Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Gilbert Ben Hadley

Military

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

Service

People

  • Herbert Arens

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. Herbert W. Arens was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew the B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11803, named, Rosie Wrecked 'Em, on the mission to destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti,...

  • Christopher Holweger

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Airplane Mechanic-Gunner | 490th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 848BS, 490BG, 8AF USAAF. TDY to 9AF USAAF. Member of David Kilpatrick crew. Flew Ploesti mission 1-Aug-43 in B-24 41-24311 'Hadleys Harem'; ditched, interned (INT) Turkey Awards: AM, WWII Victory, EAME (3 x Battle Stars).

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and, later, in the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and...

  • Royden LeBrecht

    Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew his B-24D, he named, The Squaw, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at...

  • James Lindsey

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's co-pilot on Hadley's B-24D, Hadley's Harem, in North Africa. He participated in, and had completed his part of the bombing mission, Operation Tidal Wave. But, Lt. Lindsey and Lt. "Gib" Hadley were...

  • Samuel Neeley

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24D Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Pilot Lt. Samuel Neeley was a B-24D Bomber pilot in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in WWII. He served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron in North Africa, flying, bombing, and strafing missions, mostly...

  • Ramsay Potts

    Military | Major General | Command Pilot, Operations Officer, Commanding Officer, Observer | 389th Bomb Group
    Lt. Col. Ramsay Potts flew 41 x combat missions in WWII, including deep penetrations from England to the Messerschmidt factory at Weiner Neustadt, Austria and German synthetic fuel plants. On 21-Nov-42, he was engaged by 5 x JU-88's over the Bay of...

  • Walter Stewart

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    In 1941, Walter Stewart was a 24 year old, U.S. Army Air Force cadet at the University of Utah. He wrote, "We were pulling guns around with horses as a plane flew overhead. Jack Adamson, who had been my Morman mission companion, said to me, "There's a...

  • John Young

    Military | Major | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. John S. Young was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Bored with college at SMU in Dallas, and knowing the country was headed for war, he joined the Army Air Force early in 1941 and began training as an aviation cadet. He was known as "Johnny" and ...

Show more

Units served with

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 344th Bomb Squadron

    344th Bomb Squadron

    Squadron
    The 344th Bombing Squadron was first activated at MacDill Field, Florida as one of the original three squadrons assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group. The 344th soon moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where it began to train as a Consolidated B-24...

Aircraft

  • 42-40402 - The Sandman

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, named, The Sandman, was named, and flown, by Lt. Robert Sternfels and his co-pilot, Lt. Barney Jackson, in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 345th Bomb Squadron, on Operation Tidal Wave, the famous mission to...

  • 41-24311 - Hadley's Harem

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named, Hadley's Harem, was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew, with his CoPilot, Lt. James Lindsey, on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. As Hadley was approaching his target refinery,...

  • 41-11819 - Raunchy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, Raunchy, 41-11819, was in the 344th Bomb Squadron, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, based at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, in early 1943. ...

  • 41-11761 - The Squaw - Sleepy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-11761, was first named, Sleepy, by the men in the 8th Air Force and the 93rd Bomb Group in the U.K. It was, later, renamed, The Squaw, by it's Command Pilot, Lt. Royden LeBrecht, after being transferred to the 9th Air...

  • 41-11825 - Hail Columbia - Little Chief Big Dog - Grumpy

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, Hail Columbia, 41-11825, was assigned to the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was first assigned to the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

Missions

  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place

  • Berca

    Military site : airfield

  • Lete

    Military site : airfield

Events

Event Location Date
Born Cowley County, KS 6 May 1921

Son of Perry Arthur and Beulah Pearl [Bacastow] Hadley.

Based 1943 – 1 August 1943

Assigned to 344BS, 98BG, 9AF USAAF.

Died Off Cyprus 1 August 1943

Crashed into sea off Cyprus. Killed in Action (KIA)

Buried North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial 1946

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

Buried Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, KS 1993

Interred
Riverview Cemetery in Arkansas City, Kansas

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
23 March 2022 19:27:57 Al_Skiff Changes to biography and events
Sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47575857/gilbert-benny-hadley
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/193997201/gilbert-benny-hadley

Date Contributor Update
11 March 2022 21:22:10 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
02 December 2021 01:54:49 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Details added. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
02 December 2021 01:29:35 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Detail changes. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
16 November 2021 05:51:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

FindAGrave Memorials - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date Contributor Update
13 October 2021 21:11:55 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

HonorStates.org - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date Contributor Update
13 October 2021 21:10:20 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Detail change for accuracy. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
13 October 2021 21:01:28 Kickapoo Changes to middlename, nickname and biography
Sources

HonorStates.org - Gilbert Ben Hadley

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2021 21:15:18 Kickapoo Changes to middlename and biography
Sources

Name changed for accuracy. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2021 21:09:47 Kickapoo Changes to biography and awards
Sources

Added details. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
12 October 2021 20:57:52 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

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

Date Contributor Update
02 October 2021 10:30:56 Kickapoo Changes to awards
Sources

Added details. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
02 October 2021 10:19:59 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Into The Fire - Duane Schultz

Date Contributor Update
16 August 2021 10:16:04 Kickapoo Changes to biography
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 22:24:30 Kickapoo Changes to biography and person associations
Sources

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
15 August 2021 21:44:39 Kickapoo Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, person associations, unit associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Gilbert Ben Hadley - FindAGrave Memorial

Share