married Dolores Marie Joeusich in Hennepin, MN, on August 5, 1945. He died March 28, 2012 and is buried in Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, CA.
SIDNEY J. LESNEAU, KIA, JUL 14
Right Waist Gunner, Staff Sergeant, Sidney James Lesneau, born April 15, 1917, in Benton, MN, to Jacob P. (1867-1941) and Amelia Schopp (1874-1961) Lesneau. Sidney served as a Staff Sergeant & Right Waist Gunner on the B-17F “Windy City Challenger” (#42-3049), 422nd Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group, Heavy, U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. He resided in Ramsey County, Minnesota prior to the war.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on October 10, 1941, prior to the war, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He was noted, at the time of his enlistment, as being employed as a hospital attendant and also as Single, without dependents.
His remains were returned from Solers, Melun, France in November 1948 to Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minnesota. Sidney was son of Jacob and Amelia Schopp Lesneau, Portland, Oregon formerly of Minneapolis. Sidney had four sisters and two brothers. Sisters were Mrs. Karl Nuerenberg, Mrs. Wallace Sorensen, Maxine Brennan and Mrs. Forest Holes. His brothers were Irving and Melvin M., of St. Paul. His older brother, John, was killed in action in WWI in 1918. Melvin was wounded at Attu during the Aleutian Campaign.
GEORGE H. FRIEND, WIA, POW, JUL 14
Aerial Photographer, Tech Sargent George H. Friend, was born in Ionia, Michigan, to Orley and Hazel Friend. He graduated from Ionia High School in 1929. He was an aerial photographer. He had a brother, Lawrence Friend. On May 15, 1943, George was a member of an "Old Bill" flight crew whose mission was discussed earlier. George manned the guns of wounded crewmen though wounded himself. At left is George's graduation picture from Ionia High School 1929 yearbook.
Ionia High School 1929 Senior Class. I suggest that Charles is 8th from left on back row.
Details of B-17F and Mission
Delivered Tulsa 14/1/43; Assigned 422BS/305BG [JJ-W] New Castle 17/3/43; Chelveston 25/3/43; Missing in Action Villacoublay 14/7/43 with John Perkins, Co-pilot: Art Lewis, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Joe Dube, Ball turret gunner: Joe Wendell, Waist gunner: Joe Devine, Waist gunner: Sid Lesneau,Tail gunner: Ken Meyer (7 Killed in Action); Navigator: Chas Otis, Bombardier: George Carruthers, Radio Operator: Harry Fedora, foto-George Friend (4 Prisoner of War); enemy aircraft KO’d #3, crashed Lieuesant, 10 miles NW of Melun, Fr.; Missing Air Crew Report 64. WINDY CITY CHALLENGER.