320th Bomb Group, B-26 Medium EMBLEM

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320th Bomb Group, 443rd BS, B-26 LOSS 41-34912, 20 Oct.'43


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320thBG, 443rd BS, B-26 Loss #41-34912 on 10 Oct.'43

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Target Photo for the Bridge on Mission 20 Oct.1943
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     The B-26 Ship #41-34912 that was LOST on 20 Oct. 1943, the pilot was not able to make it to land only miles away and ditched at Sea.  #41-34912 was a * 441st Bomb Squad Ship* being flown by a *443rd Bomb Squadron CREW* on 20th (21st) Oct. 1943

 (NO Photo of the Ramblin' Reck yet)     #41-34912 B-26 C BN *8* Tail # 441st BS SHIP

     The B-26C which was being flown by the 443rd Bomb Squadron was actually a 441st Ship.  She was named "Ramblin' Reck" with a Battle Number of *8* on her tail.   The 443rd Crew was assigned to her that day because the CREW was ready but not the ship they regularly flew.  Just before the Target (a Railroad Bridge West of Guardea, Italy) on 20 October, 1943 the engines were seen to start smoking.  The pilot 1st Lt John J Turner made a water landing 50 miles off the Italian coast, near to Giamutri Island.  The pilot and co-pilot 2nd Lt. John R Smart were killed but the other crew members took to the life raft.  The surviving crew members were spotted in the water by other aircraft in the formation.  Despite later sea searches the rest of the crew were never spotted again and presumed dead.  (Information and actual story from B-26 Historian Paul Clouting)

   B-26 #41-34912 Ramblin' Reck B-26 C BN *8* Tail # of the 441st BS

1st Lt Turner, pilot  Lt John J Turner  (Pilot) 0-668165

2nd Lt Smart, co-pilot Lt John R Smart C-Pilot) 0-669799

S/Sgts Chavez, Alexander T Chavez (Radio/Gunner)  13042573

S/Sgt Lefler, Albert L Leffler  (Bombardier) 12038292

S/Sgt Miles Jr.,  Clarence H Miles ( Aerial Gunner ) 14068323

S/Sgt Watt.   Julian Watt,  Eng/Gunner  34125316

. April 2011 ***** Thanks to a friend of mine who lives in the Livorno area (Tuscany), have
located the remains of the mentioned B-26, ditcehe at sea between the
Giannutri and the Giglio islands.
My friend, Fiorenzo Bucci, is the director of the daily "La Nazione" and
has asked me to write a brief account about the story of this B-26 and
his crew.*** From the AirCrashPO Team Leader Professor Agostini Alberti (April 2011)     Historian, Po Valley, Italy

The 320th Bomb Group (medium) flew the Martin B-26 Marauder. At the height of the war against Nazi Germany, it was the most important American medium bomber in the MTO as well as the ETO. It had a reputation as a "hot" plane in combat, but was an unforgiving could be a handful for the unwary pilot. Indeed, in its early days "Widow Maker" was one of the least unpleasant names bestowed on it, and its continued production was in jeopardy at least four times. It had its faults, but in the hands of an experienced pilot was, as it later proved successfully, an excellent weapon, and by the end of the war in Europe Marauders had a lower attrition rate than any other U.S. aircraft.********

"The 443rd throughout the war used a black African native figure crouching in jungle foliage and blowing a bomb out of a blowpipe. The figure held a shield with the U.S. star insignia".(See photo above)

Barbara Ennis Connolly, WWII Historical Researcher PRINCESSBARI_B25@msn.com      57th Bomb Wing Researcher and Historian for 2 of her Groups.  Research provided by Barbara Ennis Connolly and Patti Johnson, (57th BW Historical Researchers),  Prof. Ago Alberti of the Air Crash PO and B-26 Researcher Paul Clouting.

  • Italy
  • 10 Oct.1943

320th Bomb Group, B-26 Marauders

Constituted as 320th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 19 Jun 1942 and activated on 23 Jun. Trained with B-26 aircraft. Most of the group moved to North Africa via England, Aug-Dec 1942; crews flew their planes over the South Atlantic route and arrived in North Africa, Dec 1942-Jan 1943. Began combat with Twelfth AF in Apr 1943 and operated from bases in Algeria, Tunisia, Sardinia, and Corsica until Nov 1944. During the period Apr-Jul 1943, flew missions against enemy shipping in the approaches to Tunisia, attacked installations in Sardinia, participated in the reduction of Pantelleria, and supported the invasion of Sicily. Then bombed marshalling yards, bridges, airdromes, road junctions, viaducts, harbors, fuel dumps, defense positions, and other targets in Italy. Supported forces at Salerno and knocked out targets to aid the seizure of Naples and the crossing of the Volturno River. Flew missions to Anzio and Cassino and engaged in interdictory operations in central Italy in preparation for the advance toward Rome. Received the French Croix de Guerre with Palm for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, Apr-Jun 1944. Received a DUC for a mission on 12 May 1944 when, in the face of an intense antiaircraft barrage, the group bombed enemy troop concentrations near Fondi in support of Fifth Army's advance toward Rome. From Jun to Nov 1944 operations included interdictory missions in the Po Valley, support for the invasion of Southern France, and attacks on enemy communications in northern Italy. Moved to France in Nov 1944 and bombed bridges, rail lines, gun positions, barracks, supply points, ammunition dumps, and other targets in France and Germany until V-E Day. Received a DUC for operations on 15 Mar 1945 when the group bombed pillboxes, trenches, weapon pits, and roads within the Siegfried Line to enable a breakthrough by Seventh Army. Moved to Germany in Jun 1945 and participated in the disarmament program. Returned to the US, Nov-Dec. Inactivated on 4 Dec 1945.

Redesignated 32oth Bombardment Group (Light). Allotted to the reserve. Activated on 9 Jul 1947. Inactivated on 27 Jun 1949.

SQUADRONS. 441st: 1942-1945; 1947-1949. 442d: 1942-1945; 1947-1949. 443d: 1942-1945; 1947-1949. 444th: 1942-1945; 1947-1949.

STATIONS. MacDill Field, Fla, 23 Jun 1942; Drane Field, Fla, 8-28 Aug 1942; Hethel, England, 12Sept 1942; La Senia, Algeria, c. 2 Dec 1942; Tafaraoui, Algeria, 28 Jan 1943; Montesquieu, Algeria, 9 Apr 1943 Massicault, Tunisia, 29 Jun 1943; El Bathan, Tunisia, 28 Jul 1943; Sardinia, c. 1 Nov 1943; Corsica, c. 18 Sep 1944; Dijon/Longvic, France, 11 Nov 1944; Dole/Tavaux, France, 1 Apr 1945; Herzogenaurach, Germany, 18 Jun 1945; Clastres, France, c. Oct-Nov 1945; Camp Myles Standish, Mass, 3-4 Dec 1945. Mitchel Field, NY, 9 Jul 1947-27 Jun 1949.

COMMANDERS. Maj John F Batjer, 1 Jul 1942; Col John A Hilger, c. 5 Aug 1942; Col Flint Garrison Jr, 25 Oct 1942; Lt Col John Fordyce, 15 Feb 1943; Col Karl E Baumeister, 25 May 1943; Lt Col Stanford Gregory, 25 Sep 1943; Col Eugene B Fletcher, 25 Oct 1943; Col Ashley E Woolridge, 2 Nov 1944; Lt Col Blaine B Campbell, 28 May 1945-unkn.

CAMPAIGNS. Air Combat, EAME Theater; Tunisia; Sicily; Naples-Foggia; Anzio; Rome-Arno; Southern France; North Apennines; Rhineland; Central Europe.

DECORATIONS. Distinguished Unit Citations: Italy, 12 May 1944; ETO, 15 Mar 1945. French Croix de Guerre with Palm: Apr, May, and Jun 1944.

INSIGNE. Shield: Azure, an alligator volant in bend or, winged and armed gules, speed lines sinisterward of the second. Motto FOREVER BATTLING. (Approved 3 Mar 1943. This insigne was replaced in 1953).

  • Mac Dill Field, Florida
  • 1942

Contributor: Princessbarbi
Created: April 21, 2011 · Modified: April 30, 2011

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