Gilbert Ben Hadley

Military

Object Number - UPL 53296 - Lt. Gilbert Ben Hadley was the command pilot of his B-24D, that he named, Hadley's Harem. Lt. Hadley and his copilot, Lt. James Rex Lindsey were KIA,...

Gilbert Ben "Gib" Hadley was born and raised in Arkansas City, Kansas. He was the son of Perry Arthur Hadley and Beulah Pearl Bacastow, born 6-May-21. Kansas was his home and enlistment state, and Cowley County was included within the archival record.

Gilbert Hadley enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force and served during World War II. as a B-24D pilot in the MTO attached to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. Lt. Hadley flew his B-24D bomber, Hadley's Harem, with his Co-pilot Lt. James Lindsey, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. On August 1, 1943, Lt. Hadley and co-pilot Lt. Lindsey took off from their base at Benghazi, Libya, to bomb the oil refineries and facilities at Ploesti, Romania. This was an especially dangerous mission, with the bombing to be accomplished at very low levels, as low as 20 feet, up to 250 feet over their target refineries, to clear the smoke stacks. Their B-24D bombers made for relatively easier targets for the anti aircraft flak guns at such low levels over the well defended oil refineries. Lt. Hadley sustained two direct flak hits approaching his target, White IV, killing his bombardier, Lt. Leon Storms, badly wounding his navigator, Harold Tabacoff, and setting his number two engine on fire. His flight engineer, Russel Page, immediately jettisoned their bombs to lighten the airplane, and Hadley feathered his burning number two engine, as they fought to keep their damaged airplane flying and to stay alive.
Hadley was able to fly his damaged plane south through, and away from, the flak guns south of the city, and joined up with Col. John Kane's shot up straggler Lead B-24D, Hail Columbia, along with Walter Stewart in, Utah Man, with Lt. Royden LeBrecht undamaged and flying cover for them. Hadley knew his plane couldn't make it all the way home to his airbase at Benghazi. But, he was able to nurse his crippled, Harem, as far as, just past the south Turkish coast, nearing the safety at Cyprus. But, as they were nearing Cyprus, Hadley, seeing he was out of gas and, probably, engine oil, too, radioed a goodbye to his friends, Col. Kane, Royden LeBrecht, Johnny Young, and Bob Sternfels, and turned his airplane back toward Turkey in the darkness. But, before he could nurse his failing, but beloved, airplane, the B-24D, Hadley's Harem, and his crew, back to the Turkish coast, Hadley's three working engines suddenly seized and failed, out of fuel and engine oil. He crashed into the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Turkey, as he was descending to try for a ditching in the shallow water close to the Turkish beach. Lt. Hadley and his copilot, Lt. James Lindsey, were trapped in their crushed cockpit and drowned in the sinking plane with their bombardier, Lt. Leon Storms, previously killed by the flak round (KIA) that hit them square in the forward nose section. Seven of their crewmen, who survived the mission and the crash, swam to shore and were interned by the Turks (INT-TURKEY).

First Lieutenant Hadley was reported missing (MIA) and ultimately declared dead (KIA) later in August, 1943. Recorded circumstances attributed his death to: Missing in Action. Presumed Dead. Incident location: Mediterranean Sea, south coast of Turkey. Lt. Gilbert Hadley was just 22 years old when he gave his life for freedom and his country.
Lt. Gilbert Hadley, and his lost B-24D, were both located under the shallow water close to the Turkish coast in 1966. His remains and some personal items were recovered from the, Harem's, cockpit, including his aviator sunglasses, his wristwatch, and one of his pearl handled Colt M-1911 .45 caliber pistols. Lt. Hadley was brought home and laid to rest near his family at Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, Kansas.

INCIDENT :
Three casualties were identified that are related to the, 41-24311, crash incident on August 1, 1943 :
◼Gilbert B. Hadley :: Pilot (KIA)
◼James R. Lindsey :: Co-Pilot (KIA)
◼Leon M. Storms :: Bombardier (KIA)

REMEMBERED :
Gilbert Ben Hadley is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at North Africa American Cemetery, Carthage, Tunisia. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.

COMMENDATIONS :
★ Distinguished Flying Cross
★ Air Medal
★ Purple Heart
★ United States Aviator Badge Army
★ World War II Victory Medal
★ American Campaign Medal
★ Army Presidential Unit Citation
★ Army Good Conduct Medal
★ European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign

Connections

See how this entry relates to other items in the archive by exploring the connections below.

Units served with

  • Unit Hierarchy: Squadron
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Ninth Air Force Twelfth Air Force Fifteenth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-29680
  • Highest Rank: Colonel
  • Role/Job: Commanding Officer / Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 18065645 / O-726423
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: T-000195
  • Highest Rank: Flight Officer
  • Role/Job: Co-Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 17024743 / O-728710
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: B-24D Pilot

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: Sleepy, The Squaw
  • Unit: 93rd Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 343rd Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Raunchy
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy
  • Unit: 376th Bomb Group 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - Hadley's Harem
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 344th Bomb Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: B-24 Liberator
  • Nicknames: - The Sandman
  • Unit: 98th Bomb Group 345th Bomb Squadron

Missions

  • Date: 1 August 1943
  • Official Description: 177 B-24’s, of IX Bomber Command (including Heavy Bombers on loan from Eighth AF) are dispatched to bomb oil refineries at Ploesti and nearby Campina. The operation (TIDALWAVE) is costly, 54 planes and 532 airmen being lost, but damage to the targets...

Places

  • Site type: Airfield
  • Known as: Berka, al Birkah

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

Cowley County, KS 1921-05-06 Son of Perry Arthur and Beulah Pearl [Bacastow] Hadley.

Died

Off Cyprus 1943-08-01 Crashed into sea off Cyprus. Killed in Action (KIA)

Buried

North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial Tablets of the Missing North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial Carthage, Tunisia

Based

1943-08-01 Assigned to 344BS, 98BG, 9AF USAAF.

Buried

Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, KS Interred Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, Kansas

Revisions

Date11 Mar 2022 21:22:10
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Details added. Punctuation removed from around aircraft names for clarity, uniformity, and readability. - Kickapoo

Date2 Dec 2021 01:54:49
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Details added. - Kickapoo

Date2 Dec 2021 01:29:35
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Detail changes. - Kickapoo

Date16 Nov 2021 05:51:52
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

FindAGrave Memorials - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date13 Oct 2021 21:11:55
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

HonorStates.org - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date13 Oct 2021 21:10:20
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Detail change for accuracy. - Kickapoo

Date13 Oct 2021 21:01:28
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

HonorStates.org - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date12 Oct 2021 21:15:18
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Name changed for accuracy. - Kickapoo

Date12 Oct 2021 21:09:47
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Added details. - Kickapoo

Date12 Oct 2021 20:57:52
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

The Great Ground-Air battle Of 1 August, 1943 - James Dugan & Carroll Stewart

Date2 Oct 2021 10:30:56
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Added details. - Kickapoo

Date2 Oct 2021 10:19:59
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date16 Aug 2021 10:16:04
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date15 Aug 2021 22:24:30
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date15 Aug 2021 21:44:39
ContributorKickapoo
Sources

Gilbert Ben Hadley - FindAGrave Memorial

Gilbert Ben Hadley: Gallery (3 items)