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Personal Memories of time spent at Glatton
1944 & 1945
Fellow Fireballers:
Time passes. We are finding that our numbers are diminishing rapidly and that we have not altogether completed our legacy to future generations. We have, perhaps partially, made them aware of our presence but we have not fully told our story until we have let them know what a world at war was like. Most of us have memories and personal experiences of that wartime period that we have told to a few family members. It's now time to share these memories with all who would read them.

We invite each of you "Fireballers" to submit one or more of your stories from the time you spent with the 457th. We would only ask that you not make it too long and allow us to edit it in order to transpose it into computer internet language and make it fit within the limited space allowed. We may also add pictures if they are applicable.
Just type out your stories and email them to me at:
or hand write them and send them snail mail to me at:
A. Willard Reese
11 Fletcher Ct.
Palm Coast, FL 32137

Your story will be published here. You can submit more than one if you desire. Do this now. We need you to participate in this venture and hope to have many personal recollections in this space by reunion time this year. Sit down now at the typewriter, computer or with pen and paper and relive that wartime experience for a just a few moments.......or ask one of your children or grandchildren to process it on the computer and send it off to me. Thanks.

"Hap" Reese - webmaster

- Personal Recollections -

POW This is the story of two friends who endured months of hardship and terror and survived to tell this tale. One of these men was John Wranesh, who wrote this story, and the other was Drew L. Sheffield. Both were gunners on the Fred J. Lockwood crew in the 748th Squadron. It was on a mission to Magdegurg on July 28th, 1944 , only their 4th mission, when they encountered enemy fire and went down and became........ Prisoners of War.
Mid-air Collision
at Wendover
As the group prepares for it's overseas flight, an unfortunate error in flight training resulted in the death of 10 crewmen on Dec 23, 1943. Read the eyewitness accounts here.
The BTO Story This is an account written by Marshall (Tex) Windham, flying engineers position on the aircraft BTO (Big Time Operator) on October 17th 1944 when they crash landed in German terroritory. These pages are an account of a crew who "rode the ship down". They were written some years ago and have been rediscovered in our Association archives recently. We publish them here so that those who were not there can experience the trauma and hardship of those who managed to survive such an experience.
"Derdzinski Report" This is an account written by George Derdzinski, Navigator in the 751st Squadron. Here he tells about his experiences when his aircraft and crew were shot down while on a mission to Dessau, Germany. The story follows him and some of his crewmates through their experiences in several prison camps and the horrors they were subjected to during the winter of 1944/1945. The account was sent to us by Jim Derk (George's nephew) with permission to post it here.
"The Syptak Story" On Feb 9th, 2004 Major Raymond Syptak died. Before his death he wrote up his experience while serving with the 457th Bomb Group as a pilot and Squadron Commander of both the 749th and 751st Squadrons. Ray was one of the first 457th crews to fly to England in January of 1944 and did not return to the States till December 1944. His son Mark has given us permission to post his story here.
"Explosion !" This is a story of one crews experience when their plane suddenly caught fire and exploded in mid-air over England.The author is the pilot, Jack W. Gazzale.
"Flight into the Past" "A Flight Into The Past". This is a story of one young man's dream to fly in a B-17 and the fullfilment of that dream. The author is Kevin Pearson.
The Nissen Hut A description of life in the Nissen hut. Written by Ken Blakebrough (Author of "The Fireball Outfit").
The Saga of "My Buddy". A story written in letter form by Leon Finneran, one of the crew of "My Buddy"
Short Stories This is a collection of short anecdotes submitted by former flyers and ground crew while stationed at Glatton
Lutzkendorf A story of the many hazards of flying a mission. Written by Ken Blakebrough (Author of "An Old Copilot Remembers")
Eyewitness An eyewitness account of the mid-air collision of "Arf & Arf" and "Bad Time Inc II" while on a recalled mission to Merseberg on Nov 8th, 1944.
"German Translation of the crash of 43-38904" This is a translation of a German account of the crash of the Botwright crew in aircraft 43-38904 on Nov 6th, 1944. The account appeared in the town records and was written in 1944 .
   "The Mission". This is a series of stories related to the same incident......the loss of a B-17 s/n 42-97457 named "Straight Shot". The first two accounts are by Richard Cooke, bombardier and Archie Bower, pilot, and are descriptions of what happened inside the belly of a mortally wounded B17 during and after the attack..... and their attempts to escape the fatally damaged bird.
(These stories are supplied by and reproduced herein with the permission of the author, Gregory Cooke, son of Richard Cooke.)

(A) Richard Cooke's account of the escape from fatally wounded "Straight Shot" as told to his son Gregory.

(B) Archie Bower's account of same incident and the troubles encountered after parachuting to earth.

(C)Capture and Transport an account of the trials of the surviving crew as written by Richard Cooke and mailed to his family in 1945 from his prison camp.

(D)A newspaper article from 1946 about this crews loss. The article includes a description of this same incident by Joe Snyder, waist gunner on "Straight Shot"