CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
61st Station Hospital
United States Army
61st Station Hospital
U.S. Army Medical Unit recruited and shipped overseas intact from Cooper Hospital
The 61st Station Hospital
61st Station Hospital was recruited intact from Cooper
idea was born in the hospital's staff room shortly after the
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The result was the 61st Station
Hospital, first civilian hospital group to be accepted by the
War Department in World War II as a station hospital.
Before the next three years had passed the 61st treated an aided in the evacuation of more than 20,000 men wounded in combat in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
As stated above, the 61st Station Hospital was the first in military history to be formed from a community hospital and one of the few, if any, to stay together as a unit throughout World War II . Organized by Dr. George B. German, Cooper Hospital's chief obstetrician, the 61st served in the Mediterranean Theater from 1942 to 1945. Their first 10 month assignment was in a former French Foreign Legion outpost in El Guerrah, Algeria, after which they moved on to Foggia, Italy, where they remained for the duration of the war. Today, there is a plaque inside the main entrance to the hospital honoring the men and women of the 61st Station Hospital.
The unit arrived in Algeria on Christmas Day, December 25, 1942, a scant seven weeks after the American landings in North Africa.
After moving to Italy, the 61st Station Hospital came under fire on occasion, but fiorthuately, suffered no casualties. However, one nurse, Second Lieutenant Mildred Shimp, serial # N-744893, was killed in a jeep accident while serving with the 61st in Italy.
Red Cross volunteer workers were assigned to the 61st Station Hospital during its stay in Italy. One such volunteer, working under an assumed name, was the British-born actress Madeleine Carroll, star of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, and forty other movies. In 1938 she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood, with a reported salary of $250,000. Madeleine Carroll gave up her film career after her sister Marguerite was killed in a London bombing raid, working in military hospitals as a Red Cross nurse. She was given the Legion d'Honneur for bravery in France.
On November 1, 1945 the 500 bed 61st Station Hospital was moved from Foggia to Leghorn, Italy as the United States' military presence in Europe was contracting. The unit was disbanded November 15, 1947.
Besides Second Lieutenant Shimp, another of its nurses was killed in overseas due to accident. Five enlisted men assigned to the unit were killed during a mass air raid in Italy. Two other enlisted men died of non-combat related reasons while overseas. Nine members of the unit were awarded the Bronze Star. The unit received the War Department Meritorious Service Plaque and Certificate of Merit; the Presidential Unit Citation and three battle stars.
61st Station Hospital Personnel Buried in American Cemeteries Overseas
In the early 40's Cooper Hospital had a nursing school. My oldest sister Harriet E. Gellenthin trained there and remained there on the nursing staff. She and other nurses there joined the Red Cross but remained under the employment. Shortly after that the 61sy Army Station Hospital was formed with Dr. German as commanding officer and made up I believe totally of Cooper Hospital doctors and nurses.
After a brief indoctrination at Fort Hancock the unit was deployed to Oran, Africa by ship. In essence they followed U.S. Army drive across North Africa operating much like the MASH units we're familiar these days. Upon leaving Africa they were transported by ship to the harbor of Bari, Italy. On the day of arrival the hospital personnel disembarked. To my knowledge the Bari disaster occurred that night or shortly thereafter.
(Bud) A. Gellenthin Jr.
Lieutenant Harriet Gellenthin
packing in preparation for going overseas
One way to get a gauge of sorts as to the activities of the 61st Station Hospital during its time in Foggia is to read excerpts from the War Diary of the 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron, a unit charged with rescuing Army Air Force personnel who had been downed in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. Many of the sea rescuaes made by this unut were taken to the 61st Station Hospital.
EMERGENCY RESCUE SQUADRON
650 U.S. ARMY
Captain Ruckman and Lieutenant Millard flew to Naples in the L-5.
The Lieutenant will catch a 1430 boat for Capri, where he will stay for a
Joscha Heifetz, international1y renowned concert violinist played
on two successive days (30 June & 1 July) at the Fagella Opera House,
Foggia to an appreciative soldier audience; spellbinding them by the magic
of his Stradivarius. The artist, on tour of foreign Army camps, is one of
the few musicians who has not yet prostituted his profession by blending
classics with jazz.
No patrols, missions or rescues today.
Lieutenant Eisrman and crew were on patrol from 11:20 until 12:10
when given a fix at 420 38'N 160 48’E. After
searching for six hours, and finding nothing, they returned to base at
At Grottaglie, Captain Gray, Lieutenant Walker and crew were on
patrol for three hours.
At Ajaccio, Corsica, Lieutenant Jarman and crew were on a search
for 3:25 hours but only debris was sighted in the search area.
Lieutenant Milburn and crew, with Captain Ruckman piloting, added
another nine survivors to the Squadrons growing total of 52, making it now
61. The ten (1 dead) crew of
an “Azon”, one of five B-17’s with secret radio installations, was
rescued in its entirety; on flight “B” fourteenth consecutive mission
since change of station to Foggia Main--9 May 1944.
The survivors, nine in al1, are from the 301st Bomb Group, 419 Bomb
Squadron located at "Long Skirt Tower", Foggia, Italy.
Take-off for the group of five "Fortresses" was scheduled
for 0700 and climaxed at 0735. The
target was a railroad bridge near Szolnok, Hungary. The unlucky B-17 No
232103, salvoed its bomb load in a light, inaccurate burst of flak after
circling over the target for the third time.
None of the planes were shot down. At 1115 on the return
flight and when about twenty miles from the Yugoslavian, coast, a heavy
barrage of shell fire was sent up to a height of twenty thousand feet and
flak, as thick as hail rained in all directions. The port wing and
fuselage were perforated, seriously wounding the port waist gunner whose
legs were riddled by flying fragments. , While over the Adriatic Sea, the
top of No 1 engine, began to smoke and the t1p or the wing glowed red with
flames. The pilot called "Big Fence” and the radio operator sent
out the approximate ditching position (42o50’N-16o50’E).
Their own planes, in the company with two P-38's, circled
expectantly. The ditching, at 1305, occurred about ten miles off the
southwestern coast of Yugoslavia. The
B-17 set down on the hard surface of the water with moderate impact, and
remained afloat 1 minute and 30 seconds; during which brief interim the
occupants escaped with difficulty through the top hatch of the radio
compartment; greatly impeded by the gun which cou1d not readily be
dismounted. The dinghy’s
which should have sprung automatically inflated, out of the wing stowage,
were at last manually released by the frenzied men. The raft in the port
wing sank and was, lost; that on the starboard side floated upside down
and had to be pneumatically distended with a hand pump while the crew
bobbed up and down, like corks, in their life vests. The engineer stunned
by a blow on the head could not pull the release cord on his Mae West and
drowned before help could reach him.
The dinghy was at last righted and although constructed to
accommodate five; all nine climbed aboard. The drowned man was dragged
aboard and repeated futile attempts at resuscitation were made. Beyond all
hope, the engineer was secured to the dinghy by a length of rope.
There was no panic or hysteria, even when inf1ation of the stubborn
capsized life raft seemed impossible.
Emergency kits and additional vests were dropped by the bombers
overhead. One P-38 donated a
wing tank. The fliers were in the dinghy a total of two hours and twenty
minutes before being rescued by Captain Ruckman, Lieutenant Milburn and
crew in PBY No 958, which took-off from Foggia Main and 1anded on a choppy
sea at 1515. Deserved credit is given to Lieutenant Haynie who, with
almost uncanny precision, navigated the Catalina to the exact position
which was 42O 3l’N-17O 4l’E. Before landing, six
hundred ga1lons of gaso1ine was jettisoned from the port wing tank to
lighten the load and thereby facilitate landing and take-off operations.
The "Cat" taxied up to the dinghy--a rope was thrown and caught
and the raft was hove to. Corporal Giza, Surgical technician entered the dinghy and
applied a splint to the waist gunner’s fractured leg.
The raft was steadied by Staff Sergeant Cox, Engineer, and Sergeant
Hendrix, Radio Operator. Landing at home base was accomp1ished at 1755.
The survivors, and the dead engineer, were conveyed by ambulance to
the 61st Station Hospital.
2nd Lt Olavarri, Phillip
2nd Lt Thompson, Vernon D.
Lt Haldeman, Jack
Lt Gale Jr, Benjamin E.
T/Sgt Calvert, Arthur
Port W. Gunner S/Sgt Sawyer, Eugene W
Ball T Gunner
S/Sgt Walker Paul G.
S/Sgt Floyd, William B.
Starboard W. G.
S/Sgt Benninger, Norbal
T/Sgt Houston, James L.
Ruckman, Thomas M.
2nd Lt Mi1burn, Walter B.
1st Lt Haynie, Otho J.
S/Sgt Cox, Allen B. 38194913
Sgt Lasater, Paul A.
Cpl Bols, Haro1d A.
Sgt Hendrix Louis L.
Sgt Giza Stanley F. 3660281
Precisely four months to the day, we left Hampton Roads Virginia,
U. S. A., and embarked on the first leg of our journey overseas. We since
graduated from the novice category into that of the veteran upperclassman.
At Ajaccio, Captain Walton, Lieutenant Nonnenmacher and crew were
called on a search ten miles from home base.
At 1110 they had sighted their objective and were 1anded at sea.
Taxiing up to a Walrus they sighted a dinghy with a body aboard. Apparently the body of one of the occupants of the L-5
reported in distress. The
French Pilot of the Walrus was taken aboard the Catalina and an HSL was
called to pick up the body. The Catalina returned to base at 12:50 hours.
Returning to base it was discovered that the body which they had
seen was that of 2nd Lieutenant Carl R. Mingle, of flight "C",
this organization. Private First Class Daniel J. Rickwald, Headquarters
Flight, who was in the L-5 with Lieutenant Mingle apparently, was lost
with the plane when it collided with the Walrus.
Lieutenant Mork, Lieutenant Milburn and their respective crews went
on two operational missions at 1340. Respective five hour searches
revealed nothing more exciting than empty floating life vests and a
What a dull Fourth! What
a long span of years, frequently punctuated by bloody wars, extending from
l776 to 1944.
Patrol by Lieutenant Mork and crew of Flight “B”, netted
nothing; as was the case with Captain Gray, Lieutenant Walker and crew out
on patrol for 3:55 hours from Grottaglie Field. Captain Gray, Lieutenant
Burns and crew of Flight “A” were out at 18:55 hours on a fix at 4lO
45’N-180 00’E, for 1:25 hours but nothing of consequence
could be found.
No operational flights for Flight “A” or “B”.
Lieutenant Bleier and crew were out from Ajaccio, Corsica at 13:20
hours. They returned at 16:45 hours reporting a “belly tank" (Extra
tank carried by Fighter aircraft for long range activity) at 42O
Lieutenant Milburn and crew, on patrol in the Ad1riatic Sea, Foggia
Main, for 3:15 hours, sighted nothing.
Lieutenant Jarman and crew in search from Ajaccio, returned at
l6:00 hours without results.
No patrols, missions or rescues, only the usual “run of the
mill” happenings today, for Flights “A” and “B”.
Lieutenant Bleier and crew on search &t 42O37N-08014’E and
returned at 1025 hours but made no sighting.
Word was received today that in accordance with Paragraph, 12,
Special Order 176, dated 27 June 1944, Lieutenant James B Stanisfer Jr.,
0-570388 and Lieutenant Rudolph D Buchholz 0-567500 were promoted to 1st
Lieutenants. Lt Stanisfer is
engineering Office for Flight “B” at Ajaccio, Corsica.
Second Lieutenant Victor P. Orella Jr., 0-447228, Supply and Mess
Office for Flight “B” was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in accordance
with paragraph 12, Special Order 186, dated 7 July 1944.
These men were the first Officers to receive promotions in the
Lieutenant Eisman and crew added another survivor to the
Squadron’s total which is now 62.
A remarkable if not miraculous escape from death was actualized
over the Adriatic Sea at 08:30 hours today.
The Fifteenth Air Force, participating in one of its frequent mass
raids sent seven hundred and fifty mixed “heavies”, (Liberators and
Fortresses) with abundant Fighter escort to bomb targets in the Vienna
Sector. The objective
assigned to the 376th Bomb Group, having a combined strength of sixty
eight B-24’s and led by Colonel Graff, was that of a railroad terminal
lying thirty miles West of Vienna, Austria.
Take-off for this particular group was at 0645 hours from San
Pancrazio, Italy. The “hapless” B-24G No 78, was the fourth p1ane to
enter formation. Enroute to the target and while flying at an altitude of
14,000 feet, Second Lieutenant Emil G. Brecel, Bombardier and acting waist
gunner heard, as did the other, the spine chilling ring of the emergency
bell. Snapping on their chutes the crew, expectant and with bated breath,
awaited the signal to jump. However, the Pilot speaking over the
interphones, told the men he was only testing and not to worry.
About thirty minutes later the Engineer informed the crew of his
intention to transfer fuel from one tank to another and specifically
warned them against smoking. Hardly had he finished then the Bomber was rocked by a mighty
explosion. The Radio Operator with whom the Bombardier was conversing
disappeared as if into, thin air, and the snug-fitting helmet and oxygen
mask worn by Lieutenant Brecel was snatched from his head. The plane was
spinning and tossing. The Bail Turret Gunner with a huge lump on his
forehead was ghostly white; the Bombardier tried to free him but failed. A
series of explosions, from the starboard wing tanks, hurled him from one
side of the plane to the other like a solitary cracker in a revolving
barrel. At this juncture the bombs, with instantaneous fuses let go with a
deafening boom. There was a
gaping hole where the tail had been and the tail gunner was missing. The
nose and starboard wing had been blown off.
The "Liberator" with its one remaining occupant clinging
in terror to the port waist window and admittedly praying as he never
prayed be fore, whirled crazily through space. "I do not know how it
happened; I only recall that I jumped out tugged frantically at the rip
cord. The “chute” opened, with a jerk, about eight hundred feet above
the sea. I struck the water and immediately sank--tangled in the shroud
cords of the parachute. I pulled on the release cord but my “Mae West”
would only partially inflate. I was becoming over powered by a feeling of
helplessness and utter futility. I was getting weak--couldn't stay up much
longer. Suddenly I noticed a
big yellow oxygen drum floating by; summoning my reserve strength I swam
for the tank and hugged it with all that was in me.
I held tight for what seemed an eternity; I felt myself slipping:
then a Catalina' came."
Lieutenant Eisman and, crew received the call and took-off from the
base at 0905 hours. Thirty minutes later they were at the search area. (42o
20N-16o 28E) A lone survivor clinging feebly to a
metallic tank was seen in the midst of scattered wreckage. Partially
opened parachutes, that looked for all like giant water lilies -- flight
jackets with sleeves and collars burned away, charred "Mae
West’s” and boxes, a series of yellow oxygen bottle's, dismembered
parts of human bodies, floated by as they taxied through the debris.
The survivor who went into delayed shook and was promptly and
efficiently treated by Sergeant Paulo, was the only one rescued. A B-2 and
another "Cat" from Flight "B" circling overhead
searched for other possible survivors but none were discovered.
PBY No 959 returned to base at 1115.
The patient was taken, to the 61st Station Hospital in a waiting
ambulance. The "lucky" sole survivor, uninjured except for
lacerations over the left eye, was Second Lieutenant Emil G. Brecel,
0-741453, who was from the 5I4th Bomb squadron, 376th Bomb Group. The
Lieutenant is 24 years old, married and lives at 276 Addison Avenue,
Elmhurst, Illinois. It was
his fourteenth mission.
Lt Eisman, Charles, F
2nd Lt Jackson, Ben
2nd Lt Witt, James H.
T/Sgt White, Gaither E 32470969
Cpl Utley, Billy H.
Pfc Wortz, Gordon H.
Sgt O'Brien, John J.
Sgt Paulo, Edward S
At Grottaglie Field, Italy, Captain Gray, Lieutenant Walker and
crew were on patrol for four hours.
Lieutenant Jackson on temporary duty with Flight “B” was
ordered on a search, in the L-5, for a B-17 which yesterday had the tail
"chewed off" by another “Fortress” while flying in formation
and was thought to have crashed on a mountain summit not far from Foggia
Main. Upon return he reported
that no one had escaped alive. The luckless B-17 can only be reached by
Lieutenant Milburn and crew were on patrol for three and one-half
hours. Late the same crew, on
stand-by, was summoned by a whistle.
The British Controller had given a "fix” on a P-38 which was
reported to have ditched in the Adriatic, about three miles off the
Italian coast, south of the seaport of Termoli.
Upon arrival at the position indicated: 4lo58’N-l5o05’E: an oil
slick and floating debris was sighted. A short interval of, taxiing
brought the PBY within easy reach of three men-two white and one colored
without visible means of buoyancy (life vests or rafts) and each as naked
as the colloquial "jay-bird", who, exhausted from their two mile
swim out to the vicinity of the wreckage, were glad to Stop treading water
and lie down on the bunks of the PBY; which taxied its passengers close to
shore, where they were told, that from there in they were on their own.
The distance yet to be traversed was comparatively short in the
light of the marathon endurance record they had just set. What they could
have done to aid the unfortunate Fighter pilot, were he alive, is yet a
disclosed the reason for the long swim and the names of the would-be
lifesavers. Two P-51's and a P-38 were enjoying a common Sunday afternoon
diversion that of "dog fighting." or sham aerial combat. For
some reason, yet undetermined, the P-38 went into a spin and failed to
recover. The three men already alluded to as long *distance swimmers': 1st
Lieutenant George J. Nash, and Robert Deckman of the 52nd lighter Group
and Sergeant Waddy Conway (Colored) 322nd Fighter Group, seeing the
disaster from shore, stripped to the skin and plunged to the rescue.
When the war has ended there is yet a service we can render or should we supplant the life guard in his lawful undertakings?
Lieutenant Jarman and crew taking, off from Ajaccio at 2035 hours
sighted two men on Vacca Rock at 380561N-08027'E. Because of the heavy
swells and high wind emergency rations were dropped from the PBY, which
returned the base because of darkness at 21:50 hours.
Lieutenants Walker and Cleveland flew in an L-5 “Our Baby",
from flight "A" to flight "B".
Lieutenant Colonel Pardue, Captain Ruckman and Sergeant Giza are
spending a week of rest on Capri. Lieutenant
Eisman and Witt are visiting in Naples.
and crew of Flight “C” in Ajaccio were out on patrol for 3:05 hours.
Lieutenant Jarman and crew were out for 2:50 hours with orders to
check on the rescue of the two men from Vacca Rock. Nothing was sighted.
The two men, sighted the previous day, had been rescued by a Navy barge,
No missions for Flights "A" and "B" today.
The wind blows incessantly; whipping up baby twisters that chase
sand banks, as thick as fog, over the “Foggia Flats".
Pneumonia from dust inhalation, a very real possibility, may become
an actuality. Call it
pneumoconiosis--if you will, but by any name, it’s still rough on the
No missions for Flights "A" and "B”.
Lieutenant Jarman and crew out on a search from Ajaccio were led to
a man in a dinghy, a Spitfire Pilot who had bailed out at 430
31'N-100 01E by another Spitfire. The sea was, very rough with
heavy swells and a landing was unadvisable. They circled the man in the
dinghy until relieved by Lieutenant Nonnenmacher and crew. Warwicks which
participated in the mission dropped “Lindholm” gear and two airborne
life boats which ail landed downwind of the survivor. He made no attempt
to paddle to equipment for fear of upsetting in the rough sea and because
of his weakened condition. The total flying time for the two Catalinas on
this mission was 16 hours and 20 minutes.
The survivor was finally rescued by a High Speed Launch.
Although Flight "B"'s camp is seething in an ocean of
sticky, dark brown gumbo; they are glad it poured rain yesterday--anything
to be relieved of the dust respirators and to get a breath or fresh air.
The “dust bowl” is inactive at least for a while.
Three planes from Flight “C” were out on varied searches with a
total of 13:35 flying hours but no, survivors were located.
Lieutenant Jarman and crew located an oil slick and debris at
Lieutenant Mork and crew left on a mission shortly after twelve
noon accompanied by three P-38s. They
searched the north-east Adriatic, dangerous territory, within a few miles
of Pola, Italy. All that was seen of the ditched Bomber, possibly a B-24,
was an expansive oil slick. The search was otherwise without results.
Taking off from Ajaccio at 0545 hours, with a Fighter cover of
three "Spits" a PBY from flight “C”, piloted by Lieutenant
Jarman proceeded to the given “fix” at 43047'N-09009’E. Arriving at
the position at 0653 hours they sighted the survivors, dropped flares and,
contacted sector for permissi9n to land, as an HSL was 35 to 40 miles
away. Permission granted, the
PBY landed at 0705 hours and found (5) five survivors clinging to an
overturned dinghy. All
survivors were in excellent condition and were able to climb aboard the
rescue plane with only slight assistance from the crew.
After their wet clothing was removed the PBY made a smooth take-off
from the comparatively calm sea.
It was learned that they were survivors of a B-25 that had ditched.
Two other members of the crew T/Sgt Harold S. Winjum, Radio
operator and S/Sgt V. E. Mac Ritchie, Tail gunner, are known to have gone
down with their plane.
The following survivors were assigned to the 489th Bomb Squadron,
340th Bomb Group.
Lt Mitchell John L.
2nd Lt. Walker, Anson J.
2nd Lt O'Connell, William
1st Lt Hol1ingsworth WM
S/Sgt Hertel, Robert L.
Lt Jarman, T. C.
Capt, Wells, Robert M.
1st Lt, Wel1ing WIlliam B.
Smith, Nelline C.
T/Sgt Trinca, F. J
S/Sgt English, Daniel A.
Sgt Dill, Charles
CpL Holzer. Loren R.
Taking off at 1325 hours from Ajaccio Corsica in another PBY
Lieutenant Bleier and crew, with fighter escort, preceded to the
"fix" position. After a search, lasting forty-five minutes they
located an oil slick at 1407 hours. A
few minutes later a man, in a dinghy, was sighted at 43o04’N-08038’E.
A British Walrus was in the area and had dropped smoke flares but could
not land because of the heavy swells and strong wind. The "Cat"
made a successful landing at 1410 hours and taxied to the lone survivor:
Adjutant Paul M. Veyrones, of the 327th “Spitfire" Squadron.
After the survivor was helped aboard the PBY made a successful
take-off despite heavy swells and returned to Aspretto Base, landing at
Two other planes of Flight “C” were out on searches from
Ajaccio but without results.
Lieutenant Milburn and crew in, out on patrol from Foggia Main
today from 1130 to 1630 brought in no ditching casualties.
Captain Gray, flight Commander for “A” Flight is convalescing
from an emergency appendectomy performed on July 9th at a Station Hospital
near Manduria, Italy.
Lieutenant Colonel Pardue and Captain Ruckman met in Naples on
their return from Capri, by Captain Wells and Captain Dwyer, flew in the
B-25 to Foggia Main. Lieutenants
Turnbull and Lyle, from Flight “A” flew to Foggia Main in "Our
Baby" an L-5.
Flight "C", Lieutenant Bleier and crew were out on a
search from Ajaccio, Corsica to 43o58’N-09O12'E but without sightings.
Lieutenant Walker and crew were on patrol in the Adriatic Sea for
4:S0 flying hours.
Flight “B” added another six survivors, bringing, the
accumulated sum up to 74. The honors went to Lieutenant Mork and crew.
“Liberator" No 522, a B-24J, with a mixed nine man crew--two
of the regulars had the week before, been “lost” over Budapest and an
equivalent number had recently been hospitalized because of injuries,
took-off from a base near Cerignola, Italy at 0700 hours on 15 July 1944.
The target for the day was Ploesti; the oft-pounded heart of
Romania Oil production and the arterial supply of Nazi fuel--so vital to
the perpetuation of this a global war. The liberator, one in a formation
of forty planes, was the seventh bomber in "Box-B2".
Starting with full wings and Tokio (auxiliary tanks) 2,700 gallons
and using approximately three hundred gallons hourly to remain in
formation the bomber flew to the target at an altitude of 16,000, laid
it's “eggs” on the objective from 21,000 feet and on the way back held
an altitude of 18,000--until it happened.
At 1045 hours dense, black clouds of billowing smoke indicative of
direct hits on refineries and oil fields arose to a height of, 15,000
feet. Flak over the target area was tight and inaccurate--a "Milk
Run" as the boys call it but their return flight held all of
Pandora's box of surprises. '"Ack-ack" as deadly as the cobra's
strike, poured its explosive venom into the formation.
A bomber on the port side, with a wing, blown off, veered in flames
and spun to its, end--another and still yet another followed the self-same
path of destruction. It is not know; but No 522 may hate been hit.
To have escaped, unscratched, from an inferno of screaming,
fragmenting shells, seems inconceivable. The engineer, who all the way had
been transferring fuel, tried repeatedly to empty the reserve tanks--but
failed because of a stoppage in the feed lines.
Props three and four were feathered and engine one and two, with
less 50 gallons of gas in the main tanks were sputtering. They were now over water and ditching was imminent.
Everything loose or that could be dismounted was immediately
jettisoned, but to their consternation the camera hatch could not be
closed. Hurriedly they assumed the predetermined ditching positions, heard
the long funeral peal of the emergency bell and with hearts in their
throats waited - perhaps they offered up a prayer--the last for three men.
The Pilot with full 400 flaps, held the glide for almost sixty minutes
then stalling out at 100 miles per hour the bomber crashed into the sea.
The tail at once broke into pieces, and sank carrying three, of the crew
to their graves. The forward part of the fuselage, buoyant because of the
empty tanks, remained afloat for fifty five minutes. The dinghy, in
response to the engineers tug, on the release levers, sprang inflated out
of the wing storages. All on
the flight deck scrambled to safety, filling their Mae Wests before they
felt the cold water rise over them. Soon all including the injured none
gunner with a scalp laceration, and the tail gunner with a broken leg,
were in the rafts. Within a space of twenty minutes, two B-24's began to
circle overhead. One, because of low fuel supply abandoned its station but
the other, by flying, continued to mark the spot of disaster. The ditching
was reported to have occurred at 1305 hours.
PBY No 957, piloted by Lieutenant Mork, on patrol since ll30 and
later assigned to the mission landed at sea one hour and thirty minutes
after the ditching; picked up the six survivors and returned at 1630 hours
to Foggia Main, where two waiting ambulances transported the patients to
Lt H. B. Williams
F/O Grady J. Bakus T-2772
2nd Lt William D. Zeil
Sgt William H Penley
Sgt Thomas C. Davis 35425854
Sgt C. L. Norton
Lt John H. Mork
F/O Joseph D. Murphy T/61216
1st Lt Otho J. Haynie
T/Sgt Louis Birard 33160l37
Sgt Dan C. Brown
S/SGT Kenneth E Pettle
Sgt Elmer C. Rhodes 33212363
Capt Pau1 E. Craig 0-493698
Lieutenant Eisman and crew score a near miss rescue but were
credited with an “assist”. They
arrived on the scene ten minutes too 1ate.
A fleet of Italian fishing boats had already made the pickup.
They did however radio the position to a crash boat which lost no
time in getting underway. The harmonious interaction of a1l modes of air
and service craft are showing increasing1y laudable results in saving
lives of fliers downed at sea.
The total strength of the Squadron at of this time is 45 Officers
and 158 enlisted men.
Lieutenant Bleier and crew, from, Flight “C” at Ajaccio, with a
Fighter escort of four “Spits” took-off at 0615 hours and proceeded to
the, given “fix” of 42o47’N070’E. After searching the immediate
area for forty minutes a lone survivor was located in a one-man dinghy at
42045’N-07000’E. A landing was accomplished in the choppy sea and the
survivor taken aboard. Sergeant
G.K Rug, 420885, RAAF Pilot from the 153rd "Beaufighter” Squadron
at Alghero, the survivor, stated that he bailed out of his disabled plane
from an altitude of 10,000 feet and that one of his crewmembers also
bailed out about one and one-half minutes before he did.
As sergeant Rug was uninjured the PBY was again airborne and the
search continued. After the area had been thoroughly covered, with the aid of
HSL #99, a Warwick and a Wellington without results, the “Cat”
returned to Aspretto Base landing at 1200 hours.
This rescue brings the total survivors for the Squadron up to 75.
2nd Lt Bleier, E.
2nd Lt Murray, T. F.
2nd Lt Lonsdale, J.
S/Sgt Dillard, J.
Sgt Whittamore, C. T.
Sgt Mc Donald, W.
Sgt Feinsinger, J.
Captain Walton, Lieutenant Nonnenmacher and crew were on search at
390l7'N-03039'E for seven hours but without results.
Lieutenant Mork and crew of Flight “B” were on patrol over the
The transportation problems are well on its way to solution.
Flight “B” now has two weapons carriers and a truck.
We hope the party or parties who last Monday, 10 July 1944,
purloined, requisitioned, appropriated or other wise unlawfully acquired
their jeep--which was parked near the entrance of the Twelfth Air Force
Officer’s Club, is apprehended or is bucked out of the contraption by
the trick shimmy in the steering apparatus.
No missions, patrols or rescues.
Lieutenant Searfoss, our Adjutant, has been discharged from the
40th Station Hospital in Ajaccio, and is showing marked improvement;
although still obligated to hobble about on crutches.
Excitement, drama and daring were featured in today’s rescue, the
total now being 76. Lieutenant Milburn and crew took-off on a mission from
Foggia Main at 1605 hours. They
were shortly joined by their Fighter escort, six "Spitfires" and
proceeded to the "fix" given, that of 42054’N-17O21’E. The
dinghy was sighted in enemy waters about 1300 yards off the Yugoslavian
coast and less than a mile from Mijetski Channe1, being guarded from enemy
capture' by two "Spits" flown by buddies of the chap in the
dinghy. PBY No 958 circled to land--tension was electric.
Shore batteries rumbled; deadly ack-ack spewed lead; jets of water
from splashing shells, trailed the Catalina, in its mad race to the
dinghy. That one was
close—more uncomfortably close--less than 40 feet. A hit would mean a
baptism of fire and possibly the end. They must hurry; time was precious, not a second to lose. One
engine was cut, the other idled. The “Cat” was riding the swells.
Spurts of water were nearer now, hemming them in, the “Jerries”
had found their range. Strong
arms helped the survivor aboard. The engines thundered--spray showered the
blister hatch. The Catalina
straining mightily lifted, cross-wind from the sea, and like a living
thing fleeing from its captor, climbed to the safety at a sunset sky and
headed home. The five minutes
consumed in the landing and take-off seemed like an eternity.
Old “958” landed on Fogga Main at 1820 hours and the plucky but
uninjured survivor; Flight Lieutenant Walker of the 6th
"Hurricane" Fighter squadron, RAF, who halis from Yorkshire,
Eng1and, was conveyed by ambulance to the 61st Station Hospital.
Lt Walter B. Milburn
2nd Lt Murrel Busby
1st Lt Otho J. Haynie
T/Sgt Allen B. Cox
S/Sgt Wesley Claxton
Cpl Harold A. Bols
Sgt Louis L. Hendrix
Sgt Stanley F. Giza
Lieutenant Milburn and Lieutenant Eisman with their respective
crews were out, on patrol but their efforts netted nothing.
Lieutenant Turnbull and crew, of flight “A”, were on patrol
over the Adriatic for three hours.
Lieutenants Eisman and Milburn with their crews were assigned
separate missions. Lieutenant
Eisman and crew, after circling for hours returned to the base when their
Fighter escort failed to appear. Lieutenant Milburn and crew after some
delay were favored by Fighter escort; but the assignment was unproductive.
At 1330 hours, a B-25 with the port engine feathered crash-landed
on Foggia Main. Such occurrences here are numerous and usually attract
little attention--but when it was discovered that two of flight "B"'s
men were aboard this incident became one of paramount concern.
Pfc Wherlin and Pfc Pistolozzi, having "hitch-hiked," an
aerial ride from Naples, were aboard. It was Pfc Wherlin's good luck to
escape with only minor abrasions—although he was obviously badly shaken.
Examination at the hospital revealed no other injuries.
Pfc Pistolozzi, however was admitted to the 61st Station Hospital,
after first having been "cut-out" of the wreckage.
He sustained a severe, compounded dislocation of his right ankle
and a deep laceration of his right hand.
Questioning elicited that, shortly after take-off from Capadichino
Field near Naples, the port engine began to sputter and the Pilot promptly
feathered the prop. Everyone
was tense--parachutes were harnessed and in readiness. It was cold, over
the mountain but every forehead was beaded with perspiration. The
handicapped B-25 lowered, for a landing on the east-west runway but was
greeted from the tower, by a red flare.
Simultaneously a “Beaufighter” was making a landing on the
north-south mat. The B-25
tried to pull, up but the remaining engine stalled, slid to the left,
struck a wing and the medium bomber piled up in a mass of twisted wreckage
on the north-south approach at the extreme end of the field.
Lieutenant Witt, Mavigator, Flight “B”, was admitted to the
hospital in, Foggia, late this evening.
B-24H No 250315 manned by a veteran crew took-off from San Giovanni
Field at 0725 hours on 21 July 1944.
The target for the day was Brux, Germany.
Flying in formation with 500 other “heavies" mostly
Liberators, it reached the objective at 1207 hours, dropped its, bomb load
on the target with the precision of, long practice and headed back, in a
fog of flak. Number 4 engine
which had been hit and half of the prop shot away was immediately
feathered. The pilot trimmed the plane and continued, not without a
twinge of trepidation, on the return course.
He had experienced three engine flights before but this time he
to1d himself he might not be so fortunate; a man’s luck is bound to run
out sooner or later. While
over Klagenfurt No 2 engine sputtered and quit.
It was then he realized it was not a state of nervous excitement
but a ghastly premonition! He
feathered the prop of No 2. If
another engine should stop it would be impossible to fly.
Tension was mounting. The oil pressure in No 3 was failing fast. In
agitation he cut the supply of fuel and the giant prop became stationary. Three of the engines had stopped--and No 4 heating rapidly!
The radio operator sent out frantic “Maydays”.(Calls of
distress) They were over water and loosing altitude, hundreds of feet per
second. Downward it weaved
striking the water, at l510 hours, with a bone-breaking impact. The
fuselage cracked and broke, off just behind the wings and the tail seemed
to pulverize before their startled eyes.
The plexiglass in the Pilot’s compartment shattered.
Each man for himself, they were frenzily engaged in a scramble to
free themselves from the sinking prison, which remained afloat for about
five minutes. The dinghy’s
did, not spring automatically inflated out of the wings; and had to be
literally dug out by the engineer. The bail turret gunner weighted down by
his ponderous flying suit was too far from the dinghy and sank to his
death, in a “Mae West" which stubbornly refused to inflate, before
help could reach him. Others
of the crew whose life vests did not distend were in close proximity to
the raft and reached their safety by swimming.
One of the dinghies had to be inflated manually much in the manner
of pumping up a bicycle tire. Finally
the two rubberized rafts containing the survivors were 1ashed together
with a rope and paddled by the occupants to Dugi Otok a sea-locked island
not far distant. On the beach
while starting a fire by which their clothing was dried they were
companioned by a gruesome human skeleton, with decaying flesh still
clinging to its stinking bones.
An hour passed, they heaped more wood on the fire, for warmth and
what they hoped would serve as a signal.
A "Catalina” circled overhead, flares were sent up hastily.
Lieutenant Mork and crew, on patrol over the Adriatic, were
assigned by the Controller to a mission with a "fix” of
43O49’N-15000’E at 1515 hours. Under cover of six P-5l's, one hour and
ten minutes elapse from time of call-reception until the survivors were
located on the island. The
sea, with ten to twelve foot swells, was rough. A thirty mile wind was
blowing. Visibility, because of haze, was poor (about 5 miles). One of the
P-51's was instructed to investigate a fire on the nearby land. Upon
return he reported that those for whom we had been searching were stranded
on Dugi-Otok. The
"Catalina” set down and rolling and pitching taxied between huge
boulders as close to shore as possible. The men on the beach boarded the
dinghies and overjoyed, rowed out to the "Cat" which hove an
anchor. Because of the
injuries of one of the survivors it took about fifteen minutes to lift him
through the blister into the plane. The "Catalina" battled the
sea on the take-off but won the struggle.
Landing on Foggia Main at 1935 hours the patients we're taken to
the 61st station Hospital. This makes a total of 85 survivors rescued by
Lt Willard L Schuessler
2nd Lt Robert W. Baker
2nd Lt Louis T. Clarke
T/Sgt E. E. McNaney
T/Sgt Robert C. Williams
S/Sgt Floyd Coverston 19089634
Sgt Joseph Caspano,
S/Sgt Frank J. Gavigan
Lt John H. Mork
F/O Joseph Murphy
2nd Lt Redmond w. Colnon
T/Sgt Louis Birard
Sgt Dan C. Brown
S/Sgt Kenneth L. Pettle
Sgt Elmer C. Rhodes
Edward S. Paulo
Lieutenant Nonnenmacher and crew were out from Ajaccio, but were
unable to find survivors. Numerous
life rafts and debris of various description was sighted. An HSL NO 2595
picked up debris.
Flight "A" accomplished another successful rescue. Two
survivors of a ditched B-24 in "Mae-Wests" and a third man
floating face down, obviously dead, were sighted, at 1830 hours. They were
scattered over a square mile area. An
empty, capsized dinghy, surrounded by fading sea marker and charred debris
were also seen. The sea was
rough with eight to ten toot swells and a brisk wind was blowing.
Smoke floats were dropped to limit the region of search and the
B-25 overhead continued to circle. A water landing was made with
difficulty and the survivors (2) were picked up singly from amidst
floating objects. Because of the high rolling billows nothing over two
hundred feet away could be clearly detected.
The pilot thought the sea was too rough to execute a take-off and
radioed for an HSL, at Bari, to stand by in event of failure.
However, by skillfully pilotage the seemingly impossible was
effected. The final bounce carried the Catalina fifty feet into the air
where it balanced indecisively and straining courageously was at last
airborne. Permission to land
at the airport in Bari was granted and made at l930 hours. The survivors
were Second Lieutenant W. S. Schneider, Navigator and Sergeant Lewis
Toledo, Ball Turret Gunner, both from the 464th tomb group, 777th Bomb
Squadron. Eight men were lost in the ditching.
Lt Bilsland, Leonard M
2nd Lt Burns, Ona W. 0-811005
2nd Lt Melvin, Robert T.
Capt Mattison, Robert E
T/Sgt Asbury, Paul L.
S/Sgt Gill, Samuel A
Cpl Stahl, Harold A.
Sgt Bolles, Gerald R 12161969
The total survivors for the Squadron is now 87.
No missions for the other flights today.
Lieutenant Eisman and crew of flight "B" were on patrol
from l2OO to 1545, but were not called on a mission.
Lieutenant Walker and crew were on patrol in the Adriatic sector
for three hours.
Lieutenant Jarman and crew were sent from Ajaccio to escort a plane
or planes along a course between Cape Ben Sekka and Cape San Vito, but no
plane arrived and they returned to base at 1945 hours.
Much to every ones surprise, Captain Craig, Flight Surgeon for
Flight “B”, and Squadron Historian was admitted to the 6lst Station
Hospital, in Foggia. It was discovered in a recent X-Ray of his chest,
taken at the 12th General Hospital, that he has pulmonary tuberculosis in
the upper lobe of the left lung. Although minimal, it was advisable that
he be hospitalized to determine the extent of activity.
It was determined that Lieutenant Witt, Navigator in flight
“B”, confined in the hospital since the latter part of the week has
Pfc Pistolozzi, injured in a B-25 crash-landing at Foggia Main on
the 20th of the month, was transferred to the 26th General Hospital in
Bari. All of the boys, who at
the time were able to get away, went down to the plane to see him off.
Lieutenant Eisman and crew were on a flight to Vis, off the coast
or Yugoslavia, from 1l30 hours to 1540 hours.
Lieutenant Mork and crew were out on a search this afternoon, but
Lieutenant Bilsland and crew of Flight “A” were on patrol from
Captain Walton and crew were out from Ajaccio to search area around
given “fix” of 39Ol8'N-05045'E, but only debris was sighted.
Captain Ruckman, with Lieutenant Milburn's crew and plane, was on
search but without results. Lieutenant Milburn is on a week’s rest-leave
Lieutenant Jarman and crew from Flight "C” were ordered to
search same area covered by Captain Walton the previous day.
Numerous large turtles were a sighted which resembled men in “Mae
Wests", but no survivors.
Lieutenant Bleier and crew from Ajaccio were called on a mission
at, 42048'N-09005’E where a man in a dinghy was sighted.
As HSL NO 175 was nearby it was lead to the survivor.
After the survivor was picked up by the High Speed launch, the
Catalina returned to Ajaccoi landing at 1535 hours.
We have been “sweating out" Lieutenant Eisman and crew from
Foggia Main since 1130 hours. They returned however, at 2000 hours with
the information that the plane which had sent out the distress call had
landed at a nearby airfield.
Lieutenant Bilsland and crew were out from Grottaglie Field, Italy,
twice today. In the earlier
part of the day they were on patrol.
Later in the day they were called on a mission but no sightings
A new Officer was added to the Squadron today. Second Lieutenant
Robert L. Barkman, 0-809303, was assigned from 2638th Fighter Headquarters
Platoon (Prov) Bastia, Corsica, per paragraph 2, Special Order 87, dated
26 July 1944, Headquarters, 63rd Fighter Wing.
Two planes were out from Ajaccio today but without sightings.
Second lieutenant Robert B. Bell, Flight “C” was transferred to
2638th Fighter Headquarters Platoon (Prov) Bastia, Corsica.
The second man to leave the Squadron since its original formation.
Early this morning Lieutenant Mork and crew, on stand-by, received
a call. Just as they were
about to take-off the Controller cancelled the mission, however at 0930
hours they went on patrol. While patrolling they sighted a sea-marker pack
from a "Mae West”. Its
position was relayed to an HSL and the same was picked in anticipation of
future erroneous reports of a man down at sea. They returned at 1520
Effective today the fo11owing Officers are authorized to shine
their gold bars to silver, in other words, they are now 1st Lieutenants,
in accordance with paragraph 12, Special Order 206, dated July 1944,
Edward W 0-739712
Char1es, F Jr 0-739747
James F 0-739874
Flight “A” had one plane on patrol over the Adriatic and Flight
“C” had two planes on searches in the Mediterranean but no survivors
This morning Captain Craig was transferred to the 26th General
Hospital in Bari, for further study and observation.
Lieutenant Eisman and crew were out on patrol from 0930 hours to
1700 hours. At 1300 hours they were assigned a “fix” which was later
rescinded when the B-24, known to have sent out the distress call with
three props feathered, landed at Foggia Main.
Pvt Mc Mahon was relieved from assigned to this organization this
date and will proceed by military aircraft to Personnel Center No 2 for
trans-shipment to the United States.
PBY No 022 (The Original Brown Derby) on its way to Naples, landed
at Foggia at 1130 hours. Captain
Gray, Flight Commander of Flight “A” will be presented with the
British Distinguished Flying Cross for an act of heroism in the rescue of
an Australian Pilot, the Squadron’s first rescue, last April.
At 1300 hours Lieutenant Eisman and crew were sent to 1ocate
Lieutenant Haynie and Busby who had been out in the L-5 from Foggia Main,
much longer than expected. The
searches returned at 1330 hours to report that the L-5 had been located
and was parked at a field close-by, where the Lieutenants were visiting
Lieutenant Jarman and crew from Flight “C” were out on a search
for a German p1ane which sent out an SOS but nothing found.
Lieutenant Mork and crew were out on patrol from 1300 hours to 1400
hours but were not given a “fix”.
Pfc Mort Kiser, now in Flight “B” underwent a tonsillectomy
Captain Walton, Lieutenant Nonnenmacher and crew were sent on a
search at 43030’N-09040’E. After one hour of searching, an oil slick
and parts of a plane were sighted, broken in small pieces and scattered
over a large area. Nine mines
were also sighted under the surface of water, but no survivors.
One of Flight "A"'s, planes was on patrol from Grottaglie
Filed, for three hours.
Technical Sergeant Louis Birard having an elevated temperature of
unknown origin was taken to the hospital, there to be placed under
One of Flight “A”’s planes was on patrol for four hours and
one of Flight “B”’s for five hours but were given no
As of 31 July 1944 the Total strength of the 1st Emergency Rescue
Squadron is 45 Officers and 156 enlisted men. This month a pilot was lost
and a Navigator gained, 1eaving the Officers strength the same. Pfc Pistolozzi and Private McMahon were lost to the
Organization lowering the enlisted strength by two.
This being the last day of the month we record the total of
survivors to date as 87, with several additional assists which are not
accounted for in the aggregate total.
Lt., Air Corps
The 61st's Unit patch was the Services of supply( A red/White and Blue round patch with a star in the center. Upon losing their hospital equipment they moved to Foggia and began supporting the Army Airforce. The unit was an integrated Army Air Force/ Army Hospital. Apparently retaining the 61st Station Hospital name. My sister noting that the Airforce Patch included wings on the same basic design, replaced the Army patch with the Airforce patch. Upon returning to the states she was assigned to an Airforce facility in Atlantic City NJ, They remark that she was one of the first of the returning Airforce Nurses and welcomed her with open arms, About a week later, they, not being able to locate any records indicating she was in thge Airforce., said to her, "You're not one of ours" ,and immediately transferred her to an Army receiving station and she ultimately ended up in Florida.
(Bud) A. Gellenthin Jr.
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