21.07.1944 579th Bomber Squadron B24H Liberator 42-50435 1Lt. John F. Menard
Operation: Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Date: July 21st 1944 11.30 hrs. (Friday)
Unit: No. 579th BS 392th Bomb Group
Type: B24H Liberator
Base: Wendling Airbase England
Location: 9 kilometers north of Bad Tolz Germany.
Pilot: 1Lt. John F. Menard 0-693302 USAAF Age 24. PoW Stalag Luft 1
Co-Pilot: 2nd/Lt. Jack G. Holmes 0-817678 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft 1
Fl/Eng: T/Sgt. Donald A. Walsh 12030899 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft 4
Nav: 2nd/Lt. Thomas J. Krause 0-698205 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft 1
Air/Bmr: 2nd/Lt. Edwin J. Hartwick 0-701597 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft 1
W/Op/Air/Gnr: T/Sgt. Lloyd Noel Blackford 35620849 USAAF Age 21. PoW Stalag Luft 4
Air/Gnr: S/Sgt. Quinton F. Holton 14180809 USAAF Age 25. PoW Stalag Luft 4
Air/Gnr: S/Sgt. Gains A. Redman Jr 34548579 USAAF PoW Stalag Luft 4
Tail/Gnr: S/Sgt. Herbert L. Tubbs 122115173 USAAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
The original target assignment received the evening on 20 July was the St. Lo area on tactical targets in support of Allied troops. Later it was changed and once more the 392nd's casualties would be high.
General briefings were conducted at 0230 and 0330 hours for 24 aircrews with the 576th and 579th assigned to lead. A force of 23 ships went over the target area releasing bombs.
Despite fierce attacks on the bomb run by an estimated 25-30 ME-109s and ME-410s, bombing results achieved were good.
Enemy fighter attacks were vicious and persistent causing the ultimate loss of (5) aircraft and (3) crews MIA and others wounded or killed.
B24H Liberator 42-50435 Crew (courtesy Tom Perry)
Operation loss circumstances:
One eye-witness report (Lt. Richards, Navigator, 579th) stated this aircraft had its wing severely hit and was last seen in flames going down in a steep turning dive with no chutes seen.
German Report No; KU862 A, 21 July, Airbase Hqs A (o) 5VII, near Munich reported the capture of (8) crew members, and the finding of one member dead, Sgt. Tubbs, at Schleissheim.
All members were identified. The jumpers had all landed at scattered locations south of Munich and were taken prisoner at various and different places, and on different later dates in some instances: Menard taken prisoner in the Bad Tolz area on 21 July; Holmes, same day, same location at 1600 hours; Krause was captured the same day in the Fensburg area; Holton, captured on 21 July by the police on a road into Starnberg; Blackford taken the same day near the plane crash site by police of Kesseldorf; Walsh was captured (3) days later near Benediktbeuren on the 24th southwest of Bad Tolz; Hartwick taken on the 22nd in the Lenggries area (close to the Austrian Border) and Redman, captured on 26 July in the vicinity of Vorderrich. The aircraft had crashed about (9) kilometres north of Bad Tolz.
Individual accounts of crewmen:
Pilot Menard's statement later said that the plane had been hit and damaged about 30-40 miles southwest of Munich, where they left the formation. A bail out order was given and all members did abandon the plane and were captured, except Tail Gunner Tubbs. As he, the Pilot, last knew the Tail Gunner Tubbs was last seen standing in the waist section strapping on his parachute preparing to jump and had acknowledged that he was all right to bail out. Sgt. Redman in his report stated that "I was in the nose turret and Sgt. Tubbs was in the tail turret. He called on inter-phone saying his guns would not function after enemy fighters had made one firing pass. Then another enemy fighter had made a pass and a Waist Gunner called saying the Tail Gunner was hit and there was fire in the tail of the ship. I was not able to contact Sgt. Tubbs again".
The Bombardier's account later reported that he, Lt. Hartwick, was in the waist section setting up the strike camera at the time the bail out order was given, which was difficult to hear due to the guns firing at fighters. He noted there was a possibility that some of the members in the waist were beginning to suffer from lack of oxygen hookups. At this time (when he bailed out), the Tail Gunner Tubbs was standing near the camera hatch and was seen to have a gash on his forehead caused by plexiglass when his tail turret was hit.
Air medal for S/Sgt. Herbert L. Tubbs (courtesy Michel Beckers)
Hartwick added that as the plane had begun the bomb run when he was at the aft camera hatch position, the ship had taken several direct flak hits followed by an Me-109 fighter firing pass at their six o'clock position. And, while he was manning the right waist gun and firing, the aircraft suddenly went into a nose dive and he noticed then that severe damage had been taken to the right wing of the ship.
At this moment he recalled reaching the Pilot (on inter-phone) who yelled that they all should bail out of the waist which led to his account of seeing the Tail Gunner standing at the aft camera hatch and saying he was ‘OK' to jump out. He felt that those of them in the aft section were disconnected too long from oxygen at the time, and that could have contributed to Sgt. Tubbs possibly not bailing out, or his not opening his chute after jumping. The Bombardier's report pin-pointed the actual crash site of their aircraft as being approximately (87) kilometres southwest of Munich, near a farm house with a road sign bearing the direction toward Lenggries, Germany.
S/Sgt. Herbert L Tubbs and grave (courtesy Michel Beckers and Marc Burba)
S/Sgt. Herbert L Tubbs. Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial Saint-Avold Departement de la Moselle Lorraine, France. Plot: Plot A Row 22 Grave 39
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - January 2015. With thanks to Marc Burba for grave photo, Tom Perry for crew photo and Fold 3 for additional information.