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Curated by Steve Odell.

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The 323rd Bomb Squadron Memorial
Dedicated to the American Airmen and Aircraft of the 323rd Bomb Squadron, USAF
A local history and genealogy site for the Parish of Wimpole

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323rd Bomb Squadron Memorial Marker, Bassingbourn

The 323rd Bomb Squadron Memorial Marker
The Memorial marker was dedicated to the airmen and aircraft of the 323rd Bomb Squadron in a ceremony on the 2 August 1997. It was donated by the 91st Bomb Group Memorial Association.
Between 1942 and 1945, American B-17 'Flying Fortress' bombers from the Bassingbourn airbase were parked and concealed within the 'South Avenue', a wide double row of mature elm trees that stretched for two miles across the Wimpole Estate, starting a little south of the front elevation of Wimpole Hall.
The Memorial Inscription reads:
"In memory of and dedicated to the 323rd Bomb Squadron airman of the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force, USAAF Station 121, Bassingbourn, England.
"During World War II, from November 7, 1942 to June 23 1945, there were 105 B-17 bombers of the 323rd Bomb Squadron parked and serviced on nine "pads" that were concealed among an avenue of stately elm trees that stretched from Wimpole Hall to the Huntingdon/Royston Road. Fifty two of the bombers were lost to enemy action while flying 330 daylight missions against Hitler's Europe, killing 227 airman. 215 became prisoners of war and 12 evaded capture. The squadron's B-17 "Nine-O-Nine" flew an amazing 8th Air Force record of 140 casualty free missions, from December 30, 1943 to June 9 1945 (VE-Day).
"The diagram below shows the 323rd Dispersal Area D parking 'pads' and the 'nose' names of the original nine B-17s. To reach the Bassingbourn Airbase runways/hangers, the B-17s taxied across the road near this memorial marker."
The B-17 aircraft named on the Memorial marker were the nine original aircraft that formed the 323rd Bomb Squadron at Bassingbourn in November 1942. Their 'nose names' were (far left then clockwise): 'Delta Rebel No 2', 'Pennsylvania Polka', 'Stupen-Taket', 'The Careful Virgin', 'The Eagle's Wrath', 'Vertigo', 'Panhandle Dogie', 'Texas Bronco', and 'Lil Audrey'. Some 105 B-17 bombers were parked and serviced on the pads between 1942 and 1945 including 'Nine-O-Nine' [completed a record 140 casualty free missions]. The marker records that fifty-two of those bombers were lost on missions with 227 of their airman 'killed in action'.
The Dispersal Area D Parking Pads
Compare the diagram (above) on the Memorial with the aerial photograph (below).
Aerial view of the Dispersal Area D Parking Pads and 'South Avenue'(1943)
The 323rd Dispersal Area D Parking Pads within 'South Avenue' 1943 (detail).
The small red dot is the location of the Memorial marker.
This wartime aerial photograph shows the road crossing point looking due north. The nine parking pads shown on the Memorial marker diagram can be clearly identified. The Royston to Huntingdon Road [now the A1198] road runs bottom centre to top left. The 'South Avenue' is clearly defined running up to the Octagonal Basin [ornamental lake] top right. Howes Farm is centre left. Bassingbourn airbase is bottom left
The gated taxiway from the main airbase and onto the road can still be seen today [see 2019 image below]. The central taxiway and dispersal pads along the Avenue were removed and returned to pasture after the war. The magnificent double row of elm trees seen in the photographs were lost to Dutch Elm Disease in 1975. The Avenue has since been replanted with two double rows of Lime trees.
Aerial View of Bassingbourn Airbase (1943)
Bassingbourn Airbase 1943
Photographs © The Joseph Harlick Collection
This wider view here shows the main airbase (bottom and left) and the 'South Avenue' stretching up to Wimpole Hall (just visible in the top right distance).

The Site Today (April 2019)
Photos by Steve Odell
South Avenue looking towards Wimpole Hall (April 2019)
The 'South Avenue' looking north towards Wimpole Hall (April 2019) which
now belongs to the National Trust. The named dispersal "pad" for 'Vertigo'
would have been on the left and that for 'The Careful Virgin' on the right.
The Memorial Marker and South Avenue (April 2019)
The Memorial marker and South Avenue. (April 2019).
The named dispersal "pad" for 'The Eagle's Wrath' would have been
in the immediate foreground
Original WW2 taxiway and crossing point over the Royston/Huntingdon Road (April 2019)
The original WW2 taxiway and crossing point over
the Royston/Huntingdon Road [now the A1198].
(April 2019)

The Planes, The Crews:
I've gathered some additional background information about the nine B-17s named on the Memorial marker. None of the B-17s listed on the marker survived the war.
Delta Rebel No 2     Pennsylvania Polka     Stupen-Taket     The Careful Virgin
The Eagle's Wrath     Vertigo      Panhandle Dogie     Texas Bronco     Li'l Audrey

B-17 #42-5077 "Delta Rebel No 2"
B-17F 'Delta Rebel No 2' at Bassingbourn on the 16 June 1943
Delta Rebel No 2 - Crew with Clark Gable
[top 1/2] The crew of B-17F 42-5077 "Delta Rebel No 2" at Bassingbourn on the 16 June 1943. Includes Captain George P. Birdsong Jr (Pilot), 1Lt Joseph C. Reynolds (Co-Pilot), 1Lt Ernie Miller (Navigator), 1Lt Robert G. Abb (Bombardier), T/Sgt Eugene J. Remmell (Engineer), T/Sgt B.Z. Byrd (Radio Operator), S/Sgt Randall C. Petersen (Left Waist Gunner), S/Sgt Harry A. Carter (Tail Gunner), S/Sgt Harry Kulchesky (Right Waist Gunner), S/Sgt Steven James Perri (Ball Turret Gunner).
[bottom 2/2] Captain Clark Gable (centre of picture), the film star, came to England as a Gunnery Officer. He flew five missions, two from Bassingbourn on this aircraft.
'Delta Rebel No 2' was one of the 9 original B-17 crews in the 91st Bomb Group (H) 323rd Squadron that flew from Dow Field, Maine, in September 1942. This aircraft was for many missions the aircraft flown by Captain George Birdsong and his crew.
'Delta Rebel No 2' was shot down by German fighters on the 12 August 1943 mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. She was damaged first by Hauptmann Johannes Naumann of JG 26/6, then shot down by Obfw. Adolf Glunz of JG 26/4 in a Fw 190A-5 over Brunninghausen, Germany.
Four of the crew were lost (KIA), six crew survived and became prisoners of war (POW).
The final mission crew (12 August 1943):
Pilot: Bob Thompson (POW),
Co-Pilot: Serge Klinkow (POW),
Navigator: George Lausted (POW),
Bombardier: Mike Couzzi (POW),
Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner: Carroll Goodwin (POW),
Radio Operator: Bob Brooks (POW);
Ball Turret Gunner: Wayne Kienberger (KIA),
Waist Gunner: Bob Ziernicki (KIA),
Waist Gunner: Micky Lengyel (KIA)
Tail Gunner: Chas Blonstein (KIA),

[Received 2004]
"Great website!!! My uncle, had he lived to see this, would be very proud and thankful, his name was Randy Peterson, left waist gunner in B-17 'Flying Fortress' Delta Rebel No 2. His wife Lois is still alive and well in Princeton, Illinois sends her many thanks to you for this memorial.
Rickey G. Bailey,
Peoria, Illinois, USA"

B-17F #41-24544 "Pennsylvania Polka"
B-17F Pennsylvania Polka and Crew
[above] 'Pennsylvania Polka' and original crew:
Back Row (left to right): 1st Lt. John R. Roten (navigator); 1st Lt. Alan L. Bobrow (pilot); 1st Lt. John J. Landers (co-pilot).
Front Row (left to right): Tail Gunner; Sullivan (waist gunner); T/Sgt. Paul Leon Bass, (top turret gunner/engineer); S/Sgt. Richard K. Wirt (ball turret gunner); S/Sgt. Lewis J. Fredricks (waist gunner); T/Sgt. Cyril E. Curb (radio operator).
'Pennsylvania Polka' was one of the 9 original B-17 crews in the 91st Bomb Group (H) 323rd Squadron that flew from Dow Field, Maine, in September 1942.
“Pennsylvania Polka” was assigned to Bassingbourn on 26 October 1942. She was shot down three months later on the 4 February 1943 by enemy fighters 12 miles NW of the tip of Terschelling Island, Holland, while on a mission to bomb the railroad marshalling yards at Hamm, Germany. The aircraft was lost in the North Sea 20km NW of West-Terschelling (Frisian Isle). The crew were lost, Killed in Action (KIA).
The final mission crew (4 February 1943):
Pilot: 1LT Alan L. Bobrow (KIA)
Co-Pilot: 1LT John J. Sanders (KIA)
Navigator: 1LT Everett L Clinard, Jr. (KIA)
Bombadier: 1LT Norman L. Andrews (KIA)
Top Turret Gunner/Engineer: T/SGT Paul L. Bass (KIA)
Radio Operator: T/SGT Cyril E. Curb (KIA)
Ball Turret Gunner: T/SGT Bill J. Wheeler (KIA)
Waist Gunner: --- Charles E. Blackburn (KIA)
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Lewis J. Fredericks (KIA)
Tail Gunner: SGT Edwin R. Campbell (KIA)

B-17F #41-24549 "Stupen-Taket"
Lt McCarty and his crew from B-17F 'Vertigo'
Photograph: © contributed by Bill McCarty
Back Row (left to right): T/Sgt. John McCormack, Lt. Byron Mills Bennett, 1st Lt. John Bell, 1st Lt. James Hill, Capt. Martin Winston McCarty, Jr., S/Sgt. Robert Trent. Front Row (left to right): S/Sgt. George Engle, T/Sgt. William Dunnavant, Sgt. Philip S. Cardin, Sgt. Umberto Periera (Herbert Perry). See also mission crew list below.
[above] Lt. McCarty and his crew from B-17 'Vertigo', who were flying B-17 'Stupen-Taket' on the day the aircraft was shot down over Germany on 4 March 1943.
Aircraft named on the Memorial marker as 'Stupintakit' but the 91stbombgroup and other specialist websites confirm that 'Stupen-Taket' is the correct form. Not to be confused with B-17 #42-29559 'Stupntakit' also at Bassingbourn, believed named after 'Stupen-Taket' was lost.
'Stupen-Taket' #41-24549 was one of the 9 original B-17s and crews in the 323rd Bomb Squadron.
"On 4 March 1943, the 8th Air Force made the first inland strike on Germany's prized industrial complex in the heavily defended Ruhr Valley. Bad weather caused three of the four Groups composing the bomber stream to turn back and the 91st found itself alone in its attack on Hamm. With sixteen B-17s, they single handedly took on the German Luftwaffe. Outnumbered by five to one, this little group of sixteen aircraft, fought its way 160 miles into Germany and scored direct hits on the marshalling yards at Hamm. Four 91st Bomb Group B-17s were lost that day including 'Stupen-Taket' of the 323rd flown by Lt. McCarty and his crew. Over the target, a machine gun bullet hit the waist gunner in the neck killing him instantly. Just after the target, 'Stupen-Taket' was hit by a direct flack burst. At debriefing, other crews reported seeing the ship drop to 20,000 feet and then explode with only two chutes seen to emerge from the explosion. Eight crew members were Killed in Action (KIA) and two survived as Prisoners of War (POW)." [written by Mike Banta]
The final mission crew (4 March 1943):
Pilot: Captain Martin Winston McCarty Jr. (KIA)
Co-Pilot: 1st Lt. James T Hill (KIA)
Navigator: 1/Lt. Byron Mills Bennett (KIA)
Bombardier: 1st Lt., John R Bell (POW)
Radio Operator: T/Sgt. William Dunnavant (KIA)
Engineer: T/Sgt. John J McCormack (KIA)
Ball Turret: S/Sgt. George W Engle (POW)
Waist Gunner: Sgt Umberto Pereira (Herbert Perry) (KIA)
Waist Gunner: Sgt Philip S Cardin (KIA)
Tail Gunner: S/Sgt. Robert T Trent (KIA)

B-17F #41-24639 "The Careful Virgin"
B-17F 'The Careful Virgin'
B-17F 'The Careful Virgin' and Ground Crew
Both photographs: Copyright © the americanairmuseum.com website.
[above 1/2] B-17 'The Careful Virgin' parked on the grass at Bassingbourn.
[below 2/2] 'The Careful Virgin' ground crew enjoy coffee and doughnuts provided by an American Red Cross officer in front of B-17 'The Careful Virgin' in 1943 [seen here parked in Wimpole's 'South Avenue']. On the far right is Sergeant Earl Brooks, a mechanic and instrument specialist.
'The Careful Virgin' arrived as a replacement aircraft and flew from Bassingbourn between the 29 January 1943 to 5 December 1943 and from 10 December 1943 to 18 March 1944. Her crew was one of the original crews of the 323rd Bomb Squadron, and flew their first mission in England on the 8th of November 1942.
After 50-plus missions over enemy territory, 'The Careful Virgin' was eventually declared unfit for combat and transferred to the Air Force Service Command in March 1944 for convertion into an Aphrodite bomber (a pilotless guided flying bomb loaded with 20000 lb of Torpex explosive). On the 4 August 1944 she was despatched in an Azon radio-guided operation against the V-1 Buzz-Bomb site at Mimoyecques, France, but exploded before reaching the target. The 'take-off' control crew (Lt Cornelius A Engel and T/Sgt Clifford A Parsons) had previously baled out as planned over southern England.

B-17F #41-24524 "The Eagle's Wrath"
B-17F 'The Eagle's Wrath' and Crew
Another of the original nine aircraft of the squadron, 'The Eagle's Wrath' was lost over Germany on the mission to Schweinfurt on the 17 August 1943. Fire from an enemy aircraft fractured her oxygen bottles setting the fuselage on fire, before crashing 12 miles east of Frankfurt-am-Main.
Three crew were killed (KIA) and the remainder became prisoners of war (POW).
The final mission crew (17 August 1943):
Pilot: 1LT Anthony G. Arcaro (POW)
Co-Pilot: 2LT Roman Niemczyk (POW)
Navigator: 2LT Harry K Warner KIA
Bombadier: 2LT William F Glover (POW)
Top Turret Gunner/Engineer: T/SGT James F Jones KIA
Radio Operator: SGT Delmar F Kaech (POW)
Ball Turret Gunner: S/SGT Harold K Michaud KIA
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Elmer F Lindholm (POW)
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Ralph E Dearth (POW)
Tail Gunner: S/SGT William G Golden (POW)
The 91st Bomb Group lost eleven aircraft on the Schweinfurt mission - one of the heaviest raid loss suffered by the group.

B-17F #41-24547 "Vertigo"
B-17F 'Vertigo' and Crew
'Vertigo' and Crew, April 1943, South Avenue.
Photograph: © Shumard Family
The above photograph was taken on the western side of Wimpole's 'South Avenue', the location of this image can be precisely fixed as Howes Farm can be seen in the background.
B-17F #41-24547 'Vertigo' was another of the original nine aircraft of the squadron, assigned to Bassingbourn on the 11th October 1942.
'Vertigo's original assigned crew, led by Lt. McCarty, were flying 'Stupen-Taket' on the day the aircraft was shot down over Germany on 4 March 1943 [See entry and crew photograph for 'Stupen-Taket']. The above photograph shows 'Vertigo's' replacement crew who were transferred across from B-17 #41-24523 'Lil' Audrey'.
The photo above was taken in April 1943, approximately three weeks before 'Vertigo' itself was lost. Tail Gunner Richard E. Shumard is second from the left in the front row.
'Vertigo' was lost on the 1st May 1943. She was shot down by German fighter planes during a bombing raid on the submarine pens at St. Nazaire, France, and crash-landed into 15-foot waves about four miles off the Brest coast.
Li'l Audrey's crew that flew 'Vertigo' on her final mission
'Li'l Audrey's crew that flew 'Vertigo' on her final mission.
Photograph: contributed by Mike Banta Copyright © Mike Banta and 91stbombgroup.com website.
Back Row (Left to right): 1st Lt. Robert Shaw [not on mission], 1st Lt. Robert D. Rand, 2nd Lt. Donald M. Sternglanz, T/Sgt. David B. Hatch, S/Sgt. Thaddeus F. Kusowski, Front Row (Left to Right) S/Sgt. Richard E. Shumard, S/Sgt. Walter C. Wawrznek, T/Sgt. Clarence V. King, S/Sgt. Alver B. Platt, S/Sgt. James B. Farrar. See also mission crew list below.
The final mission crew (1st May 1943). Five crew members were killed in action (KIA) and five crew survived to become prisoners of war (POW):
Pilot:
1st Lt Robert D. Rand (KIA)
Co-Pilot:
Maj Maurice S. Rosner (POW)
Navigator:
2nd Lt Donald M Stenglanz (KIA)
Bombardier:
SSgt Walter C. Wawzynek (POW)
Engineer:
TSgt Clarence V. King (KIA)
Radio Operator:
TSgt David B. Hatch (POW)
Ball Turret Gunner:
SSgt James B. Farrar (POW)
Waist Gunner:
SSgt Thaddeus F. Kusowski (KIA)
Waist Gunner:
SSgt Alver B. Platt (POW)
Tail Gunner:
SSgt Richard E. Shumard (KIA)

B-17F #41-24570 "Panhandle Dogie" [Oct-Nov 1942]
B-17F
#42-5084 "Panhandle Dogie" [Dec 1942-Jan 1943]
Pilot Bill Anderson of 'Panhandle Dogie'
Pilot Bill Anderson of 'Panhandle Dogie', killed in action 3 January 1943.
[Photograph: © Steve Perri]
Aircraft is shown on the Memorial marker as 'Pan Handle Doggie' but the 91stbombgroup and the above photograph appears to confirm that 'Panhandle Dogie' is the correct name ('Dogie' as in a 'motherless or neglected calf').
B-17 #41-24570 'Panhandle Dogie' was assigned to Bassingbourn on the 11 October 1942 as one of the original nine aircraft of the squadron. During her first mission on the 8 November 1942 to bomb the German airfield at Abbeville/Drucat, the aircraft was significantly damaged but the crew managed to fly her back to Bassingbourn. The damage was sufficient that she was taken out of service and became a 'Hangar Queen' [ie parked in a hangar and cannibalised for parts].
Two of the crew on the Abbeville/Drucat mission were wounded (WIA):
Pilot: 1LT William M. Anderson
Co-Pilot: 1LT James L. Lee
Navigator: Everett Clinard (WIA)
Bombardier: 1LT Lyle G. Karnath (WIA)
Top Turret Gunner/Engineer: T/SGT Robert E Marrer
Radio Officer: T/SGT Rex O. Barker
Ball Turret Gunner: S/SGT Anthony C. McCauley
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Herman Odegard
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Lavern A. Senn
Tail Gunner: SGT Richard Q. Flint
Replacement aircraft B-17F #42-5084, was assigned to Bassingbourn on the 14 December 1942, also being named 'Panhandle Dogie' by Bill Anderson. Three weeks later on the 3 January 1943, and flying with almost the same crew, 'Panhandle Dogie' was hit by intense flak near the target at St Nazaire, and crashed into the sea near Belle Ile-en-Mer, off northern France.
Nine of the crew were killed (KIA) and one, navigator John Retenk, surviving to become a Prisoner of War (POW).
The final mission crew were (3 January 1943):
Pilot: 1LT William M. Anderson (KIA)
Co-Pilot: 1LT James L. Lee (KIA)
Navigator: 1LT John H. Rotenk ** (POW)
Bombardier: 1LT Lyle G. Karnath (KIA)
Top Turret Gunner/Engineer: T/SGT Robert E. Marrer (KIA)
Radio Officer: T/SGT Rex O. Barker (KIA)
Ball Turret Gunner: S/SGT Lavern A. Senn (KIA)
Waist Gunner: S/SGT Anthony C. McCauley (KIA)
Waist Gunner: SGT Richard Q. Flint (KIA)
Tail Gunner: SGT Herman Odegard (KIA)
** The full story of the last mission of 'Panhandle Dogie' and the return of Navigator John Rotenk to St Nazaire in September 1997 can be found in the April 1998 issue of the "The Ragged Irregular" (Vol 31 No 1) (see pages 3 and 4].

B-17F #41-24589 "Texas Bronco"
B-17 41-24589 'Texas Bronco' and Crew
B-17 'Texas Bronco' and Crew.
[Photograph: © Steve Perri and the 91stbombgroup.com website]
Back Row (left to right) 1st Lt. Eugene B. Ellis, 2nd Lt. Kenneth H. Futch, 1st Lt. Howard M. Dunham, 1st Lt. Marvin H. Beiseker. Front Row (left to right) S/Sgt. Nathan L. Floyd, S/Sgt. William E. Howard, T/Sgt. Rodney E. Demars, S/Sgt. Anthony Gaeta, Sgt. Joseph L. Mastrobaradino, S/Sgt. Michael T. La Medica, Jr. See also mission crew details below.
The aircraft name is shown on the Memorial marker as 'Texas Bronko' but the 91stbombgroup website and the above photograph confirms that 'Texas Bronco' is the correct form.
The crew of the 'Texas Bronco' was one of the 9 original B-17 crews in the 91st Bomb Group (H) 323rd Squadron that flew from Dow Field, Maine in September 1942. ''Texas Bronco' was allocated to Bassingbourn on the 11 October 1942.
On 4 February 1943, while on a mission to bomb the marshalling yards at Hamm, Germany, the target was obscured by clouds and the port area of Emden was attacked as a 'target of last resort'. 'Texas Bronco' sustained damage from flak and fighter attacks and crashlanded on the beach at Terschelling Island, Holland. The surviving crew set fire to the aircraft to prevent salvage. Two crew members were Killed in Action [KIA], eight crew survived to become Prisoners of War (POW).
Final mission crew list (4 February 1943):
Pilot: 1st Lt. Eugene Bailey Ellis (POW)
Co-Pilot: 2nd Lt. Kenneth H Futch (POW)
Navigator: 1st Lt. Howard M. Dunham (POW)
Bombardier: 1st Lt. Marvin H Beiseker Jnr. (KIA)
Engineer: T/Sgt. Rodney E. Demars (POW)
Radio Operator: T/Sgt. Michael T La Medica (KIA)
Air gunner: S/Sgt. William E Howard (POW)
Air gunner: Sgt. Joseph L. Mastroberardino (POW)
Air gunner: S/Sgt. Nathan L Floyd (POW)
Air gunner: S/Sgt. Anthony Gaeta (POW)
Texas Bronco was the first B-17 to crash in Holland during the war.

B-17F #41-24523 "Li'l Audrey" [previously "Golly", afterwards "Snooks"]
B-17 41-24523 'Li'l Audrey' in flight
B-17 "Li'l Audrey" in Flight
Photograph: copyright © americanairmuseum.com
B-17 41-24523 'Li'l Audrey' and Lt Schaper's Crew
B-17 "Li'l Audrey" and Lt Schaper's Crew
Photograph: Copyright © Joe Harlick and 91stbombgroup.com website.
Lt. Schaper's Crew. Back Row (left to right): All Unidentified. Front Row (left to right): S/Sgt. Raymond Lewis LaFon, Waist Gunner/Radio Operator/Navigator; Unknown; Unknown; Unknown; S/Sgt. Frank J. Walley, Ball Turret Gunner; S/Sgt. Donald E. Irons. Possible other crew members shown: 1st Lt. Lloyd S. Schaper (Pilot), T/Sgt. Harry J. Weintraub (Radio), 2nd Lt. Raymond E. Stephens (Co-pilot), S/Sgt. James A. Regan (UG), 2nd Lt. Woodrow W. Mays (Navigator), T/Sgt. William J. Bickley (Engineer), and Sgt. Donald M. Alton (Tail Gunner).
B-17 #41-24523 'Li'l Audrey' was one of the 9 original B-17s and crews in the 323rd Bomb Squadron, assigned to Bassingbourn on the 10 November 1942. She was first named 'Golly' then 'Li'l Audrey', then finally re-named 'Snooks'.
'Li'l Audrey'/'Snooks' crashed into the English Channel on the 31 August 1943 following a mid-air collision with B-17 #42-29816 ('The Eager Beaver') over the Sussex coast. Only three bodies from Dick Rodman's crew were recovered. Nineteen deaths in total, one air-sea rescue.
Final mission crew list (31 August 1943), all Killed in Action (KIA):
Pilot: Richard (Dick) C Rodman (KIA)
Co-Pilot: Stan Czerwinski (KIA)
Navigator: Renis TeMaat (KIA)
Bombardier: Saul Berson (KIA)
Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner: Leo Kane (KIA)
Radio Operator: Lyle Young (KIA)
Ball Turret Gunner: John Braisted (KIA)
Waist Gunner: Joe Trotz (KIA)
Waist Gunner: Emanuel Vaccaro (KIA)
Tail Gunner: Jim Murren (KIA)

The Ragged Irregular, October 1997
From the 91st Bombardment Group (H) Newsletter, October 1997 (Vol 30 No.4)
Report on the Memorial Dedication, 2 August 1997.
[A group of 91st BG veterans were in England to attend the dedication of the American Air Museum at Duxford on the 1st August 1997. The following day they visited Bassingbourn]
"The party then moved on to the point on the airfield where the aircraft of the 323rd Squadron crossed the Royston/Huntingdon Highway to its dispersal area in the "Avenue of Trees", once stately trees that succumbed to a disease and have been replaced by young elms. Approximately 60 people [attended] including 91sters still living in England, members of the Dutch WWII Resistance Delegation and many British citizens from the local area.
"A warm welcome by Col. Peter Worthy began the dedication followed by a prayer of thanksgiving by Wray Company Chaplain, Bob Locke. Whit Hill and Phil Mack. former 323rd Squadron members unveiled the Bassingbourn American Flag-draped Marker. The marker was then dedicated by Rev. Ray McKnight. Taps was sounded by USN Petty Officer F/C David M Hall. Whit Hill spoke on thoughts and remembrances, some sad such as the time when M/Sgt Louis Katona inadvertently rode his bicycle into the prop of a taxiing B-17, and joyous times, belatedly thanking Mr and Mrs Howes for the dairy products and the freshly harvested new potatoes the ground crews sometimes "borrowed" from their farm across the highway.
Dedication Ceremony - 2 August 1997
(left to right) Col. Peter Worthy, Vince Hemmings, Maj. Peerce, Whit Hill,
Graham Damant, David Crow, Phil Mack, Maj. Abbott.
"The 323rd Memorial Marker was then officially presented to Mr Graham Damant, Wimpole Hall Property Manager, National Historic Trust, on whose property the marker resides. A plaque for display in Wimpole Hall was also presented to Mr Damant. The closing prayer was administered by Chaplain McKnight."

External Links and Further Information
- For further details on the 323rd Bomb Squadron at Bassingbourn, there is an excellent and informative American website at www.91stbombgroup.com. The website exists "as a tribute to the members of the 91st Bombardment Group and as an historical record of events that took place in Europe during World War II. The 91st Bomb Group Memorial Association's (BGMA) purpose is to keep alive the spirit of the 91st BG (H) and to maintain the fellowship of all those who fought together in WWII from AF Station 121 in Bassingbourn, England from 1942-1945." The site has a huge photo archive and many Tales of the 91st Bomb Group by those who were stationed here.
- The Tower Museum Bassingbourn is a local memorial dedicated to preserving and honouring the memory of all those who served at Bassingbourn. The museum is currently closed but hopes to reopen during 2019. Details on their website.
- William Wyler's 1944 film "The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress", the story of a B-17 flying out of Bassingbourn on its 25th bombing mission over Germany. The 40 minute video has been uploaded to YouTube by the United States Library of Congress for unrestricted viewing. Highly recommended.

  From Huntingdon/Cambridge     South Avenue
Satellite View -  the Memorial marker is indicated in red
     Bassingbourn Barracks (Closed) From Royston/London

Location and Visiting
The 323rd Bomb Squadron Memorial marker is tucked away on National Trust land somewhat in the middle of nowhere and can be a little difficult to locate. The Memorial is not signed from the road and there is only a small area for safe parking off the busy A1198 road.
Look for the place where the B-17 bombers crossed the road during WW2. This can be identified by the original aircraft taxiway which is still in situ protected by a large metal gate (see photograph in the 'Site Today' section above) on the western (airfield/barracks) side of the road. The gate secures an emergency exit for the current Ministry of Defence base (so probably best not to park in front of the gate then...). The crossing point is 1.2 miles (1.9 km) south of the A603/A1198 roundabout or 0.8 miles (1.3 km) north of the main entrance to Bassingbourn Barracks.
From the small parking area on the opposite side of the road, walk between the concrete blocks and follow the grassed footpath for about 100 yards/metres across the full width of the 'South Avenue' which stretches away to your left. Be careful of several deep rabbit holes that could trap and injure the unwary. Notice also the football-sized pieces of rough concrete sticking up out of the grass. These pieces are all that is left of the Dispersal Area D Parking Pads that were broken up after the war. The Memorial marker will be found on the right.
SatNav Settings: If driving from further afield, set your SatNav to 'Bassingbourn Barracks' and/or postcode 'SG8 5LP' and this should deliver you close to the main Barracks entrance on the A1198. Remember your 'final destination' is opposite the emergency exit gate 0.8 miles (1.3 km) north of the main Barracks entrance.

The Memorial Marker and South Avenue (May 2019)


This page was last updated on: 19 May 2019


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