COMMENTS & NOTES
2nd Lt Herbert A.Alf P POW 28/4/44 SOTTEVAST (With Crew ofW.G.Lakin) see Lakin Crew below
1st Lt Kenneth L.Rasmussen CP RFS Medical Reasons (see gordon letter below)
2nd Lt Raymond B.Phaneuf NAV NOC
2nd Lt Albert A.Marchiondo BOM INTERNEE 20/2/44 POSEN & SETTIN (With crew of A.J.Harrls)
Sgt Jimison T.Pyles TTE NOC
Sgt Carmine V.Roberto ROG KIA 29/7/44 MERSEBURG (With crew of W.T.Fitzroy)
Sgt Francis J.Flemm, Jr BTG NOC
Sgt Jerome H.Gordon WG RFS Medical reasons (oxygen created problems at high altitude)
Sgt Herschel P.Lowe WG CPT 17/7/44 AUXERRE & MONTGOURNOY (With crew of D.C.Rice)
Sgt Joseph C.Krusienskl TG KIA 6/3/44 BERLIN (With crew of D.Radtke)
418th Sqdn. Crew,as above, joined the 100th Group on 1/12/43
It would appear that this crew was "broken up" soon after it came to the 100th. Sgt Roberto was assigned to Lt John Gibbons Crew.
Letter from Gordon 26/1/91 says Rasmussen was RFS soon after arrival in Eng.
because of ulcers & returned to ZI. Crew then broken up and members flew
as replacements with other crews. Gordon flew 5 missions in three months
then was grounded because of (anoxia?) despite his official protest.
Subj: 100thBG Question Submission
Date: 10/1/2001 8:42:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (William Gordon)
To: email@example.comCC: firstname.lastname@example.org
My dad (Jerome Gordon)was in the 100th. He originally was in a crew headed by Herbert Alf but soon after his arrival was transferred to a crew headed by Lt. Dean Radtke. The co-pilot, Robert Digby, was killed in a mission over Ludwigshafen and Radtke was wouned but got the plane back home.I am trying to find any documentation on this crew, the aircraft and mission.There is a small paragraph in the book Century Bombers about the mission and crew but not much info.Any ideas where I might inquire?Thanks.
PILOT: LT DEAN M. RADTKE POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
CO-PILOT: LT ROBERT J. DIGBY KIA, 30 DEC 43 LUDWIGSHAVEN
NAV: LT ROBERT M. REILLY POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
BOM: LT WILLIAM B. AGNETTI POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
ROG: T/SGT ROBERT RAY POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
TTE: T/SGT VAN D. PINNER POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
BTG: SGT CASMER E. SZYMANSKI NOC
WG: S/SGT RICHARD L. KERWIN POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
WG: S/SGT CHARLES F. ALLEN POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
TG: S/SGT THEODORE E. MANGUM POW 6 MAR 44 BERLIN
CREW AS ABOVE JOINED THE 418TH SQDN, 100TH BOMB GROUP ON 28 NOV 43
"ON DECEMBER 30, 1943 ON A MISSION TO LUDWIGSHAVEN, DEAN RADTKE'S AIRCRAFT SUSTAINED SEVERE FLAK DAMAGE IN THE TARGET AREA. IT WAS THEN ATTACKED BY A PAIR OR FW190'S SOUTHWEST OF ABBYVILLE WHERE A NUMBER OF 20MM SHELLS RIDDLED THE LEFT WING AND NOSE. ONE SHELL SOCKED THROUGH THE NAVIGATORS COMPARTMENT AND STRUCK THE COPILOT, LT ROBERT DIGBY IN THE HEAD AND HE WAS DECAPITATED. SHELL FRAGMENTS STRUCK LT. RADTKE, WOUNDING HIM IN THE FACE, HEAD, AND IN THE NECK NEXT TO HIS JUGULAR VEIN. ONE FRAGMENT COMPLETELY CLOSED HIS RIGHT EYE AND SPLINTERS FROM THE INSTRUMENT PANEL WERE DRIVEN INTO THE MUSCLES OF HIS RIGHT LEG, RENDERING IT USELESS.
THE EXPLOSION ALSO RIPPED THE OXYGEN MASK FROM HIS FACE AND STUNNED THE ENGINEER RUSSELL PINNER. UPON REGAINING HIS SENSES, PINNER COULD SEE THE PILOT AND COPILOT SLUMPED OVER THE CONTROLS. BLOOD WAS SPLATTERED OVER THE SHELL-PITTED COCKPIT. THE WINDOWS WERE SHATTERED AND BROKEN. AT THIS TIME RADTKE REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS AND CALLED THE REST OF THE CREW AND REASSURED THEM EVERYTHING WAS OK. MOST OF THE CREW WERE UNAWARE OF THE DAMAGE IN THE COCKPIT AND THE LOSS OF THE COPILOT OR THE INJURIES LT. RADTKE HAD SUSTAINED. BOMBARDIER LT AGNETTI WAS CALLED UP AND MOVED THE COPILOTS BODY TO THE NAVIGATORS COMPARTMENT, THEN RETURNED TO ASSIST LT RADTKE. DUE TO THE LOSS OF ONE ENGINE AND SEVERED CONTROL CABLES, THE PLANE LAGGED BEHIND THE FORMATION. LT RADTKE MADE THE DECISION (DESPITE THE UNCERTAINTY OF HIS ABILITY TO STAY CONSCIOUSE) TO ATTEMPT TO REGAIN POSTION IN THE FORMATION. FAILURE TO DO SO WOULD RESULT IN THE DAMAGED AIRCRAFT TRYING TO MAKE IT BACK ALONE OVER ENEMY TERRITORY WITH GERMAN FIGHTERS LOOKING FOR "STRAGGLERS" TO PICK OFF. WITH FINGERS USELESS BECAUSE OF SEVERE CUTS, HE USED THE BUTTS OF HIS HANDS TO MANIPULATE THE CONTROLS AND FOUGHT HIS WAY BACK INTO POSITION. UPON REACHING THORPE ABBOTTS, LT RADTKE BROUGHT HIS SHIP (AND THE REMAINDER OF THE CREW) IN FOR A PREFECT LANDING. FOR HIS ACTION THAT DAY, LT DEAN RADTKE RECEIVED THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS, THE NATIONS SECOND HIGHEST AWARD FOR VALOR AND BRAVERY."
ON 30 DEC 43 (LUDWIGSHAVEN, CHEMICALS) BOB DIGBY WAS DECAPITATED BY A 20MM SHELL AND IS BURIED AT CAMBRIDGE. HE WAS REPLACED AS CP BY LT GORDON E. DEVAULT WHO BECAME A POW ON 06 MAR 44 (BERLIN); SGT J.G. KRUSIENSKI WAS FLYING IN THE BALL TURRET IN PLACE OF CASMER SZYMANSKI AND WAS KIA BY A 20MM WHICH SO BADLY DAMAGED THE BALL TURRET THAT KRUNSIENSKI COULD NOT BE GOTTEN UP INTO THE SHIP. KRUSIENSKI WAS THE REGULAR TG ON THE H.A. ALF CREW WHEN HE JOINED THE 100TH.
The best that I can piece together from notes I have (but I'm not 100% sure of the accuracy): (regarding S/Sgt Gordon and Lt Alf)
The Alf crew arrived at Thorpe Abbotts on 12/1/43. There apparently was considerable friction between Lt Alf (pilot-2nd Lt) and Lt Rasmussen (co-pilot-1st Lt). Alf was very rigid and strict; Rasmussen was very relaxed and easy going. Alf commanded during flights and Rasmussen would out rank him on the ground. Rasmussen got his commission before the war and was older than Alf. The crew revolted and demanded that Alf be replaced. This was rejected by the colonel in charge. Rasmussen was shortly shipped back to US for treatment of stomach ulcers. The crew was then broken up and all were used as replacements in other crews. From what I can piece together, it does not appear that this crew actually flew any missions together. I also believe this crew was a B-24 crew originally. My dad's missions were all on B-17s.
December 30, 1943- Ludwigshaven, Germany (w/Radtke Crew)
January 1944- St. Omer, France
February 1944- ?
March 19,1944- Marquise Mimo-Yeques, France
April 24, 1944- Freiderickshaven, Germany
April 29, 1944- Berlin, Germany
My dad was on the mission with Lt Dean Radtke when Radtke was wounded and managed to get the crew back. Lt Digby (co-pilot) was decapitated. I believe that was the Dec 1943 mission. He told me this story when I was a youngster. Years later, after he had died, I read of that mission in the book "Century Bombers". I have more details on that mission if you are interested. One thing of interest was that when plane landed, the tank was completely empty of fuel (not in the book).
Throughout his mission history, he had been getting very light headed & nauseated as well his coordination was becoming more effected. After his 5th mission, he was ordered to the medic to see if they could provide some medication he could take prior to missions. That's when it was determined that the his system was reacting badly to breathing pure oxygen at high altitudes. At that point he was grounded due to medical considerations. He officially protested the grounding to the Attorney Generals Office but was denied as of the unpredictability of the disorder. He was then assigned to a ground crew.
He did fly 2 more low level non-combat missions: With 95th Bomb Group
May 1945- Holland (food mission)
May 1945- Berlin (recon) (This was most likely the "Continental Express" Where the group flew Ground personal over the damaged industrial sites and cities to show how their work helped the flying crews succeed.
Bill Gordon August 2012
My Dad (S/Sgt Gordon) never mentioned any planes he had worked when he was assinged to a ground Crew. Sorry. I am also going to forward 2 more pics. But here is the story from his notes on Dec 30. 1943
"I was 19 years of age when I flew my 1st mission with Lt Dean Radtke's crew. The call came on 12/30/43 for a strike on a chemical plant at Ludwigshaven-Mannheim. I was assigned right waist gunner. We were assigned a fairly good spot in the formation and took off for the rendezvous. As we lifted off, it was noted that a geyser of gasoline appeared to be erupting over our left wing. This forced us to circle and land. Someone got a royal chewing out as there was a fuel tank cap missing. As soon as the fuel cap was replaced, we again departed to rendezvous with the formation. No fuel had been added.
When we found the formation, we saw our open spot but a supernumerary plane got there first. This caused us to end up in an open spot...guess where? Tail end Charlie! As we headed for the target there was a lot of singing. I remember singing the "hokey pokey".
From my position, all appeared as expected until we reached the target area. There was a heavy curtain of flack and the sky was quite black. The plane was jolting violently and I saw 2 of our planes completely engulfed in flames. The German planes started to attack.
The sequence was so rapid that things are a blur in my memory. I remember a FW-190 coming in at about 9 o'clock. I looked over my shoulder and saw his guns blinking. He raked our plane from front to back. I never saw a swastika so big in my life and I felt I could reach out and touch him as his tail passed underneath. Cannon fire destroyed almost 6 feet of left wing. A 2 foot hole was blown in 2 engines which began pouring black smoke. A shell entered the cockpit hitting Co-pilot Lt Robert Digby in the head (decapitating him), killing him instantly, and severely wounding Pilot Lt Dean Radtke. The exploding shell also destroyed all the instruments in the cockpit. The plane looked like a sieve. The ball turret was hit and the rear gunner was wounded by shrapnel. The radio room was also badly damaged rendering our IFF radio inoperative.
*Radtke was wounded in the face, head and in the neck beside his jugular vein. One fragment completely closed his right eye, and splinters from the instrument panel were driven into the muscles of his right leg, rendering it useless. The explosion also ripped the oxygen mask from his face and stunned the engineer Russell Pinner who was hurled against the turret controls. Upon regaining his senses, Pinner thought first to escape, as he was certain the plane had been blown apart. Through the smoke, he could see the pilot and co-pilot slumped over the controls. Blood was splattered over the shell-pitted compartment. The windows were shattered and broken. At this time, Radtke regained consciousness and saw Pinner about to leave. He yelled at him and the engineer returned to his station. Radtke then called the rest of the crew and reassured them. Most of the crew were never aware that co-pilot had been killed or that Radtke himself was severely wounded. Bombardier Lt William Agnetti was called up and moved the co-pilots body to the navigator's compartment, then returned to assist Radtke.
Due to the loss of one engine and severed control cables, the plane lagged behind the formation. Radtke was was now confronted with the problem of uncertainty as to his remaining consciousness long enough to bring the ship and crew home. He made the decision over the inter-phone and attempted to regain position in formation. With finger useless because of severe cuts, Radtke skillfully used the butts of his hands to manipulate the controls and fought his way back into position.*
We were forced to return home alone because of the damage. As we reached the coast of England, the fact that our IFF radio was inoperative, caused the British to send up warning anti-aircraft fire. We sent up red flares, and to the best of my memory, landed at an airfield that was not Station 139. After a successful landing we taxied to the end of the runway. Emergency equipment and ambulances removed the dead and wounded. One of the ground crew later told me that there were several thousand holes in the plane. Another pilot then boarded the plane to move it from the runway. The plane wouldn't start. There was no gas.
* These 2 paragraph are from the book "Century Bombers" by Richard LeStrange
2375 Sapphire Circle
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
Found out the following from the 95th BG:
"We have limited information on Jerome H. Gordon. He was listed in the Contrails Book and he is mentioned in one of the 95th BG Administration reports. In the Administration report, he was a member of the Radio Maintenance Unit of the 412th Bomb Squadron.
You might want to check the Ground Personnel photos we have on the 95th BG website. He might be in some of those."
This make sense because he was trained as radio operator and went into the radio and TV field after the war.
Thanks for all your help. Hope to see the pics on the web site soon.
2375 Sapphire Circle
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
Photo next to plane is 44-6801 Del Hunter 14/11/44; Grenier 27/11/44; Ass 412BS/95BG [QW-A] Horham 29/11/44; 42m, RetUS Bradley 24/6/45; Sth Plains 26/6/45; RFC Kingman 9/12/45. UMBRIAGO.
This is what I think happened. The crew was broken up, your dad flew five missions and the issue with oxygen at high altitude got him grounded. At that point I bet he was transferred to the 95th BG 412 BS as radio maintenance ….MPF