447th Bomb Group Association
Photos courtesy of Mr. John Huck
|01/45||In Transit (by sea)|
|02/45 - 03/45||711th Squadron, Rattlesden, UK|
Left to right,
Tail Gunner Byron A. Schlag
Co-Pilot Ivan M Gerwig
Bombardier Edward “Buddy” Blattner Jr.
Pilot Charles H. Bruckman
Engineer Thomas J. Iveans
Navigator John F. Gorman
Left to right, sitting:
Radio Operator John A. Collette
Ball Turrett Gunner Edmund C. Shibble
Photo December 1944, Pittsburg, PA
|229||3/11/1945||HAMBURG||43-38731 Blythe Spirit|
|231||3/13/1945||HANOVER||42-97572*||some records indicate this aircraft not operational after 6/44|
|239||3/23/1945||HOLZWICKEDE||42-31582 Ol' Scrapiron||see below|
After the bomb run on March 23, 1945, Ol' Scrapiron dropped from the 4th Bomb Wing formation and joined the 34th Bomb Group formation returning to England from its mission to Geisecke. Near Koblenz, one of the 34th aircraft (43-38971) was struck by flak, losing its wing. The damaged aircraft first rolled into a plane from the 487th, which remained flying, before colliding with Ol' Scrapiron. The plane from the 447th with the Bruckman crew onboard was broken apart at the waist.
Tailgunner Byron Schlag was the only member of the crew able to bail out, after riding the tail section down to 8,000 feet -- at times losing consciousness from lack of oxygen. Amazingly, Ed Shibble survived the fall (though sustaining serious injuries), trapped in the ball turret until it broke free of the aircraft as it crashed through some trees. The two gunners were captured. The rest of the crew perished along with the entire crew from the 34th.
From MACR 13617:
At 1347 hours, 27000 ft. altitude, the A/C flying No. 11 position of the 34th Group was hit by flak and peeled off to the left. After glancing off A/C of the 487th Group, No. 11 struck A/C #582 who went into a tight spin. The right wing folded and there was one explosion within the A/C in mid-air. #582 then hit the ground in a wooded area and exploded again. 2 chutes were observed. Coordinates were approximately (5040-0740). This report corroborated by 93rd Wing, 34th Bomb Group and 487th Bomb Group.
Pictures courtesy of John Huck