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Charles Bean "“Crankshaft”" CRUIKSHANK

Hometown During Time of Service: Everett, MA
Army Serial Number: O-791077
Enlistment Date: December 18, 1941
Assigned to the 100th Bombardment Group
Unit: 418th Bombardment Squadron
Rank: Captain
Position: Pilot
Beginning Date of 100th Service: Unknown
Time of Service at Thorpe Abbotts: Unknown - Unknown

Additional 100th Service Notes

Status: POW
MACR: 01028
CR: 01028
Comments: 10 OCT 43 MUNSTER ("CRANKSHAFT"), Original 100th, Crew #31


Born February 12, 1917
Birthplace: W. Medford, MA

Media Articles

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Media ItemTypePageVolume/IssueBroadcast SourceTimeDescriptionFile
Charles Cruikshank commissioned one year agoPrintThe Boston Globe Aug 23 194312:00 am
Charles Cruikshank MIAPrintThe Boston Globe Nov 14 194312:00 am

Additional Military Documents

Charles Cruikshank

Draft Registration Card

Comments and Notes

Memo 1:

Crew #31 418th Sqdn. M.A.C.R. #1028

Aircraft #42-30725
Date: 10 Oct.1943
Time: 1500/1530 "AW-R-GO"
A/C last seen: Munster

Crew aboard:
Charles B.Cruikshank Capt. P POW
Glenn E.Graham 1st Lt. CP POW
Frank D.Murphy Capt. NAV POW
August H.Gaspar 1st Lt BOM POW
Orlando E.Vincenti T/Sgt ROG KIA
Leonard R.Weeks T/Sgt. TTE POW
Robert L.Bixler S/Sgt. BTG POW
James M.Johnson S/Sgt WG POW
Donald B.Garrison S/Sgt. WG POW
Charles A.Clark Sgt. TG KIA

Crew on 21st mission. Weeks said that Vincenti bailed out of bomb-bay with chute afire. Had been fighting fire in radio room.

Garrison saw both James Johnson & Robert Bixler wounded and in waist of plane. Plane blew up and Garrison blown out. Ship had dropped bombs on target.

Weeks said; "Germans said Vincenti's chute had burned in the descent and that he was dead before hitting the ground. Bixler said Germans had shown him Vincenti's dog tags and told him that he was dead."

Johnson said he was blown out of ship and his chute opened at about 5,000 ft. Clark couldn't seem to get his escape hatch open and was probably killed when plane blow up. Fighter attack caused fire in ship.

German Records show :Sgt. Charles A. Clark interred on 11 Oct 1943 at Lienen Cemetary/Wesph. Northwestern third of cemetary, southern grave. O.E.Vincenti northern grave (probably entirely burnt since Id tag was found burnt ,too.)
Mrs.Agnes Clark 603 Laurel Ave. Highland Park,Ill.

From: Frank Murphy
To: Mike Faley, 100th BG Historian and Photo Archives)

I have talked to Charlie Cruikshank a lot lately. He feels, as do I, that what essentially did us in at Munster on 10 October 1943 was the lead airplane, Brady and Egan, getting knocked out on the bomb run. We were the deputy lead and followed John down as he sank for perhaps as long as 10-15 seconds not knowing how badly he was hit, even though he was streaming smoke and fluids. We then pulled up and continued the bomb run but all this, I feel, disrupted the integrity of the 100 BG formation and gave the swarms of Luftwaffe fighters buzzing like bees all around us the opening to take us on individually. You know the rest of the story. Take care, Mike,

Frank Murphy, Navigator

Mission Log of Charles B. "Crankshaft" Cruikshank.

Date Target Time
26 Jun 43 Le Harve, France 04:45
28 Jun 43 St. Nazaire, France 10:00
29 Jun 43 Le Mans, France 05:20
04 Jul 43 La Pallice, France 11:00
17 Jul 43 Hamburg, Germany 05:50
24 Jul 43 Trondheim, Norway 12:00
26 Jul 43 German Convoy 06:15
29 Jul 43 Warnemunde, Germany 11:15
07 Aug 43 Kassel, Germany 06:20
15 Aug 43 Lille, France 04:15
17 Aug 43 Regensburg (Lnded Bertreau, Algeria) 11:30
27 Aug 43 St. Omer, France 03:30
31 Aug 43 Paris, France 05:40
07 Sep 43 Watten, France 03:50
10 Sep 43 Lille, France 04:30
23 Sep 43 Vannes, France 05:00
26 Sep 43 Paris, France 04:30
01 Oct 43 Emden, Germany 06:35
04 Oct 43 Hanau, Germany 07:00
09 Oct 43 Danzig (Marienburg), Germany 11:15
10 Oct 43 Munster, Germany (Shot Down - POW) 04:15

Sadly, another search for one of our aircrew members has ended in futility. Today I had a call from the nephew of Bob Bixler, BTG on our crew, in Kansas. I also talked at length with Bob's widow in Wickenburg, AZ. Bob died from a stroke in February 1998. Practically all his life after the war he was an engineer with the Arizona Highway Department and, apart from his wife, left a son, Robert Bixler, Jr and a granddaughter. Except for a fellow POW (not a 100th vet) Bob was never in contact with anyone from the 100th BG or any 8th Afveterans organization….Frank Murphy


MPFaley: were you contacted by a gentleman about those zanny hats you wore back from Regensburg mission
FrDMurphy: No. I haven't heard from anyone about those weird hats.
MPFaley: you will
FrDMurphy: What happened was that in Marrakech we ran into some Senalgelese soldiers wearing those hats and we swapped ours for theirs. The hat I brought back to England is now in the museum at Thorpe Abbotts.
FrDMurphy: Yes. My hat is at Thorpe Abbotts.
FrDMurphy: The dagger that you see in my waist belt in the photo is also at Thorpe Abbotts. We bought them from street vendors in Africa.
MPFaley: Damn you did some trading over there
FrDMurphy: We were on our way back to England via the ATC (Air Transport Command) and overnighted at the Moumonia Hotel in Marrakeck--Winston Churchhill's favorite hotel. Our airplane was too badly damaged to fly back to the UK. And, yes, we did a lot of haggling with the thieves in Marrakech.
MPFaley: you youngsters took them for everything they had or was it the other way around
FrDMurphy: I think they came out better. That was a way of life with them, but we got what we wanted and it broke the tension we were experiencing after a very difficult mission. It was a very tough day for the group at Regensburg. You know the details.
MPFaley: That was such a tough mission and you had to see so much from where you were in the formation
MPFaley: what did the 350th look like out your window, had to be brutal on the first pass
MPFaley: were you at the side gun in nose
MPFaley: how much time did you have to react to fighters coming in and going from your Nav position too that gun.
FrDMurphy: The Regensburg mission was unbelievable. To be under attack by hordes of German fighters for ten minutes was a lifetime. We took all they had for an hour at Regensburg. It was an eternity. I truly did not think any of us would survive. The 100th was the last group in the wing and low. They came at us from above, below and head on and from the rear. I could only see to each side and from in front but they never stopped coming. We ran out of ammo in the nose and I took off my oxygen mask and we
FrDMurphy: I dragged two boxes of ammo from the radio room through the bomb bay back to the nose==WITH NO OXYGEN---adrenalin will work miracles.
MPFaley: Man, that is a LONG way without OXY
MPFaley: what is the sight you so vividly remember about that mission
MPFaley: one sight that is just etched in your mind
MPFaley: how many spare boxes of ammo did you carry on the plane?
MPFaley: for that mission and on just regular missions
MPFaley: how many boxes did each gun station have
FrDMurphy: We were firing constantly. There was never a letup. It was bedlam--a nightmare. What I remember most is the head on attacks and masses of 20mm time fused shells from the German fighters bursting and walking through our formation. I would turn my head away, close my eyes and await death.
MPFaley: That is terrifying
FrDMurphy: We carried extra boxes of ammo in the radio room. I don't know how much our standard ammo boxes at each gun station had but it was a fair amount. We were just overwhelmed at Regensburg.
MPFaley: never expected that type or length of attack
FrDMurphy: To fly across Germany at its widest point in the summer of 1943 with no fighter escort at all and only 140 aircraft in our task force and taking on the German air force at its strongest was what we were expected to do.
MPFaley: and you did it. Must have been quite a feeling to leave the target and sweat out the Alps and going to Africa
FrDMurphy: The 350th was our high squadron. They had the same day we had in the lead squadron. We did get a respite when we turned south from the target to go to Africa. But, there were German fighters out there and we did not know what to expect. The pressure was never off.
MPFaley: did Maj Egan stay in the CP seat the whole mission and where was Graham on the mission (CP). Was he stood down because Egan was flying the mission?
MPFaley: The 350th was your low squadron, 349th and 351st your high squadron.
FrDMurphy: John Egan was in the nose with Augie Gaspar and me during the heavy fighting and fired the right nose gun. Glenn Graham was in the CP seat the whole time.
FrDMurphy: Yes,
MPFaley: during the formation and going to North Africa did he then stand behind Crankshaft and Glenn in the cockpit?
MPFaley: surprised he was not in the CP seat being the CO of the Squadron. Another Question, were you deputy lead that day or was it Veal/Barr
MPFaley: or Cleven/Scott
MPFaley: in case Kidd and Blakely went down
FrDMurphy: We were leading the second element of the lead squadron and were the deputy lead but had no lead responsibility unless Jack Kidd and Blakely were lost. Egan did stand in the cockpit most of the time en route to Africa but did not occupy the right seat. Cleven was the lead in the low squadron.
MPFaley: When you touched down how much fuel did you guys have left
FrDMurphy: I believe we were on fumes. Was told the red lights on all tanks were on.
MPFaley: do you recall the battle damage?
MPFaley: when you landed
MPFaley: and do you remember seeing any crews ditching due too running out of gas or fighters after the target
FrDMurphy: We had lots of bullet holes and skin damage but our big problem was that a cannon shell had hit and severely damaged the main wing spar in our right wing. The airplane was not safe and we left it on the ground in Africa. Yes, I did see one airplane in the Med as we approached Africa. Don't know who it was but it presumably ran out of fuel.
MPFaley: Must have been Van Noy who ditched off of Sicily
FrDMurphy: Could have been, but there were lots of airplanes from other groups up ahead of us.
MPFaley: Quite a story.
FrDMurphy: Yes. Munster was equally terrifying and we did not make it. At both Regensburg and Munster I felt I would not survive but I did. Ann is calling me so must go. But, please give Harry my very best and most sincere thanks for all he has done for the 100th with his incomparable contribution to our marvelous web site. Best to you both.
MPFaley: thank you Sir

I am writing with the sad news that Lt. Col. Charles Bean Cruikshank of the 100th Bomb group passed away last night - May 2, 2010. He was a pilot and POW in WWII shot down over Munster. His date of birth February 12, 1917.

You may contact me at this email addresss for further information.

Irene Cruikshank
Memo 2:

"Everything that could possibly happen to a Flying Fortress in an air battle with Nazi fighters happened to "Bastard's Bungalow" on the return from an Eighth Air Force bombing mission over Germany, but battered but unbeaten, the Fort staggered back to her base.

An unexploded bomb jammed in the Fortress' bomb shackles, and her bombardier hung out head-first over the North Sea to pry it loose with a tiny screw-driver. While he was hanging there, lead-spitting Nazi fighters streamed out of the clouds to attack the ship. A fragment of flak wedged itself into the hinge of one of "Bungalow's" ailerons, locking the controls. Two gunner were wounded by machine gun bullets, but never left their guns for an instant. Holes were torn in the cockpit, the floor under the pilot's seat, and the wing, by screaming shells from Nazi cannons. Gasoline from a wing tank flooded the ship, filling it with fumes, and creating the hazard of a roaring fire at any moment. JU-88s in the Nazi fighter formations zoomed above to drop aerial bombs on the Fortress.

The aerial bombs missed, but knowing they were coming down didn't make life any more enjoyable at the moment for the "Bungalow's" crew. "Can you imagine," declared S/SGT Charles A. Clark, of 602 Laurel Avenue, Highland Park, Ill., "dropping bombs on us at a time like that!"

The Fort was crossing the North sea en route to a vital industrial target, when the Bombardier, 2/LT August H. Gaspar, of 1600 Eighteenth Ave., Oakland, Cal., discovered that one of the heavy bombs had jammed against the shackles in the bomb bay. The "live" bomb was ready to explode at any second and blow the Fort up into thousands of pieces, and all its crew with it.

Lt. Gaspar quickly called to T/SGT Leonard R. Weeks, of 908 South Henry Avenue, Elkins, W. Va., the Fort's engineer and top turret gunner, and the two men breathlessly rummaged for a screw driver. Anchoring his feet in the crack of the bomb bay door, Gaspar swung himself out head first over 22,000 feet of empty North Sea air, and started prying at the bomb fastening with the small instrument. At the other end, inside the plane, Weeks held onto the bombardiers ankles and heled to toggle the bomb from above.

"I jabbed and jabbed at the shackle," said Lt. Gaspar, "but for a long while it was nothing doing. I began to get weak from lack of oxygen. Finally I managed somehow to get the point of the screw driver in between the bomb and the shackle and felt her give a little. I grabbed the little prop while Weeks tugged on the other end. Suddenly we felt her let go. The second bomb followed right behind and hit me on the shoulder as it went by. It might have knocked me down into the sea – I could see those waves lapping thousands of feet below. But I was holding on for dear life."

Just as the second bomb went cascading out, menace came out of the overcast in the form of a flight of Nazi fighter planes, kill-bent. Lt Caspar crawled back into the ship and the crew started to "get cracking" on its guns. Just then a flak fragment shot up into the hinge of one of the Fort's ailerons, and jammed the controls.

The "Bungalow's" pilot, 1/Lt Charles B.. Cruikshank, of 36-A Thorndike Street, Everett, Mass., and the co-pilot, 2/Lt. Glenn E. Graham, of Freedom, PA stubbornly fought the controls. In spite of their efforts, the big bomber swerved out of formation, and there it was, alone in the sky, a wide-open target to the blazing guns of the Focke-Wulfs.

"I felt the ship lag," said Cruikshank. "She fell behind and I could see those devils closing in. Our gunners were on the ball, though, and I could hear the whole ship blasting away at them. About this time the aileron unjammed itself, and Lt. Graham and I had her under control."

By the time the "Bungalow" had been in and out of a second formation and annexed herself finally to a third, in the unenviable tail position. The Focke-Wulfs closed in again. S/Sgt. R.L. Bixler, of Bisbee, Ariz., the ball turret gunner, suddenly discovered blood streaming from his slashed scalp down to his eye was obstructing his shooting vision. He quickly tied a handkerchief over his forehead, and went on shooting. T/Sgt O.E. Vincenti, 171 Gordon Avenue, Carbondale, Pa., the radio operator, was hit by a bullet that ripped through the back of a chair, glanced to the side, and splintered into his leg, but he, too, stuck to his gun.

In spite of the constant hail of heavy fire that came from the Fort's guns, the Jerry fighters came lunging in desperately close.

"I remember that saying about not firing till you see the whites of their eyes." Said a waist gunner, S/Sgt James M. Johnson of Hanford, Cal. "Whites. Hell, we saw their pupils today."

While the big four-engined ship was warding off the FWs, JU-88s appeared from above, and began dropping aerial bombs. They missed, but fighter cannons shot big holes into the Fort. There was one in the cockpit and a hole in one wing big enough, according to Lt. Cruikshank, "for a man to crawl into." A shell coming up from below tore a big gash in the floor under the pilot's seat. One wing tank was punctured and gasoline from it poured in, flooding the ship.

"Gasoline fumes filled the whole ship," reported the navigator, 2/Lt F.D. Murphy, of Atlanta, CA., "the slightest spark could have set off the biggest display of fireworks ever seen. But with that on our mind, and with something popping every minute – wham, a hole! Band, another ! -- with holes even in the props – you never saw such coolness. Fighters were everywhere, but nobody seemed the least bit excited. It was wonderful."

"Bastard's Bungalow" is back at her home base now, looking like a piece of old Irish lace. "She'll be patched up soon," said S/SGT D.B. Garrison, "and we'll be ready to take her out again. And one of these days we'll take her back to the States to show her off."

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT Information:

"Aw R Go" (42-30725)


Charles B. Cruikshank crew

Charles B. Cruikshank crew taken at Gowen Field, Idaho in Novermber 1942. Standing (Left to Right); Charles Mertz, August H. "Augie" Gaspar, Frank D. Murphy and Charles B. Cruikshank. Kneeling; Orlando E. Vincenti, Charles A. Clark, Robert L. Bixler, Robert D. Lepper, S/Sgt Pepper and James M. Johnson. Detailed Information Photo courtesy of Frank D. Murphy John Brady Crew in North Africa after the Regensburg Mission 17 Aug 1943 Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) Four 100th B-17s over the Alps, top "Cowboy" Roane in "LADEN MAIDEN," 2nd from top (smaller image) Henry Henington in "HORNY," center Bob Wolff in "WOLF PACK, lower "Bucky" Egan and "Crankshaft" Cruikshank in "MUGWUMP" Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives)

Crew List

1st Crew List

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Rank Name Pos Status
S/Sgt CLARK, Charles TG KIA