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489th Bomber Group

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.

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Posted in People
8 comments on “489th Bomber Group
  1. Stephen R says:

    You might actually put the people’s names in text in the post so that if a family member Googles the name they will find this post. Someone might _love_ to have this photo!

    Allow me:
    Willie Bardwell, Alabama
    Joe Kinney, New York
    Hol____ (?)
    Dick Kennedy, radio oper., New York
    Dave Fulton, VHF relay oper., Pennsylvania

  2. Dicky T says:

    Interesting photo’. My uncle returns to Suffolk this September to visit his old base near Southwold. He was a Tech’Serg in the 489th in a B24 called RumDum (Radio/gunner) until shot down in a raid on Nuremberg (1944)
    There is a museum for Hailsworth Airbase & plenty to see at the IWM Duxford – American Hanger & Museum incl’ a restored B24. The war cemetery at Maningly has graves of members of the 489th. All these places have web sites.
    The 489th may have gone as a fighting unit, but it is not forgotten.

  3. whirli35 says:

    I was looking for S-Sgt. Loy M. Harvey that was MIA over St Lo France July 25, 2944. He was assigned to the 489 Bombardment Group. Any info on him?

  4. doug says:

    I have a very good photo that my Dad took of the front of Rumdum if anyone is interested.

  5. Dan says:

    Wow, this is great. I am looking for info, hopefully a photo of the b-24 “heavenly body”. My dad was tail gunner, 489 bomb group “H”, AF station 305, APO 558. The bomber had the green vertical stabalizer. That is all I have to go by.
    Thanks in advance, Dan

  6. Tom says:

    My grandfather was over there with this group. Thomas Harlan Baker was his name and I was wondering if anyone had any information about him.

  7. Norm Draeger says:

    My Uncle, Rymond T. Draeger, flew with the 489th in the latter half of 1944, first as a Combat Navigator and then as a navigator/ bombardier. Any info certainly is appreciated to [email protected]

  8. Marilynn Tobash says:

    My father was 1st Lt. Harry Pomles, squadron navigator for the 846th Squadron, 489th Bomb Group. He was killed in action July 24, 1944 when the plane suffered a direct hit from German anti aircraft guns over St. Lo. He was 26 and I was a few months past my first birthday.

    I’ve attended 2 reunions in Halesworth and one in Baltimore and met many men who knew my father. Sadly, the men of the 489th are dying off quickly now, the surviving men are all in their late 80’s and their 90’s and most are no longer able to travel. I miss them, they helped me get to know the father I never knew. The bond between those men is very strong and the bond between the members of an air crew is extraordinarily strong. The men of the 489th never forgot the comrades they lost in combat and they were able to stay close through the 489th BG Association here in the USA and the Friends of the 489th in Halesworth as they grew older.

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