2nd Lt. James F. Pitterle
Navigator - Ethridge Crew
14th Air Force / 308th Bomb Group / 374th Bomb Squad
56 Combat Missions - CBI
Enlistment and Training
Enlisted on September 7, 1942 at Aviation Cadet Examining Board in Milwaukee, WI
Received orders dated March 1, 1943 to report for active duty effective March 10, 1943 and to report to Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas on March 12, 1943. San Antonio was the Air Force Classification Center.
While in San Antonio, dad was ordered to report to Ellington Field in Houston, Texas for preflight training. Training lasted 10 weeks starting in April 1943.
Starting in July 1943 he reported to San Marcos, Texas for Advanced Navigation Training. The training took place over the next 18 weeks. They were trained how to use a Weems Aircraft plotter for determining angles on charts and maps, another Weems instrument called the Dalton Dead Reckoning Computer, the Sextant and the Drift Meter. All these tools were used to help determine altitudes and airspeeds as well as compass readings and star readings for celestial navigation which dad became very good at.
On November 13, 1943 James graduated from Air Force Navigation School and was promoted to Second Lieutenant. Also on November 13th he purchased a round trip train ticket for a Furlough to Milwaukee.
On November 26, 1943, dad reported to Casper, Wyoming for training in the B-24D. There was quite a temperature difference between training in Texas in the summer to training in Wyoming in the winter! The flight training would take 8 weeks. This is where they put together their 10 man crew.
On February 6, 1944 James graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant from the 331st Combat Crew Training School in Casper, Wyoming. From Casper he was transferred to Topeka, Kansas on February 5, 1944. From there he was transferred to Miami Beach, Florida.
On February 20, 1944 dad was assigned to the 14th Air Force and ordered to report for duty. He and the rest of the crew started their flight on February 23rd and were to arrive in China via India on April 12, 1944. From Miami they traveled via Air Transport Command across South America, Ascension Island, across Central Africa and finally across India. Not sure when they arrived in Karachi but he does have a receipt for March 18, 1944. On April 8 they boarded Military Aircraft in Karachi, India and after several fuel stops arrived at Chabua, India. Between April 7 and April 12, 1944 they flew their last leg to Ch’engkung via Air Transport Command. Earlier in the history of the 308th crews returning to China with fuel would bring one extra passenger per plane.
The crew arrived in Ch’engkung, China on April 12, 1944.
The 308th Bomber Group consisted of 4 Bomber Squadrons of B-24’s with 10 bombers to each squadron. The squadrons besides dad’s 374th were the 373rd, 375th and 425th.
In the mission details it mentions the B-24’s taking off from Kunming area bases. The 373rd was based at Yangkai, 40 miles Northeast of Kunming. The 374th and 375th were based at Ch’engkung, about 12 miles Southeast of Kunming. The 425th was based at Kunming. There were also some fighters stationed at these bases as well as other bases in China.
Due to maintenance, replacement of the bombers lost in action and the need to fly in parts and supplies, it was considered quite an effort to have 24 out of the 40 B-24’s available for missions at one time.
The detail of the missions that follows was obtained from James Pitterle, his flight records; several detailed web sites, an email to the pentagon where they obtained the info from microfilm, 2 cd’s of mission detail from Maxwell Airforce Base and with the additional memories from Bill (Andy) Anderson. Steve Sheriff was also able to verify some information. Steve is one of the sons of the Top Turret Gunner Sgt. Douglas Sheriff. Steve also provided some additional photographs including photographs from a 65 year old roll of film in his dad’s memorabilia.
During the month of April the first two flights, one with Major Burnett and the other with Lt. Reeves as pilots, were simply to make sure the crew was familiar with everything.
The next three missions were to fly over the Hump to Chabua India to bring back tanks of fuel. The fuel they brought back was not only for the B-24’s but the fighters as well. The pilots on these flights were Lt. Reeves and Lt. Braun.
These flights over the Hump were very dangerous but they also gave the crews and navigators the experience they would need in target missions.
Lt. Ethridge (Morrie) flew a target mission with Lt. Younger on April 22nd as part of his training before he flew any target missions with dad and the rest of the Ubangi Bag III crew. Before this mission that Morrie flew, the Ubangi Bag III was on approximately 9 or 10 missions going back to December 18, 1943.
Once they were ready for target missions they were assigned to the Ubangi Bag III B-24J. The official serial number of their plane was 42-73436 or just 436 on official mission documents.
From The Personal Collection of Lt. James F. Pitterle
The photos on this page were provided by Mr. Tim Pitterle, and are from the personal collection of his father, Lt. James Frank Pitterle. (More photos can be viewed on the "Nose Art" page.
Lt. Pitterle was a Navigator who flew with the 14th Air Force, 308th Bomb Group, 374th Bomb Squadron. He was a veteran of 56 missions, flown primarily aboard the "Ubangi Bag III". His crew consisted of:
P - 2nd Lt. Morris Ethridge
CP - 2nd Lt. William J. Andersen
B - 2nd Lt. Robert Wick
E - S/Sgt. Jacques P. Evans
R - S/Sgt. Lyle M. Swadener
AG - Sgt. John H. Croley
CG - Sgt. Anthony J. (Murphy) Wojtkiewicz
CG - Sgt. Douglas F. Sheriff
CG - Sgt. Clifford C. Siem
2nd Lt. James Frank Pitterle
Graduation From Training
Unk., Unk., Pitterle, Sheriff, "Murphy" - Casper, WY
Lts. Anderson, Ethridge, Pitterle & Wick - Casper, WY
"Murphy", Ethridge, Pitterle, Anderson, Sheriff, Siem & Swadener (Kneeling)
Casper, WY 1944
Swadener (Top) & "Murphy" Training On Gun
Swadener, "Murphy", Siem, Sheriff & Mullen - Casper, WY
Navigator Lt. James Pitterle ready for the cold
"Crew 62"- Front: Robert Wick, Morris Ethridge, William Anderson, James Pitterle
Standing: Clifford Siem, Douglas Sheriff, John Croley, Anthony Wojtkiewicz, Lyle Swadener
Pitterle, Ethridge, Wick, Anderson & Siem - Jacksonville, FL 1944
Wick & Pitterle, Jacksonville, FL 1944
Wick, Ethridge & Pitterle - Jacksonville, FL 1944
Jake Havens, Bill Anderson, Nelson Brandeberry, Morris Ethridge, Bob Wick, James Pitterle
Miami Beach 1944
Sgts. Sheriff, "Murphy" & Siem - Natal, Brazil 1944
Lt. Pitterle, Egypt 1944
Lt. Pitterle, Lt. Ethridge, Unk., Unk. - Egypt 1944
Lt. Pitterle and others - Egypt 1944
Sgt. Croley - India 1944
Croley, Mullen, "Murphy", Swadener playing Craps - India 1944
Lts. Wick & Pitterle - India 1944
Sgt. Sheriff & friend - India 1944
Lts. Anderson & Pitterle - India 1944
Sgt. Swadener - India 1944
(Image @ Left:) Sgts. Siem & Sheriff in the boxing ring - India 1944
(Image @ Right:) Sgts. Sheriff & "Murphy" - India 1944
Crew waiting for a ride over Hump to Chabua
Chabua Airfield, India 1944
Lts. Anderson, Ethridge & Pitterle with their new plane
Lt. Pitterle in the cockpit
Lt. Pitterle with "The Bag"
Lts. Anderson & Pitterle - China 1944
C-46 supply plane
P-51s and P-40s at base - China 1944
P-38 at Kweilin
P-40 at Kweilin
Lts. Ethridge & Pitterle at Kweilin
Crew resting in the shade of "The Bag"
P-47 at Kweilin
Ubangi Bag III getting a new engine
Sgt. Douglas Sheriff
B-25 refueling at Liuchow
B-25 at Liuchow
The Crew - Chengkung 1944
F-5B Reconnaissance version of P-38
Lt. Pitterle at Rest Camp Lake
Lt. Ethridge at Rest Camp - June 1944
Lodge at Rest Camp
Rest Camp Lake
Croley, Sheriff, Siem, Mullen, "Murphy" and Swadener at Rest Camp
Puchi Raid, 19 August 1944
Lt. Pitterle and Pat O'Brien - China 1944