384th Bombardment Group (Heavy) in World War II

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Home / 384th During WWII / 544th Bomb Squadron (Heavy) / John R Way Crew 5

On June 25, 1943, the Way crew took off to attack the sub pens at Hamburg, Germany. Co-Pilot Bill Harvey was ill and did not fly; his replacement was Stephen Fabian. Other replacements were: Robert Janson for Navigator Richard P Sherrer, Charles E Crawford for Ball Turret Gunner Charles D O'Donnell, and Albert F Westlake for Tail Gunner George D McCulley. The crew ran into heavy fog over the North Sea and became separated from the formation. As the plane approached the target, they were attacked by German fighters (FW-190's, Me-109's, Me-210's). The plane was also hit by flak, causing 2 engines to catch fire. Ball Turret gunner Crawford was killed in his turret, and Feagin and Dodge were wounded. After bombs away, they were again attacked by fighters. The forward hatch was jammed shut, but Janson managed to get it open, then bailed out. The plane was then hit by flak again, knocking out a third engine and the interphone. Hill, Gadomski, and Fabian then bailed out. Westlake and Dodge were in the waist when the aircraft exploded, blowing them clear of the ship. Way, Feagin, and Crawford never left the plane.

Dodge and Westlake landed in the Ems River. Westlake was captured by the Germans, but Dodge drowned, unable to free himself of his parachute.

Read more about the 25 June 1943 mission in Tony Crawford's book 25 June 1943 MIA, The Search for Miss Deal and the Early Raiders of the Reich. Also read Robert Janson's account on the WWII INFO --> Stories page.

Photos courtesy Louis Crawford, except as noted.