U S Army Air Force/8th Air Force/2nd Air Division/14th Bomb Wing/492nd Bomb Group (Heavy)
 492ndBombGroup.com home
follow the 492nd
Smith Crew 906
 Smith Crew 906
Back row, left to right...
Winston Strehorn, co-pilot
Buel Robinson, navigator
William Caplinger, bombardier
Herschel Smith, pilot
Edwin Rogers, gunner
Front row, left to right...
Oscar Cox, left waist gunner
John Brown, radio operator
Leonard Warren, gunner
Alfred Darbyshire, right waist gunner
Joseph Jackson, engineer
Smith Crew 906 Summary
1st Lt Herschel Smith began his service with the 492nd when it was still the 12th AS (Anti-Submarine Squadron) at Langley Field, Virginia. Under Col Pierce he sent to Orlando for tactical training. Since he was one of the more experienced pilots in the Group, a new crew was built around him. His new co-pilot, Lt Strehorn had been demoted from pilot as his crew was disassembled. Smith picked up three men from the Loose Crew, another dismantled crew. See the Training Links. Smith's navigator and bombardier were also experienced men inherited from the 12th AS. The new Smith Crew was assigned to the 859th BS, designated as Crew 906.
Bill Caplinger, the bombardier, was one of the many baseball players that had given up their careers to serve the war effort. He had just been called up to pitch for the St Louis Cardinals, when America entered the war.
Lt Smith signed out for B-24J, 44-40211. Since the wives of four of the crewmen were expecting a baby in September, they named their ship, SEPTEMBER POPS. In April of '44 they flew their assigned ship to England via the southern route. Capt Spivack, the Squadron's Flight Surgeon accompanied them, thus bumping Pfc Darbyshire onto the Queen Elizabeth.
By our count the promoted Capt Smith served as aircraft commander for Crew 906 on 18 missions. We haven't confirmed who was on each of the missions as substitutions are possible as well as the bombardier missing some of the Pathfinder-led missions. We do know that on the day they were captured they were flying with two navigators.
The Smith Crew 906 had survived two deadly air battles with the Luftwaffe. But their luck ran out on 12 Jul 44, on the mission to Munich. Their ship was shot up by flak. One flak shell entered through the ship's ball turret. It instantly killed Sgt Rogers and started an oxygen fire on board. Luckily the flak shell never exploded. Except for the tail turret all of the gun turrets became useless.
Capt Smith tried to make a run for Switzerland. Without any maps that showed where Switzerland was they tried to find it by memory. They flew above the clouds until they saw the Alps poking through it. After crossing the mountains they continued on until they found a break in the clouds that allowed them to safely drop down without hitting a mountain. What they were hoping to be the Swiss Alps ended up being the Italian Alps. The Luftwaffe scrambled to the crippled ship and forced it to land at Ghedi Airfield, Italy. 1 KIA, 10 POW, MACR 7563.
The Germans now had a repairable B-24. Aside from studying the technolgy found on captured ships, the Germans also used them for reconnaissance missions. They used them to tag along with Allied formations in order to accurately report their altitude to the anti-aircraft batteries below.
Two days later on 14 Jul 44, the 15th Air Force dispatched P-38s from their 82nd Fighter Group and destroyed Smith's ship on the ground at Ghedi.
More Info
More photos in the
"Mystery Photos"
Story link below
Strehorn CCT 1109
Loose CCT 1099
Links to missions
flown by the
Smith Crew 906
are below in their
Mission Record
Original Roster for
Smith Crew 906
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
Smith, Herschel L 1st Lt O-660298 Obtained from 12th AS
Promoted Capt
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563
MOS 1024
Strehorn, Winston J
2nd Lt O-811154 Obtained from Strehorn CCTS crew 1109
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft I
MOS 1034
Robinson, Buel C 2nd Lt O-711478 Obtained from 12th AS
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563
MOS 1035
Caplinger, William Jr
2nd Lt O-668703 Obtained from 12th AS
Promoted 1st Lt
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft I
MOS 748
Jackson, Joseph L T/Sgt 20349483 POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563
MOS 757
Brown, John D T/Sgt 20349431 Obtained from Loose CCTS crew 1099
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563
R Waist
MOS 611
Darbyshire, Alfred R Pfc 37704427 Arrived to the UK via the Queen Elizabeth
Promoted Sgt
15 Jun; promoted S/Sgt
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft IV
L Waist
MOS 748
Cox, Oscar S Sgt 38424797 Obtained from Loose CCTS crew 1099
1 Jun; promoted S/Sgt
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft IV
MOS 748
Rogers, Edwin F Sgt 16074978 Obtained from Loose CCTS crew 1099
1 Jun; promoted S/Sgt
KIA, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563
MOS 612
Warren, Leonard P S/Sgt 11027668 POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft IV
  Others Who Flew with Smith Crew 906
MOS 3162
Spivack, Seymour E Capt O-381210 859th Squadron Flight Surgeon
Flew to England with the crew
MOS 1034
Sturla, Harry L Jr 2nd Lt O-692351 From Newman Crew 913
POW, 12 Jul 44, MACR 7563, Stalag Luft IV
Smith Crew 906
492nd BG Mission Record
859th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 01 page 01
11 May 44 44-40211 Mulhouse, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 02 page 02
12 May 44 42-110091 Zeitz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
 Link to Mission 05 page 05
19 May 44 44-40211 Brunswick, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 09 page 09
25 May 44 44-40153 Belfort, France Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 10 page 10
27 May 44 44-40211 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 11 page 11
28 May 44 44-40211 Zeitz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Bombed with A Section
 Link to Mission 13 page 13
30 May 44 44-40211 Rotenburg, Germany Target: Air depot
 Link to Mission 15 page 15
2 Jun 44 44-40211 Berck-sur-Mer, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 16 page 16
4 Jun 44 44-40211 Avord, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 17 page 17
6 Jun 44 44-40211 Normandy, France Target: D-Day invasion coast
 Link to Mission 20 page 20
8 Jun 44 44-40211 Angers, France Target: Railroad junction
 Link to Mission 26 page 26
14 Jun 44 44-40211 Emmerich, Germany Target: Oil refinery
 Link to Mission 28 page 28
15 Jun 44 44-40156 La Frilliere, France Target: Railroad bridge
Led B Section
Bombed target in Le Mans
 Link to Mission 30 page 30
17 Jun 44 44-40068 Tours, France Target: Airfield
 Link to Mission 34 page 34
20 Jun 44 44-40211 Politz, Germany Target: Oil refinery
Bombed with another group
 Link to Mission 40a page 40a
25 Jun 44 44-40132 La Vaupeliere, France Target: Tactical
 Link to Mission 42 page 42
28 Jun 44 44-40211 Saarbrucken, Germany Target: Marshalling yard
Lead Ship
Damaged by flak
 Link to Mission 49 page 49
12 Jul 44 44-40130 Munich, Germany Target: Railroad station
Led B Section
Lost, 1 KIA, 10 POW, MACR 7563
492ndBombGroup.com — an Arnett Institute project
Page last modified Wednesday, June 13, 2012.