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

21 April 1944

Zwickau, Germany (Mission Recalled)

The 68th Squadron lost an airplane and crew on this date to severe icing conditions. Sgt. Siteman from the Hawkins crew (506th) wrote the following in his diary: “We were briefed at 1000 hours for a mission to Germany. However, when we got to 14,000 feet, ice formed on the plane and we couldn’t continue and had to return to base. The entire formation was recalled due to this weather. That ice gave us a hard time and for while we thought we might have to bail out. We lost 6,000 feet a minute, were in a spin and managed to pull out at only 4,000 feet! It was close, but we made out okay. The whole group returned to the base due to bad weather. No mission or sortie credit. (One 68th Squadron plane did crash, with eight men killed)”

68th Sq., #41-29418 U, Havens, PAPPY’S CHILLUN, Crashed, ice a factor

Note: This aircraft was also known as TURNIP TERMITE. Its nose art was painted by Clayton Hutsell at the 486th Bomb Group at Sudbury, but was transferred to Shipdham before he could put the name of "TURNIP TERMITE" on it. It was renamed "PAPPY’S CHILLUN" at the 44th.

68th Squadron Crew:

HAVENS, FORREST C. Pilot 2nd Lt., ASN 0-687031, Hospitalized at Station #231
DEL GRANDE, LEON L. Co-pilot 2nd Lt. San Francisco, CA, ASN 0-817399,Injured, severe ankle sprain
ZAJICEK, JAMES L. Navigator 2nd Lt. Chicago, IL, ASN 0-698812, KIA
COLE, EDWARD A. Bombardier 2nd Lt. El Dorado, KS, ASN 0-691634, KIA
LAMBERT, LEONARD P. Jr. Engineer Sgt. Breckenridge, TX, ASN 18202589, KIA, buried Cambridge (C-5-17)
HOUCHINS, GEORGE B. Jr. Radio Oper. S/Sgt. Bluefield, WV, ASN 15339517, KIA
EDMONSON, ROGER W. Asst. Eng. S/Sgt. Avery, TX, ASN 18218286 ,KIA
HIGGINS, HARTWELL J. Asst. Rad. Sgt. Winder, GA, ASN 14094125, KIA
WOOD, HAL N. Ball Turret Sgt. Rogers, AK, ASN 1811316, KIA
TAYLOR, RUSSELL G. Tail Turret Sgt. Seattle, WA, ASN 39196030 KIA
At first it was reported that this aircraft collided with another plane – a B-17. This was found to be in error, as there is another report to the contrary. It states, “It is believed that due to severe icing conditions, this plane stalled, spun, and fell apart. The pilot and co-pilot were the only survivors.

“At five miles northwest of Norwich, and one mile northeast of Pingland Hills, this aircraft was climbing into formation, travelling at 155 to 160 MPH through overcast, in severe icing conditions. When it reached 14,000 feet, the aircraft lurched violently and started swerving to the right. The pilots had no control over the ship as it swerved back to the left, and then started to spin tightly toward the ground. The plane then turned onto its back and the right wing and tail were torn off by the violent maneuvers. The two pilots were thrown into the top of the cockpit, and when the cabin ripped apart, they were thrown clear of the wreckage.

“No definite statement can be made as to the cause of the accident, but it was the opinion of the investigating board that the airplane picked up too much ice, was forced into a stall, and from there into a spin, when it fell apart.” The aircraft was heavily loaded with eight 1,000 lb. bombs and 2,700 gallons of fuel. Another aircraft and crew (Lt. Dine, 506 Bomb Squadron) experienced the same icing conditions, went into a spin, but finally managed to recover control at 4,000 feet. The two survivors from this accident, Lt. Havens and his co-pilot Leon Del Grande were taken to the hospital immediately. This was their second mission. Lt. Havens suffered severe injuries when he landed in a tree, fractured his left ankle, and his spine. Lt. Havens spent some time at the 231st Hospital. He did not return to the 44th Bomb Group. Lt. Del Grande injured his ankle when he landed, apparently quite seriously. He flew no more missions for the 44th, was transferred to the 70th RCD on 10 December 1944 for transfer back to the United States. However it appears that Lt. Del Grande recovered, was transferred to the 93rd BG, and completed his tour with them.

On April 21, 2001, the owner of the property where the plane crashed conducted a ceremony to honor the memories of the eight airmen who died there. It was 57 years to the day that they crashed. A memorial was also dedicated at the site on which the names of the entire crew are listed. It was Jo Cottingham, recreation manager for Anglian Water, who made the decision to provide the memorial at this crash site, and was instrumental in locating next of kin of the men who died there.

Return To Previous Page