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Kenneth Lynn Erhard

Military

As Ken was an independent and rather adventurous young man, he attempted several times to enlist in the military, but was always turned down because of his age. He was finally accepted in late November 1941 at the age of 19.   He wanted to be in the Corps of Engineers, but after a battery of tests, he was placed in the Army Air Corps and consequently was sent to Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi.  He was there when the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced on the radio. He became proficient in armament and was sent to Bendix School in Gary, Indiana. He came back as an instructor in 50 caliber machine guns (NOTE: it was said that he could put a gun back into place blindfolded). He was not a "regular" flyer; more or less an auxiliary when a crew was short-handed, and he was always a left waist-gunner.

From Keesler Field, he was sent to Barksdale Field in Bossier City, Louisiana with the newly formed 44th Bomb Group. While at Barksdale, Ken volunteered to go sub-hunting in the Gulf of Mexico, not only for the flying experience, but to use the machine guns. From Barksdale Field, the 44th Group was sent to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ken was only there a short while before leaving for Port of Embarkation in New York. The 44th Bomb Group boarded the Queen Mary and took a 5-day zig-zag course to avoid the U-boats, which were on the prowl, and were known as "The Wolf Pack."  The Queen Mary landed at Firth o' Clyde, Scotland1 and troops were sent overland to Shipdham, England.

Early in the morning of 8 March 1943, Ken was about to go on his 13th mission over enemy territory. He had had a premonition he would not come back and told several of his friends, "See ya at the end of the war." His buddies told him, "Hell, Kenny Boy, if you feel that way, report for sick call." Of course, he refused, and Miss Dianne was the lead plane of the 16 bombers (B-24s) set out to bomb the marshalling yards at Rouen, France. Enemy ME-109s came out of the sun's glare and met head-on with the B-24s.

Shot down 8 March 1943 in B-24D 41-23784 [NB:R] 'Miss Dianne', 44BG/67BS while serving as Right Waist Gunner. The aircraft was attacked and shot down by German fighters near Villers-Ecalles, France while on a mission to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Rouen, France. Prisoner of War (POW). His account of the attack by FW 190's as well as flak amidship, crew injuries, deaths and the bailout is in Lundy's book p. 57. He was wounded and treated for his burns and taken to Stalag VII-A Mooseburg, then later to Stalag XVII-B where he remained until repatriated 8 February 1945.

POW

Service

Units served with

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 67th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-23784 Miss Dianne

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D-5-CO 41-23784 [NB:R] "Miss Dianne" was assigned to the 44BG/47BS. On 8-Mar-1943 the aircraft was despatched on a mission to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Rouen, France. The aircraft sustained significant damage from German fighters near...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 41

    8 March 1943
    The railroad marshalling yards at Rennes and Rouen, France are the primary targets for this mission. A formation comprised of 67 B-17s: 91BG (14); 303BG (19); 305BG (16) and 306BG (18) is despatched to bomb at Rennes. Conditions are good with no cloud...

Associated Place

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...

  • Barksdale Army Air Field

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Curwenville, Pennsylvania 21 December 1922
Prisoner of War (POW) Moosburg, Germany 8 March 1943 – 12 June 1945

Held at Stalag 7A, Moosburg, Germany. Officially Returned to Military Control (RMC) 12-Jun-45

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2017 07:38:44 Eaglewolf Changes to middlename, nickname, biography, awards, events and place associations
Sources

Ken Erhard's written memoirs.

Date Contributor Update
11 August 2016 05:27:25 Eaglewolf Changes to nickname, biography and awards
Sources

Additional information by his daughter, Jacquelyn Erhard Bean.

Date Contributor Update
31 July 2015 20:54:34 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography
Sources

Lee Cunningham 31-jul-2015. Correcting typo in Biorgraphy.

Date Contributor Update
31 July 2015 19:56:07 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography, awards, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cuningham 31-Jul-2015. Added decoration and POW event per National Archives Records Administration (NARA) WWII POW database; Mde connections to Place and Mission within existing website data; Edited Summary Biography with A/C model letter, Radio Call Letters and Unit association, added loss detail and target based on "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces", Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE and MACR 15570.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:17:56 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 15570 / MACR 15570, Losses of the 8th and 9th AFs Vol I by Bishop and Hey p.89, 44th BG Roll of Honor and Casualties pp. 56-7 by Lundy / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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