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Lewis Crew 813
 Lewis Crew 813
Back row, left to right...
James Lewis, pilot
Bowen Ehrnman, co-pilot
John Hart, bombardier
John Farrell, navigator
Front row, left to right...
Al Contioso, first engineer
Warren Rudolph, nose gunner
John Riolo, crew chief
Ralph Williams, radio operator
Howard Heckmann, ball turret gunner
Joseph Ciullo, tail gunner
Lewis Crew 813 Summary
The Lewis Crew was one of the original crews for the 492nd BG that trained in Alamogordo, New Mexico. They transferred in as crew 1653 from the CCTS (Combat Crew Training School) in Biggs, Texas, on 3 Mar 44. They were assigned to the 858th BS, designated as Crew 813.
While training at Alamogordo, Sgt Bullock suffered a perforated eardrum, thusgrounded from air duties. It's unknown where Bullock went but records show he was no longer with the 492nd. This happened just before the Group's departure to England. Bullock's position was never replaced. The crew flew their missions without a ball turret gunner.
Capt James Lewis signed out for a B-24J, 44-40133. According to Howard Heckmann, they named their plane, UNINVITED. In April 1944, they flew their assigned aircraft to North Pickenham, England, via the southern route. Their ground Crew Chief S/Sgt Riolo flew with them taking Bullock's vacant spot.
By our count, Capt Lewis flew as the aircraft commander for Crew 807 for a total of 2 missions. This is consistent with Howard Heckmann's memory.
Shortly after arriving to North Pickenham the crew swapped navigators with the McMurray Crew 801. Theory is that since Lt Hedges and Capt Lewis were both from the same neighborhood in Cheyenne, Wyoming, they wanted to fly together. We are still trying to confirm when the switch was made and if Lt Farrell flew his first mission with Lewis or McMurray.
On 19 May 44, Capt Lewis flew as the lead ship of the B section (high right) on a bombing run over Brunswick, Germany. Also flying with the crew was Lt Rogers (858th Squadron Operations Officer) and Lt Lutonsky as a Pilotage Navigator. By then Lt Farrell had already changed crews with Lt Hedges from the McMurray Crew 801. Records show he was on a four day pass along with the officers of the Landry Crew 817, Miller Crew 810 and McMurray Crew 801.
The J A Hey Casualty Report says the Lewis Crew was the fourth plane downed by a pass of about forty FW-190s. The Crew's gunners said they saw the planes on each side of them get hit before they got nailed. Only three gunners were able to bail out and survive. 8 KIA, 3 POW, MACR 5245.
The plane crashed within the city of Hannover on Spannhagen Street. The Germans buried the bodies at the local cemetery. After the war, all but two were brought back home.
Howard Heckmann, waist gunner, says he vividly recalls the planes on each of his wings getting hit first. "Then we got riddled with 20mm cannon fire," he said. "I don't think anyone in the front was still alive," He pointed out that the bombs were still in the racks. If anyone up front was still alive he would have salvoed them. "I could see the top turret gunner (Contioso) lying dead on the catwalk. It was obvious no one was flying the plane and we had to get out."
There were only three men in the back. Tail gunner Warren Rudolph had been wounded in his back and one arm. Howard and the other waist gunner, Joe Ciullo, helped Warren get his chute on and pushed him out of the plane. Then they jumped. All three landed near Mandelsloh. See: Mandelsloh Story, linked at right under Stories.
There seems to be some question about Lt Ehrnman's fate. We found him listed in the NARA AAD POW file. It included a notation that said he died as a POW. No camp or other details were given. Since Lt Rogers was flying in the co-pilot's seat, no one can say exactly where Ehrnman was at the time of attack. This fits Heckmann's account that no one was flying the plane. Therefore, we suspect he did survive the initial attack but was severely wounded, jumped out and then died in a German hospital after he was found.
German reports also state that the plane's serial number was clearly visible after it crashed in Hannover. One has to wonder if Lt Ehrman or someone else had salvoed the bombs somewhere between Mandelsloh and Hannover.
More Info
Lewis CCT 1653
McMurray Crew 801
John P Farrell
War Rains Down On
Lutter & Mandelsloh
A B-24 and several
airmen drop onto two
German villages
Links to missions
flown by the
Lewis Crew 813
are below in their
Mission Record
Original Roster for
Lewis Crew 813
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
Lewis, James L Capt O-1699505 KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
MOS 1024
Ehrnman, Bowen T Jr 2nd Lt O-699364 KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried at Ardennes, B-33-51
Seen name as Erhmann and Ehvmann
MOS 1034
Farrell, John P 2nd Lt O-704120 Reassigned to McMurray Crew 801
Transferred to the 801st/492nd BG
Name seen spelled "Farrall" or John "F"
MOS 1035
Hart, John C 2nd Lt O-698011 KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
MOS 748
Contioso, Alfred A S/Sgt 39038529 KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Wall of the Missing, Netherlands
MOS 757
Williams, Ralph S S/Sgt 34382012 KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
MOS 611
Heckmann, Howard R Sgt 16135493 POW, 19 May 44, MACR 5245, Stalag Luft IV
MOS 748
Ciullo, Joseph A Sgt 11103580 POW, 19 May 44, MACR 5245, Stalag Luft IV
Seen name as Cuillo
MOS 748
Rudolph, Warren W Sgt 16144839 POW, 19 May 44, MACR 5245, Stalag Luft IV
MOS 612
Bullock, Thomas A Sgt 36593645 Grounded for medical reasons
Reassignment unknown
  Others Who Flew with Lewis Crew 813
Crew Chief
MOS 750
Riole, John P S/Sgt 12038816 Flew to England with the crew
Transferred to 857th BS
Staff Officer
MOS 2161
Rogers, James P 1st Lt O-429700 858th Squadron Operations Officer
Flew in the co-pilot seat
KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried at Ardennes, B-43-14
MOS 1034
Hedges, Robert E 2nd Lt O-685606 From McMurray Crew 801
KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
MOS 1034
Lutonsky, Luke F 1st Lt O-659951 Group Navigator
KIA, 19 May 44, MACR 5245
Buried in the USA
Lewis Crew 813
492nd BG Mission Record
858th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 02 page 02
12 May 44 44-40133 Zeitz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Led Section C
 Link to Mission 05 page 05
19 May 44 44-40133 Brunswick, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
Lost 8 KIA, 3 POW, MACR 5245
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Page last modified Saturday, May 25, 2013.