Database Search

You are in the database section of the website.

Select a record category from RECORDS above. When you have selected a category, you will see search options for that category above the record list. 

Most fields require at least three characters. When you submit your query, the search engine will return all records that contain your search term.

Note that when searching for an aircraft serial number, you must enter the full serial number without the leading "4" and without a dash in the Aircraft SN search field. For example, you would enter 42-37772 as 237772.

The Personnel name field searches both last and first names, so if you enter the search term, "Russ", the search engine will return both Russell Abel and James Russell.

You narrow the search by entering more characters into the search field. For example, "Russ" returns many hits. "Russell" returns fewer hits. The same principle applies to all queries.

The POW and KIA categories are list only and are not searchable.

LT  William L. BAKER

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: NAV
SERIAL #: STATUS: CPT
MACR:

Comments1: 31 DEC 43 PARIS

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

LT WALTER L." BIG CHIEF" MORENO              P CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
LT JOHN W. PHELAN                                  CP CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS (Killed in P-47 in Italy in December 1944, see below)
LT WILLIAM L. BAKER                              NAV CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
LT PAUL LEDBETTER                               BOM CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT ALEXANDER G. LEE                           ROG CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT WADE G. DOWELL                            TTE CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT NED G. EATON                                 BTG CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT AFTON C. JOHNSON                           WG CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT ALBERT R. HOWELL                           WG CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS
SGT MARVIN G. BURTON                            TG CPT 31 DEC 43   PARIS

418th Sqdn.. Crew, as above, joined the 100th on June 26, 1943, one of the first replacement crews to reach the 100th along with Cowboy Owen Roane, Henry Henington and Jack Justice..  Moreno and Henington Crews both completed their 25th mission on Dec 31, 1943. Cowboy completed in Nov 1943 And Jack Justice was shot down on Oct 10, 1943 Munster mission. 

(Actually the first replacement crew to finish was the Cowboy Roane crew. Since Roane had been with the 100th in the states and in the 349th with Jim Brown, it is likely he did not consider his old squadron mate a replacement)

From: Paul Stouffer [mailto:pjstouff@bridgeband.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:11 AM
To: MPFaley@aol.com
Subject: Re: Lt. John W. Phelan - 418TH BOMB SQUADRON - Messie Bessie Crew Member


Lt. Johnny Phelan from Butte, Montana was with the 12th AF, 350th FG, 346th FS, killed in action on Dec. 29, 1944 when his P-47 was hit by flak during a ground support mission over the town of Massa, Italy in the Serchio Valley, north of Pisa and Lucca, Italy.  MACR 10946.  Still looking to find why and when he transitioned to the P-47. I have attached his obit
- he was MIA for some time, then the crashsite and remains were found after the war.  The burial took place in Butte in 1949.

Phelan sounds a lot like Moreno so am sure they got on well. He was also an outstanding athlete in high school, and was quarterback of the Montana State College (now university) football team in Bozeman before he joined the AAF.  Interesting that he was with an "All-California" crew (except him).

Crew's normally flew "MESSIE BESSIE" LD-X

*******************************************************************************************************
Albert Howell
Flew with Walter L. Moreno crew, 4-21-12 to 9-14-02 in Messie Bessie and Mugwump.  Buried in Silverton, Oregon.  After the war, he moved back into the hills of the Cascade Mountains and lived by himself until he died.  Uncle Al never talked of his service.  We just found a box of documents from his service and located pictures of him and his crew and aircraft on your wonderful website.  As a 30 year retiree from the United States Navy, your site made me reflect back on my service:  I hope I served with the same dignity, honor, courage and commitment that the men of the 100th Bomb Group did.  Thank you.

Tony Lederer
(great nephew-in-law to A Howell)
8774 Bridalsmith Drive
Sacramento, CA 95828
(916) 688-5455

Incomplete Missions of Big Chief Walter Moreno Crew:

1.    July 24,1943     TRONDHEIM, NORWAY                         230152  Messie Bessie
2.    July 25,1943     WARNEMUNDE, KIEL                            230152  Messie Bessie
3.    July 26,1943     HANOVER                                           230152  Messie Bessie
4.    July 28,1943     OSCHERSLEBEN                                   230152  Messie Bessie
5.    July 29,1943     WARNEMUNDE                                    230152  Messie Bessie
6.    July 30,1943     KASSEL                                              230066  Mugwump
7.    Aug 12,1943    WESSELING                                         230152  Messie Bessie
8.    Aug 15,1943    MERVILLE                                            230152  Messie Bessie
       Aug 17,1943    REGENSBURG                                       230152  Messie Bessie (flew as spare, no mission credit)
9.    Sept 3, 1943    PARIS,BEAUMONT le ROGER,                 230152  Messie Bessie
10.  Sept 16,1943   BORDEAUX/MERIGNAC & La PALLICE (ST)230152  Messie Bessie
11.  Sept 23,1943   VANNES                                              230152  Messie Bessie
12.  Sept 26,1943   PARIS                                                 230152  Messie Bessie
13.  Sept 27,1943   EMDEN                                                230152  Messie Bessie
14.  Oct 2, 1943     EMDEN                                                230152  Messie Bessie
15.  Oct 4, 1943     SAARLUIS & HANAU                              230152  Messie Bessie
16.  Oct 8, 1943     BREMEN                                               230152  Messie Bessie

                                Walter U. "The Chief" Moreno
                  press releases -- Thorpe Abbotts -- 1943 -- Author is unknown

AN EIGHTH AAF BOMBER COMMAND, England -- This is a report to the good people of anywhere in America, bit it's written particularly for the boys and girls of Fillmore High School, Fillmore, California.

	They'll want to know about their greatest school hero, Capt. Walter U. Moreno, the nine other men who make up his crew, and especially about his Flying Fortress, Messie Bessie. Because the youngsters in Fillmore HIgh School named Messie Bessie, and helped pay for her ... and this is how if happened.

	Moreno was one of the greatest athletes Fillmore ever had. He graduated in 1932, after winning fourteen (14) letters while starring in the football, basketball and track teams. So the students, when they decided to help buy a Fortress asked Moreno to select a name for his ship from the hundreds of names which they had submitted. Each student who submitted a name for the Fortress had to buy a war savings stamp, and by the time the campaign was over, a sizable sum had been contributed to the war effort.

	Captain Moreno's crew were enthusiastic over the name, and they liked the idea that they were in a sense representing a definite group of American school young folks. 1st Lt. John W. Phelan, 24, of 727 Colorado Street, Butte, Montana is the Bessie's co-pilot. He was once a student at Montana State. The navigator on these many missions has been 1st Lt. William L. Baker, 25, of 2211 Clay St. Fresno, California, who was once a chemist, the bombardier was 1st Lt. Paul Ledbetter, 25, a former sheet metal worker of 502 Riehman Place, Fullerton, California. These are the officers of Messie Bessie's  crew, and oddly enough all of them are Californians except Phelan, and he is a Westerner too.

	Bessie has been through a good deal. She has been shot at by experts. She has been exposed to flak, rockets, 20mm cannon and machine gun fire. She has suffered motor (engine) failure, radio failure, gas shortages -- her escapes have been many and narrow. But she has always come home and landed saftely.

	Captain Moreno and his crew have won their biggest game. They have completed their operational tour with the Eighth Air Force. That means that twenty-five (25) times they have taken off from this concealed base in England, pointed across the channel or across the North Sea, battled their way across France, or Belgium or Holland, and dropped their bombs  squarely on another German war target. Twenty-five missions, the shortest five or six hours, the longest the record flight from Britain to Trondheim, Norway, and the famous shuttle-raid from England to Africa, when the Messie Bessie hit the Messserschmitt factory at Regensburg on the way in and aircraft shops at Bordeaux, France, on the way back. (crew flew as a spare that day and did not fly the Regensburg Mission…MPF)

	Now Capt. Moreno and the officers and men of his crew are finished with this part of the war. Some of them hope to come back to the USA for a while, before going into some other theater of action.

	But Messie Bessie is still here, and has great plans for the future. She'll pick up another great crew, and start back again on the star routes over Germany, each time with tons of explosives to be dropped where they will do the most good in shortening the war, and bringing our forces to the United States.

Her worst time was one day over Bremen (Germany) when Messerschmitts, Focke-Wulfe and JU-88's ganged up on the formation and seemed to concentrate on Bessie. The messed up her oxygen system, blasted out the hydraulic system and smashed the radio in twelve (12) concentrated attacks one after the other. Bessie came home with 180 flak holes and other wounds of lesser dimensions that day, and pilot Moreno set her down without the benefit of flaps or brakes.

	But there comes a time in every plane's life when disaster strikes. It was ridiculous, what happened to Bessie after her twenty-fourth visit to Germany. An anti-climax. Bessie doesn't like to talk about it.

What happened was that the ground crew were grooming her for her last mission. Everything was perfect, "Test the flaps," sang out the crew chief, Gerald F. Barfield, age 36, and here the gremlins interfered. He guided the luckless mechanics finger to a switch, but not the flap switch. The one he pulled read: "Wheels Up!" 
	The wheels came up, all right, and Bessie crashed eight feet to the ground, all twenty-five (25) tons of her. Things happened. The ball turret went right up through the roof of the fuselage. The four propellers bent themselves into pretzels. Engines were wrenched out of line, wings twisted.
	Bessie was a mess for sure. It looked like she might become a hanger queen. But Captain Moreno couldn't see it that way. "She goes back together, because we are going to make our last mission in that plane or know why."

	She was and Captain Moreno and his crew took her out over enemy territory for their final pants kick at the Luftwaffe, and came back safe. As we said Moreno and his crew are all through here. But not Messie Bessie. She's just getting warmed up to the job. Of course she'll miss her old crew. She'll sit there on the dispersal area and grumble to herself for a bit -- until the new crew comes along. And then, if the pilot is a right guy -- and he will be -- she'll get used to him and overcome her shyness -- and finally the ten men who take over will become almost a part of Messie Bessie, and they'll go into hell together every day or so, and Bessie will come grunting back with all hands. And Fillmore HIgh School will still be right in the war pitching.

******************************************************************************************************************

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Stouffer [mailto:pjstouff@bridgeband.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:11 AM
To: MPFaley@aol.com
Subject: Re: Lt. John W. Phelan - 418TH BOMB SQUADRON - Messie Bessie Crew Member

Michael,
This is excellent information and thank you for the quick response!

Lt. Johnny Phelan from Butte, Montana was with the 12th AF, 350th FG, 346th FS, killed in action on Dec. 29, 1944 when his P-47 was hit by flak during a ground support mission over the town of Massa, Italy in the Serchio Valley, north of Pisa and Lucca, Italy.  MACR 10946.  Still looking to find why and when he transitioned to the P-47. I have attached his obit
- he was MIA for some time, then the crashsite and remains were found after the war.  The burial took place in Butte in 1949.

Phelan sounds a lot like Moreno so am sure they got on well. He was also an outstanding athlete in high school, and was quarterback of the Montana State College (now university) football team in Bozeman before he joined the AAF.  Interesting that he was with an "All-California" crew (except him).

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: DATE:  
AIRCRAFT: CAUSE:  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

Members of "Big Chief" Walter Moreno.  A great photo of the "Messie Bessie" Crew; 418th sq. Navigator William Baker is seen smiling on the far right (from the Russell Heckman collection)  Standing is L-R  Ned G. Eaton,  Afton C. Johnson, Wade Dowell, William Baker. 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 189