The signatures are from top to bottom -
Lt. Col. Robert O. “Bob” Barker
Commanding Officer, 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
From London, Ohio, a graduate of Ohio State University.
Lt. Thomas “Lemon” Lemmon
Pilot, 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
Flew with Guldemond as his co-pilot in 778 WT-K Patty’s Pig in the right-wing slot off of 033 WT-A Ole 33 Gal, whose crew was leading the flight of six Marauders, on your father’s(Rush's) last mission. Shared an Officers’ Quarters with your father (Rush) and the others noted in Guldemond below.
Lt. Bird / Capt. Paul E. Warf
456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
Lt. Gen. John O. Moench’s book, Marauder Men, lists a Donald L. Bird and an A. L. Bird. The first and middle name are illegible, and the surname is almost illegible. It could be the signature of Capt. Warf, the pilot leading a flight of six in Ole 33 Gal.
Lt. John Guldemond
Co-Pilot and Pilot, 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
From New Jersey, Guldemond shared Officers’ Quarters No. 8 in Site Area No. 13 at the north end of Earls Colne Airfield with your father (Rush), Lt. Charles H. Stirneman, Lemmon and Foster and their puppy, Burma, who was one of the puppies of Gin Fizz, the dog written about by Ernie Pyle in Brave Men. Their Quarters was dubbed “The Black Hole of Calcutta”. See Lemmon above regarding your father’s last mission.
Lt. Stanley G. Sussman
Co-Pilot, 46th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
Flew as a co-pilot on 861 WT-N Weary Willie, Jr. in one of the other flight leads on your father’s last mission.
Lt. Raymond J. Lishka
Pilot, 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
Flew in 81- WT-U Klassie Lassie in a different flight of six on your father’s last mission.
Lt. Walter E. “Walt” Foster
Lead Bombardier/Navigator, 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group
From Spencerport, New York, shared Officer’s Quarters with your father. See Guldemond above.
Lt. Theodore J. Witt
456th Bomb Squadron, 323d Bomb Group
Flew in 964 WT-L Hades Lady in a different flight of six on your father’s last mission.
Some of the signatures are very legible, such as those of Guldemond, Lishka and Foster. (You have an excellent example of Guldemond’s signature from the letter he sent to your mother. I’m familiar with my father’s (Foster's) signature. Lishka’s was easy to identify, having seen it on dozens of loading lists.) After identifying the easy ones, I looked for any of the other officers who shared a living quarters with your father, which led me to Lemmon’s signature. Next, I identified Witt’s signature by looking in Marauder Men for a surname that ended in “itt” with the first name of “Theodore” --- I’d seen the surnames of Pruitt, Cruitt and Witt on loading lists, but only Witt had the first name of Theodore. Guldemond, Lemmon, Lishka, Witt and Sussman were on the loading list for your father’s last mission, which helped me identify Sussman’s signature.
The signature at the top of the bill was difficult to make out at first. The clue came from the clipping of the letter Lt. Col. Barker sent to your mother, which was published in a local newspaper. In it, Barker writes that he and other members of the 456th Bomb Squadron attended your father’s graveside service at Cambridge American Cemetery. That made me wonder whether the short snorter was signed by the officers who attended it in lieu of a guest registry --- it would have been a touching tribute and a way to wish a fallen colleague good luck on his journey that could be sent to loved ones. Studying the top signature (with a surname that clearly ended in “er”) with that possibility in mind, I realized it was Barker’s, having seen it on certifications of my father’s combat service records.
There’s one signature about which I’m mostly uncertain. It looks like the surname of the third signature from the top is “Bird”. There is a photograph of an airman named “Bird” sitting on a motorcycle among my father’s (Foster's) collection. I believe there is also a photograph of a “Donald Bird” in Marauder Men. I cannot make out the first or middle name of the signature. So, Lt. Bird is an educated guess. However, Bird was not on your father’s last mission. The last name appears to be four letters, with the third being “r”. The middle name looks like it could be “Edward”. I believe Capt. Warf, the pilot on your father’s last mission, would have attended his graveside services. If I had to guess, I would go with the signature as being that of Capt. Warf, particularly given the number of times your father flew with him.
Over the nine years I’ve been researching my father’s service and the history of the 456th Bomb Squadron, I’ve discovered that by spending time with these records and photographs, they begin to come to life and tell a story. Ah-ha insights emerge with patience. For example, among my father’s collection is as photograph of him with four other officers and a puppy. On the back of the photograph, he had written “me, Rush, Stirneman, Lemmon, Guldemond, Burma”. One day, it dawned on me (like it dawned on me that the signature at the top of the short snorter was Barker’s and that it was signed by your father’s colleagues possibly at your father’s graveside service) that it might be a photograph of a proud “family” posing with their newest addition to the family, a puppy. It would have been just like my father to round up the guys for a picture to commemorate the happy occasion. Similarly, there’s a photograph in my father’s collection of him leaving an officers’ quarters that had a sign over the door that said “Black Hole of Calcutta”. On the back of the photograph, he or my mother had written “March 31 - only snow of winter.” Although it stood to reason that it was my father’s living quarters, there was no way to know with any certainty. When I saw the photograph in your father’s collection of an officer (Stirneman) taking photographs in a snow storm outside of an Officers’ Quarters with a sign over the door that said “Black Hole of Calcutta”, it confirmed the suspicion.
Although it’s likely we will never know with certainty whether the officers listed above signed the short snorter at your father’s graveside service at Cambridge American Cemetery, I am relatively certain that it was. “Short snorter” is written at the top of the dollar bill in my father’s handwriting. Examining the evidence of the writing instruments used by each of the officers, it looks like Barker and my father used the same one. I can see my father taking the dollar bill from his wallet, writing “short snorter” on the top edge of the bill and asking Barker to sign it first as their commanding officer. It would stand to reason that my father would have been the last to sign as the originator, although he signed second to last.
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,...
Selected Bibliography of Publications:
Military | Colonel | Pilot - B-26 Marauder
Born on October 9, 1919 in London, Ohio, Lt. Col. Barker was graduated from Ohio State University ("OSU"). He earned his "wings" at "The West Point of the Air" at Randolph Field, Texas. He was part of the original Myrtle Beach, SC group that comprised...
Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Bombardier
Lt. Walt Foster was a navigator and bombardier from Upstate New York who served with the 456th BS during the Second World War. His first combat mission was flown from Earls Colne Airfield on February 3, 1944 to the Ruisseville "No Balls” secret weapon...
Military | First Lieutenant
Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot
Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier, B-26 Marauder
Dale Rush served with the 456th BS as a bombardier. He was killed on May 20, 1944 on a mission to Dieppe when "Ole 33 Gal" WT-A Serial No. 41-35033, flying in the Box II, Flight 3 lead position, took a direct hit of heavy flak that shattered the...
Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot
Military | Captain | Pilot
Capt. Paul E. Warf was leading a flight of six Marauders on the afternoon of 20 May 1944 to the port area of Dieppe when a shell from a heavy (88mm) flak (anti-aircraft) gun exploded in front of the bombardier's compartment of WT-A Ole 33 Gal killing...
Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot
Military site : airfield
Earls Colne was built in 1941 as an airfield for No.3 Group, RAF Bomber Command, although never used as such. Assigned to the US Eighth Air Force (as Station 358) in 1942, its 36 hardstands were increased to 50, bringing the airfield up to Air Ministry...