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T/SGT  James R. BAIR

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: ROG
SERIAL #: 13060377 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 00679 CR: 00679

Comments1: 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG (EAC)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW                     
                             ORGINAL 100TH PILOT
CREW #16   A/C #42-30070 "TWEEDLE O' TWILL"       MACR #679

1ST LT  RONALD W.BRALEY            P:  POW   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
2ND LT  WALTER TRENCHARD       CP:  POW   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
2ND LT  JOHN E. FAWCETT        NAV:  POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
1ST LT  THOMAS D. CARLTON    BOM:  POW   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
T/SGT   JOSEPH E. McGUIRE       TTE:  POW   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   CHARLES C. GRISSOM      WG:  POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
T/SGT   JAMES R. BAIR              ROG:  KIA     17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   DONALD G. RUGGLES     BTG:  POW   17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG
S/SGT   ELMO E. WHITE             WG:  POW 17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG                                                                                                   
S/SGT   PHIL W. ONG                 TG:   POW  17 AUG 43 REGENSBURG

350th Sqdn

Missions of Lt Braley Crew: 
#         Date              Target                      A/C #         A/C Name
1.      25/06/1943      Bremen                     25878        Badger Beauty
         25/06/1943      LeMans                     23232        Flak Happy
2.      28/06/1943      St Nazaire "Flak City"   230068      Phartzac (original)
3.      29/06/1943      LeMans                     23232        Flak Happy
4.      04/07/1943      LaPallice                    25867        Alice from Dallas
5.      10/07/1943      LeBourget                 230070      Tweedle-O-Twill
6.      14/07/1943      LeBourget                 230035      Torchy/Pasadena Nena
7.      17/07/1943      Hamburg                   230358      Phartzac (replacement for original)
8.      24/07/1943      Trondheim                230335       Sans Finis
9.      26/07/1943      Hanover                   23233         Our Baby
10.    28/07/1943      Oschersleben            23232         Flak Happy
11.    29/07/1943      Warnemunde            230070       Tweedle-O-Twill
12.    12/08/1943      Wesseling                 230070       Tweedle-O-Twill
13.    15/08/1943      Merville & Lille            230047       Sweater Girl
14.    17/08/1943      Regensburg              230070       Tweedle-O-Twill   (shot down)
       
AUGUST 17, 1943 REGENSBURG:  Just after entering enemy held territory, a two squadrons  of Me-109's and FW-109's headed for the last and low Group, the 100th BG.  There first pass was aimed at the low squadron led by Maj. Gale "Buck" Cleven and his 6 aircraft from the 350th Bomb Squadron. Lt Braley was flying in the #5 position of the Low Squadron, very vulneralbe.  The first pass knocked out 3 planes of the low squadron including Lt Braley's.    
     RIDDLED BY 2OMM SHELLS AND THE NUMBER #1 ENGINE AND TAIL SECTION ON FIRE, THE CREW, EXCEPT FOR T/SGT BAIR, BAILED OUT NEAR TAUBERSCHOFSHEIM. THIS IS A SUBURB OF WURZBURG AND IS ABOUT 125 MILES SHORT OF THE TARGET. ALL NINE WERE TAKEN PRISONER BY THE GERMANS. Lt Braley's aircraft came  under constant fighter attack from Holland toward target. Near Wurtzburg,Ger. Left formation with #1 engine in flames and fire spreading to tail section. All bailed out except Bair who was dead in radio room. He had been wounded very early but stuck to his gun and was killed shortly before bail out. His body identified in wreckage of A/C by Sgt. Grissom from belt buckle and Catholic medal. Grissom believed a 20 mm had hit him in chest.

Right after crossing into Holland, fighter attacks began and Sgt Jason  Bair was wounded.  He fought valiantly on, continuing to man his 50 cal machine gun in the radio room until another round of 20mm shells exploded in and around the radio room.  At this point he was hit in the Chest and Killed instantly. One Crewman would report later: " The radio room ws shot up with cannon shells…When a cannon shell split the radio room door, the shell could hardly have missed him".  The radio room was hit with multiple 20mm rounds so any one of them could have been the final blow.  

Other injuries sustained by Crew  on August 17, 1943-Regensburg
Trenchard - broken ankle 
Grissom - fractured vertebrae 
Ong - flak in lower back 
White - bullet wound through leg.

A/C struck ground near Tauberbishopheim,Ger.


Ship flying off right wing of Crew #11 (Claytor) was really in Purple Heat Corner. 


---> SUBMITTER INFORMATION
SUBMITTER: Claus Hanak
EMAIL: claus_hanak@t-online.de
PURPOSE: Ask a question
INTEREST: I am researching WW2 history

Dear Madam or Sir,

please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Claus Hanak and I live in Walldürn, a small town in South-West Germany, between Würzburg and Heidelberg. I am a historian and I am writing an academically study paper about an allied air attack on my hometown Walldürn in the Second World War. On  July 21, 1944 twelve B-24 bombers from the 34. Bomb Group of 8th USAAF attacked Walldürn.

Talking to many contemporary witnesses, I found out that on August 17, 1943, there was another air-war incident near Walldürn. On that day – for the first time in war – American bomber squadrons flew over the town. German fighters attacked the flying fortresses and two aircraft were shot down and crashed near Walldürn. Those were the 100. Bomb Group aircraft B-17  "Escape Kit"  flown by Lt. Curtis R. Biddick and the B-17 "Tweedle-O-Twill" flown by Lt. Ronald W. Braley. 
Eyewitnesses reported that dramatic scenes had happened! The two aircraft crashed near the small villages Pülfringen and Schweinberg. Among other things balled out crew members were captured and injured airmen were medicated. The remains of the killed crew members were later buried at the local Catholic village cemeteries – with military honours, so contemporary witnesses told me. (Soon after the war, they were disinterred by US-Soldiers). The interviewed contemporary witnesses unanimously said, that the two villages were lucky, because the bombers crashed on the outskirts. An elder man – he was thirteen in 1943 – told me: “If I got the chance, I would thank Lt. Braley and his crew. He heaved the aircraft over Pülfringen, many people would have been killed, if the flying fortress had crashed in the middle of our hamlet!”

Therefore I am writing to you. Maybe you have some more information about the two aircrews. Are Ronald W. Braley and some members of his crew still alive? Are still some members of Curtis R. Biddicks crew alive? If you are interested I would be glad to give you the information I have concerning the two shooting downs. 

Thank you for your co-operation. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

                                
Sincerely yours

 Claus Hanak M.A.  claus_hanak@t-online.de

MEMO 2:

James R. Bair was born on February 26, 1918 in Pennsylvania. His parents were Clarence and Bridget O'Connell Bair.
According to his NARA enlistment file, He enlisted on April 10, 1942 in Pittsburgh. He had completed 2 years of high school, but the civilian employment is "undefined." He enlisted as a private, with no branch choice, but he was assigned to the Army Air Forces. He was trained as a radio operator and also as an aerial gunner. He then went to crew training, and went overseas in May, 1943 with this crew. They arrived at Thorpe-Abbotts in England, and flew 14 combat missions, the first being on June 25, 1943.

On August 17, 1943, the crew was part of the "double-strike" aimed at the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt, Germany. The crew flew as part of the diversionary force to Regensburg, hoping to split the Luftwaffe with two raids at the same time.
As the formation neared Regensburg, it was attacked by 2 squadrons of enemy aircraft. After several attacks, the B-17 of Bair's was riddled with holes, but refused to go down. The German fighters came in again, and riddled the aircraft with 20mm cannon rounds. TSgt Bair supposedly was hit in the chest, and died at station.

The aircraft broke into flames, and the remaining crew bailed out in the vicinity of Tauberschofshon, Germany. (One source states "Tauberbishopshon." ) They all reached the ground safely, but were captured immediately. Bair's body was found in the wreckage, and identified by dogtags. He was buried nearby, later retrieved, and in 1950, he was buried in a group burial at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri with 2 other airmen. The grave marker stands in Section 84, Sites 290-292.

TSgt James R. Bair was acting as radio operator and dorsal gunner on B-17F # 42-30070, named Tweedle O' Twill, assigned to the 350th Bomb Squadron.

Missing Air Crew Report 679 contains the details on the loss of aircraft/crew. Crew rosters and personnel files reveal the crew as:

1 Lt Ronald W. Braley  p
2 Lt Walter Trenchard  c-p
2 Lt John E. Fawcett  nav
1 Lt Thomas D. Carlton  bomb
TSgt Joseph E. McGuire  eng/tt gun
TSgt James R. Bair  r/o
SSgt Donald G. Ruggles  btg
SSgt Charles C. Grissom  wg
SSgt Elmo E. White  wg
SSgt Phil W. Ong  tail gun

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Regensburg DATE: 1943-08-17  
AIRCRAFT: "Tweedle O' Twill (42-30070) CAUSE: EAC  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: ROW:  
GRAVE: CEMETERY:  
ID: 388