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William J Johnson


09 March 1945 when 'Hellcat Hattie' went down on a gunnery mission over the Wash. Thirty-six planes were in the air during the afternoon. At 1603 2nd Lt Wilfred E. Miessler took his 367th plane out of formaton and shortly thereafterhis crew was seen to bail out. 2nd Lt. Stanley D. Burns (CP), reported that a fire first appeared under the top turret and as the crew was bailing out there was an explosion in the right wing, probably in the number 3 engine. Then the plane went into a dive. As the pilot was setting up the autopilot, Burns went ot the forward escape hatch, kicked off the door and jumped. He was followed by 2nd Lt. John S. Pappas (N), and 2nd Lt. Johnson. Burns and Johnson were picked up by a British Air-Sea Rescue launch, but none of the other crew members was found. 2nd Lt. Donald G. Kingsley, Jr. left the formation as the incident developed and circled the area, dropping three dinghies to the stricken men. Evidently only Lt. Johnson ever got into on e of the dinghies. The rescue launch reached the first dinghy twelve minutes after the SOS was sent. The accident occurred about seven miles north of Wells over The Wash. Kingsley circled the area until 1800, by which time several other aircraft and a launch had joined the search.



  • William Cassedy

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    William Cassedy first flew as Copilot on Capt. Raymond Check's crew. On the 26 June 1943 mission to Tricqueville airfield, Cassedy, the plane's regular Co-Pilot, had filled the post of one of the waist gunners on B-17 #42-3172, piloted by Lt. Col....

  • Lionel Drew

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Lionel Drew was Bombardier on the 26 June 1943 mission to the Tricqueville airfield, France, on board B-17 #42-3172. The Fortress was attacked by fighters and the Pilot, Captain Raymond Check (on his 25th and what had to be the last, mission of his...

Units served with

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 367th Bomb Squadron


Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:19 AAM AAM ingest

306th BG Association Directory, 1 September 1999 Edition, Combat Crews page 151; First Over Germany page 309 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia