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484th Bombardment Group (H)

Essman Crew

824th Crews 825th Crews 826th Crews 827th Crews

Ellis Essman Hammett Howes Lyle McLaughlin Scott Simmons Wilson Yocherer

Essman Crew

Courtesy of Debbie Laird

Standing L-R: James F. Sherry (BTG); Louis C. Fleury (TG); B.B. Mc Whirter (RO/G); Joe H. Smith (TTG); James F. Bradley (NG); Marvin L. Ivie (E/G)

Squatting L-R: Stanley F. Essman (P); Z.B. Kincheloe (CP); W.P. White (B)

The navigator was not in the photo

This was an official photo of US Army Air Forces 484th Bomb Group (H) dated February 17, 1944. From the information I have acquired this was taken 1 month before my husband’s grandfather (Joe H. Smith) departed from flight training in Nebraska to Dakar, Africa, Tunisia and finally Italy.

This crew flew 6 missions launching bombing attacks on Romania & northern Italy.
On May 10, 1944 on a mission into Austria they were hit by flak on the left side & left wing. The plane went into a spin making it almost impossible to bail out.  Joe Smith exited through the bomb bay. The plane loaded with bombs hit the ground and exploded just as Joe’s chute opened. He was blown about 200 yards from the plane. There were only 2 survivors - Joe and Lt. Hanson, who had recently joined his crew.

Those aboard the plane were:

Lt. Essman - Pilot

Lt. Kincheloe - Co-Pilot

Lt. Hanson - Bombadier

Sgt. Smith - Top Turret Gunner

Sgt. Sherry - Ball Turret Gunner

Sgt. Fleury - Tail Gunner

Sgt. Whirter - Radio Operator/Gunner

Sgt. Bradley - Nose Gunner

Sgt. Ivie - Engineer/Gunner

Injured from the explosion Joe and Lt. Hanson were immediately captured and sent to different prison camps. Joe spent May 10 - July 5 in a 40'x8' box car with 99 other men, in a rail yard being bombed regularly not exiting for 3 to 4 days at a time.

On July 5, 1944 he was moved to Stalag Luft 4.

On March1, 1945 he took part in the "Black March", marching as much as 40 kilometers a day (24 miles), sleeping in cow barns, ice & snow with no food 2 or 3 days at a time.

On May 5, 1945 he was released to the British.

October 23, 1945 Joe received an Honorable Discharge having earned an EAME Service medal with 4 bronze battle stars, Good Conduct Medal, and a Purple Heart.