457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 143
750th Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 750th Bomb Squadron
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:21

Mission Narrative

Mission No. 143
Date - November 02, 1944
Target - Merseberg
The 143 mission of the 457th will be remembered by all who were with the group at that time or after. On Nov 2nd the 8th Airforce committed over 1000 bombers to oil refinery targets in central Germany.The Group was commanded by Major Peresich. The division assembly was as briefed and the group continued toward their target with a total overcast over most of the target area. On this date the 8th had excellent fighter cover and word was give that the Luftwaffe would be up in force also. As the group approached their target IP, it suddenly made a change of direction to the North and left the bomber stream. This later turned out to be a navigation error by the lead PFF plane. The group proceeded further and further away from it's fighter protection and dropped it's bombs on an unknown target. After bombs were dropped the group made a turn to the right in an attempt to return to the protection of the bomber stream and it's fighters. The low squadron fell behind on the turn and, as the turn was completed, was hit from six oclock level by about 40 or 50 FW-190's. The ensuing air battle lasted about 5 minutes but was the Group's fiercest battle of the war. The planes came in 10 abreast and struck the low squadron. White puffs of exploding 20 mm cannon fire filled the sky. The first pass knocked out most of the planes in the 12 plane squadron. The fighters circled and reattacked. Flaming and damaged planes were everywhere and soon the sky was filled with parachutes and exploding planes. The bomber gunners took a heavy toll of German aircraft but the Group lost 9 planes in this encounter. P-51's arrived and engaged the Luftwaffe planes which quickly disappeared into the clouds below. The planes lost by the group were: 42-31923, 42-106998, 43-37532, 43-37556, 43-37766, 43-37782, 43-38309, 43-38561, and 44-6155.
Plane s/n 43-38309, 750th Squadron, piloted by Lt Kenneth E. Guptill, was hit by cannon fire from the FW-190's on the first pass, they lost #1 engine, and the wing was afire when they were last observed heading North. All crew members were able to bail out and became POW's. Sgt Kravetz, ball turret gunner, was injured during the attack and was hospitalized in Germany.

......... Crew

The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 43-38309     
PilotLt Kenneth E. Guptill   POW
CopilotLt George H. Keller   POW
NavigatorLt Edmond C. McNamara   POW
ToggleerSgt Stephen Marklin   POW
Aircraft EngineerSgt Virgil H. Smollen   POW
Radio OperatorSgt Harry J. Conners   POW
Left Waist GunnerSgt William E. Rhodes   POW
Ball Turret GunnerSgt Frank A. Kravetz   POW
Tail GunnerSgt Herbert A. Brayman  POW
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:21
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the Content:  Willard (Hap) Reese (Website Author)