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Harding Crew 902
 Harding Crew 902
Back row, left to right...
Bernerd Harding, pilot
Hurl O'Shields, co-pilot
Gerald Bethke, navigator
Edwin Alexander, squadron bombardier
Richard West, squadron gun officer
Front row, left to right...
Robert Silva, engineer
Champ Hunter, radio operator
John Reschke, ball turret gunner
Robert Penberthy, tail gunner
Franklin Snyder, nose gunner
John Sander, top turret gunner
Harding Crew 902 Summary
2nd Lt Bernard Harding was the 859th Squadron's Operations Officer during the command of Col Pierce. As crews began transferring into the Group under Col Snavely, Lt Harding was given command one of the crews. He took over the Strehorn Crew 1109 that had come up from Tucson. Strehorn and two of his men were reassigned elsewhere. See the Training link. The new Harding Crew remained in the 859th BS, designated as Crew 902.
Lt Harding signed out for B-24J, 44-40155. The crew named it the FEUDIN' WAGON. In April of '44 they fly their assigned ship to England via the southern route. They took their ground crew chief M/Sgt Busby with them, thus bumping Sgt Penberthy onto the Queen Elizabeth. It appears that after the Group reached England, Lt Williams, the bombardier, switched crews with Lt West on the Prytulak Crew 902.
By our count, the Harding Crew 902 flew 14 missions. We aren't certain who flew on each of those missions. Since they usually flew as a lead crew, substitutions or added personnel were common. Soon after arriving in England Lt Williams traded places with the bombardier on the Prytulak Crew 907.
Their last mission was also the last massive air battle fought by the Group. The mission on 7 Jul 44 was to Bernburg to bomb an aircraft manufacturing plant. On board with them were Capt Jaques as the Air Leader plus Lt Kernis, a pilotage navigator. Their plane was assulted by enemy fighters. All 12 on board managed to bail out just before the ship exploded. But the worst was yet to come. On the ground they were severely beaten by a mob of angry German civilians, during which Sgt Snyder was killed. MACR 7229.
The wreckage of the plane was found scattered near Wegelben, Germany, which is about 7 kilometers east of Halberstadt. Snyder was buried at Krottorf, where he had been killed. After the war, his body was brought back to the US.
An article written on the fate of the Smiley Crew 910 includes a portion of a letter written by Melvin Kernis to William Sheely's daughter Billy. Kernis was a member of the Smiley Crew but was flying with the Harding crew when both of the crews were shot down. See the story link at right.
More Info
Strehorn CCT 1109
by Billy Sheely
Links to missions
flown by the
Harding Crew 902
are below in their
Mission Record
Original Roster for
Harding Crew 902
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
Harding, Bernard N
2nd Lt O-522768 Promoted 1st Lt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft I
MOS 1022
O'Shields, Hurl E
2nd Lt O-814956 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft I
MOS 1034
Bethke, Gerald A
2nd Lt O-700126 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft I
MOS 1035
Williams, Wesley R
2nd Lt O-694830 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
Traded places w/Lt West, Prytulak 907
Transferred to the 467th BG
MOS 748
Silva, Robert J
S/Sgt 19069433 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
Promoted T/Sgt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229
MOS 757
Hunter, Champ W S/Sgt 39267601 Promoted T/Sgt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229
MOS 611
Reschke, John C Sgt 06594498 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
Promoted S/Sgt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft IV
MOS 748
Sander, John M Sgt 17121566 From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
Promoted S/Sgt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft IV
MOS 611
Snyder, Franklin W
Sgt 15125090 Promoted S/Sgt
KIA, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229
Buried in the USA
MOS 612
Penberthy, Robert W
Sgt 39411695 Arrived to the UK via the Queen Elizabeth
From Strehorn CCTS Crew 1109
Promoted S/Sgt
POW, 7 Jul 44, MACR 7229, Stalag Luft IV
  Others Who Flew with Harding Crew 902
Crew Chief
MOS 750
Busby, Bert B M/Sgt 37099450 Flew to England with the crew
MOS 1035
West, Richard M
2nd Lt O-695393 From Prytulak Crew 907
Traded places Lt Williams
POW, 7 July 44, MACR 7229, Stalag 383
MOS 1024
Adams, Louis C Jr Lt Col O-022616 Deputy Group Commander
MOS 1024
Mahoney, James J Lt Col O-416320 859th Squadron Commander
Staff Officer
MOS 2161
Taylor, John J Capt O-421636 859th Squadron Operations Officer
MOS 1024
Turnbull, John I "Jack" Lt Col O-399733 Group Operations Officer
Staff Officer
MOS 1024
Jaques, Louis Jr Capt O-372868 Air Commander
POW, 7 July 44, MACR 7229
MOS 1034
Kernis, Melvin 2nd Lt O-704008 From Smiley Crew 910
POW, 7 July 44, MACR 7229, Stalag VIIA
Harding Crew 902
492nd BG Mission Record
859th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 01 page 01
11 May 44 44-40155 Mulhouse, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 04 page 04
15 May 44 44-40155 Siracourt, France Target: Crossbow (V-1 rockets)
 Link to Mission 08 page 08
24 May 44 44-40155 Melun, France Target: Airfield
Lead Ship w/Adams and Simonds
 Link to Mission 12 page 12
29 May 44 44-40155 Politz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Lead ship w/Mahoney
 Link to Mission 16 page 16
4 Jun 44 44-40130 Avord, France Target: Airfield
Deputy lead w/Taylor
 Link to Mission 19 page 19
6 Jun 44 44-40131 Vire, France Target: D-Day invasion coast
 Link to Mission 21 page 21
10 Jun 44 44-40155 Boulogne, France Target: Airfield
Flew with the 44th BG
 Link to Mission 25 page 25
12 Jun 44 44-40155 Dreux, France Target: Airfield
Lead Ship W/Turnbull
 Link to Mission 28 page 28
15 Jun 44 44-40155 La Frilliere, France Target: Railroad bridge
Took over as B leader to target
Bombed target in Le Mans
 Link to Mission 36 page 36
21 Jun 44 44-40110 Genshagen, Germany Target: Aircraft engine factory
Lead Ship w/Adams
 Link to Mission 40a page 40a
25 Jun 44 44-40155 La Vaupeliere, France Target: Tactical
Lead Ship w/Mahoney
 Link to Mission 42 page 42
28 Jun 44 44-40155 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
Damaged by flak
 Link to Mission 43 page 43
29 Jun 44 44-40130 Magdeburg, Germany Target: Aircraft Industry
 Link to Mission 46 page 46
7 Jul 44 44-40110 Bernburg, Germany Target: Aircraft manufacturing
Led B Section w/Jaques
Lost: 1 KIA, 11 POW, MACR 7229
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Page last modified Tuesday, October 4, 2011.