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LT  William H. COUCH

UNIT: 349th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: BOM

Lt William Couch, original cadre on Lt Glenn Van Noy Crew. 

William Couch, BOM on Van Noy Crew,  POW Aug 17, 1943 Regensburg, wearing Jack O' Leary's Jacket

SERIAL #: O-731383 STATUS: POW
MACR: 00682 CR: 00682

Comments1: 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG (DITCHED IN MED) Original 100th, Crew #5

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
                     1ST LT GLEN S. VAN NOY
                     ORGINAL 100TH PILOT, 349th BS  flew 42-30002 "DAMIFINO"
  
349TH CREW #5, A/C #42-30042 (OH NAUSEA)    MACR #682
        
DITCHED 60 MILES OFF SICILY ON THE 17 AUG 43 MISSION TO REGENSBURG/ NORTH AFRICA. VAN NOY MADE A PERFECT WATER LANDING, PROMPTING A CREW MEMBER TO REMARK, "VAN NOY NEVER COULD LAND A PLANE EXCEPT WHEN IT REALLY COUNTED." THIS WAS PROMPTED BY HIS RETURN FROM ST. NAZAIRE WITH AN ENGINE OUT ON 28 JUN 43.  "OH NAUSEA" FLOATED FOR 90 MINUTES BEFORE SINKING AND THE ENTIRE CREW WERE PICKED UP BY THE GERMANS.

1ST LT  GLEN S. VAN NOY                     P: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG 
2ND LT  JAMES B. EVANS                     CP: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
1ST LT   KENNETH G. ALLEN              NAV: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
1ST LT  WILLIAM H. COUCH               BOM: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
T/SGT   WILLIAM R. STEWART           TTE: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
COL     WILLIAM L. KENNEDY            RWG: POW  17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG (SEE NOTE)
S/SGT   GEORGE P. GINEIKIS            RWG: EVA     5 NOV  1943 GELSENKIRCHEN
T/SGT   WILLIAM W. CRABB             LWG: POW  17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   JAMES D. GIBSON                ROG: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   JOE F. HRUSKOCY                BTG: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   SAMUEL J. CUSMANO             TG: POW 17 AUG. 1943 REGENSBURG
     
NOTE: COL WM. KENNEDY REPLACED WG GEORGE GINEIKIS ABOUT ONE HOUR BEFORE TAKEOFF. COL KENNEDY WAS A ARMORER AND GUNNERY EXPERT WHO WAS SOON TO RETURN TO THE U.S. AND, BEFORE RETURNING WANTED TO GET SOME FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE AS TO WHAT PROBLEMS GUNNERS FACED IN COMBAT.  THE COL BECAME A POW WITH THE REST OF THE CREW.

Col.Kennedy was an armor and gunnery export flying as an observer prior to his return to the U.S. He flew in place of George P Gineikis, the regular Right waist gunner. An eyewitness(either Owen D. Roane or John R Justice) gave following report "B-17 #042 was seen to be in trouble a few minutes before target  No 4 engine was flaming, but it continued in formation, dropped its bombs on the target and did not pull away until it reached the Alps near Munich  At this place #2 engine was feathered and A/C pulled away and disappeared around the side of a mountain. It was flying at about 10,000 feet when last seen and was being pursued by a JU 88  No chutes were seen."

According to Bill Crabb they lost one engine (fighter attach) just after crossing enemy Coast early in mission  and a second at the target Realized they probably could not reach Africa but at no tine did they consider Switzerland   Ran out of Ammo although he had 1100 rounds for
one gun and 900 for the other (flew ball turret because he fit better than Hruskocy, the regular BTG man)

Bill Couch had size 13 shoes or bigger. Was in stocking feet when picked up and Germans said they had no shoes in Italy big enough for him

Of Col Kennedy Crabb Says," He was due to return stateside to help train aerial gunners And was along for 1st hand experience " "He kept squeezing off one round at a time and I remember thinking, My God! A short burst is one thing but this is ridiculous."

Had one bomb hang up over target and tried to release it over a small Airfield near Brenner pass but it wouldn't go Later released it manually
over Mediterranean. Dropped to 500 ft and threw out everything not nailed down "even my GI shoes"

Just north of Naples turned for Sicily because at briefing had been told Sicily would fall that day   It did.  About 90 miles from Sicily lost a third engine  Van Noy shut down remaining engine and made the most beautiful landing he ever made. "He never could land an Airplane except when it really counted." Ship floated about an hour and a half. Picked up next morning by Germans in a flying boat


  CUSMANO

Got out 2 five man dinghies and a smaller one  -lots of rations, radio, ete. Raised radio mast with balloon and sent S O S Only mission on which 42-30042 reached target was this one  It had had 7/8 Abortions . Original ship (42-30002) was naned "Damifino" (also The WAAC Hunter…mpf) and was having P.F F~ installed (on Aug 17, 1943, Lt Shotland Crew flew "The WAAC Hunter" and was shot down…mpf).  Was in POW Camp 17B Krems, Austria with many other 100th Gp men.

George P Gineikis went down on 5 Nov.1943 - mission to Gelsenkirchen and it is believed he was an evadee. Cusmane later visited him in Vets Hosp. in Battle Creek  Later heard he had been discharged with a disability pension.

MISSIONS OF LT GLEN VAN NOY CREW: (from Paul Andrews appendix in Luck of the Draw..mpf)

DATE:                  TARGET                         A/C #                    A/C NAME

1.   25/06/43        BREMEN                         230259                  DAMIFINO II
2.   26/06/43        LeMANS                         230259                  DAMIFINO II
3.   28/06/43       ST. NAZAIRE                   230259                  DAMIFINO II   (lost one engine)
      04/07/43       La PALLICE                      230259                  DAMIFINO II  (returned early, spare a/c)
      10/07/43       Le BOURGET                   230259                  DAMIFINO II   (returned early, hatch came off ball turret)
4.   14/07/43       HAMBURG                         25867                  ALICE FROM DALLAS
5.   24/07/43       TRONDHEIM, NORWAY     230259                  DAMIFINO II
6.   25/07/43       KIEL                               230088                  SQUAWKIN HAWK
7.   12/08/43       WESSELING                     230259                  DAMIFINO II
      15/08/43       MERVILLE & LILLE            230259                  DAMIFINO II (retruned early, spare a/c)
8.   17/08/43       REGENSBURG                  230042                  OH NAUSEA (shot down, ditched in the Med.)


In an email to Ron Leigh, Glen Van Noy sent the following answer (Oct. 2000 mpf)

From: Glen Van Noy 
To: Ron Leigh 
Sent: 29 10 2000 05:24
Subject: WAAC HUNTER 230002

Ron:
230002 was the number of the B-17 I flew to England in June of 1943, landing at Thorpe Abbotts. I was one of the first pilots in the 349th Squadron. I didn't have a name on the airplane. I flew seven  missions ( the first seven the 100th  made) and on my eigth, 002 was out of commission, so I flew another.

We had three engines shot out over Regansburg on August 17, 1943, lost a lot of fuel, and ran out of gas about 70 miles  north of Sicily trying to make it to Africa. The Mediteranian is a not recommended for landing B-17s. They sink. So sombody else inherited 002 and gave it the WAAC HUNTER name. I have no idea who. Since all the other origional 349th pilots except one named Sammy Barr and the squadron commander went down before the Regansburg mission, I hardly knew the new replacement crews .I appreciate your interest in things of that era .

Sincerely,
Glen S. Van Noy
Glen Van Noy 
515-287-6546
-------------------------------
S/Sgt. James D. Gison was listed as the BTG and he was actually the ROG or Radio Operator.

MEMO 2:

A World War II U.S. Army Air Force veteran from Woodstock who was recently honored by the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners and was rapidly approaching his 100th birthday passed away Saturday morning.

William H. “Bill” Couch, Sr., who was a bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress of the 100th Bomb Group that attacked strategic targets in Nazi-held Europe, passed away Saturday morning, less than two weeks shy of turning 100 and a few days after being recognized with a proclamation at the March 3 meeting of the board of commissioners.

At the meeting, commissioners Benny Carter and Corey Ragsdale read the proclamation providing many of the details about Couch’s early life and his service with the Army Air Force during the Second World War before presenting Couch with a copy of the proclamation. After Carter finished reading the proclamation, Couch was honored by everyone in attendance with a standing ovation that echoed around the room. When Couch and his family members were leaving the meeting, he was given a second round of applause.

“Thanks everyone,” Couch said as the applause began to cascade around him again.

Enlisting shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Couch was accepted as an aviation cadet in January 1942 with the hope of becoming a fighter pilot. However, he eventually found himself training for a different kind of aerial combat.

“There was more disappointment when I failed to make the cut for pilot training and was assigned to Bombardier School instead,” Couch said in an autobiography on a website for the 100th Bomb Group. “My time at Bombardier School passed uneventfully. I thought it was nice to be a 2nd Lt., and wear those coveted silver wings, although they were bombardier’s wings, not pilot’s.”

Upon arriving in the United Kingdom in May 1943, Couch said he found service in the Army Air Force was not as glamorous as he had imagined it to be, but carried out his duties to the best of his abilities. His first mission involved attacking a U-boat pen at Saint-Nazaire, France, which was followed by five more missions against strategic targets of the Nazi war machine. However, Couch’s seventh bombing mission was his last of the war.

On Aug. 17, 1943, Couch’s bomber was part of the massive Army Air Force raids on the German cities of Regensburg and Schweinfurt, with the objectives of destroying the Messerschmitt aircraft production facility in Regensburg and the ball bearing factory in Schweinfurt. Couch’s bomber took part in the raid on Regensburg, but was damaged during the attack and had to crash-land in the Mediterranean off the Italian coast on its way to a landing site in Algeria. After being rescued and subsequently captured by the Germans, Couch was taken to the prison camp of Stalag Luft III. This camp became famous for “The Great Escape” in March 1944, where Allied prisoners attempted a mass breakout from the camp, but only three prisoners successfully escaped, while 50 of the 73 escapees who were recaptured were executed under the direct order of Hitler.

Couch, who did not participate in “The Great Escape,” remained at Stalag Luft III until January 1945, when the Germans forced the Allied prisoners at the camp to participate in a march from the camp, located in modern-day Poland, to Stalag VII-A, situated outside the city of Moosburg in southern Germany, as Soviet forces advanced on Stalag Luft III. By the time Couch and his fellow prisoners were liberated by units of the American Third Army on April 29, 1945, the prisoner population of Stalag VII-A had swelled to approximately 130,000 in a camp built to house 14,000.

“Everyone was up early to greet the liberators,” Couch said of the morning of April 29. “Shortly after daybreak, we heard fighter-bombers doing their work on strafing runs. A few minutes later we heard the crackle of small arms fire, and in less than half an hour, it was all over. It was the thrill of a lifetime to see those GIs come rolling in.”

Visitation for Couch will be held from 5-8 p.m. Thursday at Poole Funeral Home & Cremation Services at 1970 Eagle Drive in Woodstock. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Poole, with the U.S. Army providing military honors. Inurnment at Georgia National Cemetery will follow at a later date.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Regensburg DATE: 1943-08-17  
AIRCRAFT: "Oh Nausea: (42-30042) CAUSE: EAC-Crashed at Sea  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 Thursday, December 23, 1943, article in the Senoia, Georgia, Newnan Herald. Lt. Col. Francis D. Shoemaker, of the Atlanta Army Air Base, is shown presenting a decoration to Joseph J. Couch, of Senoia, for his son, Lieut. William Henry Couch, of the Army Air Forces, who is now a prisoner of war in Germany. (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 5 September 43 letter home from Bill Couch in Luft 3. (Front) (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 5 September 43 letter home from Bill Couch in Luft 3. (Back) (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 Exterior of church at Ilowa, Poland, formerly Halbau, Germany, where Bill Couch spent the night of January 29, 1945, while on the infamous Moosburg POW March. (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 Interior of church at Ilowa, Poland, formerly Halbau, Germany, where Bill Couch spent the night of January 29, 1945, while on the infamous Moosburg POW March. He slept on the second pew on the left. (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 Bill Couch standing on the roof of the St. Nazaire Sub Pens. The pens were covered with 12 feet of reinforced concrete. "The French finally gave up on trying to demolish it and converted it into a shopping center." (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary) Van Noy Crew Information 

 100th BG veteran Bill Couch holds class 42-14 photo from the Aviation Cadet Detachment, Victorville Army Base, Victorville, CA July 28, 1042. Out of 87 bombardier cadets, 10 went to the 100th BG, 80% of which were shot down, with 3 KIA, 4 POW, and 1 INT. Two completed their tour. William E. Griffith, Jr. 350th, KIA, Jessie D. Gurley, 349th KIA, Jack L Clark, 349th KIA, Joseph P. Armanini 349th CPT, Zeak M. Buckner, Jr., 350th POW, James R. Douglass, 418th CPT, Edward H. Hovde, 351st POW, Howard B. Hamilton, 418th POW, Vance R. Boswell, 351st INT, and William H. Couch, 349th POW. 

Victorville Army Flying School - Class 42-14

William Couch MIA western union telegram 

Notice from War Department that Lt Couch was a POW. 

Exterior of church at Ilowa, Poland, formerly Halbau, Germany, where Bill Couch spent the night of January 29, 1945, while on the infamous Moosburg POW March. (Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary)

Interior of church at Ilowa, Poland, formerly Halbau, Germany, where Bill Couch spent the night of January 29, 1945, while on the infamous Moosburg POW March. He slept on the second pew on the left.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Couch & Jack O'Leary)

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 1035