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Group History

Brown's Clowns - The History of a B17 Bomber Crew Page 5

by Bud Vieth

Lt. William Titley

Bill Titley had joined our crew on our seventh mission -- to Cologne on October 15, 1944 -- after Joe Dye had been hospitalized during our days of lead crew training at the 95th Bomb Group. At the time, Titley had already logged twelve missions, so he completed his thirty-mission tour of duty on the Brown crew's Mission 25 to Kassel. Our bombardier on the Brown crew's last five missions was Maj. Don Ventriss, the Group bombardier.

Mission 26. February 17. 1945 - Frankfurt Germany.

B-17 #696. Original target a jet engine plant but had to divert to the marshalling yards. "During assembly, 'the weather had been so bad, that several planes were obliged to jettison their bombs after the controls froze up."'Century_Bombers, p. 183.

Mission 27. February 20 1945 - Nurnburg, Germany.

Bombed marshalling yards. Brown crew again led entire Eighth Air Force. Vieth in hospital -- crew had substitute radio operator on this mission.

"On the 20th, the First and Third Divisions, were dispatched to Nurnburg, where the   Hundredth attacked the station and marshalling yards with 'good results."'

"'The target was Pathfinder and the weather stinko. Got flak at front lines--flak over the   target was light. Flak again as we crossed lines on the way out. We lost most of our   Squadron on the way out because of bad weather and everyone came back alone. Stayed   on course all the way back and split over the Field. If the target had been visual, we   would have had it because our ground speed was 120 K. Flying time 9 hours. Results   good."' Century Bombers, pp. 183-84.

Mission 28. February 23 1945 - Treuchtlingen, Germany.

Marshalling yards again. Vieth still in hospital. Brown crew led A Squadron with Maj. Ventriss  as bombardier.

"On the 23rd, the heavies set out for the enemy's marshalling yards, although several   groups were obliged to look elsewhere."

"The Hundredth, led by Colonel Frederick Price, (Command pilot with the Brown crew)   'visited Treuchtlingen, where Don Ventriss, the Group Bombardier, who flew with "A"   squadron, dropped his load squarely on the rail junction. A commendation from higher   headquarters was forthcoming.' " Century Bombers , pp 184-185.

Walter Peters wrote in his diary; "Bad weather on base on return -- almost collided with another plane -- missed us by twenty-five to fifty feet."

Mission 29. March 3 1945 - Brunswick, Germany.

Once again, Brown crew led the Third Division. Vieth out of hospital and back with the crew. Sky was full of attacking German fighters. Vieth diary notes, "Mostly the new jet propelled jobs."

"On the 3rd, Colonel John Wallace, who flew with Gerald Brown, 'led the Third Division   to Brunswick,' where 'the Group's attack was directed against a large motor transport   factory.'

"The bomber stream was preceded by a chaff force consisting of six aircraft, led by Jack   Thrasher. Each of 'these aircraft carried, in addition to their loads of ten 260 pound   fragmentation bombs, a load of metallized strips to be tossed from the plane, the purpose   of which was to confound the German radar and flak operators, diverting their attention   from the main attack ... Before bombs away, with no previous warning, a jet bounced out   of the clouds, and as the bombs were dropping, made a pass firing heavy caliber shells.   The shells ripped into one wing of Thrasher's aircraft (44-8220), setting it afire. The pilot   immediately rang the alarm bell and put the plane into a dive in an attempt to douse the   flames. His calm voice sought out the men over the interphone ... "All right boys ... This   is it ... Bail out ..." He then remained at the controls, trying desperately to keep out of a  spin so his crew could get out ... Then the flaming wing snapped off and an explosion   blew the men clear ...'

"The navigator Gerald Rimmel, 'later reported that he never saw Thrasher again."'    Century Bombers, pp. 185-86.

"The Hundredth returned to the base after a good bombing job. The lost plane was  the first in exactly one month."Contrails, p. 163.

Mission 30. March 10. 1945 - Dortmund Germany.

THE LAST ONE.

Bombed marshalling yards at Dortmund. "The following morning, the Hundredth, led by Gerald Brown, was assigned the marshalling yards at Dortmund, which was attacked with 'fair results.'

"Captain Brown and five of his crew had now completed their tour, having flown twenty-eight consecutive leads."Century Bombers, p. 187.

HOORAY!

Subsequent History

Five members of the ten-man crew organized in April 1944 at Ardmore, Oklahoma finished their tour of duty together. Just as the 100th Bomb Group seemed to be jinxed, it appeared to be unlucky indeed for a member of the original Brown crew to fly with another crew. Of the five who did so, four were shot down and only Joe Dye, our original bombardier, completed his tour of duty. The five original crew members who finished together were:


Pilot Brown
Flight Engineer Peters
Waist Gunner Page
Waist Gunner Kellogg
Radio Operator Vieth


Jerry Brown.  Jerry was married at the time the crew was formed. Jerry and Margaret's home is at 821 S. La Grange Avenue, Newbury Park, California 91320. After the war Jerry was employed by the Department of Defense in a number of capacities until his retirement in 1975. He and Margaret had two sons, Richard and Bill, and as of 1982 had two grandchildren. Jerry died on October 1, 1985.

Walter Peters. Pete and his wife Jean were married in May 1947. Their home is at 2700 No. Mont Clare, Chicago, Illinois 60635 (telephone 312/889-8008). After the war, Pete was employed by General Motors until his retirement. Pete and Jean had a son Richard and a daughter Laura. Pete died March 13, 1989.

Wayne Page. Pagie was married after the war and has three grown children. He was divorced some years ago. He lives at 309 West Caldwell, Visalia, California 93277 (telephone 209/627-5359). He is in the home furnishing business in Visalia.

Clarence Kellogg. We have lost all contact with Okie since our tour ended. His last known address was Route 9, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

G. Duane Vieth. Known as Bud. Married Jane in 1952 and lives at 3717 Cardiff Road, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 (telephone 301/654-4395; office 202/872-6901). Two sons, Peter and Robert, and a daughter Jenny; two grandchildren. Lawyer with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter since 1949

The other five members of the original crew:

Arthur Jacobson (shot down Feb. 3, 1945 - POW). After the war, Jake married Jeannine and their home is at 2215 East Howe, Seattle, Washington 98112 (telephone 206/323-0179). They have two sons and two daughters. Jake was in the steel construction business. He was a successful inventor and held several patents on building material products. After a long bout with cancer, Jake died in 1981.

Joseph Dye. Joe was married at the time the crew was formed in Ardmore. He and Doris live at 2 Argyle Court, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054 (telephone 201/887-5023). Joe was employed as an electronics engineer until his retirement several years ago; he now is an electronics consultant. He has a son and two daughters and several grandchildren.

Ralph Bayer. Killed in action. |

Roland Douglas (shot down Dec. 31, 1944 - POW). Doug was married after the war and lives at 303 Van Buren Avenue, Peru, Indiana 46970 (telephone 317/473-9629). He has six grandchildren and several great grandchildren. He was employed as a conductor on the C&0 and Amtrak for many years and is now retired. Secretary of Foundation building the Grissom Air Force Base Heritage Museum.

George Voviatizis. Killed in action.

Men who joined the crew later:

Erwin (Tony) Lentz. We have lost all contact with Tony, our mickey operator, since our tour ended. His hometown at the time of his service was Chicago, Illinois.

Bill Titley. Bombardier. After the war Bill married Helen and they live at 242 South Fork Road, Mountainside, New Jersey 07092 (telephone 201/233-2841). They have two sons, Mark and William. For many years Bill was a teacher of social studies in junior high school, and he is now retired.

Leo R. Kimball. Lead Navigator. Known in civilian life as Bob. Married Mary Louise and they live at 619 W. Horner Street, Ebensburg, Pennsylvania 15391 (telephone 814/472-8163; office 814/472-7700). They have nine children and sixteen grandchildren. Bob owns a large engineering and architectural consulting firm in Ebensburg, L. Robert Kimball & Associates.

Julius Krepismann, Group Navigator. According to "Splasher Six" (Spring 1988), after the war Jules "worked as an accountant in New York, taking further training on the G.I. Bill. In 1948 he and Charlotte were married. For thirty years he worked for the State of California but his love was his private practice as a tax accountant. He enjoyed helping young families organize long-term financial programs." Jules died in 1988.

Joseph Dye. Joe was married at the time the crew was formed in Ardmore. He and Doris live at 2 Argyle Court, Parsippany, New Jersey 07054 (telephone 201/887-5023). Joe was employed as an electronics engineer until his retirement several years ago; he now is an electronics consultant. He has a son and two daughters and several grandchildren.

Ralph Bayer. Killed in action. |

Roland Douglas (shot down Dec. 31, 1944 - POW). Doug was married after the war and lives at 303 Van Buren Avenue, Peru, Indiana 46970 (telephone 317/473-9629). He has six grandchildren and several great grandchildren. He was employed as a conductor on the C&0 and Amtrak for many years and is now retired. Secretary of Foundation building the Grissom Air Force Base Heritage Museum.

George Voviatizis. Killed in action.

Sources

Century Bombers, by Richard Le Strange, assisted by James R. Brown, published by 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum (1989).
The Bloody Hundredth, edited by Horace L. Varian, published by 100th Bomb Group Association (1979).
The Story of the Century, by John R. Nilsson (1946).
Flying Fortress, by Edward Jablonski, Doubleday & Co. (1965).
The Mighty Eighth, Roger A. Freeman, Doubleday & Co. (1970).
Contrails My War Record, John F. Callahan Associates (1947).
Letters from England, John Bennett (1945).
Brochure of 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum.
"Splasher Six," Newsletter of the 100th Bomb Group Association, Harry H. Crosby, Editor.
Prisoner of War Diary, Lt. Arthur Jacobson (1945).
Combat Diary, T. Sgt. Walter R. Peters (1944-45).
Combat Diary, T. Sgt. G. D. Vieth (1944-45).

 

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