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The 350th's ubiquitous William H. Fletcher.    (100th Photo Archives)

MACR: 02761 CR: 02761

Comments1: 21 FEB 44 BRUNSWICK




1st Lt Wiliam H. Fletcher          P   POW    21/2/44   Burnswick
2nd Lt Richard M.Roper          CP   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
2nd Lt George A.Browning   NAV   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
2nd Lt Howard D.Venzie      BOM   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
 T/Sgt James H.Whitton      TTE  Injured in crash after about 7 missions 
 T/Sgt George A.Reid           ROG    POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt Pietro J.Giaquinto       BTG   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt John J.Seman           RWG   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt Alexander Sosik         LWG   POW      21/2/44   Brunswick
 S/Sgt David V.Robb,Jr.          TG   POW     21/2/44   Brunswick

 MACR #276l Micro fiche #924    A/C #42 37796

350th Sqdn. Crew,as above,joined 100th Group in early Oct.1943
Awards and Decorations: ETO ribbon with One Battle Star for "Air Offensive Europe"
Air Medal (presented November 24, 1943)
 OLC to Air Medal-Dec 30, 1943
 OLC to Air Medal-Feb 21, 1944
 OLC to Air Medal-Mar 4, 1944 not presented

On 21/2/44,T/Sgt Leo T.Callahan,from the "Original" crew of B.DeMarco,was aboard in place of Sgt.James Whitton and became a POW. See p.184 MIGHTY EIGHTH WAR DIARY for picture and story of 21/2/44  Also letter from Fletcher's nephew,Joseph M.Lee (1983) --PRESENT ADDRES IS 3 SYCAMORE STATION, DECATUR, GA 30030 PHONE (404) 373-1336..paul west (Nov 1993)

On 4/12/43 Fletcher was flying with the crew of Martin Tashjian newly arrived) to check them out on local landmarks and procedure. Sgt.Whitton & Sgt Reid were also on the flight. There was a landing crash on the field and Fletcher,Whitton & Reid received injuries. However,it is believed that Whitton did not fly further combat duty.

The flight was in Fletcher's A/C 42 39791,Fletcher's Castoria,which was totally destroyed.

Fletcher's Castoria II was B-17G 42-31220 (Boeing built) survived the war.

See: "THEY NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD" p.103/104


DUREN               07 NOV 43
BREMEN               13 NOV 43
PARIS, FRANCE       26 NOV 43
BREMEN               29 NOV 43
KIEL                  13 DEC 43
BREMEN               20 DEC 43
MUNSTER             22 DEC 43
PARIS, FRANCE        31 DEC 43
KIEL                   04 JAN 44
"CROSSBOW"        21 JAN 44  (NoBall - Bois D' Esquerdes)
FRANKFURT           24 JAN 44  (Recall)
FRANKFURT           29 JAN 44
BRUNSWICK          30 JAN 44
"CROSSBOW"        13 FEB 44 (NoBall - Livossart : Bois Rempre)
ARNIMSWALDE        20 FEB 44
BRUNSWICK           21 FEB 44 (MIA )

On the 7th of April 2001 I contacted Mr. Fletcher, the captain of the aircraft when it crashed. I told him the story of how I came into possession of the photograph and that I sent the original to the 100th Bomber Group Archives. I also told him that if he was interested I had extra prints for him. He was very very pleased so I sent them off posthaste.

He took the time to tell me a few more details of the crash-landing.

The substitute aircraft 44-237796 was actually quite a wreck and had never completed a mission given one mechanical problem after another. He flew it on this particular mission; as his usual aircraft Fletcher’ s Castoria III was unserviceable. They completed their mission and as they flew over the North Sea lost two engines due to oil loss. The navigator advised him they were 130 miles from the English coast. Then they lost a 3rd engine and their speed fell to 60 odd miles an hour – and failing. They would never make it back to base at that speed and ditching in the North Sea in February would have spelled certain death for the crew. He turned back to the Dutch coast and broke out of the low cloud over Amsterdam. As he put it: "All hell broke loose." at that point as the German anti-aircraft flak opened up. He dove to roof top level and crash-landed the B-17 on the first large field he saw. He stated that there were no German bullet holes in the a/c it was simply a matter of mechanical failure – three of them!

Dr. William Fletcher
343 Fletcher Drive
Nicolson, GA
USA 30565


 1. General Narrative - 100th "A" Group: 19 aircraft took off this base; the first at 0915 hours, the last at 0929 hours. The Group assembled over the base by 0950 hours in good formation. Fighter support - P-38s, P-47s, P-51s - was good. Flak light and inaccurate.

 2. Aircraft Not Attacking: 19 aircraft were airborne from this base; 16 aircraft were dispatched and attacked the target. Aircraft #42-31256 turned back 18 miles south of Comer from 23,000 feet. #42-38011 turned back at 1223 from 23,000 feet. Aircraft #42-37796 is missing in action. No further particulars are available at this time.

 1. General Narrative - 100th "B" Group: 21 aircraft took off from this base, the first at 0930 hours. By 0958 hours we had assembled on good formation over the base. We flew low position in the 13th "B" Combat Wing. Our formation was good throughout the mission.  Flak was meager and inaccurate. Fighter support was very good. Other than the fact that we did not bomb the primary target, there was nothing unusual during our flight.

 2. Aircraft Not Attacking:  21 aircraft departed this base in formation. 19 aircraft were dispatched. #42-30088 turned back at 1330 hours from 21,000 feet, #42-3107 at 1300 hours from 21,500 feet. All aircraft of this Group formation returned to base.

 An initial rendezvous was made due to faulty equipment, namely failure of the fluxgate compass, in the lead ship of "A" Group. The 100th "A" Group left England 10 minutes late and picked up the 100th "B" Group approximately a the coast. The 13th "B" Combat Wing then joined a wing immediately ahead of it and proceeded along the briefed route, 12 minutes behind schedule. At 1344 hours the lead wing turned to the South leaving our course. As we could not proceed along to our target and we did no know their target we decided to bomb and airfield and withdraw with this wing. The airfield at 31.51N, 08 25E was bombed on APCE from an indicate altitude of 22,800 feet.

 An unidentified airdrome was bombed with good results. Photos show bombs hit in buildings along railroad that passes airdrome. Bomb burst indicate severe damage to both railroad and runways of the airdrome. Crew believe the airport to be located near Vechta.

 No fighters attacked either "A" or "B" Groups though some enemy aircraft were seen engaged by our escort. Flak encountered was light to medium and inaccurate at Osnalbruck, Enschedi and Rheine.

 At 1347 hours out aircraft #796 straggled from formation but followed us over target and continued behind our formation until 1430 hours when we were at 5230N and 0515E. It had one engine feathered and another smoking. There were lots of friendly fighters about when this aircraft disappeared in the undercast. Members of this crew were:  Lt's W H Fletcher, R M Roper, G A Browning, HD Venzie, T/Sgt's G A Reid, L T Callahan, S/Sgt's P J Giaquinto, J J Seman, A Sosik, D V Robb..

Letter to William Fletcher's Mother from the wife of Lt. Stewart McClain who was killed in action  25 Februaru 1944 Regensburg, at which time Lt. William Fletcher was already a PO
304 E. Second Street
Tuscumbia, Alabama
March  29,1944

Dear Mrs. Fletchter (Mother of Lt Wiliam H. Fletcher)

You are probably wondering who I am. I am the wife of one of the Pilots that your Son, Bill, received training with and who also went across at the same time as Bill. I sent you a Christmas Card last Christmas with a note inside but don't know if you ever received it.

My husband was Steward McClain. All the fellows called him Mac. I don't know if Bill ever spoke of him or not. In fact I received a letter from him some weeks ago telling me all about your good cooking of chicken., chop suey, etc., and inviting Mac and me over to see you after the war. Mac, my husband was reported missing in action as of February 25th, over Germany. I received the official notice this week. It was such a shock to me. He was on his 22nd mission and would have been home soon. I believe in my heart he is safe, but the suspense of not knowing is awful. I pray God will watch over and take care of him and all the other boys. I know He will answer those prayers. Mac and Bill had the same room over in England and had a pin-up collection of pictures together. Bill's ship was named 'Fletcher's Castoria,' and Mac's was 'Mismalovin.' They have been together ever since being in England.

I don't know if Bill is missing in action or not one of the other boys on my husband's crew wrote me that Fletcher and crew sent a radio message to 'Mismalovin.' my husband's ship, just before leaving the formation on the raid of 2-21-44, I believe it was or maybe it was 2-23-44, I have forgotten just now. Anyway the message was, "Ship under control and no injury." If you have not received an official telegram the Government that he is missing, then he is not. I just thought that if he was, this message might help you some. I know it would mean everything to me just not to hear from someone who had received a message of some kind from my husband before he left the formation. Three is always a good possibility that if the ship is under control they make it back to the base or to Switzerland or another country. Do write be about Bill. Have you heard from him recently? I wrote to him asking if he knew anything about Mac, but he never answered it. I hope he is o.k. As I said, if you have not received a message, then he is o.k.

Your son is a fine boy. Mac and I both think his is tops. He was one of the best pilots in the while Group. When we were in Washington state, Bill was with us lots. He was in Oregon with Mac to. They left from Maine last September.

I hope you will have time to write me sometime. I would like very much to meet you for I know you are a wonderful person from all that Bill has told me about you.

I hope and pray to God that our boys are safe and the war will be over soon and they can come back to us. That will be the happiest day of my life.

Sincerely Josephine G. McClain

P.S. My husband and I both are from Gadsden, Ala.

Letter From Lt. William Fletcher to Dorothy Fletcher (His sister-in-law)

William H. Fletcher 0798998
350th Bomb Squadron
100th Bomb Group0 (H)
APO 634 % Postmaster
New York, New York
Oct 25, 1943

Dearest Dot.

 Hey Sweetheart. Your letter of  Sept. 27, finally reached me today and sure was glad to hear from you. This is the fourth base I've been on since we landed over here so my mail has a hard time catching up with me. It seems this is to be our permanent station so maybe things will straighten out, hope. Hope so.
 We've been working pretty hard since we joined this outfit but can't complain about things. This is the best field I've seen over here bar none. The food is good, we have good quarters and the men are swell fellows. They have had us flying practice missions almost everyday getting us ready for the real thing. We were alerted for a trip to Germany last night but it was scrubbed so I still have my first one to make. Sure will be glad to get started on them for I want to finish and get back home. It will probably take some time to get 25 missions in now as the weather is pretty bad. I'm in hope tho' that I'll finish by spring at the latest so then I can have a June wedding. I'm not worried about getting back but I don't want to waste so much time.
 How are your travels coming these days? You sure are getting around a lot now. Wish I were there to go around with you. If and when I get back to the states tho' I'm not going to move around any more than I have to.
 Sweetheart, I have something to say and this is as good a time as any. You know there are a lot of things that could happen over here and tho' I'm not expecting any thing to happen, I want to be prepared. Should word come through there that I am missing in action don't take it too hard for that doesn't mean much. At the worse, I can only be a prisoner in Germany and will still get home at the end of the war. And too if I go down, it maybe in occupied territory and there's a damn good chance of getting back in that case. There are some of the boys coming back from over there every day for there are ways and means of getting out, It may take five months to get out but it can be done. Don't give up until you've had definite proof that I've been killed. You know how hard a job that will be so there's no need to worry. And too, I have to get back for a June Wedding, remember. 
 If the worse does happen tho', I want you to know that you're my favorite girl. Honest, you're damn swell, and I think the world of you. They don't come any better than you I don't care who they are. I only hope Gloria turns out to be as sweet and lovable as your are.
 Have to close for now but I'll be writing regularly so don't worry. Hope you will write again soon and give me the news. Just the kid brother who is thinking of you.

P.S.  Have heard that two of my friends who went thru cadets, Sebring, and their planes are down in Germany already. They came over with me and at that special school with me. They were both from Atlanta.

Letter from Mrs W.A. Dicus, Aunt of George A. Browning -- Navigator ; the Fletcher Crew..

Clinton, South Carolina
17th March 1944

My Dear Mrs. Fletcher'

 After my chat with you over phone Saturday I'm afraid I didn't make things quite clear to you in regard to the message we had received from the wife of the Bombardier of our boys ship, so I am sending this copy of her letter for you to see.
 Would like to make this clear to you too, George Alfred Browning who is the Navigator on the ship which your son Bill is pilot of, is not my son but a nephew whom I had raised since the death of his parents when he was only two. Of course he couldn't be dearer to me if her were my very own, for this is the only house he has ever known and he loves me like a Mother.
 This letter was written to George's sister, Mrs. Taylor, who is living here with her small son while her husband is overseas.
 The news that you gave us together with the news Mrs. Venzie gives in her letter certainly gives us lots of hope and I feel quite sure we will be hearing something official now soon.
 In George's letters he often spoke of Bill and what a wonderful pilot he was etc.
 Mrs. Fletcher you asked for a copy of the crew of the ship. I found in reading over this letter of George's (or Alfred, as we call him) where he gives the list he had quite a bit to say about the ship and Bill too so I decided just to send it on to you also - It is a letter he had written before X-mas to my daughter, May Dicus. You can return it sometime.
 Any further news you may have I'd certainly appreciate your passing it on and I assure you I will do likewise.
 I noticed in the Augusta paper that you have two other sons besides Bill. Are they in the service too?  I have a son with the Marines in the Southwest Pacific and another son in the Naval Air Corps.
 Trusting we will have other good news in few days now.

Niatlie Browning Dicus
(Mrs. W. A. Dicus)
15 Cleveland St.
Clinton, South Carolina

Military Police - Amsterdam 
Post at Halfweg (The Netherlands)
Nr 145
Official report

Of a landing of an American airplane having taken place on 21 February 1944, at Haarlemerliede and?? Spaarnwoude
On Monday 21 February 1944 at approximately 3.00 PM the Military policy post at Halfway was notified by telephone
 that an English airplane supposedly made an emergency landing in the Houtrakpolcer. The crew, after leaving the
 aircraft presumably set it on fire.

After obtaining a authorization I, Anko Casemier??, Sgt Major belonging to the aforementioned military police 
post, immediately left for the area, a parcel of gazing land located at a distance of approximately 250 meters 
South-west?? Of "The Ringweg" a public highway in the municipality of Haarlemmerliede and Sparnwoude. This 
land belongs to a farmer by the name of Cornelis van der Kroom who resides at #3 of the aforementioned Ringweg.

At the location I found a four-engine American bomber of the type Boeing Fortress II with the serial number 
D237796-T. The fuselage of the plane was already partially burned out.

The crew was no longer in the area and probably had dispersed in the polder land.

The German military authorities which had appeared on the scene in the mean time had taken over the further 
responsibilities of guarding and safeguarding (the plane).

The crash landing caused hardly any damage to the area and there were no personal accidents.

Of this incident I, sergeant major made and signed this official report under oath of office and submitted 
same to my Post Commander for the purpose of having it mailed to the Head of the local Civil Defense 
at Haarlemmerliede and Spaarnwoude.

Case closed at Halfweg on 22 February 1944.
Signed illegibly
Authenticated: The Mayor, Local Civil Defense

Sex: M
Birth: 1920
Death: 07 Dec 1990 in Rhode Island
Father: John J. CALLAHAN (born: Sep 23 1900)
Mother: Theresa SCALNON
Brother: Donald CALLAHAN (born 1931) and  John CALLAHAN Jr.

Name: Howard D. VENZIE
Sex: M
Birth: 30 Apr 1918 in Philadelphia, PA
Death: 6 Sep 1996 in Moorestown, Burlington County, NJ
Event: Social Security Number 164-18-5257
Note: Howard served with the 100th Bomb Group during World War II.
Father: -
Mother: Dellia CHALOU b: 2 Nov 1885 in Massachusetts
Marriage: Betty ?????
Children: yes [name(s) unknown]

1st Lt. William Hains Fletcher
by jbabe0506 on Sun Jun 15, 2008 8:11 am 

William Hains Fletcher passed Friday June 13th 2008 of natural causes at home. He was the pilot of Fletcher's Castoria B-17 350th bomb squadron- 100th bomb group. After the war he became a well known vet and Citizen of Athens Ga and Married Elsie Stalley of England. They had four children, three grand children and six great grand children. Mrs. Fletcher preceded him in death by eight days.


Crew opted to crash land in Holland rather than bail out.


TARGET: Alhorn & Vorden DATE: 1944-02-21  
AIRCRAFT: (42-37796) CAUSE: Mech Prob in 3 Engines  




 William H. Fletcher crew. Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

William H. Fletcher, left, and James Hubert Whitton - November 7, 1982 at Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Herbert Whitton Collection

1982 Myrtle Beach 100th Reunion; From left: George Reid, George Browning, Bill Fletcher and Howard Venzie.  (100th Photo Archives)

1982 Myrtle Beach 100th Reunion; From left; Betty Venzie, Howard Venzie, George Reed and Bill Fletcher.  (100th Photo Archives)

June, 1994 "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA" reunion at Cleveland, Ohio; From left; William H. Fletcher, Jules Wesselink, Pete Van Loon, George Browning, John Seman and Howard Venzie.  (100th Photo Archives)

William H. Fletcher, left, and John Seman at the home of Bill and Elsie Fletcher in 1982. John Seman Collection

S/Sgt John Seman, RWG on William Fletcher's Crew.

A-2 jacket Fletcher's Castoria. Jacket of Lt. William H. Fletcher

July 11, 1945 wedding photograph of William H. Fletcher and the gorgeous Elsie S. Stally of London.  (100th Photo Archives)

POW # O-798998. The 350th's William H. Fletcher.  (100th Photo Archives)

 William H. Fletcher's original A-2 Jacket depicting "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA" nose art. William H. Fletcher Collection 

Crew of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA": Standing from left; David V. Robb, Jr - TG, Richard M. Roper - CP, James Herbert Whitton - TTE, William H. Fletcher the Pilot, and George A. Browning - NAV.. Kneeling from left; George A. Reid - ROG, John J. Seman - WG, Howard D. Venzie - BOM, Alexander (NMI) Sosik - WG and Pietro J. "Pete" Giaquinto - BTG.   (100th Photo Archives)

1982 Myrtle Beach 100th Reunion; From Left; Harvey H. Pledger, 2110th Fire Fighting Brigade, Thorpe Abbotts, Bill Fletcher and George Browning.  (100th Photo Archives)

1983 100th Bomb Group Restaurant Grand Opening in Cleveland, Ohio. From left; Howard Hamilton, Charlie "Crankshaft" Cruikshank, Albert "Bucky" Elton, their old 350th Squadron CO, and William H. Fletcher.   William H. Fletcher Collection

1985 Dayton, Ohio 100th reunion; From left; Howard Venzie, Bill Fletcher and John Seman.  (100th Photo Archives)

Myrtle Beach 1982 100th reunion; From left; Howard Venzie, George Browning, William H. Fletcher, Bud Buschmeier and John Gibbons who flew two combat tours with the 350th.   Joe Lee Collection

Fletcher's Castoria on hardstand 239791  LN-W

23.10.1944  War Correspondent: Seufert
"Destroyed terror Bomber. This American terror bomber called a Flying Fortress has been strongly scratched by our fighters during the air battle and was forced to make a landing in Holland. The crew went into captivity."  Detailed Information  (This is a picture of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA" down in Holland)   (100th Photo Archives)

Crash site of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" in Holland Feb 22, 1944. Fletcher landed the damaged B-17, photograph was taken by Van der Peet, the farm belonged to Cornnelis Kroon whose farm stead can be seen in the right background. None of the crew were injured and all were soon taken prisoner by Luftwaffe personnel.  Van der Peet Collection

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  Dutch Newspaper photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

LN-T 237796,  Dutch newspaper with photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland.

Contrary to our previous ID, this is not William Fletcher in the left hand seat but Sgt Darneille from the Ground Crew doing preflight check on "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA II" 231220.  Of interest if the name Gloria under the window - she was his girl friend when he went overseas. There he was smitten by the beautiful Elsie Stally - they were married July 11, 1945 and remain so over a half century later   (100th Photo Archives)

Photo courtesy of Elaine Whitton Davis 

Photo courtesy of Elaine Whitton Davis 

Photo courtesy of Elaine Whitton Davis 

Photo courtesy of Elaine Whitton Davis 

LN-T 237796,  German photo of "FLETCHER'S CASTORIA III" crash site near Spaarndam, Holland. courtesy of Paul Bellamy



Crew 1

Crew 2

ID: 1660