A B-26 Marauder (VT-R, serial number 42-107588) of the 323rd Bomb Group in flight. Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Marauder. Credit USAAF.'
42-107588 was the lead ship on the mission of the 453rd to bomb the wooden bridge over the Our River at Steinebrück, near Saint-Vith, Belgium on 14 January 1945. In the Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 11926 -, Lt Mitchell E. Mussman, flying in number 3 position under the lead ship, reports that they were proceeding as scheduled to the target at approximately 13,000 feet when they encountered Flak. He saw 107588 take evasive action, its bomb bays opened and the Squadron flew on settling down for their bombing run. Mussman relates having seen 107588 release its bomb load about 10 minutes before Time Over Target and noticed no outward damage to it, the lead ship appearing to be intact and under control. Immediately after the bombs left the ship, Mussman saw 3 figures bail out from the rear of the bomb bay and pass from view. S/Sgt Michael Dobra, tail gunner on Mussman's crew saw those figures pass him and reported seeing 4 parachutes open and float earthward.
107588 then veered off to the right and down. First appearing out of control, it leveled out and flew straight. Lt Mussman followed it as it continued out of the Flak area and noticed 107588 take a definite course for some time, seeming well under control. During this time, the other ships remained about a quarter of a mile from Captain Adams' one. About 6 or 7 minutes after bombs away, T/Sgt Schmitt on Mussman's crew saw another figure leave 107588, at an altitude of about 7,100 feet. The parachute opened and the distressed ship took a diving turn to the right. Sgts Dobra and Schmitt reported seeing 107588 complete a 180° turn and crash. It exploded and flames were seen bursting from the wreckage. The crash location was near Saint-Vith, Belgium.
Pilot Robert Adams' statement in the MACR :
"Shortly after leaving the I.P. (Initial Point), we encountered accurate heavy Flak. We took evasive action until we had about a one minute bomb run left. After making 2 course corrections, 107588 was hit by a very close burst of Flak and a fire broke out immediately between my rudder pedals. As the ship was knocked partially out of control, the bombing run was spoiled." Adams called to the crew to prepare to bail out, and at that time, the bombs went away. The Navigator bailed out immediately and the Bombardier came out of the nose. "As the Bombardier passed me, I waited a few seconds and started to follow him. The Bombardier had trouble with his chute, so I returned to the controls. The fire drove me to the Co-Pilot’s seat where I continued to fly until the Bombardier was able to jump. I followed him after an unknown interval."
Pilot Robert H. Adams (managed to reach the Allied lines); Navigator Captain George P. Burnett Jr (POW); Co-Pilot & GEE Navigator Jerome S. Yosick (KIA); Bombardier Captain Warren W. Anderson (POW); Engineer/Gunner T/Sgt Virgil Smith (Killed later); Radio Operator/Gunner T/Sgt Jack W. Pippin (POW); Armourer/Gunner S/Sgt Louis R. Prejean (killed later).
The 323rd Bombardment Group operated with B-26 Marauders, American medium bombers. They were the first Eighth Air Force Group to fly a medium level bombing mission with this aircraft on 16 July 1943. After flying a total of 33 missions with the Eighth,...
Military | Captain | Pilot | 323rd Bomb Group
Robert H. Adams flew many missions with the 323rd Bomb Group. Promoted to Captain he was Pilot of B-26 Serial #42-107588 on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium.
Military | Captain | Bombardier | 323rd Bomb Group
Captain Warren Anderson was Bombardier on B-26 Serial #42-107588 hit by Flak on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. In the Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 11926, Captain Anderson mentions he was...
Military | Captain | Navigator | 323rd Bomb Group
Captain George Burnett Jr was Navigator on B-26 Serial #42-107588, hit by Flak on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. Wounded, he was captured - Prisoner of War (POW).
Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator / Gunner | 323rd Bomb Group
Jack Pippin was Radio Operator/Gunner on B-26 Serial #42-107588 hit by Flak on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. MACR 11926. Captured, he was a Prisoner of War (POW) and interned in Stalag Luft 3, from...
Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Armorer; Gunner | 323rd Bomb Group
Louis Prejean was armorer/gunner on B-26 Serial #42-107588 on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. In his statement in MACR 11926, Captain Warren Anderson, bombardier on 107588 that day, mentions that,...
Military | Technical Sergeant | Flight Engineer; Top Turret Gunner | 323rd Bomb Group
Virgil Smith was Engineer / Top Turret gunner on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. B-26 Serial #42-107588. MACR 11926.
Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot / GEE Navigator on this mission | 323rd Bomb Group
Jerome Yosick was Co-Pilot and GEE Navigator on B-26 Serial #42-107588 on the 14 January 1945 mission to bomb the bridge at Steinebrück, Saint-Vith, Belgium. He is reported as Killed in Action (KIA), but the cause of his death is not known. He rests at...
|Failed to Return (FTR)
||near Saint-Vith, Belgium
||14 January 1945
Hit by Flak