COMMENTS & NOTES
2ND LT FRANK E. VALESH P CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO (BIG FRANK)
2ND LT JOHN E. BOOTH CP CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
2ND LT JOHN R. JOHNSON NAV CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO (DICK JOHNSON, diary below)
2ND LT MAURICE G. ZETLAN BOM KIC 24 JAN 44 BURIED AT CAMBRIDGE (with Arch Drummond Crew, see below)
T/SGT JOHN MYTKO TTE CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
CPL ERNEST M. JORDAN ROG CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
S/SGT LOUIS G. BLACK, JR BTG CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
S/SGT HERSCHEL H. BROYLES WG CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
S/SGT PAUL J. CARBONE WG CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
S/SGT ROY URICH TG POW 24 JAN 44 FRANKFURT
351ST SQDN.. Crew, as above, joined the 100th on 14 Oct 43. see photo p. 213 of CONTRAILS. Planes were all named
"HANG THE EXPENSE". See MIGHTY EIGHTH WAR DIARY p.308/311.
Zetlan killed in takeoff crash with Arch Drummond Crew. Roy Urich was blown from the A/C on the Frankfurt mission and became a POW. The entire tail of the A/C was blown off by a direct hit by a 88mm shell. That Urich survivied was a miracle. See STORY of the CENTURY and CENTURY BOMBERS.
This is one of the ledgendary crews of the 100th, Frank "BIG FRANK" Valesh is a larger than life figure in the 100th's history. He died in 1984 and is morned by all 100th veterans .
CAPT BILL CARLETON'S MAINT RECORDS FOR
A/C FLOWN BY LT F.E. "BIG FRANK" VALESH
26 NOV 43, 42-31035: CRASHED ON TAKE-OFF INTO DRAPERS BARN-NO ONE HURT-ONE BULL KILLED-AIRCRAFT TOTALLED. (Hang the Expense)
30 DEC 43, 42-39867: CRASH LANDED WITH SEVERE BATTLE DAMAGE AT AN R.A.F. FIGHTER STRIP AT LYMPE, KENT, ENGLAND (Hang the Expense II)
4 JAN 44, 42-3271: CRASH LANDED WITH BATTLE DAMAGE AT LECONFIELD, ENGLAND (Nine Little Yanks and a Jerk)
24 JAN 44, 42-39867: CRASH LANDED WITH TAIL SEVERELY DAMAGED. ROY URICK, TAIL GUNNER BLOWN OUT OF AIRCRAFT BUT SURVIVED. TAIL SECTION REPLACED AND PLANE RETURNED TO THORPE ABBOTTS AND RENAMED "BOEING BELLE." RETURNED TO THE U.S. JUNE 1945 AFTER COMPLETING 135 MISSIONS. (Hang the Expense II)
21 FEB 44, 42-37936: THE MISSION TO ALHORN AND VORDEN WAS THE CREWS LAST MISSION IN THE 351ST SQUADRON 100TH BOMB GROUP. THEY WERE TRANSFERRED TO PFF OF THE 482ND GROUP AT ALCONBURY. According to Dick Johnson-Nav on Valesh Crew, they were flying s/n 42-37936 ("Our Mark/The All American Girl") on this mission, not Our Gal Sal as previously mentioned by Capt Carleton…..MPFaley 2009) (Hang the Expense III)
19 MAY 44, 42-97560: CRASHED ON LANDING ON THE SHORT RUNWAY AT THORPE ABBOTTS IN MORNING DARKNESS. PLANE SALVAGED FOR PARTS. (Hang the Expense IV)
21 JUN 44, UNKNOWN: BATTLE DAMAGE-BROUGHT IN FOR AN EMERGENCY LANDING AT SEETHING, ENGLAND. (-Berlin-w/385th-2 engines out-Landed @Seething 21-Jun-44)
LATE JULY, 1944 TOUR COMPLETED AND CREW RETURNED TO U.S.
FRANK VALESH, KNOWN TO MOST 100TH VETERANS AS "BIG FRANK," IS A LARGER THAN LIFE FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF THE 100TH. UNIVERSALLY ADMIRED BY THE 100TH, HE WAS ACCORDING TO CAPT BILL CARLETON, 351ST ENGINEER OFFICER AND FRIEND OF VALESH, "A MAN WHO LIVED EVERY SECOND OF LIFE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT. "OFTEN CALLED THE 100TH'S MOST EXHILARATING PILOT HIS DEATH IN 1984 IS DEEPLY MOURNED BY THE 100TH VETERANS, RECALLING HIM BRINGS WARM MEMORIES. "BIG FRANK" WOULD HAVE WANTED IT SO.
FRANK "BIG FRANK" VALESH CHRONOLOGY
EVENT DATE SOURCE CATEG.
Frank Edward Valesh born at Graceville, MN 15-Apr-20 P
Enlistment Physical at Ft. Snelling, MN 29-Jan-42 A
Enlisted as Aviation Cadet at Mpls-Duration + 6m-S/N: O-742914 25-Mar-42 A P
Service began 12-Apr-42 A P
Lv Home 12-Jun-42 P
Arr AFRTC Santa Anna, CA 16-Jun-42 P
Leaving for Primary at Williams Field, AZ 13-Aug-42 C-88
At Thunderbird II, Scottsdale, AZ-First ride 01-Sep-42 C-92 P
Solos at 9 hour 7 minutes 19-Sep-42 C-94 P
At Thunderbird II- 30 hours flight time 08-Oct-42 C-97
Passed 60-hour check-at TB II 22-Oct-42 C-98
At Pecos Flying School, Sq 4 ,Flt. B 07-Nov-42 C-99
Solos in BT 13-Nov-42 C-100
To Luke Field, AZ 02-Jan-43 C-108
Flight Physical at Luke Field-Shows total of 160 Flight hours 08-Jan-43 A
Washed back from 43-C to 43-D,Gnd loop &Formation flying problem 15-Feb-43 C-114&15
Flight Physical at Luke Field-For Reinlistment (Commission) 11-Apr-43 A
Gets Wings-Commissioned 2nd Lt. (See letters C-123, 124 &125) 12-Apr-43 A P
At Ephrata, WA-395BG/589Sq 18-Apr-43 C-126
At Walla Walla, WA-88BG/316Sq 24-Apr-43 C-127
First ride in B-17( At Ephrata) ,TDY? 28-Apr-43 C-128
Lands B-17 at Gowan Field, ID with 3 minutes of fuel-Weather Prob. 06-May-43 C-17
At Walla Walla-45 hours in B-17s 10-May-43 C-59
At Moses Lake-592Sq/396BG-Crew assembled except for navigator 29-May-43 C-56
Graduation- Cascadian Hotel, Wenatchee, WA -"Gets Navigator"(no) Jun-43 C-45
Dick Johnson joins crew at Walla Walla 10-Jul-43 J-2
At Walla Walla -318Sq/88BG 20-Jul-43 C-53
To Redmond, OR from Walla Walla for third phase training 11-Aug-43 C-50,& J-2
At Redmond, OR-Frank to get his own B-17 19-Aug-43 C-48
At Grand Is., NE-Orders to Great Britain-Unsched. stop@Spngfld, MA 03-Sep-43 J-2
Depart US via Goose Bay,Bluie W. 1,Keflavic,Stornoway Is,& Ayr 05-Sep-43 A P
In Sperry Prvsnl Gp-Passing through Iceland-Letter Dtd at APO 9/18 18-Sep-43 P
Arrived England 12-Sep-43 A&C-72 P
At 2903rd Replacement Training Group 24-Sep-43 C-72&J-2
At 2903rd RTG-2099 CCRC Gp 04-Oct-43 C-68
Orders to 94th BG 04-Oct-43 J-2
At Operational base, 410Sq-First Raid Soon 11-Oct-43 C-70
At Thorpe Abbotts-first letter from 100th BG/351Sq 20-Oct-43 C-71
Abort of first mission-Oil leaked from overfilled tank 03-Nov-43 J-2 P
Mission 1/1- Gelsenkirchen-Flew Sqdrn spare #997 05-Nov-43 J-2 P
M2/2-Duren 07-Nov-43 J-2
M3/3-Bremen-Ball Turret Problem 13-Nov-43 J-2&C-3 P
M4/4-Rujan Norway 16-Nov-43 J-2
Takeoff Accident With Red Cross Girls 26-Nov-43 C-10&J-2 P
M-/5-Johnson Mission w/ another crew 26-Nov-43 J-2&C-10
Frank, Flack & Campion placed under arrest in quarters 27-Nov-43 A
Promoted to 1st Lt. 01-Dec-43 A
M5/6-Bordeaux 05-Dec-43 J-2
M6/7-Emden 11-Dec-43 J-2
M7/8-Kiel 13-Dec-43 J-2
M8/9-Bremen 16-Dec-43 J-2
M9/10- V-1 Base-Electrical/Gasoline fire inBomb Bay 24-Dec-43 J-2 P
M10/11-Ludwigshaven-Horiz Stab Dmg.-Landed @RAF Lympne 30-Dec-43 J-2&C-14 P
M11/12-Kiel-#2 Engine Problem- Landed@Leconfield 04-Jan-44 J-2 P
Court Martial Conducted-Fined $100. & Reprimand 20-Jan-44 A P
M12/13-St. Omar 21-Jan-44 J-2
Zetland leaves crew-is lost on first flight w/A.O. Drummond-TO Accid. 24-Jan-44 J-2 P
M13/14-Frankfurt-Tail Dmg-Lost Urich-Landed@Eastchurch 24-Jan-44 J-2 P
Got new tail gunner and bombardier 15-Feb-44 C-9
Arrived back from leave-Have New A/C--HTE#4 20-Feb-44 C-13
M14/15-Stetten, Poland-Dehn is new Bombardier 20-Feb-44 J-2&C-13
M15/16-Brunswick-Last mission w/100th BG 21-Feb-44 J-2 P
Orders to 482nd BG for PFF Training-Alconbury 22-Feb-44 J-2 P
Transferred to 813 Sq, 482nd Gp 25-Feb-44 J-3
Assigned to 96th BG 413th Sq-Snetterton Heath 19-Mar-44 J-3&C-5 P
Finished PFF Training-Required Missions raised to 30 21-Mar-44 C-4 P
M16/17-Brunswick w/100th 23-Mar-44 J-2
Al Franklin assigned as Dead Reconing Navigator 07-Apr-44 J-2
M17/18-Lepzig w/100th 12-Apr-44 J-2&C26
M18/19-Brandenburg-w/95th 18-Apr-44 J-2
M19/20-Berlin-w/385th-F breaks eardrum on Landing approach 29-Apr-44 J-2&C28 P
Leave in Scotland May-44 C- P
M0/21-Brux, Chech.-w/100th -Randy Chadwick Pilot-F. Grounded 12-May-44 J-2
To TA to fly w/100th-Overran on landing- A/C Totalled-some injuries 19-May-44 J-2&C-15 P
M20/22-Pas de Calais-w/95th 02-Jun-44 J-2
M21/23-Pas de Calais-w/? 04-Jun-44 J-2
M22/24-French Coast-W100th 05-Jun-44 J-2
M23/25-Invasion Beaches On D-Day-Brought bombs home 06-Jun-44 J-2&A P
Moved again, D-day+6--95th BG/335Sq (presume @ Horham) 12-Jun-44 C-12
M24/26-Hanover-w/? 18-Jun-44 J-2
M25/27-Berlin-w/385th-2 engines out-Landed @Seething 21-Jun-44 C-1&J-2 P
M26/28-France-Tactical targets 08-Jul-44 J-2&C-31
M27/29-Munich-w/100th 11-Jul-44 J-2&C-33
28/30-Hemminstedt, Denmark-w/385th,or possibly 100th 18-Jul-44 J-2&B-1
Last Mission 19-Jul-44 A P
29/31-Schweinfurt-w/100th-Johnsons last mission-Prob. Franks also 19-Jul-44 J-2 P
Departs England 16-Aug-44 P
Returned to Zone of Interior (US)--Date from AFFCH Records 22-Aug-44 A
Arrives US--Date from Army Discharge papers 24-Aug-44 A P
Orders from Ft Sheridan, IL to AAFRDS Miami Beach w/23 days DER 28-Aug-44 A
Interview w/St. Paul paper while on 21 days home leave 05-Sep-44 P
Reports to AAFRDS Miami Beach via NY (MJ's folks) 23-Sep-44 A &C-35 P
Reports to AFFCH Nashville, TN 04-Oct-44 A &C-35 P
Approved for full-duty by AFFRDS 09-Nov-44 A P
Lv Nashville for Miami Beach 13-Nov-44 C-36
At Hendricks Field, Seibring, FL----B-17 Transition School 04-Dec-44 C-19
At Larado, TX Gunnery School (Last letter fm here,C-40, Dtd 1 May 45) 21-Dec-44 C-38 P
Instrument Certificate (white) Issued at Larado. TT=1069, 12 Mo=500 12-Apr-45 A
At Randolph Field, TX, Diploma, Co-pilot Trnstn Trng , B-29, 15-29 May 02-Jun-45 A
Separated from Army @ Camp Mc Coy, WI 10-Nov-45 A P
Frank Valesh Marries Helen Riegel 15-Apr-83
Frank Valesh Dies 21-May-84 P
Air Medal w/4 Oak Leaf Clusters P
EAME Theatre Ribbonw/3Bronze Stars P
DFC Presidents Citation w/2OLC P
1. When the source shown is a "C-" number only it indicates the date of a letter which usually lags the actual date of the event.
2. If the event starts with "At" a letter is the source and the date lags.
3. All mission dates are from Dick Johnsons log and can be presumed accurate.
4. Items with a source shown as "A" can be assumed accurate.
Note: SOURCE: A=Army record in Valesh file.
J-2 = Dick Johnson's log-2nd writing.
B-1 =Mighty 8th War Diary. J-3=Johnsons letter 9 Jun 93.
Note: CATEGORY: P= Primary information item as selected by DVL. (Les and Delores Valesh Lautman"Big Frank's" sister and brother-in-law)
Note: GRADUATION--JUNE43: Letter written before July 4. Navigator mentioned either is not JRJ or J-2 is in error about 10 July arrival. See next item down, this page. Requestioned JRJ 6 Nov 93 and he is sure he" was the only Navigator assigned ..until Franklin was assigned as DR Navigator after they joined PFF.
C- = Letter from Frank.
Note: Departed US from Bangor, ME on 5 Sep 43
Note: M13/14-Frank Gregory flew as bombardier
Note: 15 Feb. 44--Tail gunner Szekley flew several missions but was not assigned to the crew. See JRJ letter of 6Nnv9.R Note: Paul West data indicates this crash (19-May-44) was in HTE#4
LORDIE VALESH LAUTMAN, as mentioned in the previous issue, inherited the papers of her brother, FRANK VALESH, and is writing a book about him. Thanks to DICK JOHNSON's persuasion, Lordie decided to share one of Frank's poems which their mother saved with his letters. Here is an excerpt from his poem about the whiskey cure for frostbite, insomnia, and nerves:
"Back at the base,
props in low pitch,
land, see S-2,
that son of a bitch.
A quick bite to eat,
then up to the bar.
But fifteen boys can't say,
'Here we are. '
Just have a quick drink;
don't look blue.
Just curse everyone
for the dough he owes you.
Your hand shakes a little
as you throw her down neat.
You know the law of averages
wasn't made to be beat.
You're next and you know it;
the thought comes to you:
'I'll quit, I can't take it
after what I've been through.
And you feel a little guilty
as if the boys could read your mind,
So you grin and have another drink -
you're drinking with your kind. "
Frank Valesh was in my barracks at Thorpe Abbotts and I can tell you lots of stories. The best one came in January 1944 when I was told there was a new airplane for my crew on Frank Valesh's hard stand. Frank was livid and told me I could have the airplane, but not his ground crew. I said you had better go see Ollie Turner, the squadron commander. He did and found out he was transferred to a mickey group.Turner had enough of Valesh.
I just found all this information about the my dad's buddies. His name is John Mytko. I wonder if there are any of the crew members still live today. My dad passed away on August 28, 2000 at the age of 79. Can you reply to me about this? You can use e-mail address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sincerely, Joanne (Mytko) Bedrin.
I can provide you with more information on my dad, if there's a site to post such information.=
On Sep 4, 2013, at 3:33 PM, Joanne Bedrin wrote:
John Mytko passed on 8/28/2000.
Let me know if you can add him to this site.
I think I’ve e-mailed you before – a year or two back. You sent me a book.
Arch "Four Mile" Drummond, CP on the Swartout crew, became a first pilot and perhaps took over much of the Monrad crew...letter from Frank McGuire 23 Dec 1990. Jb
1. 4 Jan 44, Kiel, Ger.
2. 7 Jan 44, Ludwigshaven, Ger.
3. 14 Jan 44, Secret (France)
4. 21 Jan 44, Secret (France)
24 Jan 44 Frankfurt: Lt Arch "Four Mile"Drummond's Crew listed below crashed on takeoff in A/C 23307 SKIPPER EP-N avoiding a collision
with a stray B-24
Lt A. Drummond P CPT EARLY MARCH 1944
Lt C Schindler CP KIA 28 MAY 44 MADGEBURG
Lt F McGuire NAV IIC 24 JAN 44 RTN USA ILLINESS (SPINAL MENG)
Lt M. G. Zetlan BOM KIC 24 JAN 44
S/Sgt S.A. Cary TTE POW 28 MAY 44 MADGEBURG
S/Sgt T. E. Spenhoff ROG IIC 24 JAN 44
S/Sgt S. M. Szekely BTG CPT 24 JUL 44 ST LO
S/Sgt J.R. Pendleton WG CPT
S/Sgt G. H. Head WG IIC 24 JAN 44
S/Sgt N. Perovich TG CPT 04 MAR 45 KIEL, SUBYARDS
27 February, 1944
438th AAA AW BN
APO 527 % Postmaster, N.Y.
27 February, 1944 Sunday Morning
Dearest sweetheart –
Some of my men have just left for church and it’s reasonably quiet right now. Again there’s just the faintest touch of Spring already in the air – and I’m willing to wager, dear, that Spring here in England will really be hard to take – if everything the poets have said about it comes true.
Yesterday, darling, I got some bad news – not from home or you – but from right here in England. We have, or the Red Cross has a system of traveling Clubmobiles, so-called which travel over the countryside stopping at certain spots to give the soldiers some hot coffee and American type doughnuts. Well one of them hit us yesterday for the first time. I was getting my share – out on the road where they stopped – and was talking with another officer. One of the Red Cross workers yelled out from the truck and asked if I were from Boston; she thought I sounded as if I were. I said ‘yes’ and ‘why’. She asked me if I knew a fellow from Boston named Zetlan. Well, dear, that’s a rather odd name and I knew she must be referring to Maurice Zetlan – Al’s younger brother – who I knew – was a Bombardier here – in a Fort. So I told her the fellow I knew was actually from Salem and she said that I was right and added that he had a brother named Al. I was then sure we were talking about the same fellow. The crux of the story, darling, is that he was killed about 3 weeks ago when his plane crashed during a take off for a bombing raid. I can tell you this because the death has been published. Well I was stunned. It seemed that she met him a few months ago and got to know him really well. He was a swell fellow, very nice looking and from what I heard – a helluva good bombardier. It must have been a terrific blow to Al and Lil because they were very fond and proud of him. Their mother and father died within the past 3-4 years and the boys were very close to each other. I felt rotten all day and realized I had to write. I had written Lil only a few days before in answer to her letter that all was well at home. Honestly, dear, it was one of the most difficult letters I’ve ever had to write. The only solace I was able to give them was the fact that I knew where he’s buried and if possible I promised to go to his grave and say a prayer or something.
NARRATIVE OF LT JOHN R. JOHNSON
NAVIGATOR FOR FRANK VALESH (HANG THE EXPENSE AIRCRAFT)
THIS IS AS ACCURATE AS I CAN MAKE IT WITH THE INFORMATION AVIALABLE. IF ANYONE CAN FURNISH DOCUMENTED PROOF OF ANY ERRORS, I WILL BE DELIGHTED TO MAKE ANY NECESSARY CORRECTIONS.
OUR FIRST AIRCRAFT WAS A BOEING BUILT B-17F, SERIAL NO. 42-30715. WE RECEIVED THIS AIRCRAFT DURING PHASE TRAINING AT REDMOND, OREGON, AND FLEW IT TO THE 390TH WITH QUITE A FEW STOPS ENROUTE. FROM THERE WE WENT TO THE COMBAT CREW REPLACEMENT CENTER AT BOVINGDON WHILE 715 REMAINED WITH THE 390TH WHERE IT WAS NAMED "CINCINNATI QUEEN." I KNOW THAT IT FLEW SEVERAL MISSIONS WITH THE 390TH BUT ITS ULTIMATE FATE IS UNKNOWN TO ME.
AFTER REPORTING TO THE 100TH B.G. AT THORPE ABBOTTS, WE WERE ASSIGNED THE BOEING BUILT B-17G. S/N 42-31035. THIS WAS THE ORGINAL "HANG THE EXPENSE" AND IT HAD THE NAME PAINTED ON PLUS A SHAPELY RED HEADED GAL, NAKED AS A JAY BIRD AND DRIBBLING GREENBACKS FROM HER OUTSTRETCHED HANDS.
ON 5 NOV 1943 WE FLEW OUT FIRST MISSION OT GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY. AS 035 WAS OUT FOR INSPECTION, WE FLEW THE LOCKHEED BUILT B-17F S/N 42-5997 ("HEAVEN CAN WAIT").
ON 7 NOV 1943 WE FLEW 035 ON THE MISSION TO DUREN, GERMANY.
ON 13 NOV 1943 WE FLEW 035 ON THE MISSION TO BREMEN, GERMANY.
ON 16 NOV 1943 WE FLEW 035 ON THE MISSION TO RJUKEN, NORWAY.
ON 26 NOV 1943 FRANK VALESH, PINKY FLACK AND ANDY CAMPION TOTALLED 035. THIS WAS THE FIRST AIRCRAFT CRACKED UP BY FRANK.
ON 5 DEC 1943 WE FLEW THE MISSION TO AN AIRFIELD NEAR BORDEAUX, FRANCE. AS WE HAD NO AIRCRAFT OF OUR OWN WE FLEW THE BOEING BUILT B-17G. S/N 42-37800 [PINKY FLACK'S "PICCADILLY LILY II").
ON 11 DEC 1943 WE FLEW THE MISSION TO EMDEN, GERMANY, IN THE DOUGLAS BUILT B-17F, S/N 42-3474 ("KING BEE").
ON 13 DEC 1943 WE FLEW THE MISSION TO KIEL, GERMANY, IN THE BOEING BUILT B-17G, S/N 42-31066 (JOHN LOVE'S "FOOLS RUSH IN").
ON 16 DEC 1943 WE FLEW THE MISSION TO BREMEN, GERMANY IN 066.
ON 24 DEC 1943 WE FLEW THE MISSION TO HIT "NO-BALL" TARGETS IN FRANCE IN THE BOEING BUILT B-17G, S/N 42-31412 ("MASON & DIXON").
THERE IS SOME CONFUSION ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT WE FLEW ON THE MISSION TO LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY ON 30 DEC 1943 BUT ALL AVIALABLE INFORMATION INDICATES IT WAS OUR NEWLY ASSIGNED LOCKHEED BUILT B-17G, S/N 42-39867. WE WERE HIT BY FIGHTERS THAT DAY AND MADE AN EMERGENCY LANDING AT RAF LYMPNE WITH A LARGE HOLE IN THE LEADING EDGE OF THE LEFT HORIZONTAL STABLIZER.
AS 867 WAS UNDERGOING REPAIRS, WE FLEW THE MISSION TO KIEL, GERMANY ON 4 JAN 1944 IN THE DOUGLAS BUILT B-17F, S/N 42-3271 (BOB HUGHES "NINE LITTLE YANKS AND A JERK"). WE BOMBED AT 1219 HOURS AND A 1300 HOURS WE LOST ALL THE OIL FROM THE #2 ENGINE. THE PROP RAN AWAY AND REFUSED TO FEATHER. JOHN BOOTH'S DIARY NOTES THE TACHOMETER INDICATED 2500 TO 3500 RPM ALL THE WAY UNTIL WE LANDED AT LECONFIELD AT 1515 HOURS. PAUL CARBONE (WG) NOTED IN HIS DIARY THAT WE HAD 30 GALLONS OF GASOLINE WHEN WE LANDED. THE AIRCRAFT WAS SALVAGED ON 7 MAR 44.
ON 21 JAN 1944 WE FLEW 867 ON THE MISSION TO ATTACK ROCKET INSTALLATIONS NEAR ST. OMER, FRANCE.
ON 24 JAN 44 WE FLEW 867 ON THE MISSION TO FRANKFURT, GERMANY. THIS WAS THE DAY THE TAIL WAS BLOWN OFF BY FLAK. AN EMERGENCY LANDING WAS MADE AT RAF EASTCHURCH. THE AIRCRAFT WAS REPAIRED AND RETURNED TO THORPE ABBOTTS WHERE IT WAS ASSIGNED TO ANOTHER CREW WHO NAMED IT "BOEING BELLE." I HAVE TALKED TO MEMBERS OF THIS CREW AS WELL AS MEMBERS OF OUR CREW AND WE ALL AGREE THE NAME "HANG THE EXPENSE" WAS NEVER PAINTED ON THE AIRCRAFT. 867 HAD A LONG CAREER WITH THE 100TH AND WAS RETURNED TO THE STATES IN JUNE, 1945.
IN THE MEANTIME WE WERE ASSIGNED A NEW BOEING BUILT B-17G, S/N 42-31767. WE FLEW THIS A/C TO STETTIN, POLAND, ON 20 FEB 44 AND ERUNSWICK, GERMANY ON 21 FEB 1944. ON 22 FEB 1944 WE WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE 482ND B.G. FOR PATHFINDER TRAINING AND 767 WAS ASSIGNED TO ANOTHER CREW AND WAS NAMED "OUR GAL SAL." IT TO HAD A LONG CAREER WITH THE 100TH AND WAS RETURNED TO THE STATES IN MAY 1945. THE NAME "HANG THE EXPENSE" WAS NOT PAINTED ON THIS AIRCRAFT.
ON 28 FEB 1944 WE WERE ASSIGNED A NEW, RADAR EQUIPPED, LOCKHEED BUILT B-17G, S/N 42-97650. THIS AIRCRAFT HAD BOTH THE NAME AND THE GIRL PAINTED ON THE NOSE BUT THERE WAS NO NUMBER PAINTED AFTER THE NAME "HANG THE EXPENSE." WE FLEW MISSIONS ON 23 MAR 1944 (BRUNSWICK), 12 APR 1944 (LEIPIZ), 18 APR 1944 (BERLIN), 29 APR 1944 (BERLIN) AND 12 MAY 1944 (BRUX), BUT I HAVE NO RECORD OF JUST WHICH AIRCRAFT WE FLEW ON ANY GIVEN DAY. MUCH OF THIS DEPENDED ON WHICH A/C HAD ITS RADAR IN WORKING CONDITION.
EARLY IN THE MORNING OF 19 MAY 1944 WE WERE SENT TO THORPE ABBOTTS TO LEAD THE 100TH ON A MISSION TO BERLIN. WHEN WE CALLED FOR LANDING LIGHTS, THE TOWER REFUSED SAYING INTRUDERS HAD BEEN REPORTED IN THE AREA. WE STOOGED AROUND FOR A BIT KEEPING ALL GUNS MANNED BUT SAW NOTHING. FINALLY THE TOWER AGREED TO TURN ON THE RUNWAY LIGHTS BUT NOT THE APPROACH LIGHTS. FRANK VALESH WAS NOT HAPPY WHEN HE REALIZED HE WAS CLEARED TO A SHORT RUNWAY AS WHILE WE HAD ONLY A LIGHT LOAD OF FUEL, WE DID HAVE A FULL LOAD OF BOMBS PLUS THE USUAL SMOKE BOMBS CARRIED BY PATHFINDER AIRCRAFT.
FRANK WAS ON FINAL AND CLOSE TO FLARING OUT TO LAND WHEN SOMEONE ON THE GROUND "HELPED" BY FIRING A FLARE WHICH BURST RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE AIRCRAFT, EFFECTIVELY BLINDING VALESH AND BOOTH FOR SEVERAL SECONDS. WE LANDED LONG ANDFRANK LET HER ROLL, FIGURING A TRACKED VEHICLE COULD PULL US BACK ON THE RUNWAY IF NECESSARY. EITHER HE FORGOT ABOUT THE ROAD BACK THERE OR DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT. EITHER WAY WE HIT IT AND THE A/C WAS TOTALLED.
THERE IS ONE MORE A/C WE ARE PROBABLY CREDITED WITH CRACKING UP. I HAVE NO RECORD OF THE S/N BUT THE DATE WAS 21 JUN 1944 AND WE WERE LEADING A 12 PLANE SQUADRON OF THE 390TH B.G. THE TARGET WAS THE BMW ENGINE WORKS NORTHEAST OF BERLIN WITH THE BOMB RUN BRIEFED FROM THE NORTHEAST TO SOUTHWEST SO WE COULD BOMB THE CENTER OF THE CITY BY RADAR IF THE PRIMARY TARGET WAS OBSCURED.
THE PRIMARY WAS OBSCURED BY CLOUD ON THE FIRST RUN SO WE MADE A 360 TO TRY AGAIN. THE FLAK WAS HEAVY AND ACCURATE ON THE SECOND RUN AND IT KNOCKED OUT THE #1 ENGINE. WE FEATHERED THE PROP AND ABOUT THAT TIME THE BLOWER ON THE #3 ENGINE WAS KNOCKED OUT. SOMEHOW FRANK HELT HER STRAIGHT AND LEVEL AND WE DID SHACK THE TARGET.
WE MADE A DIVING TURN TO THE NORTHWEST AND THOSE GOOD OLD P-38'S ESCORTED US TO THE ENEMY COAST OUT. ABOUT 25 MILES OFF THE ENGLISH COAST THE #3 ENGINE QUIT ALTOGETHER AND WE STAGGERED IN ON TWO ENGINES. WE LANDED AT SEETHING WITH CONSIDERABLE FLAK DAMAGE, VERY LITTLE GASOLINE AND NO BRAKES BUT THE A/C WAS REPAIRED AND RETURNED TO ACTION. AFTER THAT WE COMPLETED OUR TOUR WITH RELATIVE LITTLE EXCITMENT.
SO, IT SEEMS THERE WERE ONLY TWO AIRCRAFT ACTUALLY NAMED "HANG THE EXPENSE" AND THESE WERE THE ONLY TWO THAT FRANK VALESH ACTUALLY CRACKED UP.
JOHN R. (DICK) JOHNSON
FRANK VALESH, KNOWN TO MOST OF THE 100TH VETERANS AS "BIG FRANK", IS A LARGER THAN LIFE FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF THE 100TH. UNIVERSALLY ADMIRED BY THE 100TH, HE WAS , ACCORDING TO CAPT BILL CARLETON 351ST ENGINEER OFFICER AND FRIEND OF VALESH, "A MAN WHO LIVED EVERY SECOND OF LIFE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT. " OFTEN CALLED THE 100TH'S MOST EXHILARATING PILOT HIS DEATH IN 1984 IS DEEPLY MORNED BY THE 100TH VETERANS, RECALLING HIM BRINGS BACK WARM MEMORIES. "BIG FRANK" WOULD HAVE WANTED IT SO.
THE CRASH ON 26 NOV 43 WAS THE FAMOUS ONE WITH THE RED CROSS GIRLS. FRANK ALMOST UNCOVERED SQD ENGINEERING OFFICER, BILL CARLETON'S CACHE OF "EXTRA" SUPPLIES IN BILLY DRAPPER'S BARN AS WELL. THIS INCIDENT IS PART OF THE 100TH MYSTIC AND AS NO ONE WAS INJURED IS FONDLY REMEMBERED BY MEMBERS OF THE 100TH ..pw
TG ON FRANK VALESH'S CREW
JOHN "DICK" JOHNSON, CREW NAVIGATOR, RECALLS THE INCIDENT ON THE RECALLED FRANKFURT MISSION OF 24 JAN 44, THE FORMATION RAN INTO A BARRAGE OF FLAK AND FRANK (BIG FRANK) VALESH'S SHIP LOST MOST OF ITS TAIL INCLUDING TAIL GUNNER ROY URICH.
"MAGEE FULLER, THE COMMAND PILOT IN THE LEAD AIRCRAFT, TOOK US DIRECTLY OVER AN AIRFIELD NEAR OSTEND, WHICH WAS NOT THE BRIEFED ENEMY COAST OUT. WE WERE SITTING DUCKS AT 12,000 FEET WITH A GROUND SPEED OF 95K COURTESY OF A VERY STRONG HEAD WIND. I ACTUALLY SAW THE GUNS GO OFF ON THE GROUND(THERE WERE FOUR DISTINCT FLASHES) AND IN A VERY FEW SECONDS A DIRECT HIT BY AN 88MM FLAK SHELL BLEW OFF A GOODLY PORTION OF THE TAIL, INCLUDING ROY URICK, THE TAIL GUNNER. I CAN STILL HEAR THE VOICE OF PAUL CARBONE, THE LEFT WAIST GUNNER, WHEN HE CALLED ON THE INTERPHONE TO SAY "ROY IS GONE." WE HAD NO RUDDER CONTROL AT ALL. THE ONLY CONTROL ON THE ELEVATORS WAS BY MEANS OF THE AUTOMATIC PILOT AS THE MANUAL CABLES WERE SHOT AWAY. ONLY THE AILERONS ANSWERED TO THE STICK BUT SOMEHOW FRANK AND JOHN BOOTH (CO-PILOT), GOT US ON THE GROUND IN ONE PIECE. NO ONE ELECTED TO JUMP ALTHOUGH FRANK MADE THE OFFER. OUR ONLY PRECAUTION WAS TO ASSUME DITCHING STATIONS IN THE RADIO ROOM, BUT THE LANDING WAS REMARKABLY SMOOTH. LOCATION WAS EASTCHURCH. THE CONCUSSION OF THE 88 MM SHELL WAS SO GREAT THAT IT DETONATED THE DESTRUCTIVE CHARGE IN MY "GEE" SET. I HAD BEEN TOLD IT WAS A VERY MILD CHARGE--THEY LIED."
SERGEANT URICH, WHO WAS BADLY INJURED, SURVIVED THE BLAST AND DESCENT AND WAS TAKEN PRISONER OF WAR.