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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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
18.09.1944 854th Bombardment Squadron (H) B-24J 44-40210 'I'll Be Seeing You' Capt. James K. Hunter DFC.

Operation: Eindhoven (Mission #639), Holland

Date: 18th September 1944 (Monday)

Unit No: 491st Bombardment Group (H), 854th Bombardment Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force

Type: B-24J I'll Be Seeing You

Serial No: 44-40210

Code: 6X:F-

Location: Northeast of Udenhout, Holland

Base: North Pickenham (Station #143), Norfolk, England

Pilot: Capt. James Kerwin Hunter DFC O-799024 AAF Age 22. KiA (1)

Co-Pilot: Capt. Anthony Baird Mitchell DFC O-659391 AAF Age 25. KiA

Navigator: 1st Lt. Harry Burdette Parker O-694701 AAF Age 28. KiA

Bombardier: 1st Lt. John Richard ‘Dick’ Granat DFC O-754955 AAF Age 28. KiA

Nose Turret: 1st Lt. William H. Byrne O-814244 AAF Age? KiA

Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Barto J. Montalbano 32692213 AAF Age 34. KiA

Engineer: T/Sgt. Cecil Eugene Hutson 18127645 AAF Age 22. KiA

Right Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. James Lester Evers 34588582 AAF Age 21. KiA

Left Waist Gunner: S/Sgt. Frank Di Palma 12030363 AAF Age 25. Evader (2)

Drop Master: Pfc. George E. Parrish 34664935 AAF Age 21. KiA

The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 10 personnel who were typically but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner and Tail Gunner.

Note: All the aircraft on these missions carried a ‘Drop Master’ to supervise the dropping of the supplies and this is how Pfc. Parrish made it on the aircraft.

Above some of the crew for B-24J 'I'll Be Seeing You' (Courtesy of usafdo – FindAGrave)

Back row left to right: Capt. James K. Hunter, Raymond Toll, 1st Lt. Harry Parker, 1st Lt. John Granat, Anthony Caputo (passenger). Front row left to right: T/Sgt. Cecil Hudson, T/Sgt. Barto Montalbano, Palmer, George Walburg, S/Sgt. James Evers.

Raymond Toll, Anthony Caputo, Palmer and Georg Walburg have yet to be identified.

REASON FOR LOSS:

252 B-24s from the 2nd Air Division were tasked with re-supplying the US airborne Forces in the Nijmegen-Eindhoven areas. The aircraft flying at very low level, to lessen the chances being hit by the murderous ground fire, each carried 20 bundles of supplies. Seven B-24s were lost on the mission with B-24J I'll Be Seeing You being the only one from the 491st Bombardment Group.

After mission statements from returned crews described that at about 16:35 hrs flying at about 1500 ft the I'll Be Seeing You was hit by light flak. The aircraft turned to starboard and appeared to attempt a crash landing. The starboard wing struck the ground and after which the aircraft became airborne but then hit a house and some trees and exploded. No parachutes were seen.

The moment of impact as the B-24's starboard wing hits the ground. Moments later the aircraft became airborne again crashing into haystack and farm buildings in the right hand corner of left photo.

(1) The pilot of this crew, 1st Lt. Charles Griffin, had finished his tour and was not permitted to fly this mission. There was real competition to fly these missions and Capt. Mitchell won the right on the toss of a coin with a Capt. Shy.

Apparently 1st Lt. Griffin took out his frustration like he always did by flying low over The Wash and blowing over sailboats.

(2) The following is the statement given by S/Sgt. Di Palma on his return:

“Our B-24 Liberator was brought down by enemy fire near the town of of Udenhout, Holland. I was discovered leaving the plane by Franciscan Brothers and several doctors in the vicinity. They were friendly Hollanders. My mind was blank from the 18th September until the 27th or 28th September.

The Doctors, J.B.M. Veraart, G.A.H.M. Wessels J.H.C.M. De Volk all informed me that the remainder of the crew had been killed. This was corroborated by Father Vinkenburg, a catholic Priest from the Huize Assisi, where I was secreted by this group.

A Canadian major, attached to the British Army who liberated the town of Udenhout, claimed himself to be the Civil Affairs Officer and he told me that the personal effects of the crew were in his possession. This Major stated that he would see to it that the personal effects reached the proper authorities. I, myself, never saw the remainder of the crew nor the scene of the crash”.

Burial Details:

Above: Margraten, Netherlands, American Cemetery.

Above: Grave marker for Capt. Hunter (Courtesy of Fred – FindAGrave)

Capt. James Kirk Hunter. DFC, Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot D, Row 21, Grave 7. Born on the 1st January 1922 in Dakota County, Minnesota. Son of Mary F. Hunter of Hastings, Minnesota, USA.

Above: Capt. Mitchell and Grave marker (Courtesy of Dave Smith and Fred – FindAGrave)

Capt. Anthony Baird Mitchell. DFC, Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster), Purple Heart. Netherlands American Cemetery, Plot O, Row 8, Grave 6. Born on the 1st December 1918 in Youngtown, Mahoning, Ohio. Son of Freeman Osborne and Nellie E. (née Foster) Mitchell. Husband to Sara Jane (née Aiken) Mitchell of Washington, Pennsylvania, USA.

Above: Grave marker for 1st Lt. Parker (Courtesy of Des Philippet - FindAGrave)

1st Lt. Harry Burdette Parker. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart, French - Croix De Guerre with Silver Star. Netherlands American Cemetery. Plot L, Row 2, Grave 22. Born on the 15th December 1916 in Mitchell, South Dakota. Husband to Betty Lou (née Hansen) Parker of Salem, Oregon, USA.

Above: Grave marker for 1st Lt. Granat (Courtesy of Des Philippet - FindAGrave)

1st Lt. John Richard ‘Dick’ Granat. DFC, Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Netherlands American Cemetery. Plot I, Row 11, Grave 2. Born on the 22nd April 1916 in Portland Oregon. Son of John Richard and Ellen Margaretha Granat. Husband to Cathleen ‘June’ (née Clayville) Granat of Portland Oregon, USA.

Above; Grave marker for 1st Lt. Byrne (Courtesy of Des Phillippet - FindAGrave)

1st Lt. William H. Byrne. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters). Netherlands American Cemetery. Plot H, Row 14, Grave 22. Son of Herbert A. Byrne of Bellmore, New York, USA.

T/Sgt. Barto J. Montalbano. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated on the 13th April 1949 and interred at the Long Island National Cemetery, Section J, Grave 14786, , Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. Born on the 12th January 1910 in Brooklyn, New York. Husband to Molly Montalbano of New York, Kings, USA.

Above; Grave marker for T/Sgt Hutson (Courtesy of Des Phillippet - FindAGrave)

T/Sgt. Cecil Eugene Hutson. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Purple Heart. Netherlands American Cemetery. Plot O, Row 15, Grave 8. Born on the 17th April 1922 in Dallas, Texas. Son of Cecil F. and Thelma (née Springer) Hutson of Seagoveille, Texas. Husband of Velma (née Tuttle) Hutson of Dallas, Texas, USA.

S/Sgt. James Lester Evers. Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters). Repatriated on the 10th September 1948 and interred at Woods Cemetery, Jackson Gap, Alabama. Born on the 22nd May 1923 in Dadeville, Alabama. Son of Charles Edmond and Laura Evers of Jackson Gap, Alabama, USA.

Pfc. George E. Parrish Repatriated and interred at Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina. Born on the 20th July 1923 in Flat River Township, Person County, North Carolina. Son of William Edward and Lila Vann (née Bowling) Parrish of Chapel Hill, Orange CCounty, North Carolina, USA.

Initially researched by Aircrew Remembered, researcher and specialist genealogist Kate Tame for relatives of this crew. Reviewed and updated by Ralph Snape Aircrew Remembered (Jul 2022).

RS 28.07 2022 - Reviewed and updated narrative

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Acknowledgements
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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