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
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.)
REASON FOR LOSS:
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.
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).