Fate of a B-24 crew

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Frog

Staff Sergeant
841
2,358
Jun 11, 2021
France
On July 21, 1944, the B-24 '' Final Approach '' (Tail Number 42-78432), 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bomb Group , 15th​ Air Force took off from San Giovanni as part of Mission 66 to bomb the Brux Synthetic Oil Refinery in Czechoslovakia.
It was shot down by flak and crashed by Radovesice.
Pilot 2/Lt Lieutenant Leon Polinsky, flight engineer T/sergeant Tunis Gaalswyk and radio operator T/sergeant Robert Finley died in the crash.
Co/Pilot - 2/Lt Eben Tilman, Navigator - 2nd​ Lieutenant Charles Denbo, Tail Gunner - Sgt Martin S. Kerby, Waist Gunner - Sgt Colby Davis, Ball Turrett Gunner - Sgt J. Middleton, Gunner - Sgt P. Maudin , Gunner - Sgt W. Long could jump and were captured.
These informations come from the geocatching.com site.
Tunis Gaalswyk and Robert Finley remains were so unindentifiable that they were inhumed together in 1950 at Mac Fort Mc Pherson National Cemetary, Maxwell, Nebraska after repatriation.
I was given in 1994 a file presumately coming from the estate of Robert Finley's relatives containing various informations and documents about his military service. Notably, there was a V-Mail he wrote to his family. What is poignant is it was written to his mother on July 20, 1944 and the bomber was shot down the next day.
In 2004, the D-Day Memorial at Caen was planning an information campaign called Mémoire du Débarquement (D-Day Memories) for the 60th​ anniversary and had asked for pictures and written documents and testimonies pertaining to the Normandy battle time span from persons involved into these events. I gave them various pictures and documents to be exposed in the museum exposition. Notably this V-Mail, was much appreciated by the Memorial staff : they were glad to accept because they had no example of a vintage V-Mail written by a service member. I think this is one of the most honorable place it could be exposed in to honor his sacrifice. Althought it can at first seem surprizing to have a document connected to the 15th​ Air Force bombers in Italy, at a museum dedicated to the D-Day, the 454th Bomb Group is credited for the Normandy – Northern France campaign (they contributed to bomb raids in France).

 

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This is a fine exposition but the Tiffy is a replica !

Yes, I know. The only surviving (complete - there's a couple under restoration around the traps) Typhoon is at the RAF Museum, Hendon. The Caen one certainly looks the part. It's in the markings of Typhoon IB JP656 of 184 Sqn, which was hit by flak as it was attacking a railway convoy near Mezidon, a few ks southeast of Caen.

There's only one complete airframe at Caen, a MiG-21.

48216745507_51492c137e_b.jpg
Europe 182

There are fragments of a U-2 shot down over Cuba on loan from the history museum in Havana, though.

48216701671_f189408728_b.jpg
Europe 180
 
It is less interesting as long as tanks are concerned as the Panther that was given by the Saumur Tank Museum is now exposed at Montormel (of Polish Armored Division fame). The Panzer III that was only on loan has been returned to Norway.
 
On July 21, 1944, the B-24 '' Final Approach '' (Tail Number 42-78432), 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bomb Group , 15th​ Air Force took off from San Giovanni as part of Mission 66 to bomb the Brux Synthetic Oil Refinery in Czechoslovakia.
It was shot down by flak and crashed by Radovesice.
Pilot 2/Lt Lieutenant Leon Polinsky, flight engineer T/sergeant Tunis Gaalswyk and radio operator T/sergeant Robert Finley died in the crash.
Co/Pilot - 2/Lt Eben Tilman, Navigator - 2nd​ Lieutenant Charles Denbo, Tail Gunner - Sgt Martin S. Kerby, Waist Gunner - Sgt Colby Davis, Ball Turrett Gunner - Sgt J. Middleton, Gunner - Sgt P. Maudin , Gunner - Sgt W. Long could jump and were captured.
These informations come from the geocatching.com site.
Tunis Gaalswyk and Robert Finley remains were so unindentifiable that they were inhumed together in 1950 at Mac Fort Mc Pherson National Cemetary, Maxwell, Nebraska after repatriation.
I was given in 1994 a file presumately coming from the estate of Robert Finley's relatives containing various informations and documents about his military service. Notably, there was a V-Mail he wrote to his family. What is poignant is it was written to his mother on July 20, 1944 and the bomber was shot down the next day.
In 2004, the D-Day Memorial at Caen was planning an information campaign called Mémoire du Débarquement (D-Day Memories) for the 60th​ anniversary and had asked for pictures and written documents and testimonies pertaining to the Normandy battle time span from persons involved into these events. I gave them various pictures and documents to be exposed in the museum exposition. Notably this V-Mail, was much appreciated by the Memorial staff : they were glad to accept because they had no example of a vintage V-Mail written by a service member. I think this is one of the most honorable place it could be exposed in to honor his sacrifice. Althought it can at first seem surprizing to have a document connected to the 15th​ Air Force bombers in Italy, at a museum dedicated to the D-Day, the 454th Bomb Group is credited for the Normandy – Northern France campaign (they contributed to bomb raids in France).

I am a nephew of Tunis Gaalwyk, whose remains are inhumed with those of Robert O. Finely at Ft. Mc Pherson cemetery in Maxwell, NE. We have a letter that was written to his cousin in Minnesota, also on the day before the fateful crash. In Mukov, Czech Republic there is a very poignant memorial set up with a plaque bearing the names of the three crewmembers lost on that day. Information about it can be found at:


Thank-you for your post.
 
On July 21, 1944, the B-24 '' Final Approach '' (Tail Number 42-78432), 736th Bombardment Squadron, 454th Bomb Group , 15th​ Air Force took off from San Giovanni as part of Mission 66 to bomb the Brux Synthetic Oil Refinery in Czechoslovakia.
It was shot down by flak and crashed by Radovesice.
Pilot 2/Lt Lieutenant Leon Polinsky, flight engineer T/sergeant Tunis Gaalswyk and radio operator T/sergeant Robert Finley died in the crash.
Co/Pilot - 2/Lt Eben Tilman, Navigator - 2nd​ Lieutenant Charles Denbo, Tail Gunner - Sgt Martin S. Kerby, Waist Gunner - Sgt Colby Davis, Ball Turrett Gunner - Sgt J. Middleton, Gunner - Sgt P. Maudin , Gunner - Sgt W. Long could jump and were captured.
These informations come from the geocatching.com site.
Tunis Gaalswyk and Robert Finley remains were so unindentifiable that they were inhumed together in 1950 at Mac Fort Mc Pherson National Cemetary, Maxwell, Nebraska after repatriation.
I was given in 1994 a file presumately coming from the estate of Robert Finley's relatives containing various informations and documents about his military service. Notably, there was a V-Mail he wrote to his family. What is poignant is it was written to his mother on July 20, 1944 and the bomber was shot down the next day.
In 2004, the D-Day Memorial at Caen was planning an information campaign called Mémoire du Débarquement (D-Day Memories) for the 60th​ anniversary and had asked for pictures and written documents and testimonies pertaining to the Normandy battle time span from persons involved into these events. I gave them various pictures and documents to be exposed in the museum exposition. Notably this V-Mail, was much appreciated by the Memorial staff : they were glad to accept because they had no example of a vintage V-Mail written by a service member. I think this is one of the most honorable place it could be exposed in to honor his sacrifice. Althought it can at first seem surprizing to have a document connected to the 15th​ Air Force bombers in Italy, at a museum dedicated to the D-Day, the 454th Bomb Group is credited for the Normandy – Northern France campaign (they contributed to bomb raids in France).

My father was a waist gunner on this mission-NOT P. Mauldin, but Lee Maulding. He was a volunteer for this max effort mission, having flown 35 missions as a ball turret gunner on Gangbang's Revenge (TN 42-52272). He was the ONLY member of his crew that volunteered, hence he was flying with a different crew. He survived The March from Stalag Luft IV at Gross Tychow in Pomerania. He used the cup pictured here to eat from and serve as calendar.
 

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