Paving the way for D-Day: Air and Sea in Europe

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From Hollywood one might get the impression that the war began with D-Day, but a major invasion of the heart of Nazi-occupied Western Europe was impossible until two major German advantages were eliminated:

A.  The Luftwaffe’s total aerial control over Europe’s skies and

B.  German Navy’s total dominance of the North Atlantic

Unless the Atlantic was cleared of the U-Boat menace, the US couldn’t get large numbers of troops to Europe.  Without air superiority,  landing ships trying to cross the English channel would have been impossible.

At enormous cost the US and Allies achieved those vital objectives. At least 80 Wilmington residents would lose their lives fighting in the European air and naval war.

 

Army Air Corps Campaign Vs German Luftwaffe 1943-1945

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Jonathan S. Land. Sergeant, 303rd Bomber Group. Killed in crash at Bay of Biscay at St. Nazaire, France during raid on January 3rd 1943 while serving in 303rd Bomber Group.

Carles D. Sharpless. 29. 1703 Pennsylvania Avenue. Wilmington High School. 97th Bomber Squadron, Air Force. Killed in action in North Africa, April 7 1943.

Marc F. Pitts.  22. Wilmington High School.  Lt. Bombardier on a Flying Fortress.  “One of 26 planes that failed to return from a raid on U-Boat bases at Bremen and Kiel, June 1943.”

Gordon M. Goldstein.  PS Dupont High School. 200 block W. 17th. Killed in action July 7th 1943 during raid on German islands in the North Sea. First of two brothers to be killed in the war.

Willard M. Parker. 23. PS Dupont High School. Staff Sergeant, 305th Bomber Group, US Air Force. Died while POW in Holland. July 23 1943.

William F. Coll. Edgemoor Gardens.  KIA August 1 1943 in the Meditareanean area while serving as an aerial engineer and top turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator with 8th Air Force.

Thomas J. McCormick. 22. 1320 W. 3rd. Killed in accident while serving with US Army Air Corps in Europe.

Alfred D. Warner. 29. 1001 Broom St. Tower Hill School. Accountant, Warner Company. 99th Bomber Group. Died in North Africa September 26 1943.

Carl J. Dellose. 21. 402 Union. Brown Vocational High School. Dravo Corporation. Sergeant, 446th Bomber Group. KIA on December 20th 1943 while serving as a turret gunner on a Flying Fortress based in Bungay, England.

Paul E. Hayden. 31. 861 Bennet. National Vulcanized Fibre Factory. Sergeant, Air Force. Lost over the Meditaranean Sea on November 27 1943 while aboard a transport sunk by enemy action.

William A. Rittenhouse. 24. 1237 Lobdell St. Sergeant US Army.
Lost over the Meditaranean Sea on November 27 1943.

George H. Guild. 19. 211 W. 35th St. PS Dupont High School. Staff Sergeant, Air Force. Killed October 22 1943.

William Patterson. Wilmington High School. University of Pennsylvania. 2nd Lt, Air Force. Died from illness contracted in North Africa, December 31st 1943.

 

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Edwin R. Manchester. 26. 807 Berkely Rd, Westover Hills. University of Delaware. Captain, 381st Bomber Group. Eagle Scout. Killed presumably over Bremen Germany on October 18 1943 while serving as pilot of the B-17 bomber TS and Deputy Group leader of the 8th Air Force. One month earlier, won Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism under fire:

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Charles K. Goldstein. PS Dupont High School.  Technical Sergeant, Airforce. Killed in action during raid while serving as radio operator on a bomber over Flensburg Germany, January 4th 1944. Brother killed 5 months earlier also while serving in Air Corps.

Stephen S. Rydel. Maryland Avenue. Radio bomber on a B-24. Killed in action in Italy on January 16th 1944.

William J. Harden. 22. 1507 Van Buren. Salesianum High School.  University of Delaware. 455th Bomber Group Air Force.  KIA while serving as a bombardier/navigator of a B-24 Liberator based in Foggia, Italy with 737th squadron, 454th group.

George J. Murphy. 23. Woodcrest. Brown Vocational High School. KIA over Italy on February 14th 1944 while serving with 15th Air Force while serving as a waist gunner on a Flying Fortress over Northern Italy.

Henry R. Winston. 315 W. 27th. KIA March 6th 1944 while serving as a bombardier in mission over Yugoslavia.

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Pierson Lemoyne. 38. Corporal, 2nd Flying Group. Air Force. Lost at sea over Atlantic. March 9th 1944.

Walter R. Crowl. 24. 1412 Van Buren. 2nd Lt, KIA while on B-17 over Bulgaria on March 30th. Based out of Italy.  Graduate of PS Dupont High School.

 

 

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This cartoon mocked the “downgraded” Luftwaffe as of March 1944 but gave a deceptive sense of optimism to those back home, especially with a relative in the Air Corps.  While it was true that the Luftwaffe may not have been able to stop carpet bombing of German territory, the Air war had actually  became more dangerous for Allied Fliers. 

Because the Germans had less territory to defend they could move their Anti-Aircraft crews into more condensed defensive formations and inflicted huge casualties on Allied Air CrewsAt least 35 Wilmington Airmen would lose their lives in the battle over Europe after this cartoon was published.

 

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Clayton Jones. 27. 616 King. US Army Air Force. KIA along with several fellow airmen on April 16th 1944 at an airfield in Allied Italy “putting out a fire on a bomber that had crashed while loaded with ammunition.”

Clarence S. Outten. 24. 909 W. 9th St. Staff Sergeant. 460th Bomber Group. Killed in aerial combat in Yugoslavia. April 23rd 1944.

George J. Bacher. 29. Wilmington High School. International Harvesting Company. 489th bomber Squadron/ 340th Bomber Group -Air Force. Died of wounds in Corsica, May 13th 1944 “from wounds received in the bombing of an airfield on Corsica where he was a ground crewman with the 489th Bomb Squadron, 340th Bomb Group of the Army Air Forces (Mitchell, B-25, medium bomber group).”

Gerald F. Farren. 19. 1108 W. 6th St. Brown Vocational High School. Sergeant. 398th Bomber Group. Killed during raid on Berlin Germany May19th 1944 while serving as a waist gunner and assistant radio operator on a B-17 Flying Fortress with the 600th Bomb squadron based in England. First reported POW then determined to be KIA.

Norman F. Taylor. 26. 2516 Tatnall. 2nd Lt. 449th Bomber Group. Killed January 30th 1944 at Modena Italy while serving as navigator of a B-24 bomber of the 15th Air Force.

Clyde H. Breckinridge. 20. 2607 Madison St. PS Dupont High School. Dravo Corporation. 492nd Bomber Group – Air Force. KIA May 19th 1944 over Hanover, Germany, while serving as a gunner-mechanic on a B-24 Liberator while returning from a raid. Served with 857th Squadron, 492nd group of 8th Air Force.

Clinton F. Schoolmaster. 24. PS Dupont High School. University of Delaware. Major. 8th Air Force. “MIA over Europe since May 2 1944 when he was in command of a Liberator Squadron assigned to the 8th Air Force based in England.

James Whitehead. PS Dupont High School. Yale University. Sergeant. 388th Bomber Group. Tail gunner on Flying Fortress.  KIA over Rostock Germany April 11th 1944 while serving with 363rd Bomber squadron, 388th bomber group.

Howard Willis. 20. PS Dupont High School. 17 E. 23rd. Staff Sergeant, 15th Airforce. KIA over Bolgna  Italy. Waist gunner on B-24. First News Journal Employee killed in War.

B.J. Russell. 21. Woodcrest. Window painter at Wilmington Dry Goods.  Killed June 9th 1944 above Munich Germany while serving with the 15th Air Force in Italy.

John Dengler. 26. Dupont Company – accounting department. 1st Lt. 483rd Bomber Group. KIA in Italy June 13th 1944 while serving as a co-pilot of a B-24 Liberator Bomber.   June 13th 1944.

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Francis Van Veen. Staff Sergeant, 467th Bomber Group. KIA in a raid near Oschersleben Germany June 19th 1944 when the B-24 bomber to which he was assigned as a gunner and radio operator was destroyed by anti-aircraft fire while on a bombing mission with the 8th Air Force in England.

Lester D. Warren. 29. 200 E. 27th St. Newark HS; University of Delaware. Dupont Company. Staff Sergeant 44th Bomber Group – Air Force. KIA over France while serving as aerial gunner with 506th bomber squadron, 44th bombardment group, 8th Air Force,  June 27th 1944.

George H. Devine. 35. 1333 Clayton St. Insurance Broker.  Staff Sergreant. 492nd Bomber Groupd.  Tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator.  Killed over North Sea on June 18th 1944.

Linford Eastburn. 32. Wilmington High School. 489th Bomber Group – Air Force. KIA July 7th 1944 in a plane crash in the North Sea while serving as an aerial gunner aboard a B-24 aircraft which failed to return from a strategic bombing mission over Aschersleben German.  8th Air Force, Halesworth England.

Casmir Blaska. 25. 3200 block Jefferson. Salesianum High School. University of Delaware. Lt. Killed over Germany, July 8th 1944.  Killed on 11th mission.

Charles E. Banning. 22. 507 W. 26th St. Graduate of PS Dupont High School.  Staff Sergeant, US Army 8th Air Force. 507 W. 26th.  KIA on July 11th 1944 after crashing in the English Channel while returning from a raid over Munich.

John H. Fredd Jr. 21. 1110 Woodlawn Ave. Dupont Company. 1st Lt. 450th Bomber Group.  B-24 Bomber Pilot.  Killed over Germany, July 19th 1944.

Theodore E. Hearne. 23. 115 W. 25th St. Flight officer, Air Force. Killed in action whiile on a combat mission in the Mediterranean area July 20th 1944.

Marvin Weiner. 22. PS Dupont High School. 201 W. 20th St. 1st Lt, 365th Fighter Group. Killed  in action over the English Channel while serving as the pilot of a P-47 on strafing and escort duty July 23rd 1944.

Donald D. Robinson. 2300 block Locust. Staff Sergeant, US Army Air Corps. KIA on July 25th 1944 over Linz Germany while serving as a radio operator on a B-24 bomber based

Harry First. 28. 412 S. Franklin. 1st Lt. 461st Bomber Group. Navigator on B-24. Killed over Linz, Austria July 26th 1944.

Louis DiMartino. 722 Douglass St.  Brown Vocational High School.  Welder at Harlan Plant of Bethlehem Steel.  Killed on July 26th 1944.

 

Recruiting Add in Wilmington Newspaper July 1944: 

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Harry Hinkson. 21. 1022 Monroe. Wilmington High School ’41.’ Sergeant, 487th bomber group. Killed over Germany. August 5th 1944.

Joseph D. Hall. 20. 1819 W. 16th St. Wilmington High School ’42’. Goldey College. Hercules Powder Co. Staff Sergeant. 91st Bomber Group. Ball turret gunner on B-24. Killed over Germany August 18th.

John B. Punte. 20. 1423 Stapler Place. WIlmintgon High School ’42.’ St’s Ann’s Grade school. Staff Sergreant. 401st. KIA over Germany September 9th 1944.

Edwin T. Kriesel. 20. 1804 Delaware Avenue. Wilmington High School ’42.’ Staff Sergeant. 401st Bomber Group. Turret gunner on a Flying Fortress….completed 20 missions. Killed in skies over France August 8th 1944.

Douglas Beatson. 25.  2309 Pine. Staff Sergeant. 18th Bomber Squadron. KIA October 16th 1944.

Phillip M. Carlon. 29. 2430 W. 18th St. Wilmington High School. Dupont Company – Experimental Station. Sergeant 15th Airforce. Ball turret Gunner. KIA in Italy. October 14th 1944. Newspaper reports killed on 7th mission.

Richard S. Durbin. 24. 3403 Franklin Place. Cornell University. Captain. 361st Figher Group. 8th Air Force. Killed in action while serving as P51 fighter pilot on November 9th 1944 in England while returning from his 46th combat mission.

Otis D. Craig. 19. 415 W. 30th St. Staff Sergeant, 445th Bomber Group. Ball turret gunner on B-24. KIA over Germany November 26th 1944.

Bayard V. Ginn. 23. 1804 Washington St. PS Dupont High School. Goldey College. Hercules Powder Company. 389th Bomber Group – Air Force. 2nd Lt. Killed in action over Germany December 12th 1944.

Walter Crowl. 29. 1412 Van Buren. PS Dupont High School. Goldey College. 2nd Lt. Shot down over Bulgaria March 30th 1944.

George J. Murphy. 23. Pusey and Jones. 97th Bomber Group. Had completed 40 missions. KIA over Italy February 14th 1944.

Frank B. Harkins. 22. Westover Hills. 1st Lt. 483rd Bomber Group. KIA in Germany March 22nd. Newspaper reports that parents were long-time executives of Dupont affiliates in South America and had come from Argentina to enlist in Wilmington.

Henry J. Kracyla. 29. 1213 N. Heald. Pusey and Jones. 448th Bomber Group. Tail gunner on a flying fortress. KIA over Engish Channel February 25th 1944.

J. Richard Elliot. Major. 26. Elsmere. Wilmington High School.  West Point Graduate. Killed April 3rd 1945 in Germany while serving as operations officer of a P-38 Lighting Squadron of 1st Fighter group, 15th Air Force in Italy.

 

 

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The Battle of the Atlantic:

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In late 1941 the German Navy had a significant advantage and headstart over the US Navy which had to be reversed if the Allies had a chance of winning in Western Europe. At great cost the U-Boats were cleared out of the Atlantic but not before 3500 Allied Merchant ships and 175 warship were sunk.

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William F. Jerman
. 27. 611 W. 30th St. Youngest captain in City Stars line. Captain of SS Empire, hit by torpedo off Florida on February 22nd 1942.

John Bush. 51. 1113 King St. Ship Master, JN Pew. Hit by German torpedo about 225 miles of Aruba on February 21 1942. 33 dead.

John T. Karschnerr. 36. 1301 Linden St. Owner of Jewelry store at 815 W. 4th St. 4th Cook, SS Coamo, Merchant Marines. Killed in North Atlantic December 5 1942. Ship upon orders of British admiralty exited a convoy to proceed independently 150 miles West of Ireland and shortly after struck by German torpedo. All 186 onboard killed in single greatest loss of life of a merchant crew during World War Two.

Marc McDonald. 22. 207 Madison St. Warner Jr High School. Baldwin Locomotive Works. Oiler, SS La Salle, Merchant Marines. Around 11pm on November 7 1942, unescorted La Salle was hit by one torpedo from German U-Boat 159 about 350 miles off the Cape of Good Hope after a 5 hour chase. The hit ignited the cargo of ammunication and completely destroyed the vessel. All 60 crew killed.

George. H. Foster. 28. 913 Adams. Quarter Master, MS Sun Oil. On April 4 1943, MS Sunoil was part of convey HX-23 but was straggling due to engine trouble. Hit once by Torpedo but armed gaurds forced German submarine U-563 to submerge. 6 hours later hit by 3 torpoedes fired by U-530 and instantly sank. 69 dead, no survivors.

Eli Sheldon. 24. 131 W. 18th St. PS Dupont High School. Dupont Company. Machinist’s Mate, 2nd Class. USS Cythers. Ship was a pleasure yacht converted to Sub-Chaser. One hour after leaving port in North Carolina hit by German torpedo, 71 killed.

Arthur W. Brangs. 25. 704 Jackson St. Sinclair Oil Company. Machinist’s Mate, 2nd Class. USS Shubrick, Navy. Killed on August 4th 1943 near Sicily when German planes dropped a 500 pound bomb on USS Shubrick during a night raid.

Winthrop W. Mellen Jr. 22. 1300 N. Harrison. Ensign, USS Bristol. While escorting convey to Oran, Algeria, USS Bristol hit by 1 torpedo in forward engine room. Broke in 2 and sank within 12 minutes. 52 dead.

Thomas W. Davis. 23. 1208 E. 13th St. Gunner’s Mate, SS John Motley. Hit by bomb on December 2nd 1943 near Italy.

Louis J. Marzie. 21. 312 Cedar St. Killed August 4 1943.

John Sparco. Seamen Second Class. Maryland, Line of Duty.

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Peter Budnick.
22. Southbridge. Pusey and Jones. Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class. SS Kimball, Navy. Lost at sea in North Atlantic, January 16th 1944.

Joseph L. Hoodock Jr. 21. 3021 Madison St. Firemen First class. USS Menges, Coast Guard. One of 31 men killed when ship hit by Torpedo fired by German Submarine U-371 while on convoy in Meditarranean on May 3 1944.

David F. Lougheed. 19. Machinist’s Mate. USS Holder. Killed in action when German planes attached ship during raids off the coast of Algeria on April 11th 1944.

Joseph M. Vignola. 23. 2119 Gilles St. Salesianum High School. Dravo Corporation. Army Air Corps. Killed along with 502 other US soldiers when transport ship sunk by U-Boat in the Mediterranean on June 8th 1944.

John F. Jenkins. 57. 300 W. 36th St. Captain, Merchant Marine. Lost at sea January 2nd 1945 with sinking of US Sunoco due to explosion off coast of New Jersey.

William L. Regan. 24. Motor Machinist’s Mate. USS Frederick Davis. Lost at sea, April 24 1945. Last Allied naval ship lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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NEXT:  D-Day and the Normandy Campaign