457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 143
751st Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 751st Bomb Squadron
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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 44-6155, 751st Squadron, piloted by Lt Samuel H. Schimel, peeled out of the formation after the first pass of the FW-190's and parachutes were seen to come from the plane. The plane blew up a few minutes later. Three of the crew were killed and six were POW's. This is the account of the incident as described by Lt Edward Schimel:

"Two of our engines were knocked out - the ship was cut to ribbons - the bombay was on fire as well as other parts of the ship. The plane went out of control. The engineer poked me and pointed to the bombay and left. The copilot and I gave the order over the phone to leave, I flipped on the auto pilot and the emergency alarm. The copilot and I bailed out and both of us were severly burned by the intense heat in the plane. The navigator, a new man to our crew, had his parachute in the parachute bag. By the time he found it and started to attach it, he was blown out as was the bombardier whose way he blocked. All members of the crew, except the three in the rear of the plane, met that evening in a temporary prison where we were held. Questioning about the fate of the three crewmen revealed little. The three were flying ball turret, tail gun and waist gun. The interrogator at the interrogation center near Frankfort told me that the three had been killed."

......... Crew

The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 44-6155     
PilotLt Samuel H. Schimel   POW
CopilotLt Edward F. Grudzien   POW
NavigatorLt Donald E. Scheuch   POW
BombardierLt Dick E. Coffman
Aircraft EngineerSgt Henry W. Short   POW
Radio OperatorSgt Bob B. McFarlane   POW
Left Waist GunnerSgt Albert P. Schmitz   KIA  
Ball Turret GunnerSgt Dominic Staszewski   KIA  
Tail GunnerSgt Robert L. Kaer   KIA  
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the Content:  Willard (Hap) Reese (Website Author)