(From Will Lundy’s ”44th Bomb Group Roll of Honor”, 1987)

8 April 1944

Airdrome, Langenhagen, Germany

The month of April cost more plane losses and casualties of the entire war so far as the 44th Bomb Group was concerned! More so than the August 1943 disasters of Ploesti and a later mission to Foggia, Italy. The 8th of April was the worst single day.

For the first time in the war, the 44th BG was led by 389th BG aircraft equipped with PFF (Pathfinder equipment). With them as Command Pilots were Col. Gibson, Group C.O., and Captain Robert Lehnhausen, 68th Squadron C.O. They flew with 389th Bomb Group personnel and airplanes. It was not a successful endeavor.

The primary target, Brunswick, as well as the secondary were obscured by a successful smoke screen, so a target of opportunity, Langenhagen Airdrome, was bombed instead. Enemy aircraft attacks were numerous and severe, with our gunners claiming 12 destroyed, 6 probables and I damaged. But the 44th Bomb Group’s formation was subjected to concentrated attacks and lost a total of eleven aircraft! This, compared to the nineteen other B-24s lost by all other Groups. This was the worst loss of the war for one mission by the “Flying Eightballs”.

66th Sq., #42-99996 I, Richardson , MACR #3763
66th Squadron Crew: Entire crew KIA

RICHARDSON, WILLIAM M. Pilot 2nd Lt. Macon, GA ASN 0-687496 KIA
MILLER, ARTHUR L. Co-pilot 2nd Lt. Birmingham, AL ASN 0-818724 KIA
ORBACH, NORRIS F. Navigator 2nd Lt. New York City, NY ASN 0-698138 KIA
DAVIS, MILTON H. Bombardier 2nd Lt. North Hollywood, CA ASN 0-691878 KIA, buried Ardennes (C-2-13)
NAPPIER, VERNON D. Engineer S/Sgt. Bedford, IA ASN 37438712 KIA
GOOLSBY, RAY K. Radio Oper. S/Sgt. Waynesboro, VA ASN 13066720 KIA
POHLMEYER, ROBERT L. Ball Turret Sgt. Montgomery, OH ASN 15097510 KIA, buried Ardennes (C-5-47)
SIECKE, ELDON D. RW Gunner Sgt. Pilger, NE ASN 17165143 KIA
BRUCE, W. B. Jr. LW Gunner Sgt. Nashville, TN ASN 14159347 KIA
POWNALL, OTIS H. Tail Turret Sgt. Little River, KS ASN 20733281 KIA, buried Ardennes (B-43-20)

The plane and crew lost was that piloted by 2nd Lt. William M. Richardson. He and his entire crew were KIA – no survivors. There were even few observers to this loss. The MACR is equally brief because of this, stating only that aircraft #996 apparently was hit by enemy aircraft at 1345 hours in the vicinity of Salzwedel and was seen to go down. No chutes were observed. At least five airplanes were lost within the three minutes near 1345 hours from one pass by enemy planes, as described by survivors from the other crews lost.

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