A friend of mine approached me and asked about cleaning up a WWII era photo of his Father (Holtmeier) and other B-24 crew members taken in England in 1944. Unfortunately the photo was missing emulsion (the part of the print paper that actually contains the ‘image’) but I think the historical significance and character of the men (and the note on the back) more then make up for this.
As you can see from the finished photo (low-res here, for web display) I took the notes from the back of the photo and placed them to the right ((Willie Bardwell (Ala.), Joe Kinney (NY), Holtmeier (PA), Dick Kennedy (My radio oper., NY), Dave Fulton (VHF Relay oper., PA))).
Though I am happy with the results, that’s not the reason for this post. I did a quick search for the 489th (just curious) and found, amongst other things, the following information:
- Constituted as 489th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 14 September 1943.
- Activated on 1 October 1943. Trained with B-24′s.
- Moved to England, April~May 1944, and assigned to Eighth AF.
- Entered combat on 30 May 1944, and during the next few days concentrated on targets in France in preparation for the Normandy invasion.
- In an attack against coastal defenses near Wimereaux on 5 June 1944, the group’s lead plane was seriously crippled by enemy fire, its pilot was killed, and the deputy group commander, Lt Col Leon R Vance Jr, who was commanding the formation, was severely wounded; although his right foot was practically severed, Vance took control of the plane, led the group to a successful bombing of the target, and managed to fly the damaged aircraft to the coast of England, where he ordered the crew to bail out; believing a wounded man had been unable to jump, he ditched the plane in the Channel and was rescued. For his action during this mission, Vance was awarded the Medal of Honor.
- The group supported the landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and afterward bombed coastal defenses, airfields, bridges, railroads, and V-weapon sites in the campaign for France. The 489th began flying missions into Germany in July, and engaged primarily in bombing strategic targets such as factories, oil refineries and storage plants, marshaling yards, and airfields in Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg, Brunswick, Saarbrucken, and other cities until November 1944.
- Other operations included participating in the saturation bombing of German lines just before the breakthrough at St. Lo in July, dropping food to the liberated French and to Allied forces in France during August and September, and carrying food and ammunition to Holland later in September.
- Returned to the US, November~December 1944, to prepare for redeployment to the Pacific theater. Re-designated 489th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) in March 1945. Equipped with B-29′s. Alerted for movement overseas in the summer of 1945, but war with Japan ended before the group left the US. Inactivated on 17 October 1945.
It occurred to me that this was more then just an old photo needing re-touching, that there was a historical significance, if for no one else then the families and friends of these men.
If you are related to any of these men, or have any interest in access to the original hi-res digital photo, feel free to contact me.
More info (wikipedia) can be found here.