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S/SGT  Howard B. BOBB

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: BTG

S/Sgt Howard B. Bobb, BTG on Lt Furrer Crew.

Howard B. Bobb, BTG on Lt Jack Furrer Crew. Photo courtesy of Daughter Pamela L Byrd Bobb) 

SERIAL #: STATUS: CPT
MACR:

Comments1: 29 DEC 44 FRANKFURT

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2nd Lt John K. Furrer            P RFS    Grounded  After 29 Dec 44 mission due to stress
2nd Lt James H. Young       CP POW  29 Dec 44 FRANKFURT
2nd Lt Tony Coniglio         NAV CPT   24 Mar 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN (with Lt Delbert Thompson Crew, SEE BELOW) 
2nd Lt James A. McElrath  BOM POW  29 Dec 44 FRANKFURT
Sgt Robert W. Garrison     TTE KIA    29 Dec 44 FRANKFURT
Pfc Albert F. Wilk             ROG CPT   02 Mar 45 RUHLAND & DRESDEN
Cpl Howard B. Bobb         BTG CPT    29 Dec 44   FRANKFURT
Pvt Loranza D. Guthrie, Jr  WG CPT    29 Dec 44  FRANKFURT (BECAME TG WHEN SHEFFIELD TAKEN OFF CREW TO REDUCE TO 9 MEN)
Cpl Paul K. Miller               WG CPT    29 Dec 44  FRANKFURT
Cpl Lester E. Sheffield       TG NOC    Sent to 349th Spare Gunners Pool

349th Sqdn.. This crew, as above, joined the 100th on 22 Aug 1944

SUBJECT:  List of combat missions flown by Lt. John K. Furrer, assigned as pilot with the 349th squadron, 100th Bomb Group, 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force.

I’ve checked my Flight Log and compared it to the list of 306 missions that the 100th Bomb Group flew.  My Flight Log showed that I flew on the following missions…Lt John Furrer

 Date/Mission            Mission Number   
   
· 9/5/44 Stuttgart                  #191
· 9/9/44 Dusseldorf                #193
· 9/10/44 Nurnburg                #194
· 9/11/44 Ruhland                  #195
· 9/18/44 Warsaw                  #198
· 9/25/44 Ludwigshafen          #200
· 9/26/44 Bremen                  #201
· 9/27/44 Mainz                      #202
· 9/28/44 Merseburg               #203
· 9/30/44 Bielefeld                   #204
· 10/2/44 Kassel                      #205
· 10/3/44 Mesheim                  #206
· 10/6/44 Berlin                       #208
· 10/7/44 Bohlen                     #209
· 10/9/44 Wiesbaden/Mainz       #210
· 10/15/44 Cologne                  #212
· 10/18/44 Kassel                     #214
· 10/19/44 Ludwigshafen/Mannhiem   #215
· 10/30/44 West Germany/Merseburg #218
· 11/2/44 Merseburg                 #219
· 11/5/44 Ludwigshaven            #220
· 11/6/44 Neumunster              #221
· 11/16/44 Aachen                   #224
· 12/2/44 West Germany/Koblenz      #229
· 12/4/44 Friedberg                  #230
· 12/5/44 Berlin                       #231
· 12/12/44 Darmstadt               #233
· 12/18/44 Mainz                      #234
· 12/24/44 Bibles/Babenhausen  #235
· 12/25/44 Kaiserlautern           #236
· 12/28/44 Koblenz                  #238
· 12/29/44 Frankfurt                #239

The discrepancy between my twenty-nine missions and the thirty-two missions listed in my Flight Log were three aborted missions.

According to Ken Everett, the Combat Report for 29 Dec 44 states the A/C, #44-8514 " LASSIE COME HOME", was hit by flak over the target and the pilot gave the bailout order only to be able to gain control if the ship and return to base.  For unknown reasons the gunners in the rear of the A/C did not bail out and returned with the pilot. The report shows Lt James H. Young (CP), Lt John H. Peters (Nav) from Lt Joseph Ricker Crew, Lt James A. McElrath (Bom) and T/Sgt Robert W. Garrison (TTE) as members of Crew #8.  All were listed as MIA over Germany on 29/12/44.  

Mission Remembrance by Lt Furrer:  mpf-2003

     On December 29th 1944, while on a mission targeting Frankfurt, Germany the following narrative clarifies the sequence of events.
     As we left the IP and entered the bomb run, we encountered extreme headwinds; my navigator reported a ground speed of less than one hundred miles per hour.  Needless to say, the enemy flak that we were experiencing was heavy and persistent.  Immediately after releasing our bombs Aircraft #44-8514 “Lassie Come Home” piloted by me; 1st Lt. John K. Furrer (AKA Jack) took a direct flak hit.  The flak struck the left wing area, and immediately flames engulfed the wing and the number one and two engines.  The flames extended well beyond the aircraft tail section.
     The force of the impact blew the aircraft upwards and to the right.  The aircraft was totally out of control and how we avoided hitting other aircraft in the formation can only be attributed to good luck.  Fearing an imminent explosion I issued the “Bail Out” order.  Those crew-members in the forward section of the aircraft complied.  It was then that I realized my flak suit was entangled with my seat and if I was going to execute a successful evacuation I had to regain control of the aircraft.
     I feathered both engines on the left side and after plummeting 14,000 feet I was able to pull the aircraft out of a nearly vertical dive.  The maneuver extinguished the fires.
     Then a voice came over the intercom, “What’s going on up there?”  I realized that during the confusion my microphone had disconnected and those crew-members in the rear of the aircraft had not heard the “bail out” order.  Four of the gunners were still aboard.  Sgt. Miller came forward and assisted in extricating me from my flak suit.
     I was having difficulty maintaining altitude and ordered the crew to jettison all loose equipment.  We discarded all our guns, ammunition, etc. and headed in a Westerly direction toward England.
     All our radios and navigation equipment were inoperative; no maps were available (they had been jettisoned as loose equipment) when a P-51 piloted by Lt. James Evans of Long Beach, California pulled up along side.  Messages were passed between Lt. Evans and Sgt. Miller by sign language and in this manner we were led safely back to Thorpe Abbotts.
     This mission was my twenty-ninth and last combat mission, because of stress I was temporarily grounded and returned to the United States.
     At the time of this incident I was 20 years old.
     Of those crew-members who had “bailed out”, three: Lt. James H. Young, Lt. James A. McElsath, and Lt. John Peters were interned as POW’s, Sgt. Robert W. Garrison was KIA.

                                                          Submitted by: Lt. Col. John K. Furrer U.S.A.F. Ret.


The 29 Dec 1944 Mission

Lost above a solid overcast after part of his crew had jumped from their burning, flak-riddled radio-less Fortress over the target of Frankfurt-on-Main, Lt. John K. Furrer, 100th Bomb Group pilot and four gunners were led home by a lone Mustang, piloted by Lt. James R. Evans, of Long Beach, California, which zoomed up through the overcast and found the bomber wandering aimlessly. 

"I'm staying with the plane," Furrer told his crewmen, after giving the bail out order. "My flak suit is caught in the seat." By the time his crew released him the fire had gone out. While the bomber plummeted 14,000 feet...With radio out of order, it was only by sign-language between Evans and waist gunner S/Sgt Paul Miller, that messages were passed between fighter and bomber. In this manner, the Mustang led the Fort safely back to Thorpe Abbotts. 
(Hiram Johnson)

email = JOHNPETE01@MSN.COM
uname = JOHN H. PETERS (from Lt Joseph Ricker Crew)
comments = I WAS SUBSTITUTE NAVIGATOR ON LT.  FURRER'S CREW. BAILED OUT 12/29/1944 OVER FRANKFURT AND WAS POW.


Subj: Lassie come home #44-8514  
Date: 2/2/2004 5:12:01 PM Pacific Standard Time 
From: Bodoubleb 
To: MPFaley 
 
Thank you for responding so quickly. In answer to your question about the four gunners, my Grandfather ( S/Sgt. Bobb ) told us that after they returned on 29 DEC 44 they were all interviewed and there was some controversy about why only part of the crew returned (If you care to know his side of the story let me know). Anyway he said that they all went to what he called a "Flak house" in England where they stayed for nearly a month. Later he and Sgt. Paul Miller returned stateside. They were sent to San Francisco where they were to assist in forest firefighting. He Later received orders to Tampa Fl. to a B-29 crew but those orders were canceled (I assume because of the Bombs dropped on Japan). Then he returned home. He told us that over the years he talked to Paul Miller several times and he exchanged Christmas cards with Jack Furrer, but other than that the crew lost touch. I was very pleased that you forwarded the e-mail from Nannette Furrer I will most definitely be in touch with her, however I don't have any information (other than stories) about the missions they flew in. I remember him saying that they bombed a ball bearing factory over Pedamundy (that's probably spelled wrong, but that's how he pronounced it) but that's all I know.

Subj: 29 DEC 44  
Date: 2/3/2004 1:55:07 PM Pacific Standard Time 
From: Bodoubleb  (Andrew Bobb)
To: MPFaley 
 
Well, Mike, my Grandfather (Sgt Bobb) said that many off the POW'S (members of crew who bailed out)  were upset about that incident and some of this might be a touchy subject. My Grandfather was in the Ball turret when he saw flames trailing out of the engines and he knew right away that it didn't look good. He of course felt the blast from the flak and was preparing to in his words "UN- ASS" the turret and asked what's going on up there? He also then told us that he thought that he heard "bail out" so on his way to the door to jump, he said that he hesitated a moment then Miller grabbed him and said "wait a minute Pappy" "the flames are out" (The crew members called him Pappy because at the ripe old age of 25 he was the oldest man on the aircraft) anyway the controversy comes from the "bail out" order. I guess that there were people who criticized Lt. Furrer saying that he prematurely issued the order or that he gave a "bail out" order and should have given a "Prepare to Bail out" order. regardless there were only a handful of men who really knew what happened and my Grandfather was one of them. I asked him if he thought that the plane was going down and he said "yes." When you consider that Jack Furrer was just a kid, Hell they all were, this was quiet an experience. Especially after seeing many of your friends parish to that very fate. Well, there is no Doubt in my mind that Lt. Furrer saved them through the actions he took. I'm willing to bet that those who jumped probably felt the same way my grandfather did about the a/c. Who knew? Anyway about Sgt. Robert Garrison who is listed as KIA. Grandpa told us that he never turned in his 45 that they were issued initially and he boasted about how the Germans would never take him alive. The last my Grandfather knew he was still listed as MIA. Well, that's really about all I know about 29 DEC 44.
Thanks Mike I hope you found some this interesting.


Ms. Furrer,
  My name is Andrew Bobb I am the Grandson of S/Sgt. Howard Bobb who was on your father's crew in WW11. My Grandfather was the Ball Turret Gunner. I got your E-mail address from Mike Faley. I am writing you today because I feel like I know your father through all the stories that my Grandfather told us about the war. I would very much like to talk to you and am interested in hearing anything you can remember about the stories he told you about the war and possibly share pictures (although we have very few as most of ours were destroyed in a fire). I recently E-mailed Mike and told him that I believed you father saved the lives of my Grandfather and the three other Gunners on the Lassie Come Home and I feel like it's the only reason why I'm here today. If you have the time please write me back. Thank you in advance.

Andrew Bobb 


Dear Andrew (Bobb),
 I received your e-mail this morning and it was very touching.  I read it to my dad over the phone and I could tell that it also touched him deeply.  I have a CD that my dad gave me that has pictures of the men in his crew with a list attached to identify each man.  Your grandfather is on the CD and I would like to send you a copy.  I tried to send it via computer to Mike Faley but it was too large a file and was unable to do so.  I am mailing him a copy, if you send me your address I will send one to you also.
My dad said that your grandfather (Sgt Bobb) flew all 29 missions with him and that he admired him greatly.  He said an incident that occurred during one flight was what drew him to believe in fate and "what is meant to happen will happen".  He said your grandfather always jumped in the the gun turret immediately on take-off and did not come out until landing.  One flight he called up to the cockpit saying he had to go the bathroom VERY BADLY and my dad said OK but we are almost at the bomb run so hurry back.  A few seconds later, the gun turret was hit by an 88 and totally destroyed. It seems your grandfather was watched over and protected in a very special way.
My dad said that he was sent home after his 29th mission (I believe it was the one he recounted on the 100th Bomb Group website) and he often wondered if your grandfather was sent on a 30th mission.  If you know, I will relay the info to my dad.  I don't know why he never asked himself since they sent Christmas cards to each other up until the time my father read in the newsletter that your grandfather had died….relayed by Nannet Furrer(daughter or Lt Furrer) nfurrer@comcast.net

*****************************************************************************************************************
S/SGT SHEFFIELD WAS SENT TO SPARE GUNNERS POOL

Date         Crew Nbr     Mission Nbr  Last Name         Initial         Rank         Position   Aircraft Nbr         Target
9/25/1944         02         199         SHEFFIELD         L.E.         S/SGT         TG         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         SORENSON        J.J.         S/SGT         RWG         37972        LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         CORDRAY          M.F.        S/SGT         BTG         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         MINEAR            R.C.         S/SGT         TTE         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         BURLEIGH         H.W.       S/SGT         ROG         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         FRENCH           W.M.         LT             BOM         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         HAMRICK          C.M.          LT             NAV         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         KIMBALL          W.R.          LT               CP         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
9/25/1944         02         199         HARNEY           R.E.           LT                P         37972         LUDWIGSHAVEN
****************************************************************************************************************

CREW

2ND LT DELBERT L . THOMPSON      P CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN  TAPS:
2ND LT ALBERT A. KNEISS             CP CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN
2ND LT LEO R. KIMBALL               NAV CPT DATE & MISSION UNK
2ND LT HAROLD A. SMITH          BOM NOC
S/SGT GEORGE A. RANDOM        ROG CPT 12 MAR 45 SWINEMUNDE
S/SGT JOHN P. LEVENDUSKY      TTE CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN  TAPS:
SGT ROBERT J. SOUHRADA         BTG CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN
SGT FRED B. FISCHER                 WG CPT STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN
SGT ROY L. BECK                       WG CPT 24 MAR 45 STEENWIJK/HAVELTE  & ZIEGENHAIN  TAPS:
SGT VINCE M. BOWLIN                TG NOC

351ST SQDN..  CREW JOINED THE 100TH ON 02 AUG 1944.. ON 16 OCT 44 THIS CREW, WITH SOME CHANGES, WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE 349TH.  LT TONY CONIGLIO, A NAVIGATOR, WAS ASSIGNED TO THIS CREW LATE IN 1944, REPLACING LT KIMBALL WHO WENT TO THE G. BROWN CREW..jb
************************************************************************************************************

I noticed on the web site that in several places you have listed my father, John K. Furrer as the pilot of EZ Goin.  He was actually the pilot of LASSIE COME HOME.  I submitted a picture a few years back that shows he and his crew after his final mission on 12/29/44, and they are in front of EZ Goin with one of the crew laying on the wing.  Perhaps this is where the mistake was made.  The mission he flew that day was on aircraft "Lassie Come Home".  The aircraft was severely damaged (half the crew evacuated).  I believe the aircraft in the picture was a "prop" for the photo...it was not the one my father piloted.
 
I am hoping you can correct the information on the site.
 
 This is an account of the last mission my dad flew recalled by Robert E. Fitzgerald.  My father and his navigator from that mission, John Peters, also have accounts of that mission posted on your site.  
Mission #12 Frankfurt 29 Dec 44

We have our new navigator now so I am flying as Bombardier again. Navigators name is George Holser from Sacramento, California. He is a sergeant who had washed out of navigation school and came overseas to the 100th as a gunner.

Our target today was the marshaling yards at Frankfurt. We carried 16 - 300 lbs bombs. We took off at 0815 joined another group at buncher 28. Left the English coast at Lowwnstoft and Belgium coast at Ostand. We flew past Frankfurt on the north side and made a 180 degree turn and made a run on the target. We salvoed the 16 bombs and they were right on target. The flak was very heavy over Frankfurt. Four planes from our lead squadron fell out of formation and looked like all were going down but all were able to make it to France or England.

We were flying in the high squadron and the two lower squadrons were getting most of the flak. We had just one 5 gun battery shooting at us and they were leading us a little too far. One plane in our squadron took a hit in the engine and went into a dive. The pilot gave the signal to bail out and we counted 4 chutes. The Navigator, Bombardier, Engineer and Co-pilot. Then the pilot was able to pull the plane out of a dive and brought it home. (Plane #44-8514 known as "Lassie Come Home" piloted by John Furrer). It was to be the Navigator’s last mission and he spent the rest of the war as a guest of the Germans. We landed at 1345 with no planes lost. In the spring of 1991 we visited George Holser and his wife in Aptos, California. Found out something. George didn’t wash out of Navigators school but graduated. The Air Force decided that they had too many Navigators and took commissions away from the lower grading 10% of the class and sent them gunnery school…

 Nannette Furrer 
nfurrer@comcast.net
*****************************************************************************************************************
Paul Miller Family info
This is Paul K Miller's jacket.  Miss Gail Lynn was AC 43-38211, a B17G that he flew most of his missions on. We can probably get a nicer picture of the back for you at some point.  Miss Gail Lynn was the aircraft name and his daughters name.  Some of the crew had met his baby daughter in training in Florida right before they shipped out.  Not sure how many bomb markers there are on there.  The jacket was made for him at the end if his tour I believe.   He said 'Miss Gail Lynn' was painted on the side, small.  He said There is a picture of him pointing at the plane.  Perhaps the 'original' Gail Lynn can find it?

Sent from my iPhone 

Matthew D. Smyth, MD FACS FAAP
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics
Washington University, St. Louis, MO
St. Louis Childrens Hospital
(314) 454-4454


Interesting..Grandpa Miller said that the Miss Gail Lynn AC #43-38211 was lost with another crew (VO Anderson, 11/30/1944) on November 30th.  This happened while his crew was on Flak leave in London around Thanksgiving.  He seemed to indicate to me that they flew 43-38211 on pretty much all of their missions from Sept-Nov 1944 until it was lost while they were on leave.  Then they were then assigned Lassie Come Home AC#44-8514 for the rest of his tour after their first B-17 went down.  

I will keep digging, he must be misremembering about the F model part…was there perhaps a different upgrade between 43-38211 and 44-8514?  He said the new plane had increased armor plating by his .50 cal which made it more cramped.  He was pretty clear that the new plane had different armor plating by his gunnery position.  I asked about the presence of a chin turret or not since that would distinguish between the F and G models (or so I thought…I'm not an very knowledgable) and he seemed to think that there was a chin turret on both planes.  So if it had a chin turret, it was a late model F, or a G, and he was misremembering the model #?  I may give Col. Furrer a call and see if he remembers.

Perhaps with the Mission List I sent you and comparison with other crew members we can confirm and name 43-38211 the "Miss Gail Lynn" for sure.


Will keep sending stuff if it might be helpful to your archives…


Thanks!!!
Matt
Matthew D. Smyth, MD, FAANS, FACS, FAAP


Hi Mike, thanks for the info you sent me last week.  I spoke with our grandpa, Paul Miller, at length last night, he’s 98 and hanging in there.  Our family is planning a vacation in England next year and will visit the Thorpe Abbotts museum while we are there.

I sent a few pictures from an iPhone which you should have received via separate emails…they depict Paul Miller’s jacket art.  He flew AC 43-38211 with Pilot Furrer for most of his mission.  They called it the “Miss Gail Lynn,” although that wasn’t the official AC name.  The baby shoe had some significance…it was his daughter’s, (Gail Lynn, my mother-in-law).  It was sort of a good-luck charm and the crew always wanted to make sure he had the shoe with him when they flew.

The photo of him leaning out of the AC (attached) holding the shoe was taken after an unexploded shell went through the plane and out the broken window he’s leaning out of.

I just sent his flight log with that serial # listed for the plane.  He said that ship went down with another crew on Nov 30 1944, thereafter he and Furrer flew Lassie Come Home 44-4851.

Matt
Matthew D. Smyth, MD, FAANS, FACS, FAAP


Hi Michael…My mother-in-law, Gail, went through these photos with Sgt. Paul K. Miller last week and he identified the crewmembers in each of the photos.   The tail # 338211 is the “Gail Lynn” ship, which the Furrer crew flew on for most of their missions until it went down with the Vermont Anderson crew around Thanksgiving Nov 30 1944 when the Furrer crew was on flak leave. You have some of these photos on the website, but I thought you might want to add some more with the crewmembers now identified.


Got it.

I am attaching two photos that Gail found of Paul Miller in front of "Miss
Gail Lynn", holding the baby shoe.  No tail # visible but this is the
plane that went down over Merseburg on Nov 30th, and Paul said he flow
most of his early missions on this ship.  With these photos and his
mission list/flight log linking this aircraft # and name, is that enough
information for AC 43-38211 to be now identified as the "Miss Gail Lynn"?

All the stuff I have been sending is for the 100th BG archives and you
have Paul and Gail's permission to post it on the website.

Hopefully next time I'm in S. California I can come out and see the Palm
Springs museum and meet you.

Thanks!

Matt


Matthew D. Smyth, MD FACS FAANS FAAP

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics
Washington University
Director, Pediatric Epilepsy Surgery Program
Neurosurgeon, Craniofacial Surgery Program
St. Louis Children's Hospital

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

S/Sgt Howard B. Bobb, BTG on Lt Furrer Crew. 

Stateside USAAF photo of Howard Bobb. Photo courtesy of Jack O'leary

 Part of the John K. Furrer, Jr. crew: This is the part of the crew that returned to Thorpe Abbotts after sustaining flak damage that caused part of the crew to bail out. John Furrer (far right) is shaking the hand of Lt James Evans, a P-51 pilot who escorted them back. On the top of jeep is Howard Bobb, to the left of John Furrer is Paul K. Miller and between in unknown order are Lorenza D. Guthrie and Lester E. Sheffield. Detailed Information 

Lt. James Evans (P-51 pilot) and the remaining crew members shortly after returning to Thorpe Abbotts. In this picture Lt. Evans and Lt. Furrer are shaking hands. You can see my grandfather (Howard Bobb) lying across what looks like a wing. You can also see the nose art of the E-Z GOIN above his head. Paul Miller is sitting to the left of Lt. Evans. The other two in the middle were Guthrie and Sheffield but I'm not sure of the identification. In the other picture Lt. Evans was Illustrating how he pulled up along side of them and used sign language to get them to return with him. My grandfather said that they were heading towards Germany (but didn't know it) when Lt. Evans pulled along side of them and tried to get them to turn around. He also said that they weren't sure if he was really an American or not and initially believed he was trying to trick them into heading into Germany. (Caption courtesy of the Howard B. Bobb family - Howard Bobb is the "grandfather lying on the wing.)

S/Sgt Howard B. Bobb, BTG on Lt Furrer Crew.

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 412