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Archive Report: US Forces
1941 - 1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.

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8th Air Force
21.02.1944 350th Bomb Squadron (H) B-17G 42-37796 'Fletcher’s Castoria III' 1st Lt. William H. Fletcher

Operation: Burnswick (Mission #228), Germany

Date: 21st February 1944 (Monday)

Unit: 100th Bombardment Group (H), 350th Bombardment Squadron (H), 3rd Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B17G Fletcher’s Castoria III

Serial: 42-37796

Code: LN:T

Location: near Spaarndam, Holland

Base: Thorpe Abbotts (Station #139), Norfolk, England

Pilot: 1st Lt. William H. Fletcher O-798998 AAF Age? PoW *

Co-PIlot: 2nd Lt. Richard M. Roper O-04508 AAF Age? PoW *

Navigator: 2nd Lt. George A. Browning O-685315 AAF Age? PoW *

Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Howard D. Venzie O-676983 AAF Age? PoW *

Engineer: T/Sgt. Leo T. Callahan 31120291 AAF Age? PoW No. 1818 **

Radio/Op: T/Sgt. George Anderson Reid 13104047 AAF Age? PoW No. 1852 **

Ball Turret Gnr: S/Sgt. Pietro James Giaquinto 32499257 AAF Age? PoW No 1660 **

Left Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. Alexander Sosik 32330322 AAF Age? PoW **

Right Waist Gnr: S/Sgt. John Joseph Seman 33293830 AAF Age? PoW No. 1973 **

Tail Gnr: S/Sgt. David Van Marta Robb Jr. 33339685 AAF Age? PoW No. 1570 **

* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.

** Stalag Luft 4 Groß-Tychow, Pomerania, Prussia now Tychowo, Poland (Moved from Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. Moved to Wöbbelin near Ludwigslust and then to Usedom near Swinemünde).

Above: T/Sgt. George Anderson Reid (Courtesy of George A. Reid Jr.)


Shortly after crossing the enemy coast #4 engine overheated and had to be feathered but they continued to the target. Returning from Brunswick the Fletcher’s Castoria III was seen straggling behind the formation with one engine feathered and a second smoking.

Later #2 engine failed but would not feather. Over the VHF radio 1st Lt. Fletcher announced that he could not make it across the channel and was going to crash-land. This was successfully accomplished halfway, between Amsterdam and Haarlem, NE of Spaarndam in the Netherlands at about 15:00 hrs. Efforts by the crew to set fire to the aircraft were not entirely successful before they scattered into the countryside to try and evade capture.

1st Lt. Fletcher, 2nd Lt. Venzie, S/Sgt. Sosik and T/Sgt. Callahan were captured immediately. The other members of the crew managed to evade from 4 hrs to 4 days.

Burial details:

None all crew survived as PoWs.

Researched Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered (Aug 2016). With thanks to Michael Faley of the100th BG for crew photographs . Others the Michel Beckers collection. Thanks to George A. Reid Jr. for the photograph of his father, T/Sgt. Reid. (Feb 2022).

RS 21.02.2020 - Narrative and information update and addition of image for T/Sgt. Reid

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Acknowledgments: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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