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LT  Howard J. LEECH

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: NAV
SERIAL #: O-707284 STATUS: POW
MACR: 07813 CR: 07813

Comments1: 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG (160)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

2ND LT GERALD H. STEUSSY                    P POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM                  TAPS: 1987
F/O FRANK C. PETRDIL                            CP POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
2ND LT HOWARD J. "Bill" LEECH                     NAV POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
2ND LT ALLEN J.D. "Mac" MacALLISTER   BOM POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
S/SGT ANTHONY NOCCHIERO                 ROG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
S/SGT CARLOS E. McCUTCHEON              TTE CPT   6 OCT 44 BERLIN (SPANDAU), AC PARTS
SGT JULIUS GREENWALD                        BTG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
SGT JOHN L. GAUNCE                            RWG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM
SGT EDDIE D. DUMAS                            LWG NOC  (taken off crew to reduce to 9 men)                              TAPS: 13 OCT 1980
SGT JODA D. TICER                                 TG POW 29 JUL 44 MERSEBURG, OIL REF & HILDESHEIM

350TH SQDN.. CREW, AS ABOVE, JOINED THE 100TH ON 25 MAY 1944..  See S.O.C. page 82/83

ON 29 JUL 44 S/SGT EDWARD LOWTHER, FROM THE J.M. SHELLY CREW, WAS FLYING AS TTE AND BECAME A POW.
THIS WAS THE CREW'S 18/19TH MISSION…pw

MISSIONS OF LT STEUSSY CREW

Date          Aircraft Nbr & Name                   Target
6/2/1944   102657 BOSS LADY                   BOULOGNE
6/4/1944   102657 BOSS LADY                   BOULOGNE
6/5/1944   102695 LN-F NO NAME               BOULOGNE(CHG)
6/6/1944   97621  LN-A NO NAME               OUISTREHAM
6/6/1944   97621  LN-A NO NAME               FALAISE
6/7/1944   31220  FLETCHERS CASTORIA II  NANTES (BRIDGES)
6/8/1944   31220  FLETCHERS CASTORIA II  TOURS (BRIDGES)
6/20/1944 31220  FLETCHERS CASTORIA II  FALLERSLEBEN
6/21/1944 32009- BLACK CAT 13                RUHLAND (START OF 1st RUSSION SHUTTLE MISSON
6/26/1944 32009  BLACK CAT 13                DROHOBYCZ
7/3/1944   32009  BLACK CAT 13                ARAD (RUMANIA)
7/5/1944   32009  BLACK CAT 13                BEZIER (FROM ITLAY)
7/11/1944 32009  BLACK CAT 13                MUNICH (AERO ENGINES)
7/12/1944 102598  LN-Z NO NAME              MUNICH (IND. AREA)
7/13/1944 32009  BLACK CAT 13                MUNICH (JET ENGINES)
7/17/1944 37815  YOU CAN'T LOSE            AUXERRE & MONTGOURNOY
7/18/1944 32009  BALCK CAT 13                KIEL & HEMMINGSTADT
7/28/1944 97829  REGAL EAGLE                 MERSEBURG
7/29/1944 97829  REGAL EAGLE                 MERSEBURG

EYEWITNESS:  "A/C #829 was hit by flak over the target. Bombs were dropped; then the aircraft fell back
amoung the stragglers and was not seen again." 

Statement by Lt. Petrdil indicates that all nine members of the crew abandoned the ship about 30 miles west of Merseburg. The only apparent injury was a fractured foot suffered by Lt. MacAllister hitting the ground. They were leading the high squadron on this day. Crew, with the exception of T/Sgt Edward D. Lowther from the J.M. Shelly crew, had joined the 100th on 25 May 1944. (They found the 100th despondent over the loss of 15 crews at Berlin the day before ,24 May 44) Lowther was flying in place of the crew's regular TTE, T/Sgt Carlos E. McCutcheon who went on to complete his tour


Letter to Colonel Bill E. Thompson from Howard J. Leech dated 27 Oct 1995...pw
297 Shoreline Drive 
New Bern, N.C. 28562
Oct. 27, 1995

Dear Bill,

I'm sorry I've been so long in answering your letter. I have just  gotten back prints from my pictures which I thought you might be interested in  
seeing. Each picture is identified with a number on the back, so if you need enlargements, let me know the photo number and the size needed.

You are correct that we were on the first shuttle mission to Russia in  June, 1944, and some of the pictures are from this mission. Also, we were shot  down over Germany on the July 29, 1944 bombing mission to Merseberg. I will give you the account from my "kriegie's diary8 and my memory of other details. We were hit by flak two minutes before the target in the number four engine.  Initially the propeller couldn't be feathered, but later that was accomplished.We left the formation making a turn to the right and losing altitude, and dropped our bombs at 1010. Leaving Merseberg we flew to the rally point and took the planned course for return to England, hoping to rejoin the other planes as they descended on the way home. We never saw any U.S. fighter planes which we hoped could escort us on the return to England. Before long we saw parachutes below us and realized that a plane ahead of us had probably been picked off by German fighters. Sure enough, it wasn't long before a Folke-Wulf 190 found us.  He came in from about 6 or 7 o'clock low and fired two 20 mm shells at close range. My radio was knocked out at this point, so I give you the damage report  
from what others told me later. I was told that one shell went through the waist and the second hit in the left wing starting a fire between No. 1 and No. 2 engines. I know the F-W 190 flew past us quite close, and we were all firing at him. I can't see how we missed him, but he flew on away as if he hadn't been hit. The pilot dived our plane in an attempt to put out the fire, but the attempt did not succeed. We were deep in Germany with little hope of getting back to England, and risking an explosion of the wing gas tank at any time, so the pilot gave the order to bail out about 1025.

"I pulled the rip-cord, felt a jerk, and then saw the white chute above me. It was just like being suspended in mid-air; I couldn't see or feel any  
movement whatsoeverw. I also recall the deep quiet after the roar of the engines while we were in the plane. tBI looked around and could see one other chute than my own, and perhaps a mile away our plane was making a slow bank to the left, losing altitude, and smoking profusely". I was fortunate to come down near a small creek or irrigation ditch and slipped my chute so I landed in the creek. As I climbed out of the water, local people were running across the field, and at about the same time an English-speaking German doctor arrived and took charge. He told me of extensive damage in Hamburg and Munich, and mentioned having relatives in Milwaukee or Minneapolis. He took me to a village about one half; mile away where some local authorities took all my possessions, including my watch and-the escape kit (which was apparently never turned in, for 
I was questioned about it several times later). Soon a Wehrmacht soldier arrived, and we retraced our steps to the place where I had landed. When the doctor left, the soldier clapped my boots, and Mae West over my shoulder and motioned to pick up the parachute which he had been carrying, and shouted l'Raus, Raus!!" I double-timed to the next town about 1 k; miles away, letting the chute slide out from time to time to get a chance to stop and get my breath. When I did, I was kicked in the butt or clapped over the head. Before long we arrived at Weisensee, a slightly larger town, where I was put in a cell in the local jail. It was poorly built, and I had visions about trying to break out that night (which I realized later would have been futile). That evening, I was taken out and met our pilot, Gerry Steussy, and we were driven to a Luft Waffe base in Erfurt, where we were kept for several days. Then we were taken by train with other prisoners to Frankfurt where we were in the interrogation center (they knew much more about the 100th bomb group than I did!!). We then were sent to Wetzlar to the transit center (Dulag Luft). Here, I found that all our crew had managed to get out of the plane, and were safe. The bombardier, "Mac" MacAllister, broke his ankle on landing and was taken to the hospital. At Dulag Luft, the enlisten men were separated from the officers and sent to another prisoner-of-war camp. Gerry Steussy, Pete@ Petrdil, and I were sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan. By that time, the American compound must have been getting pretty full, and I believe we were the first or one of the first to be put in the North compound with the British. We were given a room for all Americans in Block 121.

I will not detail life Stalag Luft III, as you are undoubtedly familiar with that. In late January, we made that terrible march out of Sagan for two 
days in blizzard conditions to a French POW camp near Sorau. After a day or so, we marched on to Spremberg, and I believe it was at this time that we rejoined the American prisoners from other compounds of Stalag Luft III. Then it was over-crowded 40 & 8 boxcars for several days journey to Nurnberg. I recall food shortage and tlGreen Deathll soup provided by the Germans at Nurnberg, and crowded barracks without even straw mattresses for some time. etc., etc.  We left Nurnberg on April 4, and marched over the ensuing days about 150 kilometers to Moosberg, where we were liberated on April 29, 1945. After a few days we were flown by C-47 out of Landshut to Le Havre and put up at Camp Lucky Strike until we 
were assigned a ship to take us back to America.

I have rambled on here, as I remember those days. I'm sorry to say that Gerry Steussy died several years ago. I am still in contact with MacAllister, 
and know the whereabouts of Petrdil and Greenwald, but have not been able to locate any others of the crew. I had hoped to be able to find them and send them some pictures of our war years together.

Sincerely,
Howard J. "Bill" Leech

MEMO 2:

Howard "Bill" Leech

1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery Flowers





Howard "Bill" Leech Obituary
Howard J. "Bill" Leech

Durham

Howard J. "Bill" Leech, 93, passed away on Friday, October 7, 2016 at his home in Durham, NC.

Bill was born May 28, 1923, in Norwood, PA. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Doris nee Hirst; three sons and their wives: David and wife Betsy, Robert and wife Carolyn, and Thomas and wife Elizabeth; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Bill was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, a B-17 navigator during WWII. He flew 20 missions before being shot down over Germany and spent nine months as a prisoner of war. He completed his BS in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and received his PhD in Chemistry from the Institute of Paper Chemistry. He was employed 31 years by Weyerhaeuser Company in Longview WA, Plymouth, NC, and Valliant, OK in managerial positions. He was active in both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches and worked for Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels among other charitable activities.

A memorial service is scheduled at the First Presbyterian Church in New Bern, NC, on Saturday, October 15 at 2:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, he requested for contributions to be made to the American Red Cross.
- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsobserver/obituary.aspx?n=howard-leech-bill&pid=181880059&fhid=6292#sthash.qc5RdHdZ.dpuf

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Merseburg DATE: 1944-07-29  
AIRCRAFT: "Regal Eagle" (42-97829) CAUSE: EAC  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  

PHOTOS:

 Russian soldier with Howard "Bill" Leech at Mirgorod, Russia, late June 1944 Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 Gerald Steussy's crew with Russian officers at plane, "BLACK CAT 13" (42-32009), Mirgorod, Russia late June 1944. Front Row (l to r) Joda Ticer (TG), Frank "Pete" Petrdill (CP), Gerry Steussy (P), Russian officer. Second Row (l to r) Allan J."Mac" MacAllister (BOM), Carlos McCutcheon (TTE), Eddie Dumas (LWG), Tony Nocchiero (ROG), Julius Greenwald (BTG) Russian officer, Howard J.Leech (NAV). Detailed Information (100th Photo Archives) 

 Offficers of Gerald H. Steussy's crew at Hunter Field, Savannah, Ga. in early May 1944. (l to r) Allen J. "Mac" MacAllister (BOM), Howard J. "Bill" Leech (NAV), Frank C. "Pete" Petrdil (CP), Gerald H. "Gerry" Steussy (P). (100th Photo Archives) 

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 3052