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Are abandoned vehicles and guns lost or captured?

Lost if Captured


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:23 am Post subject: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

So I was a bit bored and started looking for the latest Terrain Challenge. I took an old WW2 photo from the air raids in and around Ploestia and tried to find the match on Google maps. It was actually kind of fun trying to reference 70 years old land marks on the terrain today.

The first picture is of Columbia Aquila Refineries, which is on the Western edge of Ploestia. I think Astra is a suburb. This image was slightly challenging as North was not upwards. Google maps give you no option to rotate. Trying to picture each map in your head rotated was hard haha..

This second image is from Google maps. I took a screenshot, pasted it to pbrush.exe, cropped it, pasted to MS Powerpoint and rotated until I thought it was lined up with the 1944 version.

Its a match! I wonder if the refinery was closed after the bombing raids? The roads to not line up exactly in the modern day photo. You can count the storage silos to prove and some of the buildings as well. It didn't take long to make the match as Columbia Astra Refinery gives you a hit on Google maps. I think the big open field may be a historical marker, which was labelled on the maps.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:31 am Post subject: Re: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

What I am going to do next is see if can reference one of the famous photos of low level B24s onto Google maps or Streetview.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:14 am Post subject: Re: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

Somewhere in this refinery, the B-24 Sandman was flying over. I can't pinpoint it. The B-24 Chug-A-Lug was flying in front of the Sandman taking photos every few seconds. I am trying to find out their flight path so I know which way to rotate the map...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:21 am Post subject: Re: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

one small observation Mooxe: the name of the city is Ploiesti, not Ploestia




Last edited by sample on Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:44 pm Post subject: Re: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

Sandman was shot down in Italy later in the war. Here's the story of the search for Sandman...


By M/Sgt Herbert C. (Herb) Harper, USAF Ret.
Historian of the 98th Bomb Group Veterans Association

One of the most recognized photographs of the air war in Europe during WW II, is a B-24 Liberator emerging from the fire and smoke of the burning Ploesti Oil Refinery on the Low Level Raid of 1 August 1943. This B-24D, was The Sandman, serial number 42-40402 with Robert Sternfels at the Pilot’s controls. Luck certainly was with them that day as The Sandman   had taken  AAA and small arms weapons fire from a famous Q Train, as well as making contact with a barrage balloon cable just before entering the smoke and fire and then having to dodge smoke stacks in their path on their way out.. Details of this action are recorded in Bob   Sternfel,s’ book “Burning Hitler’s Black Gold”.

The Sandman survived the action this day to fly a total of 47 and one half missions.

THE   SANDMAN, B-24, Liberator,  S/N 42-40402-55-CO. Constructed at San Diego, CA. at a cost of  $297,627.00. Delivered to the Air Force on 2-25-1943. From San Diego, It went to the modification center at Dallas, TX. then to Hamilton  Field, California. Its next stop was  Topeka, Kansas, where the Robert Sternfels crew was assigned   the aircraft.  Bob Sternfels’ test hop of   42-40402 was not satisfactory, and 42-40402   was rejected   for an engine problem in the air. After some maintenance work, the aircraft was test flown again with the same results. After a confrontation with a Master   Sergeant crew chief, Lt. Sternfels persuaded the maintenance technician to accompany the crew on another test flight, On this test flight the engine problem in the air was confirmed. After an engine change, the aircraft was accepted and Bob Sternfels proceeded to North Africa, where 42-40402 was delivered to the 9th Air Force on 5-28-1943. 42-40402 and Bob Sternfels crew were subsequently assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group.

Their arrival in the North African desert introduced the crew to the sand and dust storms, which were almost always present. Their aircraft painted a desert sand color, a popular song of the day was” Mister Sandman”, and the sand of the desert impressed them to the extent that  “THE  SANDMAN” was a natural response for the name of their aircraft. No one individual takes credit for the name. It was a team decision, and what a team they were.  They loved their aircraft and babied it with care. After every mission the officers would use paint brushes to clean  the  dust and sand from the instruments and controls in the nose, while the enlisted men would use brooms and what ever else was available to clear the rest of aircraft of the ever present sand. The SANDMAN’S ground crew was confronted with the same problems of keeping the sand out of the engines, oil, fuel and control surfaces. They also gave THE  SANDMAN lots of  “tender loving care”

THE  SANDMAN’s   first  and second missions  were to Foggia, Italy. However Bob Sternfels did not fly THE SANDMAN on  these missions. He did fly THE SANDMAN as copilot on the third and fourth missions, then  he flew THE  SANDMAN, as aircraft commander,  on its next seventeen consecutive missions. Bob Sternfels went on to fly   THE   SANDMAN a total of 28 missions. And finally became 345th Squadron Commander on 23 October 1943.

THE SANDMAN’ 48th mission   was to Augsburg, Germany on the 19th December 1943. Reuben Weltha, the 345th Bomb   Squadron’s operations officer was designated as the 98th Bomb Group Lead that day.

The following is   Reuben Weltha’s account of “ THE SANDMAN”S”  final  mission.

“On the 19 December 1943, there were tragic events in the skies over southern Europe that changed the lives of many people.  I was Squadron Operation Officer of the 345th Bomb Group, 47th Bomb Wing in the 15th Air Force, stationed at Brindisi on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy.  We were ordered to carry out a bombing raid on the Messerschmitt Aircraft Factory at Augsburg, Germany.   The Bomb load was
10 – 500 pound general purpose demolition bombs in each B-24.  I was designated to fly the lead plane for this, my 26th mission.  The weather was marginal but the target was supposed to be clear according to the official weather briefing.  Afterwards, Cpt. Bob Westfall, our group weather officer, told me privately we’d never see the target but it would be clear just north of Augsburg.  His prediction was absolutely correct.  Later he was reprimanded for not parroting the “official” forecast, which came down from on high, but I always privately consulted him.

It was known the 376th Bomb Group of B-24’s would follow us to the target.  We referred to them as Halpro, which was short for the HALverson  PROvisional Group.  Don’t recall any other Bomb Groups, but there would be NO fighter escort.

This gloomy day was also selected as moving day for our Group. Earlier, General Doolittle had flown over the Brindisi Airfield and Harbor and decided it was too inviting a target for an enemy air attack.  As a result, after we took off on the raid, ground personnel loaded up the trucks for the move and drove some 30 miles inland to an isolated field with a dirt runway near Manduria, Italy and were forced to put up our own tents in near freezing rain, with no heat or lights.

Our Sqd. Commander stayed down from this raid and designated that my crew and I would fly the lead plane, but ordered his navigator, Tony Flesch, to replace my navigator, Stanley Napierala in the lead plane.  Either were very capable navigators, but I much preferred Nappy, as we’d already competed 25 raids together.  I was overruled!  I had frequently led our Squadron, but this was the first time to lead the Group.

There was another rather personal concern attending this mission.  The Sqd. Operations Officer is responsible for all the flight personnel, crew training, equipment, crews, etc.  Over time, there became extra crewmen trained to fly various positions, but are without a crew for different reasons.  At this time, we, Sgt. Willie Welch, the superb NCO I chose to run my office, and myself, would consult and select fairly from this group and form a new combat crew, so they had a chance to complete their tour of duty and go home.  This also increased Squadron strength if/when we received more airplanes.

1st Lt. John (Jack) Viers was a good choice to be the first Pilot of this new crew.  He had considerable combat time as copilot, and I flew with him enough to verify that he was well qualified in all phases of his job as first pilot.  He turned out very well and I had no qualms with his ability as first pilot.  This was to be Jack’s first raid as Airplane Commander, so I had Lt. Stan Napierala go with Jack who needed a navigator.  Jack was assigned to fly Sandman, our Squadron Commander’s airplane, in no. 4 position directly behind and just below the leader.  This was one of the easier positions to maintain while flying in formation.  He had a B-24 flying in formation off his wings, just as I did.

Takeoff, forming up and heading out on course was routine with nothing different noted.  We maneuvered around some clouds enroute but always maintained visual contact.  As we neared the target at bombing altitude, about 25,000 feet, there occurred a decidedly sobering sequence of events.  The top turret of the
B-24 was made by Martin Aircraft and was the same as the twin fifty caliber electric top turret used on the Martin B-26 bombers of that era.  Since this was a freely rotating turret, it had integral ammunition cans and oxygen bottles.  The small bottles could only hold about an hour’s oxygen supply for the turret operator, so it was necessary to recharge the turret supply with a transfusion via a quick disconnect hose from the ship’s main oxygen system.  This was done by our radio operator, T/Sgt. Geoffrey Williams (we called him Willie), who was a highly qualified top gunner as well.

Shortly, I heard our savvy Flight Engineer, T/Sgt. Carl Palm, “Sawg”, as we called him, come on the intercom from the top turret.  “Hey Willie, give me some oxygen!”  Nothing unusual. Again came the same call shortly followed by “Willie, give me some #@&’! oxygen.”  Sensing his alarm, I turned and nudged Willie who was sitting between the pilot’s seats on the step from the flight deck to the lower radio deck.  As he turned to look at me, I noticed two things.  His unplugged oxygen hose dangled from his oxygen mask and his eyes indicated he was only semi conscious.  I instantly called, “Sawg, Willie is down!  Get out of the turret and get on the main oxygen system!”  Sawg did just that.  Right away our outstanding CoPilot, John Childers, unhooked his seat belt, disconnected his oxygen mask and went back and quickly plugged in Willie’s oxygen mask.  This may have saved the day, however, John was almost spent by the time he got back to his seat on oxygen again.  This could have been a very nasty dilemma, where either we let down to a lower altitude (against regulations) to save Willie, or others, or we let them perish!  One cannot stay alive very long without oxygen at that altitude.

As predicted by Capt. Bob Westfall, the target area was obscured by  low clouds , but it was clear further north. We were briefed to drop our bombs on ETA (estimated time arrival) if we couldn’t see the target. We encountered some anti aircraft fire  as a hole opened in the clouds below, revealing presumably Augsburg. About then, we dropped our bombs. Don’t know what we hit our mission was half over, the airplane was 6,000 pounds lighter, flew easier and we were going home.

It wasn’t long before we were hit by an estimated 50-60 German Fighters. .Besides the usual ME-109 and FW-190 single engine fighters, there were a number of  twin engine ME-110s. The ME-110s used a new tactic. They would line up six abreast behind us, beyond effective range of our .50 caliber tail turret guns. Together they each would launch a rocket at our formation. Joe Aucoin, our tail gunner, clued us to what was going on and told us when the rockets were on the way. We lucked out on the first salvo as the rockets exploded  just above our position When Joe reported the next launch, I instinctively pushed the nose down to lose altitude in effort to  cause the rockets to again miss high. One can lead formation down much easier than up or to either side. It worked and there followed  several powerful explosions just above our heads. This was repeated several times. It seemed a bit like being inside a  tight new car when a door is slammed. We could feel and sense the concussion when they were close. They burst with a bluish white flash , unlike the oily black puffs of flak. None of my crew reported any B-24s in trouble. Shortly I viewed a gruesome sight.

I noticed some B-24s of the 376th Bomb Group flying below on our left and slightly behind us. Just then a rocket exploded between the engines under the right wing of the B-24 flying near the right front of this formation. It blew the # 4 right outboard engine clear off the right wing, bent the wing up about 60 degrees and blew the propeller off # 3 engine. The stricken B-24 immediately lurched into an upward right roll and started a downward spiral as it slid from view under our left wing. There was a black blob that rapidly moved forward as it climbed and pulled even with us at about eye level. It was then that its spinning slowed to reveal the free wheeling propeller off # 3 engine. It kept going and climbed  until its inertia was spent and it slowed, stopped and began the long decent from view. This propeller probably impacted the ground 300 yards or more southeast of the main crash. No parachutes were seen and that is not surprising,   since it is almost impossible to bail out  of an airplane that is in a right downward spiral. We were flying at an altitude of 18 to 20,000 feet as we usually let down after coming off the target. This would put us at about 10,000 feet above the terrain in that mountainous region. When we got back on the ground, Lt Jack Viers crew and   The Sandman were missing

Before we left our airplane for interrogation, it was noticed some odd  shaped shrapnel was lodged in the left wing  trailing edge between the engines. It was a helical shaped piece of steel about an inch wide and 3/16 inch thick and about a foot long. This helix had an inside diameter of maybe 2-3 inches. Some civilians showed up and took this piece of metal. I believe it was the case of a rocket that was made using  a simple production technique  like the Damascus  twisted steel shotgun barrels ; sever bands of steel coiled and welded  together to make a tube.. There was also a shallow curved dent in the upper surface that indicated having been scorched . The experts surmised the dent was caused by a rocket that impacted the wing with a glancing blow but did not detonate . It may have been a DUD—Who knows.

We had heard  nothing from searches, etc. by the time I left the squadron to go home in May of 1944. After some 60 years and queries over the various internet sites regarding the missing B-24. We finally got a hit  on Sunday, 8 February 2004. When following up on another lead, we got an Email from Roland Domanig in southwestern Austria. He put me in touch with Giorgio Pietrobon from adjoining Northern Italy, who turned out to have some key information. He had made the trek to the actual crash site in the mountains about 20 miles east of Bolzano, Italy, and had retrieved a piece of wreckage that indeed bore a number that later positively identified a part of the engine cowling from THE  SANDMAN.

Giorgio also talked to a native who watched the fighters attack and shoot down THE  SANDMAN. His description was so similar  to that of the B-24 I saw hit, that one wonders if it was indeed THE SANDMAN. One can surmise that Jack’s plane lost power for some reason and dropped down to join the 376th formation. .There is a possibility that two B-24s were lost in the same manner and at about the same time, however that is not very probable. If a propeller was found with bent blades some 2-300 yards  southeast of the main wreckage, then that would have been THE  SANDMAN for sure

Special thanks to Roland Domanig  and Giorgio Pietrobon for finding and sharing  the information that finally provides a measure of  closure for the sad event .We pray that the Sandman crew and all others lost may rest in peace.

(signed)  Reuben Weltha..

Meanwhile, on the ground, the air battle was also being closely observed

Giorgio Pietrobon, a  retired  school teacher and professor of Treviso, Italy  is one of  those that have spent several years investigating,  researching and writing about Allied Air losses in southern Europe.

As historian of the 98th Bomb Group/Wing Veterans Association, I have corresponded with many historians,, researchers and writers from many European countries including Italy, France Germany, Austria, The Slovac countries, Switzerland, Poland Hungary, Bulgaria,  Romania, and Turkey as well as the UK, Canada.  In many cases their research overlaps one another and some confusion does crop up as  their research is not restricted to one loss, one date or one specific location. For example on the 19th of December 1943, the 98th BG lost three B-24s and the 376th lost four on the same mission.

The following is Giorgio Pietrobon’s  account of his part in the search for THE  SANDMAN.

Five Years Hunting Missing American Soldiers
By Giorgio Pietrobon

The mystery started to unravel after a grease-covered plate had been cleaned up. Three years after starting the difficult research, the use of a common rag dipped in petrol opened up a glimmer of hope that an obscure war story of death and chance recovery of debris was about to find a solution.

But let us start from the beginning.

Five years ago, as a retired teacher in Treviso, Italy, I spent my time, as an amateur, the cases of some US bombers that had fallen between Germany, Austria and Italy on 19 December 1943, an especially harsh Sunday of war for the Apulia-based USAAF.
In Spring of 2000 I came in contact with Keith Bullock, former of RAF airman during WW II; having retired he had become rather well-known searching for missing US bombers in Austria, where he had taken up residence. It is he who provides me with a good portion of the American documentation on the airplanes that did not make it back from that day’s targets: Augsburg, Germany  and Innsbruck, Austria.. That is how I found out that a remarkable number of eleven B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortresses had been lost in just half an hour.

Up to the following summer I had especially focused my research on following the trails of the 4 four engine bombers that had been gunned down in the surrounding Sella mountains in the Dolomiti Ladine, at the crossroads of three provincial countries. For some time already I had been collecting material to shed light on the B-24 that was shot down above Arabba  (Livinallongo, Provincial County of Belluno).

I was immediately met by the lively support of dozens of witnesses, men and women willing to provide their absolutely reliable memories. Two parish priest, farmers, hoteliers, teachers, housewives, tourist operators and public officials did their best to help me resolve the main enigma: who were the 10 airmen who died when the four-engine aircraft crashed in the area, a fact that is documented in the official acts I had been managed  to gain from the Washington Archives.

29 people of all ages and ways of life opened up their homes  and hotels of this densely tourist area to offer me their memories and stories or airplane debris and photographs that were useful for my purpose.

Let me reconstruct the story of the victims of that far-away crash.
I found my answers in those who were but four years of age at the time, people like Paolo Kostner, or Heinz Kostner, presently the Mayor  of the main Municipality which is Corvara in the Alta Badia in the provincial county of Bolzano. As the disaster took place on the mountain that rises above the fraction  of  Colfosco. This is where I focused the main part of my research. I sought out, one by one , whose stories of old and forgotten events that took place sixty years ago, their faces lighting up  as they started their detailed account of the facts. This had been a very important episode that had changed them.

Months later, the eye witness Francesco Piccolruaz and Girolamo Costamoling both gave me a perfectly consistent story of the disorderly return of the American formation from the area of the bombing and the action during which  the guns of a Luftwaffe  fighter severed the American bomber’s right-hand  wing half, setting it alight: as it careened  in the air above the village of Colfosco it lost  a heavy piece of metal which damaged the cupola of the belfry and disappeared beyond mount Ciampac. No parachutes were seen to open, and the disastrous end of its careening followed very soon. The teacher, Angela Castlunger, who was then 14, can still picture the image of the airplane in flames as it threatened the village that was almost completely built in wood. Filomena Pitscheider was a little older but enthralled by the sight of the ball of fire causing her to fall into the snow from an outer stairway. Germano Costner and Alois Posch, former members of the S.O.D. , a local militia under the Germans told me of the terrible phases of the recovery of the war torn bodies in the middle of the snow. The women, especially like Frida Costner, provided a sorrowful account of the condition of those poor bodies. They had been carried to Corvara on sleighs and had been buried in the cemetery of the Ladino community in a common grave marked by numerous crosses. The parish priest of the time, Don Fortunato Daporta , as testified by Francesco Piccolruaz took care to provide a ceremony, almost a funeral, for the enemies who had fallen from the sky. Don Vincenzo Frena, the emeritus parish priest of Colfosco led me to  the place where a German fighter had fallen ,one of the many aircrafts that had been gunned down towards midday by the machine gunners on board the bombers.

All tell of the transit, day and night, from all Val Badia that went on for months on end of an army of industrious human ants intent on the dismantling of the enormous war bird. Almost every thing was recovered from the partially burnt down heap. Aluminum sheets, engine bearings, plexiglass, electrical material, motors, propellers, parachutes, machine guns, ammunition, lifeboats, dollars, food, tools, flare guns, steel plating, mechanical tools, red-black rubber from the self sealing tanks, clothes, military cutlery, chewing gum, large quantities of socket screws. EVERYTHING: 16 to 17 tons of all kinds of wares that had wrecked in the impact. Everything that was recovered was recycled for a specific purpose. A whole valley walked for years on soles cut out from the rubber salvaged from the large open-air emporium. It is clearly recalled by Francesco Mersa. The priceless stainless steel oxygen tanks with handles became saucepans without equal for cooking potatoes, the mainstay in the miserable post war years, recalls Paolo Kostner. Girolamo Costamoling cleverly turned a machine gun casing into a winch to help deliver the calves during difficult births: an instrument of death turned tool to assist births. A whole blade from a propeller dug up by Konrad Alfreider,  ended up in the private war museum of a nearby city. Paolo Clara gave me an aluminum plate, unfortunately it did not have any identifying numbers and was of little help. His brother, Gottfried, who was to become an engineer, built as a young boy, an electric turbine using engine parts. Having placed it on a stream near his home, he used it to activate an electric fence for the cows as testified by photos. Floriano Alfreider offered to entrust me with an enormous wheel that was used in the 1950s to provide raw materials used for the brakes for the horse carts. Franz Mersa says his father found a wad of dollars but they were half burned and worthless. The parish priest, Don Alfonso Clara, took charge of researching the book of the deceased in the parish. His research clarifies a number of essential figures for December 19 1943.” 11 Allied airmen found dead at Crespena  Lake . Buried on 23rd. “ No names are listed. The number of victims did not prove to be very helpful as three aircraft  crashes were similar and might be confused with one another.

On 20 October 2001, I climbed up to the place of the tragedy,  accompanied by Giorgio Kostner. This enabled me to reconstruct how the impact occurred. First the impact with a slight slope, then violently skating down against some rocky tips, diving down into the ravine and then the blaze. Pieces of iron scrap is still visible.

Back in the village I learned that one of the identity tags had been used for years as a key ring by my guides household, and had been thrown  in the scrap heap without ever having read the inscription. What a shame.

I am often on the road, the city I live in Treviso, in the Veneto region, and Colfosco are at 160 KM distance. For long trips my wife Mariolina travels with me. I continue to analyze the debris reclaimed from the wreckage, to look at photographs that might shed even a slight light on an utterly mysterious aircraft. In vain, I pursued the items of clothing of the Air Corp that had been used by valley people until they were worn out then thrown away. Perhaps they would have revealed some name or otherwise identification.. That has proven fruitless.

When Giarone Costamoling gave me a present of the remaining photograph found in the wreckage of the dismembered aircraft, I finally had reason to celebrate. It showed the photo of a wrecked Consolidated B-24D Liberator in Africa, Libya perhaps or Tunisia. The front landing gear had collapsed without harming the crew. At least it was now clear that this was the model of bomber for which the whole village had joined forces in order to help me unravel its mystery.

Finally a lead, for a new possible track, was unexpectedly provided by a farmer, Francesco Mersa. On 22 October 2001 he gave me a solid bent aluminum plate. It was sand-pink on the outside and covered by a blot of solidified grease or oil mixed with hayloft dust on the other. Having cleaned the piece with petrol, the piece appeared to be the cowl of an engine’s nacelle equipped with special vibration-proof screws and bearing the scarce but clear writing.


I immediately dashed to check the piles of documents relating to this battle. Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) #1641 showed an almost complete match with between this number and the registration number of one of the four engines (with just one final 4 missing), leading me to guess  that I had identified the Liberator piloted by Lt. Viers, 98th Bomb Group, who however died along side a crew of  just 9 men, in contrast with the total 11 victims stated in the parish documents. The 11 deceased would rather lead to the crew lead by Lt. Patton also of the 98th BG, also lost on the same date. The B-24 D bomber model would on the contrary once again lead back to the aircraft flown by Lt. Viers.

What I had at this point under hand was a set of contrasting data and at the same time I was starting to get increasingly involved in the event of another four engine aircraft that had disappeared between Alto Adige, Trentino and Friuli. New research distracted me for months on end from Val Badia, and provided very fruitful results.

The issue of the inscription, punched into the piece of aluminum  remained unresolved, suspended in time. The truth was possibly very near but I was unable to find  an incontrovertible solution. Contacts entered into before then with the American Battle Monuments Commission of Rome gave me the impression that further information might be retrieved on how the military AIR CORPS staff that was killed on that day in 1943 had been exhumed and then buried.

Following the necessary negotiations in October 2002, I was given permission to access the municipal counsel in Corvara to research  documents on the far-away event that so clearly marked the lives of many inhabitants. The illusion that I would have access to a list with the names of the deceased soon dissolved when I learned of a fire that had destroyed years and years of documents, including those for 1943. My hopes of a list had been dashed. Then I turned to Dott. sa  Francesca De Carlini, head of the Cabinet of the Government Commission of the city of Bolzano. The timely interest shown by the Prefecture lead to the retrieval of a long list dating back to 1945 that recorded  the “Eleven American deceased” of Corvara as being unknown.

Not one to give up, my resolve to finally identify the victims became even stronger. The question is how?

At this point, the NET entered the scene.

Having achieved a sure answer from the Forum of US Army Air Force Veterans as to the coded cowling found in the valley of Livinallongo, I once again put the  “armyairforce.com “ web site to the test with questions on the origin of  the motor covering at Colfosco. After just 24 hours ALLAN BLUE, the same retired Navy man who had provided a documented answer on the relic that had been subject to prior investigation, informed me that I was looking at a piece of  an aircraft that was rather famous in the U.S. Air Force  during the 2nd World War. It was the B-24D Liberator of the 98th Bomb Group, s/n  #  42-40402, known as “THE  SANDMAN” lost in action on 19 December 1943. Target: a Messerschmitt Plant near Augsburg, Germany.

The date was 25 November 2002. I was taken over by a slight sense of elation as I realized that I had succeeded in a feat that seemed to be impossible . Identify the men whose names had been annulled by the war 59 years earlier, without the aid of any archive document whatsoever. And all this thanks to an aluminum relic of 45 x 80 cm that had been left, forgotten, for dozens of years under a stable roof to stop the rain flowing in.

The names of the Crew members of THE  SANDMAN, lost on 19 December 1943.

They were:

1/Lt John W. Viers, Pilot, of Lousiana.
2/Lt William M. Smyser, Co-pilot, of New Jersey
2/Lt Stanley W. Napierala,  Navigator, of Buffalo, NY.
T/Sgt Paul L. Jacobson, Bombardier , of  Massachussetts
T/Sgt Theodore N. Hagberg, Engineer, of Michigan
T/Sgt William O. Marshman, Radio Operator, of Massachusetts
S/Sgt S.A. Freeze, Asst. Engineer, of Texas
S/Sgt Forest D. Hundley, Gunner, of Alabama
S/Sgt Curtis C. Washburn,Gunner, of Texas.

The remains of this crew were recovered and interred in a common grave on 12 September 1949 at Zacary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.

My thanks to   Mr. Keith Bullock, Giorgio Pietrobon , Reuben Weltha and Bob Sternfels  for their help in compiling this history of THE SANDMAN

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:35 am Post subject: Re: Ploestia, Romania - Then and Now of a Refinery Reply with quote

Have mentioned this before on another site, but will mention it here if anyone is interested:

My dad flew on a B24 as well. Not on the Ploesti raid, but he was on 13 missions. he was shot down later on and while he was In Luftstalag 9 llate in '44, there were some POW's of the 'Polesti raid who had been captured and told that there actually WERE cornstalks in the aircraft and flying around they flew so low before they hit the target.

Just a FYI in case anyone was interested.
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In August of 2004, Zappi, Homba, Bambam887, RedScorpion and MOOXE all pitched
in to create this Close Combat site. I would to thank all the people who have visited and
found this site to thier liking. I hope you had time to check out some of the great Close Combat
mods and our forums. I'd also like to thank all the members of our volunteer staff that have
helped over the years, and all our users that contributed to this site!