15 May, 1944 — Corsica
George F Walsh joined directly in to the the Army Air Corp on 17 March, 1942 in Boston Mass. Born in 1918, George had completed 4 years of high school, was working in sales and was single at enlistment.
George would become a multi-engine Pilot during WWII and be assigned to the B-25 Mitchell Medium Bombers of the 321st Bomb Group, 446th Bomb Squadron in the Mediterranean Theatre. 15 May, 1944 George was KIA (along with his entire Crew) in a Crash/Explosion upon landing on return from a Combat Mission to Oreveto RR Bridge, Italy (Flown out of their home-base on Corsica.
321st Bomb Group War-Diary with Crew Logs/Daries;
A/C No. 42-32429 “Flamingo” (crash landing) P Walsh, George F., 1Lt CP Lee, Roy N., 2Lt N None B Wilcox, Harry B., Jr., 2Lt E Shellhamer, Lawrence, S/Sgt R Orechia, James R., T/Sgt G Thornton, Edward P., S/Sgt F None
15 May 44: 446th BS War Diary: The squadron loses Lt. George Walsh, Lt. Harry B. Wilcox, Lt. Roy W. Lee, Technical Sergeant James Orechia, Staff Sgt. E.P. Thornton and Staff Sgt. Lawrence Shellhamer in a crash landing at our field. A crash landing was made and the plane burned upon striking the ground with all members of the crew killed. Another of our ships had to be landed in the water and the crew was rescued by Air Sea Rescue patrols. A third ship was forced down at Pianosa Island held by the enemy and the following men are presumed to be Prisoners of War: Lts. Othick, Mayfield, Griffin and EM Youngblood, Cobb and Miller. Sergeant Napoliello, on the sea crash plane, had to make his second parachute jump and both leaps were on the same day of the same month. He made a jump on May 15th of 1943 in Mississippi.
Cobb, Alvie J., Sgt, gunner Griffin, Patrick A., 2Lt, bombardier
Lee, Roy N., 2Lt, pilot Mayfield, Estel A., 2Lt, pilot
Miller, Edward J., Sgt, gunner Napoliello, Felix, Sgt, gunner
Orechia, James R., T/Sgt, radio-gunner Othick, Ronald R., 1Lt, pilot
Shellhamer, Lawrence, S/Sgt, engineer-gunner Thornton, Edward P., S/Sgt, gunner
Walsh, George F., Lt, pilot Wilcox, Harry B., Jr., 2Lt, bombardier
Youngblood, Woodrow W., S/Sgt, radio-gunner
15 May 44: 446th BS Mission Summary: (Ops Order 331/mission 330) Group Mission # 290:
Squadron Mission 247
TARGET: Orvieto Station RR Bridge DATE: 15 May 1944
Porto Ferraio, Elba (Alt)
Type of Bombs: 1000 lb. Demo. 446th Planes: 8
Lt. Morris and Lt. Moss led the formation. The first flight reported direct his on the center and both approaches of the bridge. At the alternate, the second flight reported direct hits in the commercial harbor area and on two boats. Flak was heavy, intense and accurate. Lt. Othick’s plane was badly hit over the target and was reported to have made a successful crash-landing on the Island of Pianosa. It is assumed that the crew members were taken prisoners by the enemy. Lt. Sampson’s plane also suffered direct hits from flak and the entire crew wounded by fragments. Heading for the open sea, Lt. Sampson gave the order to bail out, he being the last to leave, after which the plane exploded in mid-air. Air-Sea Rescue were able to pick up all the men. Lt. Walsh crash-landed at the home base, upon hitting the runway, the plane exploded and burned, due to the fact that it was saturated with gasoline from leaking fuel lines. Lt. Walsh was thrown clear of the plane, but died in the hospital from burns received. The other crew members could not be rescued, and all perished in the burning bomber. After an emergency landing Lt. Hodges’ emergency brakes failed while taxiing and the plane crashed into a ditch, collapsing the landing gear. Lt. Vivas returned early with an oil leak in the right engine.
15 May 44: 445th BS: War Diary of: Seegmiller, Barnard H., Sgt, armament:
05/15/44: “About 10:00 hours today as a group of us were busy working on my plane we heard a sliding crash and explosion. We knew it was a plane and we started running for the runway, which was obscured, from us by a narrow belt of brush. Along with the first, I emerged from the brush to see the plane just bursting into flames. It had skidded off the runway into a pile of rocks and brush. At first there was no sign of survivors and I began to slacken my pace because the ammunition on the plane had commenced exploding. Then I saw a man fall from the pilot's escape hatch and roll frantically upon the ground very near the flames that were coming from the left engine. He appeared to be only semi-conscious as his efforts to save himself were rather undirected. By that time I was running again and only Art Hanna was ahead of me. I could see the man's clothes were on fire and began encouraging Hanna, who was carrying a coat on his arm, to hurry and attempt to smother the fire with his coat. I had left my shirt at the plane and was quite empty-handed. An ack-ack battery was set up nearer to the crash than we were and one of the boys had arrived on the scene and was trying uselessly to put the fire out with his hands while the poor fellow staggered and rolled, screaming for someone to put the fire out. I called to the ack-ack boy to use his coat, but he was too excited to hear me. All the while I was running as fast as I could and had overtaken Hanna. I could see now that it was the pilot's Mae West that was burning and as soon as I reached the spot I told the other boy to give me his coat, which I practically jerked off him. I used my pocket knife to cut off what was left of the burning Mae West. It was no time until the fire was out but the fellow was severely burned. His hair, eyes and nose were a white crisp. Soon the ambulance arrived and took him away. He was conscious and rational and I thought perhaps he would live, but I have heard several rumors that he died.
By the time we had finished, the plane was almost entirely in flames. However if others had arrived the same time we did I think someone could have been gotten out of the radio compartment. After it was all over it occurred to me that there might have been bombs in the plane. I do not feel that what I did was in any sense heroic or other than anyone else would have done, but I am pleased to think I had presence of mind enough to be of some assistance. There were some who did not go near because of the ammunition that was exploding. I went back this afternoon and saw a great many projectiles and cases that could have given one a nasty wound. The corpses of the other five men were lumped among the still burning ashes, all burned beyond recognition.”
Hanna, Arthur M., Sgt, engineering Seegmiller, Barnard H., Sgt, armament
Walsh, George F., 1Lt, pilot, 446th BS
15 May 44: 446th BS: War Diary of: McRae, James Arrington, 2Lt, bombardier (mission 31)
“Pre-briefed 0700 T.O. 0830 Pilot: Hurley CoPilot: Peterson
Ship # 549 Alt 9,800’ Bombs: 4-1000 # Demos Position: 1-4-1
Target: R.R. Bridge, 9 mi. SE Orvieto (42°38’ N - 12° 15’ E). Over target @ 1037, target observed on regular heading, did a 180 and bombed bridge with good results. No flak or fighters. Bad day, 2nd flight hit our alternate target – Elba. Sampson made a crash landing on Pianosa Isle. – all ok. Othick’s crew bailed out, believe all ok. Hodge’s had no brakes, ran off side of runway, landing gear collapsed – crew ok. G. Walsh came in with landing gear not fully retracted, crashed on runway, all of the crew killed, except George, he got thrown clear of plane but badly burnt, is expected to live. (Wilcox, Shellhamer, Lee, Thornton, Orechia).
Went to show, saw ‘Md. Curie’. Flying time 03:45 hrs.”
Hodges, Richard E., 1Lt, pilot Hurley, John R., 1Lt, pilot
Lee, Roy N., 2Lt, pilot Orechia, James R., T/Sgt, radio-gunner
Peterson, Frederick I., 2Lt, pilot Sampson, Allan T., Capt, pilot
Shellhamer, Lawrence, S/Sgt, engineer-gunner Thornton, Edward P., S/Sgt, gunner
Walsh, George F., 1Lt, pilot Wilcox, Harry B., Jr., 2Lt, bombardier
16 May 44: 446th BS: War Diary of: McRae, James Arrington, 2Lt, bombardier (mission 32)
“George Walsh died at 0035 hrs. this a.m. Scheduled on a mission today.
Pre-briefed 1000 T.O. 1110 Pilot: Hurley CoPilot: Peterson
Ship # 549 Alt 9,800’ Bombs: 4-1000 # Demos Position: 1-2-1
Target: RR Bridge at Foligno (42° 57’ N - 12° 42’ E). Over target 1255, no fighters or flak. Poor weather. Believe target hit, also some landed in the town. Geo. Walsh & crew buried this a.m. Sampson’s crew which bailed out all ok.
Sacked all afternoon. After supper Chudars & I finished a chest of drawers to hold our clothing, up late arranging our stuff. Looks pretty good. Flying time: 03:00 hrs.”
Chudars, James E., 2Lt, pilot Hurley, John R., 2Lt, pilot
Peterson, Frederick I., 2Lt, pilot Walsh, George F., 1Lt, pilot
On a personal note, George was a friend and Pilot/Co-Pilot to Lt John (NMI) "Jack" Fitzgerald. Jack's son John T Fitzgerald is editing/writing, adding diaries/Logs, Missions, Flight patterns and pictures to the 57th Bomb Wing, 321st Bomb Group Histories.
Barbi Ennis Connolly PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com 57th Bomb Wing Historical Researcher and 319th and 321st Bomb Group Historian (2007-____ ) and 321st BG History Team Member with John T Fitzgerald and Patti Johnson.