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LT  Richard M. ROPER

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: CP

 Richard M. Roper of the William H. Fletcher crew Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

pic from Army Air Forces Training Cd, 1943 Walnut Ridge, Arkansas - class 43-E (from fold3 website )
Major  Richard Milton ROPER was born on sept 30th, 1916 - passed away on feb  12th, 1955 (buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego,  California) made POW on feb 21st, 1944 flying as co-pilot aboard B-17G  42-37796 "Fletcher's Castoria III" from 100th BG 350th BS
Courtesy of Daniel Bon

SERIAL #: O-804508 STATUS: POW
MACR: 02761 CR: 02761

Comments1: 21 FEB 44 ALHORN-VORDEN/ CRASHED IN HOLLAND (FD)(CL)(EAC)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW (see graphic)

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

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 Martian Tashjian newly arrived) to check them 
out on local landmarks and procedure. Sgt.Whitton & 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.

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


   MISSIONS FLOWN BY WILLIAM H. FLETCHER

WILHEMSHAVEN  03 NOV 43
GELSENKIRCHEN  05 NOV 43
DUREN    07 NOV 43
BREMEN   13 NOV 43
RJUKEN, NORWAY  16 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
WILHENSHAVEN  02 FEB 44
"CROSSBOW"   13 FEB 44 (NoBall - Livossart : Bois Rempre)
ARNIMSWALDE  20 FEB 44
BRUNSWICK   21 FEB 44 (MIA )




OPERATIONAL NARRATIVE, FEB 21, 1944
TARGET OF OPPORTUNITY

 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.

ADDITIONAL NARRATIVE
 
 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..



From Stalag Luft 1 website:

Richard Milton Roper- Truck driver to Air Force Major


In 1939, truck driver Richard M Roper enlisted in the Army as a Private with the 11th Signal Company, Schofield Barracks, T.H.. His outstanding qualities were soon acknowledged by his rapid promotion to Staff Sergeant by January 1941. He had a love of flying and wanted to join a unit associated with air services, and so was successful in joining the 502nd Parachute Infantry, again as Private, around July 1942.  His superiors could not help but notice his energetic leadership characteristics, and just a few months later Major J D Rosenberger of Fort Benning, Georgia appointed Pvt Richard M Roper, 6567096 as Aviation Cadet. He was trained at Freeman Army Airfield, and received a special commendation from his Commander, Major Albert Hughes. He got his ‘wings’ on May 28 1943, and was commissioned as 2nd Lt, O - 804508, Pilot, multiple engine bombers. He was assigned immediately to 350th Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, and in October was sent to England. Thorpe Abbotts was a state-of-the-art Air Base, custom built for the Boeing B17 Flying Fortress four engined bombers, in which he would fly. His B-17G, with the new swivel nose turret, was named ‘Fletchers Castoria’ in honour of the plane’s Pilot William H Fletcher. Richard was designated Co-pilot. Their first aircraft, 42-39791 was totally destroyed in a landing accident on December 4th 1943, and the machine was replaced by B-17G, 42-37796.

On 21st February, 1944, this aircraft was damaged, after a raid in which the 100th Group suffered severe casualties. Although wheels were lowered, and the craft was flying at low altitude, this did not prevent further attacks which crippled the bomber. The two pilots nursed the plane, with great difficulty, to a flat area near Halfweg, Holland and managed to crash land it without any crew injuries. Roper was promoted , in his absence, to 1st Lt., and was awarded the Air Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters for his part in this action. His Mother, Bessie Roper received the award, in his behalf, from Colonel Theodore M Bolen, at McCord Field Air Force Base, USA.

All the crew were eventually captured and became Prisoners Of War. Lt Roper was sent to Stalag Luft 1, at Barth, Northern Prussia. He remained there until Russian troops liberated the camp on May 1st 1945. After liberation, the POW’s were assigned to various Billets in France, and Roper was sent to Paris. He stayed there until he was transferred to LeHavre, at the end of May 1945, to be shipped back to Olympia, Washington, where he lived

His final posting was at Pepperrell Air Force Base, AFO 862, Newfoundland. He was ranked Major and designated as Reserve Pilot, B52. Sadly, he died at his quarters, on 12 February, 1955, due to a heart attack. He was buried at Fort Rosencrans National Military Cemetery, California. …supplied by Bob Dye

MEMO 2:

POW/KIA notes: Crew opted to crash land in Holland rather than bail out.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

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

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 Richard M. Roper of the William H. Fletcher crew Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

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)

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 4466