Herrmann's crew

(submitted by Bob Cross)

#137 on its hardstand.

LT Herrmann and crew were in aircraft number 43-38137 on the mission for October 15, 1944. From their hardstand (#14) they taxied around the perimeter track to take off on runway 250. It was a night take-off with 3000 yds of visibility and a 5-7 knot wind from 200°. Witnesses on the ground saw that #137 was having difficulty getting airborne. Once it did become airborne, it started into a slow, flat turn to the right and started to lose altitude. The aircraft then smashed into a farm house near the airfield, destroying the top floor and roof and starting a fire. The aircraft continued on and came to rest in an adjacent field. Of the nine man crew, only the pilot survived. One of the occupants of the house, Robert Major Smith, was critically injured with severe burns. Mr. Smith would die two days later from complications to his injuries.

M/SGT Joe M. Bruce, a line chief with the 834th squadron observed the takeoff. SGT Bruce claims #137 was having difficulty with its #4 engine and heard it sputter. The turbos on the other 3 engines were emitting a steady red glow. The lack of flames from #4 indicated a non-working turbo on that engine.

While the #4 engine is believed to be the cause of the crash based on SGT Bruce's testimony, the evidence was not firm enough to confirm the cause.

LT Clarence B. Herrmann suffered major injuries and was taken to the 136th Station Hospital. After 6 weeks he was stable enough to be flow home to the US, and remained hospitalized until he passed away in 1976. That same year, and possibly the same day, a severe drought in England caused low water levels in the moat surrounding the farm. A broken propeller from #137 was discovered and excavated. The artifact was given to the 486th Bomb Group to erect a memorial at Barksdale, AFB, Shrevesport, LA.

All crewmembers killed in the crash were initially buried at Cambridge American Military Cemetary in Cambridge, England. 2nd LT Etter and SGT Sartain were disinterred and returned to the US for burial.


Name Rank Position First Mission Last Mission Status
Clarence B. Herrmann 2nd LT Pilot 09//44 10/15/44 Severely wounded.
Robert M. Etter 2nd LT Copilot 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA
Vernon A. Meierhenry 2nd LT Bombardier 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (D-3-7)*
William M. Annan 2nd LT Navigator 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (D-6-7)
John H. Sartain S/SGT FE/Top 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA
Robert R. Stone S/SGT Radio operator/waist 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (E-3-120)
John W. Jackson S/SGT Waist 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (D-2-7)
Joseph K. Cook S/SGT Tail 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (F-6-104)
Ralph M. Spaulding M/SGT Ball 09/25/44 10/15/44 KIA (D-4-7)
* - plot numbers at the American Military Cemetary at Cambridge England.
Mission Date Name ID S/N Type
082 09/26/44   NG 43-37966 B17G
084 09/28/44 Smokey Stover TD 43-37916 B17G
085 10/02/44 Miss B Havin NN 43-38137 B17G
086 10/03/44 Miss B Havin NN 43-38137 B17G
087 10/05/44 Miss B Havin NN 43-38137 B17G
089 10/07/44 Smokey Stover TD 43-37916 B17G
090 10/09/44 The Chariot DV 43-38034 B17G
092 10/15/44 Miss B Havin NN 43-38137 B17G

Created 01/09/00 Modified 05/29/16

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