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Crash of B-24 Liberator 44-48844 MACR 12882


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Mission to Rothensee oil refinery

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Standing: Sivey, Hill, Schmidt, Tesnairz, Self, Cicchetti Kneeling:Bahelka, Winters, Wolfe, Castles

The 445th Bomber Group, 703rd Bomb Squadron of the Eighth Air Force was based at Station 124, Tibenham, England.  Tibenham was located about 13½ miles south west of Norwich in Norfolk.  In early November 1943, the 445th Bomb Group moved into Tibenham and film actor Jimmy Stewart was the Commander of the 703rd Bomb Squadron of B-24 Liberators.

On 3 March 1945, all 219 B-24s of the Eighth Air Force were dispatched to hit the Rothensee oil refinery at Magdeburg by visual bombing.  Four B-24s were lost and 77 damaged that day.

1st Lt. Richard A. Winters and his crew of ten were aboard a B-24J serial number 44-48844 when they were hit by flak.  Around noon and approximately two minutes before bombs away, the Liberator received a direct hit that caused to right fin and rudder to fall off.  The alarm was sounded to abandon ship.  Eyewitnesses observed two parachutes. The radio operator and waist gunner were able to bail out.  The aircraft was then hit again, fell from the formation and went into a spin. The navigator, 2nd Lt. Ira Jack Castles and the bombardier managed to bail out through the nose wheel door.  All other crew members were killed before the aircraft crashed at Rothensee near Magdeburg, Germany.  Missing Air Crew Report 12882 shows the list of those killed in action.

  • Magdeburg, Germany
  • 3 March 1945

Ira Jack Castles

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2nd Lt. Ira Jack Castles (O-716628) was the navigator.  He was born on 9 March 1923 in Texas the son of Dennis B. Castles of Anson, TX.  On 15 June 1945, Castles married Marilyn (Van Valkenburgh) Castles (1923-2011) in Denton, TX.  He later graduated from the University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor of Science degree and A.R.E.  Castles was the founder of Castles Design Group in 1952 and an elder for 26 years at West University Church of Christ. He died on 8 December 2000 in Houston, TX.

Melvin Edward Schmidt

Staff Sgt. Melvin E. Schmidt was the radio operator.  He was born on 12 September 1921 in Cincinnati, OH the son of Henry Charles Schmidt (1891-1962) and Frances M. (Hauck) Schmidt (1895-2008).

Contributor: jkurtspence
Created: March 18, 2012 · Modified: May 6, 2013

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