COMMENTS & NOTES
CAPT CHARLES E. ROBBS P FEH TAPS: 6 APR 1967
2ND LT ORVILLE K. BROYLES CP FEH TAPS: 2 SEP 1986
2ND LT JAMES J. HAWLEY NAV FEH
2ND LT ROBERT V. GILDEA BOM FEH
CPL ALBERT P. LOCHRA, JR. ROG FEH
CPL CLARENCE V. HENDERSON TTE FEH TAPS: 28 OCT 1982
CPL FRANK KOPUS, JR WG FEH
CPL ANTHONY S. CHEFFO BTG FEH TAPS: 13 NOV 1983
CPL HAROLD E. JOHNSON TG FEH
351ST SQDN.. JOINED THE 100TH ON 9 FEB 1945. 2ND LT BROYLES
BECAME THE PILOT OF THIS CREW IN EARLY MARCH WHEN CAPT. ROBBS LEFT THE CREW. ROBBS BECAME A COMMAND PILOT, WHICH SUGGESTS HE WAS PART OF 351ST BS OPERATIONS. ON APRIL 6, 1945 CAPT. ROBBS WAS TRANSFERRED TO 350TH BS AS OPERATIONS OFFICER. IN JUNE 1945 LT COL. DAVID “HANDLEBAR HANK” LYSTER WAS TRANSFERRED STATESIDE AND WAS REPLACED BY CAPT. CHARLES ROBBS AS 350TH BS COMMANDING OFFICER, HE WAS PROMOTED TO MAJOR.
… In several conversations, Al Lochra told me (Jack O'Leary) his crew Capt. Charles E. Robbs, pilot was put together in Lincoln Nebraska in the fall of 1944. Went to Rapid City, and back to Lincoln Neb. On Dec.24th, 1944…On Dec.25th, 1944..The TG on the Robbs crew was replaced because of illness (pleurisy) with Harold E. Johnson…ROBBS crew transported by train to Camp Kilmer, NJ in Jan.1945…Transit by ship AQUATANIA, a 9 day crossing to the ETO…then to STOKE-ON-TRENT and on to Thorpe Abbotts in Early February, 1945.
Following is edited Oct.27, 2005 letter from Albert P. Lochra (ROG) to Jack O'Leary.
"On the first two missions and probably the third, our Pilot was Capt. Charles Robbs and our co-pilot was Orville K. Broyles (he preferred "BUTCH"), our Navigator was James J. Hawley and the Bombardier was Robert V. Gildea. Others were Clarence Henderson, Engineer; Anthony Cheffo, Ball Turret; Frank Kopus, Waist Gunner; Harold E. Johnson, Tail Gunner; and Albert P. Lochra, Radio. Either at our Third mission or certainly by the fourth, Capt. Robbs was pulled from the crew with Broyles replacing him as first pilot. Broyles soon received his silver bar as a First Lieutenant. Also, at the same time, Lt. Gildea was pulled and placed into a pool of Group Bombardiers. (Gildea told me at the Pittsburgh (100th BGF) Reunion that he completed six missions) Capt. Robbs was promoted to Major and became C.O. of a Squadron (Editors note…Al rode over on his bike to congratulate Major Robbs at his promotion…Al thought it was the 418th BS originally but after our conversation, couldn’t be sure which Squadron area he rode to on that day 60 years ago). Replacements as co-pilot of our plane were multiple; but I believe a Lt. Thomas J. Slaven flew several and perhaps another co-pilot flew more than one mission with us (Jan 4, 1945 while returning from training mission at Thorpe Abbotts, crashed A/C#338523 (GLORY BOUND) on landing. 2nd Lt Ivan Rosenbaum and 2nd Lt Thomas Slaven were both injured in the crash and hospitalized. Upon recovery, Lt Slaven would become a fill in CP, he flew on Lt Streich Crew until they completed their tour in Feb 45 and then became CP on Lt Broyles Crew.). Similarly, Gildea was replaced by a series of Toggaliers and/or Bombardiers the names of whom I have no recollection. But the other members of the crew remained intact. On an occasion or two, we had a Radar Technician flying with us, one of whom, John W. Disher (from 1st Lt Harold S.Bucklew Crew), was killed during a subsequent mission (March 18, 1945 to Berlin) with another crew…." (Editors Note Reference the Edward P. “Duke “Gwin Crew page for summary of Spot Jammer Disher & crew
Listed below are the dates, cities and targets of our 19 Missions from Albert P. Lochra (ROG)
# 1. FEB 25,1945 MUNICH MARSHALLING YARDS… (Capt. Robbs-Pilot) 44-8632 EP-H
# 2 FEB 26,1945 BERLIN CITY…..(Capt Robbs-Pilot) 43-37815 EP-L "YOU CAN'T LOSE"
# 3 MARCH 2,1945 DRESDEN FACTORY…(Capt Robbs-Pilot) 42-31530 EP-X "QUITTIN' TIME"
# 4 MARCH 4,1945 ULM/BAUMANEIM FACTORY (Lt Broyles takes over Crew)
# 5 MARCH 10,1945 DORTMUND MARSHALLING YARDS B-SQDN, LEAD FLGT 44-6295 EP-B "WHITE CARGO" HARDSTAND #10
# 6 MARCH 11,1945 HAMBURG OIL REFINERY 42-31708 EP-R “SKIPPER II” HARDSTAND # 10
# 7 MARCH 12,1945 SWINEMUNDE DOCKS C-SQDN-LOW FLGT 44-6805 LN-O "FLAMIN MAMIE" HARDSTAND # 36
# 8 MARCH 15,1945 ORANIENBURG MARSHALLING YARDS B-SQDN-LOW FLGT 44-6817 LD-S "HEAVEN'S ANGEL" HARDSTAND # 44
# 9 MARCH 21,1945 PLAUEN MACHINE WORKS
# 10 MARCH 22,1945 ALHORN AIRFIELD
# 11 MARCH 23,1945 MARBURG CITY D-SQDN, 42-31708 EP-R “SKIPPER II” HARDSTAND # 10
# 12 MARCH 24,1945 STEENWIJK AIRFIELD B-SQDN 44-8616 LD-Z HARDSTAND # 47
# 13 MARCH 28,1945 HANOVER TANK FACTORY C-SQDN 43-38963 EP-E/F HARDSTAND # 13
# 14 MARCH 30,1945 HAMBURG SHIPYARDS 43-38963 EP-E/F HARDSTAND # 13
# 15 MARCH 31,1945 ZEITZ OIL REFINERY C-SQDN 43-38963 EP-E/F HARDSTAND # 13
# 16 APRIL 15,1945 ROYAN-GIROND ESTUARY NEAR BORDEAUX GROUND DEFENSES 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
# 17 APRIL 16,1945 ROYAN- GIROND ESTUARY NEAR BORDEAUX GROUND DEFENSES 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
# 18 APRIL 17,1945 AUSSIG (BELOW DRESDEN) MARSHALLING YARDS 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
# 19 APRIL 20,1945 ORANIENBURG MARSHALLING YARDS 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
JUNE 12,1945 CASABLANCA GREEN SUPPORT MISSION ,JUNE 12,1945 44-8452 LN-V (no name) HARDSTAND #29
KNOWN Aircraft flown…LT. BROYLES MISSIONS…Jack O’Leary
MARCH 10,1945 BROYLES B-SQDN, LEAD FLGT 44-6295 EP-B "WHITE CARGO" HARDSTAND #10
MARCH 12,1945 BROYLES C-SQDN-LOW FLGT 44-6805 LN-O "FLAMIN MAMIE" HARDSTAND # 36
MARCH 15,1945 BROYLES B-SQDN-LOW FLGT 44-6817 LD-S "HEAVENLY ANGEL" HARDSTAND # 44
MARCH 23,1945 BROYLES D-SQDN, 42-31708 EP-R “SKIPPER II” HARDSTAND # 10
MARCH 24,1945 BROYLES B-SQDN 44-8616 LD-Z HARDSTAND # 47
MARCH 28,1945 BROYLES C-SQDN 43-38963 EP-E/F HARDSTAND # 13
MARCH 31,1945 BROYLES B-SQDN 43-38963 EP-E/F HARDSTAND # 13
APRIL 15,1945 BROYLES D-SQDN 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
APRIL 16,1945 BROYLES 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
APRIL 17,1945 BROYLES 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
APRIL 20,1945 BROYLES 258 EP-M HARDSTAND # 5
100th Bomb Group veteran shares tales of war
By Karen Abeyasekere
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Albert Lochra, an 86-year-old World War II and 100th Bomb Group veteran, was part of the 100th BG reunion visit to RAF Mildenhall May 7 and 8 - on the 67th anniversary of V-E Day.
He joined the U.S. Army Air Force when he was 18 years old.
"I tried to get in at 17, but they held me off until I was 18, then I was drafted in," he said.
Lochra, of Norwegian descent, eventually became a technical sergeant and was a radio operator gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress, flying out of Thorpe Abbotts, near Diss, Norfolk.
After arriving in England in January 1945, the young Airman didn't start his first flying mission until Feb. 25, 1945, when he and his crew headed to Munich, Germany.
His second mission was to Berlin.
"I'm not sure if it was the most threatening mission or not - if you weren't hit by flack, you didn't know how close you came," he said. "When we took off to Berlin, we did everything normally, and we got to Germany in one to two hours.
"Suddenly the plane began to shake and rattle!" he exclaimed, shaking his hands and his body to emphasize how it felt at the time. "Oil was coming out of our number three engine, and blackened the side of the plane. Since we were losing oil pressure, we couldn't feather the engine (turn the propeller into the wind); the whole engine was moving and shaking the aircraft, bumping and roaring as it did so."
The former radio operator gunner said he and his crew flew their bomb run that way, knowing they were losing a tremendous amount of fuel because they were pulling a useless engine.
"But we dropped our bombs and moved to the side," he said. "We were in the 3rd Division (in B-17s, with the Square D designator) and were (the lead); we stayed to the side of the armada."
Lochra said the B-24s (Liberator) had a circle with a letter in it as their symbol in the 2nd Division, and those aircraft, along with the 1st Division (more B-17s, this time with a triangle designator on their tails) flew past the 3rd Division planes as well.
He said after the bomb run, their plane - noisy until that point from the oil leak - suddenly became quiet, and flew smoothly, which the men found to be a relief.
"But then we found out the propeller shaft had broken! And a four-engine plane doesn't fly any better with three engines ... then a (P-51) Mustang came up alongside us," said the retired sergeant.
Lochra said that even though it was an American plane, it was possible that it had Germans on it, as that had happened before.
"I was on the gun, and I kept it pointed away from (the Mustang), but he kept flying slowly up and down beside us, checking out what we were doing. But then I just smiled at him, he smiled at me, and went off on his way - so it was a crew on our side after all," said Lochra.
The veteran radio gunner said as they got close to the Netherlands, they intentionally started losing altitude, and were off oxygen by then. Back in the days of World War I and II, planes were not pressurized and aircrew had to use oxygen when flying above a certain height.
"We were maybe 200 miles or so from England; when we got down to 2,000 feet, the pilot asked me to send an emergency message (over) the radio. My message was in code, but (the pilot's) transmission was by voice - if we went down, we wanted to make sure somebody on our side knew where we were and what had happened to us," said the radio operator.
"We were getting ready to throw out anything that had weight, such as guns and flack vests. But it didn't come to that, as England was suddenly right up ahead of us. We saw a base, and we landed - we didn't care where it was, we just knew we had no choice but to land."
Lochra said to this day, he still doesn't know where that base was.
"Somewhere over the Netherlands, we ran out of fuel on the second engine - by this time, number two and three engines were out, and we were just flying on one and four," he said, recalling the adventure. "But we landed safely, and as we were landing, another engine ran out of fuel ... so we taxied in with just one engine.
"My pilot told me a few days later, that we'd had just enough fuel left to wash the plane," he said, to emphasize just how little fuel the aircraft had left on board when they landed.
The 86-year-old said on another mission, he was in charge of throwing out the chaff (small bundles of shredded aluminum foil , used as a radar countermeasure) to distract the Germans.
"We were doing a bomb run when I heard a terrible scratching sound in front of me; the bomb bay doors were open at the time, and I wondered what terrible things the Germans were doing and had in store for us ...
"I heard the noise all over again when I was at the radio - and it suddenly dawned on me that it was the bomb bay door mechanism; it needed lubricating and was making the awful grinding squeak and loud noise! I wasn't laughing at the time, but I can laugh about it now," Lochra chuckled.
Visiting RAF Mildenhall 67 years after V-E Day, the veteran talked about where he was on the momentous day itself.
"I was in London on leave - it was wild!" he exclaimed. "Every lamp post had somebody on top of it; there were free bus rides and free drinks. I was on the third day of my three-day leave.
"I don't know whether I could have gotten back from London to Diss that day, but when I did get back, I didn't know whether to expect anything or not (in the form of punishment for being late from leave)," Lochra said.
"It was a great experience, seeing the wild enthusiasm of the people, and none so joyous as the British."