25.09.1944 654th Bomb Squadron (R), Mosquito PR.XVI NS570, 1st.Lt. Clayborne O. Vinyard.
Operation: Bluestocking, southern Germany
Date: 25th September 1944 (Monday)
Unit: 25th Bombardment Group (R), 654th Bombardment Squadron (R) Special, 325th Photographic Wing, 8th Air Force
Type: Mosquito PR.XVI
Serial No: NS570
Location: 1½ km NW of Gerhardshofen, Germany
Base: Watton (Station #376), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Clayborne Oliver Vinyard O-724573 AAF Age 23. PoW *
Navigator: 1st.Lt. John Joseph O’Mara O-701272 AAF Age 23. PoW *
* Stalag Luft 1 Barth-Vogelsang, today part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
Extract from “Air Force Fifty” (50 Years USAF) by the Air Force Association:
The 654th Bomb Squadron (Heavy Special) also flew the Mosquito Mark XVI for photography missions, chaff dispensing, and command flights. In addition, it was also assigned two A-26 aircraft for its activities with the OSS. It flew 700 varied missions between March 28, 1944 and April 1945.
Of the missions performed by the 654th Squadron, 368 were associated with photography. Of these, 161 were night photography flights, code-named “Joker,” to observe enemy activities, movement, and bridge construction conducted under cover of darkness. Another 55 missions were daylight, still-photography flights to determine the effects of bombing missions and to observe selected positions, conditions, and events. Twenty missions were daylight motion picture photography flights. Another 132 photography missions were dispatched to obtain H2X pictures for use by the bombers to bomb targets through total cloud cover. Chaff dispensing sorties, command flights, and secret service operations made up the balance of the missions.
The 8th AF Combat Camera Unit was a unit of camera crewmen and photographic technicians composed of eight officers and 23 enlisted men. They were trained as navigators, aerial gunners, and some were taught to operate equipment such as chaff dispensing machines. They flew on bomber operations with all three divisions of the 8th Air Force as well as with the Mosquito missions of the 25th bomb Group. They flew on 230 missions with the 25th Bomb Group alone.
One collection of nebulous missions performed by the 654th Bomb Squadron served the objectives of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The squadron provided crewmen, planes, flight plans, and associated services to OSS personnel for 32 missions over Germany, Austria, and other enemy-occupied territory. Several Mosquitos and two A-26 Invaders, painted black, were used on these missions. The A-26 had range, speed, and bomb bay space.
REASON FOR LOSS:
In the early morning of 25th September 1944 at 01:26 hrs NS570 took off from Watton on a Bluestocking mission, in poor visibility, in support of the evacuation of the surviving paratroops from Arnhem.
Codeword ‘Bluestocking’ = Weather and special reconnaissance missions for the US strategic air forces over Europe and the Atlantic approaches to the UK.
Extract from “Mosquito Menacing the Reich” by Martin W. Bowman (Reference: Aerial Intelligence of the 8th Air Force 1944-45, George R Sesler. 1996)
1st.Lt. Vinyard recounted the mission:
“The fog was thick. We climbed to 30,000ft but were unable to rise above the overcast. We were depending on our LORAN equipment for navigation and flew beyond our Netherlands objective. We reached the outskirts of Frankfurt before turning back. Returning toward our objective, we descended to 18,000ft where a Luftwaffe night-fighter picked up our presence with his radar. Near 04:30 hours our aircraft was struck by cannon fire. Tracers set the right engine ablaze and rounds penetrated the fuselage. I immediately banked the aircraft to the left and dived in a spiral dive to 12,000ft. The German fighter did not follow me in the dive but the engine fire would not extinguish. I leveled the flight of the aircraft in preparation for parachuting. John O’Mara pulled away the inner door of the hatch but the outer door would not open. Getting out of my seat and leaving my controls, I stamped my foot on the outer door. It released and I moved back to the controls. O’Mara pulled himself through the open hatch and without hesitation I followed.”
LORAN = LOng Range Aid to Navigation.
The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) (Luftwaffe High Command) fighter claims for the Reich, West & Südfront for the day in question does not list a Mosquito being shot down.
Both airmen were captured separately by the German police/civilians near the town of Erlangen where they both met up again. They were taken to a nearby Luftwaffe airfield and held overnight in cells before being transported to Dulag Luft Wetzlar on the 26th September 1944. After the statutory stay and interrogation they were both transported to Stalag Luft 1 where they remained until being liberated on the 2nd May 1945.
The abandoned Mosquito crashed about 1½ km NW of Gerhardshofen, about 5¼ km NE of Neustadt an der Aisch and some 24km due west from where the crew landed near Erlangen.
None - Both the crew survived
Clayborne Oliver Vinyard
(Courtesy of the Austin American Statesman, Saturday November 27th, 1993)
After 1st.Lt. Vinyard returned to the United States he was discharged from the USAAF on the 5th February 1946. He reenlisted into the USAF on the 1st May 1951 and served during the Korean conflict and Vietnam. He retired from the USAF as a Lt.Col. on the 30th Jun 1967.
Born on the 11th March 1921 in Duncanville, Dallas County, Texas. Passed away, aged 72, on the 24th November 1993 in Travis County, Texas. He was initially interred at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery and on 22nd January 2003 was reinterred at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery, Dallas County, Texas.
Son of Charles Oliver, and Lucretia (née Barker) Vinyard. Husband to Corrina Virginia (née Hancock) Vinyard who passed away on the 6th January 2003.
John Joseph O’Mara
Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel, Thursday October 9th, 2008)
1st.Lt. O’Mara was discharged from USAAF upon his return to the United States. Born on the 2nd February 1921 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Passed away, aged 87, on the 6th October 2008 in Oviedo, Seminole, Orlando, Florida. He was interred on the 10th October 2008 in the Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Sumter County, Florida.
Son of Sylvester John and Genevieve (Jane) C. (née Smith) O’Mara. Both his parents passed away in 1941 & 1939 respectively. His next of kin during his USAAF service was his sister, Catherine O’Mara, who was living at 30 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.
Husband of Anna Elizabeth (Nancy Dawn) (née McAteer) O’Mara. Anna predeceased him in 2003 at Oviedo, Seminole, Orlando, Florida.
“Air Force Fifty” (50 Years USAF) by the Air Force Association can be sourced but is not readily available.
“Mosquito Menacing the Reich” by Martin W. Bowman is readily available from a number of online vendors.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew (Jan 2021).