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Wesson Crew R-33 (915)
 Wesson Crew R-33
Back row, left to right...
Richard Norton, co-pilot
Thomas Schnorr, bombardier
P A Weiss, navigator
WilliamH Wesson, pilot
Front row, left to right...
Ira Shattuck Jr, gunner
Gordon Bump, gunner
Eugene Dobbs, engineer
Roger Aten, radio operator
Julius Bowman, gunner
Aloysius Ziemba, gunner
Wesson Crew R-33 (915) Summary
The Wesson Replacement Crew was formed at Salt Lake City, Utah, on Christmas Eve 1943. On 29 February 44, they flew to Casper, Wyoming, where they did their Combat Crew Training. Upon completion of their training, they were assigned to the 8th Air Force and sent to England in a brand new B-24.
Their route to the ETO began with a short stay at McCook, Nebraska. Then it was off to England via the Northern Route, which included a layover at Goose Bay, Labrador (Greenland), before jumping over to Nutts Corner, Northern Ireland. Somewhere along the way, Weiss, the co-pilot was replaced by Buckholz. At Nutts Corner, the Crew had to give up their plane. By boat and train they went to the 14th RCD (replacement crew depot) at Stone, England, to take the mandatory two week 8th AF orientation and training course.
Before getting their group assignment, they first had to pick up a replacement plane to take with them. They flew to Greencastle, Ireland, where they were ordered to report to Southport, England. As soon as they got there, they were assigned to the 492nd BG.
They arrived at North Pickenham on 11 July 44. After going through a short Group orientation, they were assigned to the 859th BS, designated as Crew 915. Then they went through a crash-course from the squadron before getting into the action. These in-house training sessions were short because the Group had already suffered heavy casualties and was well below full strength. They needed the new crews ASAP.
Almost immediately upon arrival, Tommy Schnorr was removed from the crew. At that particular time, the 492nd was using a standard practice which removed bombardiers from the new replacement crews and either assigned to the bombardier's pool or reassigned to a Lead Crew to serve as a Pilotage Navigator. If a mission required a new crew to have a bombardier on board, then one was furnished from the pool.
On their eighth day at North Pickenham, the nine-man crew began flying for real. Their mission took them to Kolbenz, Germany, to bomb a marshalling yard with incendiary bombs. They saw an intense barrage of flak and rockets fired at them. One flak burst hit their #3 engine, but they were able to return safely.
The following day's mission to Erfurt, Germany, was a bit easier. Although they still saw flak and rockets coming up at them, the aim of the German gunners was too inaccurate to do serious damage.
The Wesson Crew flew another mission the next day, making it three in a row. Had they gotten back from this one, they would have gotten a few days off. But the flak encountered along their way to an Me-410 assembly plant in Oberpffaffenhofen, Germany, was too much for their plane to handle. Their plane was riddled.
They took several hits. Bowman caught a piece of shrapnel in the arm. One flak burst damaged a gas tank. Other hits cost them two engines and the hydraulics to the nose and tail turrets. Another hit ignited a fire in the bomb bay but was quickly extinguished. Their fuel transfer capability was gone. Many holes of all sizes were seen throughout the plane. All of this before they had a chance to unload their bombs.
Most crews would had salvoed their bombs earlier, but the Wesson crew wanted to do some good. They dropped out of formation and headed home while keeping a lookout for a target of opportunity. After flying 150 miles, they determined they did not have enough gas to make England so they decided to try for Switzerland. Along the way, they spotted an airfield, circled around and dropped their bombs on it. They caught more flak! They were losing altitude and by the time they passed over Frederickshaven they were at 10,000 ft. They caught another barrage of flak. Although the rudders and stabilizers were shot up, they were still functioning well enough to get them to Switzerland.
Swiss fighters picked up on them and escorted them to an airfield in Duberdorf. The Swiss interrogated them and took away their compasses and maps, anything they thought might help an escape. From there, Bowman was taken to the hospital while the rest were taken to a hotel. Casualty count: nine men interned, MACR 7844.
Except for Bowman, the enlisted men were sent to a hotel in Adelboden, Switzerland, as all new arrivals were required to be quarantined for ten days. Afterwards the enlisted men were moved to the Regina Hotel in Wengen where they stayed until released. Bowman was moved to a hospital in Zurich. At this time we don't know for how long nor where he went after he recovered.
The officers were provided quarters at a luxury resort in Davos, one of the world's top resort areas (now as well as then). As an interesting note, also staying there were German officers of the Luftwaffe. They were not interned but on leave for R&R (rest and relaxation) paid for by the Luftwaffe. These men would stay a week or two and then go back to the war. Amazingly, the Americans and Germans got along pretty well, considering how just before coming there they were trying to kill each other.
For those who kept their nose clean, Switzerland was not a bad place to be interned. Everyone was given free reign to do as they pleased. Unlike those in Sweden, they did not get their full pay so many couldn't afford to do too much. For those who got in trouble with the locals or were with someone who did, the Swiss had a special camp for them where they would be kept under armed guard.
The Wesson Crew was released from internment on 26 March 45.
More Info
Dunnam Crew R-46
Puritanical Bitch
Links to missions
flown by the
Wesson Crew R-33
are below in their
Mission Record
Original Roster for
Wesson Crew R-33 (915)
Position / MOS Name Rank Serial # Notes
MOS 1024
Wesson, William H 2nd Lt O-697185 Promoted 1st Lt
Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 1024
Norton, Richard E 2nd Lt O-768198 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 1034
Buckholz, Roger W F/O T-125631 Replaced Weiss
Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 1035
Schnorr, Thomas G F/O T-125073 Orphaned, reassigned, unknown
Transferred to the 467th BG
Reassigned to Dunnam Crew
MOS 748
Dobbs, Eugene R S/Sgt 36479960 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 757
Aten, Roger W S/Sgt 13171610 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 611
Ziemba, Aloysius P Sgt 32378134 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 611
Bowman, Julius R Sgt 38450804 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 611
Bump, Gordon C Sgt 31167678 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
MOS 612
Shattuck, Ira W Jr Sgt 12093915 Interned in Switzerland, 21 Jul 44, MACR 7844
  Others Who Flew with Wesson Crew R-33 (915)
MOS 1034
Weiss, P A F/O   Replaced by Buckholz
Reassignment unknown
Wesson Crew R-33 (915)
492nd BG Mission Record
859th Bomb Squadron
Primary Target Mission Notes
 Link to Mission 53 page 53
19 Jul 44 44-10496 Koblenz, Germany Target: marshalling yard
 Link to Mission 54 page 54
20 Jul 44 44-40131 Erfurt, Germany Target: airfield
 Link to Mission 55 page 55
21 Jul 44 44-10496 Oberpffaffenhofen, Germany Target: aircraft plant
Lost: Interned in Switzerland, MACR 7844
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Page last modified Tuesday, October 4, 2011.