457th Bomb Group 457th Bomb Group Honor Roll
Mission No. 173
751st Bomb Squadron
457th Bomb Group 751st Bomb Squadron
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:23

Mission Narrative

Mission No. 173
Date - January 13, 1945
Target - Maximiliansau
Six inches of snow fell the morning of this flight to Maximiliansau, Germany. The runways had to be plowed (mostly shoveled) before takeoff could occur. The Allied troops had reversed the German advance in the Ardennes and it was now time for the 8th to assist in bombing supply routes to the German army. The 457th was assigned the bombing of a bridge on the main route from Metz to Munich. The group put up 36 planes. The bomb run was perfect and the bridge received direct hits in clear weather. Flak was moderate but accurate. Seventeen planes suffered damage and one plane s/n 43-38795 exploded in mid air over the target. There were reports that possibly another plane had dropped it's bombs on the exploding plane but it is more likely that it received a direct flak burst in the bomb bay. Because of very bad weather in England the group landed at Woodbridge, an English base near the coast.
Plane s/n 43-38795, 751st Squadron, piloted by Lt Irwin C Popham, was hit directly by flak over the target at Maximiliansau and exploded after dropping it's bombs. The explosion was described by others as "One big ball of fire". Several who wittnessed this said they thought he still had bombs in the bombay when plane exploded and other thought perhaps bombs from another plane in the squadron had hit him. it seems the explosion was that severe. There were no survivors.

......... Crew

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The crew was as follows:
     Plane s/n 43-38795     
PilotLt Erwin C. Popham   KIA  
CopilotF/O Robert H. Dickinson   KIA  
Navigator/BombardierLt Gus B. Skalski   KIA  
ToggleerSgt Joseph H. Jones   KIA  
Aircraft EngineerSgt Donald D. Shumate   KIA  
Radio OperatorSgt Keith W. Hill   KIA  
Left Waist GunnerSgt Robert W. Hamer   KIA  
Ball Turret GunnerSgt William A. Marion   KIA  
Tail GunnerSgt Bruno W. Clifford   KIA  
                                         (457th Home) (Back)            Updated 12/03/2000, 19:17:23
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