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F/O  William J. BURBACH

UNIT: 418th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: NAV

Attached find a scanned photo of Flight Officer WILLIAM J. BURBACH of the 418th Bomb Squadron / 100th Bomb Group.  William was my father’s stepbrother. He was a B-17 navigator. He was KIA in a mission over Germany on 7 April 1945 (Arthur Calder crew). He is buried in the American War Cemetery at Ardennes; his grave marker is pictured on your wonderful website. I would appreciate your adding the photo above to the site. It was taken in Lincoln, Nebraska, in Nov-Dec 1944, prior to his departure for Thorpe Abbots airbase.
 
Thank you!
 
Robert Lee
Madison, Wisconsin

Artwork courtesy of Mike Ross. 

SERIAL #: T-131804 STATUS: KIA
MACR: 13718 CR: 13718

Comments1: 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID AIR WITH ME 109)

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW
                  A/C # 42-97071 (MACR #13718, Microfiche #5011)

2ND LT   ARTHUR R. CALDER                  P KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 
2ND LT   JOHN W. STACK                    CP FEH
     F/O   WILLIAM J. BURBACH             NAV KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 
     F/O   VICTOR HOFFMAN               BOM KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 
     SGT  JOEPH C. HALLER                ROG KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 
     CPL   VINCENT B. PITARRA            TTE FEH
     CPL   CARL J. DONNELL                BTG KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 
     CPL   JAMES J. WHIPPLE               WG POW UNK
     CPL   LEON E. BRIGGS                   TG KIA 7 APR 45 BUCHEN (MID-AIR/ ME 109) 

418th Sqdn.

Crew, as above, joined 100th Gp on 24 Dec 44.  On their first mission they were forced to bail out over Belgium (10 Jan/ 45)

The aircraft ( 43-37808 Milk Run Mabel) crashed a few kilometers from Gestel in Belgium. In a letter from Lt J.W. Stack, he describes the following. "Our first mission was Jan. 10, 1945 to Cologne to bomb a railroad bridge. We overshot the target and went to secondary target, Duisburg. We were hit by intense flak during the bomb run, and were hit two times. Once in the waist which severed our control cables and one under our left wing. After Bombs Away we dropped out of formation. We had a fire under the left wing and the bail out signal was given. I felt we were too close to our bombs falling and suggested we try to make friendly lines. We stayed with the a/c until flames bloomed out all along the wing way past the tail. At this point we bailed out (about 20,000 feet). We hit the ground near Meerhout, Belgium".

On 7 Apr 45 Kenneth R. Carr (KIA) from the crew of J.L.Wofford was flying as CP. Leonard Piepgras (originally from 388th BG, transferred to 100th BG in late 1944) was flying as TTE in place of Pitarra and was KIA.  Sgt Dwayne E. Cary was aboard in the place of J.J.Whipple and was KIA.

The dead are buried in the Ardennes American Cemetary in Belgium with the exception of Hoffman, buried in a private cemetary in New York and Piepgras is buried in a private cemetary in Minnesota. 

EYEWITNESS:  (On 7 April 1945)    " ME - 109 attacked aircraft #071 from six o'clock high and shot the left wing completely away from the fuselage.  The ME - 109 collided with the severed wing and both the wing and enemy fighter exploded.  The remainder of #071 spun down flaming to explode either just before impact or immediately there after.  Approximately seven (7) chutes - all white- were counted in the area. (The reference to the color white denotes USAAF airmen, the German chutes were a dirty brown color..pw) It was not possible to positevely determine the seven (7) chutes came from aircraft # 42-97071."  

THIS CREW HAS ALWAYS BEEN ASSUMED TO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN A MID-AIR WITH A FW - 190. THIS MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE CASE…pw

      DATE               TARGET                PILOT        A/C & NAME                           HARDSTAND    POSITION IN FORMATION
10 JANUARY 1945   COLOGNE                             43-37808 Milk Run Mabel            (crew had to bail out over Belgium)
8   MARCH,1945      GIESSEN                CALDER  166   H                                     Hardstand 45  A-Sqdn   Low Flgt, # 3   
9   MARCH,1945      FRANKFURT            CALDER  166   H                                     Hardstand 45  C-Sqdn   High Flgt, # 3
12  MARCH,1945     SWINEMUNDE         CALDER  43-37811 LD-D                           Hardstand  49  A-Sqdn, Element 2, # 2
14 MARCH,1945      HANOVER/SEELZE   CALDER  43-39162   LD-U  "GINGER"          Hardstand  41  C-Sqdn, High Flgt, #3    
                                                                      MAR,1945 Photo of "Ginger" on page 79 of Ray Bowden's Plane Names and  
                                                                      Bloody  Noses/Named  Planes of the 100th Bomb Group  
18 MARCH,1945      BERLIN                  CALDER  42-32090  LD-R  "SILVER DOLLAR" Hardstand 48  A-SQDN, Low Flgt, # 3
                                                                     Aircraft arrived at Thorpe Abbotts early,MARCH 1944. a/c was originally assigned to hardstand 
                                                                     # 42….  "and lovingly cared for by Sgt"Zip" Myers and his crew on hardstand # 42 oppisite 
                                                                      "Messie Bessie"….. 
4 APRIL,1945         KIEL                      CALDER  42-97071  LD-P  "ANDY'S DANDY'S"   R/W 04   B-Sqdn, Element 2, # 2
                                                                      Aircraft flew 65+ combat missions,John Swartz photo of starboard side nose view of aircraft 
                                                                      nose art,mission marks on Page 21 of Bowden's Plane Names & Bloody Noses 
7 APRIL,1945        BUCHEN                  CALDER  42-97071  LD-P  "ANDY'S DANDY'S"   R/W 04  D-Sqdn,Element 3, # 2    Crew KIA, MACR 
                                                                     13718  The a/c "ANDY'S DANDY'S" was assigned to the hardstand referenced as R/W 04 
                                                                     which was on the end of the runway 04 on the South side of the air field, a 350th BS 
                                                                      Hardstand…

Letter to Col Bill E. Thompson from John Stack dated 03 Feb 1994…pw

Dear Bill,                          January 4,1994
    First of all, I have to say that after March 18,1945 there was a more relaxed feeling in your old barracks.  There were no more 50 caliber bullets placed in the wood stove ricocheting between the beds. Our first mission was January 10,1945 to Cologne to bomb a railroad bridge.  We overshot the target or it was too cloudy and so went on to the alternate target, Duisburg.  We were in tracking flak for quite a while, bouncing around from the concussions and sustained at least two hits: one in the waist which severed our control cables (they were reported hanging loose in the waist) and one under the left wing.
    Pilot Calder immediately switched on the autopilot while we were on the bomb run.  We dropped out of formation right after "bombs away".  The ball turret gunner, Donnell, called out "fire" under the left wing almost immediately.  Calder hit the alarm-bell for "abandon ship".  Frankly I was scared to bail out that close to our bombs dropping and couldn't see any flame yet.  I suggested that we try to get to friendly territory. We all stayed until the fire bloomed out all along the wing way past the tail.
    I was wrong.  We should have bailed sooner.  But we were lucky. I think we bailed out about 20,000.  Bombs away had been at 25,500.  We hit the ground near Meerhout, Belgium. Waist gunner Whipple hid out for two weeks, thinking he was in Germany.  When found, he was delerious and had trench foot. He refused to fly again and was given a job as a squadron clerk. The engineer, Pitarra, broke his ankle and never flew again.  I flew one "abort" and one "scrub" with Calder and then got off the crew to become a spare co pilot.
    I flew about six missions as "formation commander" in the tail with both Blanding and De Planque.  It was the most uncomfortable position ever dreamed of outside of the ball turret.  I didn't have room enough to get my flak jacket on.  We led the Eighth to Berlin early in March.
On March 18, 1945, I was flying second element lead with either Jacobs or Leader below the lead ship in the squadron behind yours.  We didn't see the ME 262s until they were going away.  I didn't know who was shot down until we were getting our drinks before briefing.  I tried to get drunk, tried to cry, couldn't do either.  I finally passed out in the bar that evening.
     How in hell did you get out of the tail to bail out? Our plane on our first mission was called MILK RUN MABEL. Its number was A/C #43-37808
I don't have a picture of our crew.  Of us three survivors of that first mission, I only have contact with Vincent Pitarra. Neither of us has heard from Whipple in forty years.  Pitarra has a small picture of our original crew which he might lend you.

His address: 
Vincent Pitarra
211f McDuffie
Houston, TX   770l9
I'm sorry to report that both Briggs and Haller were with Calder on April 7, 1945.
Good luck and I hope I have helped you.
    
J.W.STACK

MEMO 2:

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Buchen DATE: 1945-04-07  
AIRCRAFT: "Andy's Dandys" (42-97071) CAUSE: Collided with FW 190  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: B ROW: 36  
GRAVE: 2 CEMETERY: Ardennes, Neuville-en-Cond, Belgium  
ID: 641