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LT  Harold C. BECKER

UNIT: 350th BOMB Sqdn POSITION: NAV
SERIAL #: O-682134 STATUS: KIA
MACR:

Comments1: 7 MAY 44 BERLIN

COMMENTS & NOTES

MEMO 1:

CREW

LT  LOREN C. VAN STEENIS "Flying Dutchman"         P CPT 7 MAY 44 BERLIN
LT  JACK OGG                                                CP CPT 13 JUL 44 MUNICH
LT HAROLD C. BECKER                                    NAV KIA 7 MAY 44 BERLIN
LT LESTER TORBETT                                     BOM WIA 7 MAY 44 BERLIN
SGT ARCHIE K. HOLLADAY                              TTE CPT 1 MAY 44 METZ, FR. SAARGUEMINES/WIZERNES
SGT EARL V. BENHAM                                    ROG CPT 1 MAY 44 METZ, FR. SAARGUEMINES/WIZERNES
SGT ROBERT N. GOODMAN                             BTG CPT 24 MAY 44  BERLIN
SGT EDWARD C. BUTCHINO                               WG CPT 9 MAR 45 FRANKFURT
SGT JAMES L. YARNALL                                   WG WIA 24 FEB 44 ROSTOCK
SGT WALTER A. SCHNEIDER                               TG CPT 7 MAY 44  BERLIN
SGT JOSEPH V. CLOTHIER                               WG CPT 7 MAY 44 BERLIN (REPLACED YARNALL AFTER JIM YARNALL WAS 
                                                                                                                        WOUNDED 24 FEB 44 POSEN, POLAND MISSION)

350TH SQDN.. CREW, AS ABOVE, JOINED THE 1OOTH ON 13 OCT 1943.  FLEW "HARD LUCK" FOR FIRST SEVENTEEN MISSIONS. (A/C 42-3413)
The crew chief of "HARDLUCK" was M/Sgt C. M. Myers.

jb..CORRESPONDANCE WITH EARL BENHAM 1980--SAYS "SEVEN OF CREW FINISHED TOUR.  NAV (H.C. BECKER) WAS KIA ON 7 MAY 44 (BERLIN) AFTER I FINISHED TOUR AND BOM AND WG WERE GROUNDED DUE TO WOUNDS.

ALL the following information courtesy of Walter A. Schneider ...pw

REPORTING SECTION AT AN EIGHT A.A.F. BOMBERS STATION SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND

 It's navigator dead and bombardier gravely wounded, prospects for the Eight Air Force Flying Fortress "Hard Luck II," commanded by Capt. L.C. Van Steenis, University Park, Iowa. to return safely to its home base over dim after a recent raid (May 7. '44) on Berlin.
 But the fortress got back unfolding a story of its crews indomitable spirit and team play between the bomber and a P-47 pursuit plane.
 Over Berlin, never an easy affair as fliers dub "a milk run". Rings of flak circumscribed the sky when Capt. Van Steenis, leading a squadron, was near the point where "Hard Luck II" would be sailing on flak free air. the young navigator gestured with two fingers - In two minutes all will be O.K.
 The bombs were down and gallant gunners scanned the sly for reticent German defenders. Berlin was sprawling below and burning, but a curtain of fluffy clouds were in between. A stray Anti Aircraft shell burst near "Hard Luck II". The No 3 engine began coughing oil and Capt Van Steenis and his aircraft dropping from formation and loosing altitude to 16,000 feet, called for a check from all crew member stations.
 There was no answer from the navigator or the bombardier. Just as two gunners, S/Sgt Edward C. Butchino, 21, of Bridgeport, Conn. and T/Sgt Sansevaro, 24, Brighton, Mass were ordered to investigate. the bombardier was found bleeding profusely, lurched into the radio compartment.
 "Take a look at the middle of my back," the bombardier said. "I'm not sure it is still there." The wound was deep and the two gunners preceded to strip of his clothes and apply sulphamilinide powder.
 "No No," said the bombardier as first aid was being given, "Take care of the navigator and the ship first."
 Coming forward to help, S/Sgt Joseph V. Clouthier, 20 Harlow St. Worchester, Mass left waist gunner, applied pressure packs on the bombardier's wounds, holding the packs firmly in place, gave morphine and placed him in an  electrically heated blanket. As the bombardier's oxygen bottle was shattered, Capt Van Steeenis dropped to 15,000 feet to the oxygen level.
 The top turret gunner went to the aid of the navigator. Flak fragments had killed him instantly and his body was crumpled over maps that were intended to get "Hard Luck II" back to roost in England. Meantime the fortress had become lost from the formation and only the trackless waste of the North Sea lay ahead. The tail gunner, s/Sgt Walter A. Schneider, 24, of Greenfield, Mass., reported a God Send--A P-47 was beginning to circle about the stricken B-17. 
 "P-47 to Big Friend in trouble," came a call over the fighter channel. "What can I do for you?" Capt Van Stennis urged the P-47 to head for home. "No use for both of us to take a swim."
 "Don't worry about me," replied the pursuit pilot. "Will you be O.K. if I circle at a radius of two miles?"
 With the American fighter leading the way "Hard Luck II" came home to its base where medics and ambulances were waiting to rush the bombardier to a  hospital where numerous fragments of flak were taken from his back and shoulder.
 Surgeons said that first aid administered by Sgt's Clouthier, Butchino, Sanservaro, and Acker undoubtedly saved the life of the bombardier.
 From the crew another tribute was forthcoming. "Without the P-47, Said Capt Van Steenis, "We soon would have been floundering around in the North Sea. I would like to meet the pilot of the fighter and thank him personally."
 As for our bombardier---there isn't a medal to high for him. At the point of death he kept insisting the gunners take care of the ship and navigator first.
 Lodged in Capt Van Steenis's parachute was a piece of flak but he was uninjured. Although parts of the fortress were flak riddled, none besides the    navigator and bombardier had been hit.

COPY OF BRIEFING FOR SOLINGEN, GER. 30 NOV 1943...SUPPLIES BY WALTER SCHNEIDER.. DECEMBER 1993...pw

30 Nov 43
BRIEFING FOR SOLINGEN, GER.

    TAXI     7:40
    TAKE OFF    7:55
    LEAVE BRITISH COAST   10:50
    ARRIVE ENEMY COAST   11:10
    ARRIVE AT I.P(initial point)  11:33
    ARRIVE AT TARGET   11:42
    ARRIVE AT BRITISH COAST  13:56
    OVER BASE AT    14:30

ESCORTS
    P47s    11:20
    P38s    11:33
    P47s    11:37 Dropped bombs between 
    P47s    12:20 these two times...
    SPITFIRES   12:51

Following added by Mr Schneider in 1993..
 Also at briefings we were given Anti Aircraft gun positions, type and how many. We were also given possible enemy strength expected into, over and returning from the target.
 It might be noted that take off time was at 7:55 and the scheduled departure from the British Coast was 10:50. This time lapse of 2 hour 55 minutes was required for assembling the formation and climbing to a reasonable altitude before crossing the enemy coast.. hoping not to draw  anti aircraft fire at the crossing.


MISSION LOG OF CREW # 13 (Van STENNIS)
FROM THE DIARY OF EARL BENHAM (ROG)

THE FLIGHTS OF CREW #13  NOVEMBER 1943 THROUGH MAY 1944
A brief description of each flight from my diary written at the time.. Earl Benham

Nov (date not listed..pw) our first intended mission was scrubbed just before take off.
Nov 5th 1943 Briefed for Gelsenkerken (Gilsenkirchen), Germany. We flew as spare. Bomb load, eight 500 lb. demos. Runaway supercharger at take off. Oxygen leak at 20,000 ft. We returned to base. No mission credit.

Nov 7th 1943 Briefed for Duren, Germany. Bomb load Demos and incendiaries.. At bombs away nine bombs failed to release from bomb racks. Torbett and Yarnel released them over the Channel on the way to base.

Nov 16th 1943 Briefed for Rujkan, Norway..Bomb load, five 1000 lb demos..Target 60 miles west of Olso, Norway. A hydro electric plant also used for development of heavy water used for development of atomic bomb..Target destroyed. I sent strike report to base, giving results.

Nov 19th 1943 Briefed for Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Bomb load Demos..Took off in cloudy weather, target overcast..Mission led by pathfinder.

Nov 26th 1943 Briefed for airfield at Paris, France..Bomb load twelve 500 lb Demos..Target overcast, we were ordered to return to base without dropping bombs..We could not bomb France blind.. Flak heavy over target, not many enemy fighters in area..We landed at base with full bomb load.

Nov 29th 1943 Briefed for Bremen, Germany. Several enemy fighters....we had good escort of P-47s Ten FW-190s made head on passes.

Nov 30th 1943 Briefed for Solingen, Germany..Our pilot passed out at 18,000 ft...We decended to lower altitude to revive him..Salvoed bombs in Channel..returned to base.

Dec 10th 1943 Briefed for Emden, Germany..Bombs were incendiaries. .We flew as spares..No place to fill in..Dropped bombs in Channel and returned to base..No mission credit.

Dec 14 1943 Briefed for Berlin, Germany..Mission scrubbed before take off..Returned to briefing room and were briefed for Kiel, Germany. This mission also scrubbed half hour before take off.

Dec 16th 1943 Briefed for Bremen, Germany..Bomb load, eight 500 lb Demos and 20 incendairies..We flew as spare..Had a runaway supercharger on take off..We landed on the second attempt in heavy fog..Changed to new airplane..No place to fill in..Returned to base landed in thick fog with full bomb load. No mission credit.

Dec 22 1943 Briefed for Munster, Germany. Full load of incendiaries. Pathfinder mission, complete overcast over target..Light flak..P47 & P38 escort very good..We took off in the rain.

Dec 24th 1943 Briefed for NO BALL target near Abbeville and Dieppi, France. Bomb load 300 lb Demos..Altitude over target 12,000 ft. Our base was fogged on return, had a difficult time landing.

Dec 29th 1943 Briefed for Ludwigshaven, Germany..Flew as spares..Full load of  incendaries..Took off at 8:30 a.m...No place to fill in. We returned to base with full bomb load..No mission credit. Landed at 12:30 after a 4 hr. flight.

Jan 4th 1944 Briefed for Kiel, Germany..Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos..Pathfinder mission,Target overcast..Bombed from 29,000 ft..Flak heavy and accurate.

Jan 5th 1944 Briefed for Elbeipid, Germany. A ball bearing plant. We hit the 2nd. alternate target at Nuess, a bolt and nut factory. Bombed from 26,000 ft. Temperature 52 below zero..Flak very heavy..P47 escort very good.

Jan 7th 1944 Briefed for Ludwigshaven. Germany..A Chemical, Power and Rubber plant..Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos..Pathfinder  mission..Target overcast.Flak thick over target and passing over Duren..P47 & Spitfire escort very good..One bomb failed to release over target, Yarnel and Torbett loosened it over Channel. Target completely destroyed..Bombed from 23,000 ft..Our base closed in with fog., I brought the plane over the field with radio directional system.

Jan 15th 1944 Briefed for Halberstadt, Germany..Mission scrubbed after briefing because of heavy fog.

Jan 19th 1944 Briefed for installation on French Coast--Mission scrubbed on hour before take off..--  Our crew had special delayed action bombs which could not be unloaded on the ground.-- Necessary to drop them in the Channel. We took off in very bad weather and dropped then 40 miles out over the North Sea. We almost ran into a barrage balloon on the way back to base. the bomb load was twelve 500 lb.Demos..--..No mission credit.

Jan 20th 1944 Briefed for installation on French Coast. Scrubbed one hour before take off time.

Jan 21 1943 Briefed for installation on French Coast. Bombed from 20,000 ft. Each squadron made their own individual bomb rum..--..Flak very heavy, our airplane had several holes, most of the planes were hit by flak..--..The flak made it a rough mission.

Jan 24th 1943 Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Took off in dark at 7 a.m. -- Heavy contrails at 15,000 ft. had difficult time grouping formations. Were 150 miles over enemy  territory when we were recalled to base. -- Came out across Holland so did not drop bombs. -- Salvoed in Channel.

Jan 25th 1944 Part of our crew flew to a field near Cambridge. We took another pilot on business.

Jan 26th 1944 Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Mission scrubbed before take off.-- Another mission to the French Coast was also scrubbed

Jan 31st 1944 Briefed or Frankfurt, Germany. -- Mission scrubbed 30 mins before take off.

Feb 4th 1944 Briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb..--..Pathfinder mission.-- Bombed from 25,000ft. at 300 m.p.h.  Flak very thick, some enemy fighter attacks. Very little escort.--.Had a very rough landing at base because of strong crosswinds.  My first and only mission with a different pilot. Our pilot sick with cold. Lt Harris was the pilot.

Feb 8th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.

Feb 9th 1944 Briefed for Halberstadt, Germany.-- We took off at 7 a.m. and were recalled at 8 a.m.  -  landed at 10 a.m. with full bomb load.  --  No mission credit.

Feb 11th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.
Feb 12th 1944 Flew a short practice formation flight.

Feb 13th 1944 Bombed installations on French Coast. Flak very accurate bursting close to airplane. Good fighter escort..--..Bombing  altitude 12,000 ft.

Feb 15th 1944 Flew short practice formation flight.

Feb 21th 1944 Briefed for Brunswick, Germany- Pathfinder mission.-- Bombed airfield and railroad marshaling yards. -- Excellent fighter support..Light flak. -- Bombed from 2200 ft.

Feb 22nd1944 Briefed for Schwienfurt, Germany.-- Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos.-- Took off in snow flurries, climbed to 22,000 ft. Heavy contrails made grouping difficult. Visibility almost zero at times. We headed out across Channel badly formed..--Recalled.-- Landed at base with full bomb load.

Feb 23rd 1944 Briefed for Schwienfurt, Germany. Mission scrubbed after hour postponement.

Feb 24th 1944 Briefed for Posan, Poland. -- Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos. Attacked by enemy fighters over Denmark. Our waist gunner (Yarnall) was wounded in the shoulder and hand.-- Target was overcast; could not bomb. We changed course and dropped bombs on Rostock, Germany. -- Some flak, more fighters attacked on the way out, plane hit by a few shells. Landed O.K. at base, a long flight, a bit over ten hours. Yarnall was grounded because of his injuries.

Feb 25th 1944 Briefed for Regansberg (Regensberg), Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb. Demos..Good fighter escort.-- Flak very heavy over target, we were hit by several pieces. We came to base on three engines.-- base badly clouded up, landed O.K., a nine and half hour trip.-- Target was hit in clear visibility.

Feb 26th 1944 Briefed for Friedrichshaven, Germany.-- Bomb load forty-two 100 lb. incendiaries. Mission scrubbed just before take off.

We went on a nine day leave at this time....

Mar 14th 1944 Flew a practice mission.
Mar 15th 1944 Flew a practice mission.
Mar 16th 1944 Test flew a new airplane (Hard Luck II) -- Were group lead.

Mar 17th 1955 Briefed for Oberfafinshaven, with Munich as secondary. Mission scrubbed before take off, returned to briefing room and were briefed for Frankfurt, Germany. This mission also canceled because of fog that did not lift.

Mar 18th 1944 Briefed for an airfield and installations five miles north of Augsburg, Germany. -- bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos.-- We  were hit by flak as we crossed the French Coast on the way in. We were flying group lead. Torbett, our bombardier, was hit. He was not able to operate and we left the formation and returned to base.

Mar 25th 1944 Flew practice mission.

Mar 26th 1944 Briefed for Leipzig. Germany, a factory making JU-88s. Mission was scrubbed at taxi time. Were scheduled as group lead. We were up at 2 a.m. and flew a four hour practice mission on the afternoon.

Mar 27th 1944 Briefed for an airfield 15 miles from Bordeaux, France. Bomb load, ten 500 lb Demos. Flak very heavy over the target, bombing altitude 23,000 ft.  We hit target with good concentration. The 8th Air Force bombed several targets in the area, saw smoke of several targets. Group lead mission and we led the group.

Apr 7th 1944 Briefed for Quackenbruck (Quakenbruck) , Germany. Mission scrubbed before take off.

Apr 8th 1944 Briefed for Quackenbruck (Quakenbruck) , Germany airfield again, bomb load, thirty-eight 100 lb bombs.- Bombing altitude 20,000 ft..-- Good fighter escort.

Apr 9th 1944 Briefed for Posan, Poland, aircraft plant. Bomb load, incendiaries.-- Took off in bad weather, formations were split up over North Sea in heavy cloud formation. The group could not be reformed. Returned to England, could not land at our base because of weather. Landed at a B-24 base and returned to our base when the weather cleared later that day.

Apr 11th 1944 Briefed for Posnan, Poland. Bomb load, five 1000 lb Demos. Took off at 7 a.m. - We flew across the North Sea in very bad weather. Formations were badly formed as we crossed the coast of Denmark. We met strong formations of enemy fighters. Many B-17s lost in out division. -- Target was overcast, we changed course and bombed railroad marshaling yards at Rostock, Germany. Flak very heavy over target. We met many enemy fighters on way out. Met out P-38 fighter escort on the way out. Landed at 5 p.m., field closed in. A long rough mission very similar to Feb. 24th when out Armor gunner Yarnell was injured.

Apr 18th 1944 Flew a practice bombing flight, just our crew.

Ape 20th 1944 Briefed for installations on French Coast. Took off at 4 p.m., Bomb load, twelve 500 lb. Demos.-- Also took two 1000 lb demos. The two 1000 lb. demos were attached to the underside of the wing, one on each side. First and only time we carried them that way. - Flak over target very heavy and accurate. Landed at base 8:35 p.m.

Apr 22nd 1944 Briefed for Hamm, Germany, marshaling yards. Bomb load, ten 500 lb demos.-- Bombing altitude 23,000 ft. Flak very heavy over target. We had a good escort. Our crew led the group and most of the 8th Air Force. Our group Col (proably Bennett) flew as observer, our squadron Major (proably Elton) flew as co-pilot and out co-pilot flew as observer. Took off at 3 p.m. and landed at 9:30 p.m. Think we led the wing.

Apr 24th 1944 Flew a practice mission.

Apr 25th 1944 We (our crew) flew a weather mission for the group. We were called at 1:45 a.m. Briefed to take off at 4:30 a.m., a German air raid delayed take off until 5:30 a.m. We went to 20,000 ft, Navigator took wind readings which we radioed to base. After mission left the coast of England - returned to base at 9:30 a.m. Our flight took us over London. No mission credit.

Apr 26th 1944 Briefed for Brunswich (Brunswick), Germany, bombed by pathfinder. Bomb load  forty-two incendiaries.- Flak heavy over target, good escort..--  Took off at 5:10 a.m. landed at 12:20 p.m.

Apr 27th 1944 Briefed for a target near Cherbourg, France. Bomb load, sixteen armor piercing bombs. Bombing altitude 18,000 ft. --  Flak thick over target
Apr 27th 1944 We returned to base and were briefed for an airfield near Paris, France. Bomb load, twelve 500 lb. demos. Took off at 3:30 p.m.  Some flak over target, bombed secondary as primary was overcast. Landed at 9:30 p.m. ---- Two missions this one day..

May 1st 1944 Briefed for Metz, France, marshaling yards. Bomb load six 1000 lb demos. Took off at 3:30 p.m. --- Fighter escort very good. We had full support with P47s, P38s and P51s. Some light flak over target and four enemy fighters made an attack on out group..--- Landed O.K.
THIS FLIGHT COMPETED MY TOUR OF 28 MISSIONS...Earl Benham

(The following data on the May 7th 1944 Berlin mission is supplied by Walter A. Schneider)

May 7th 1944 Briefed for Berlin, Germany. Bomb load, ten 500 lb. demos. - Heavy flak and very accurate; Navigator(Harold C. Becker) killed. - Bombardier (L. Torbett) was wounded. This was the last mission for the following members of the crew.
  Pilot  Van Steenis
  Tail Gunner Schneider
  Bombardier Torbett (wounded)
  Navigator Harold C. Becker (KIA)

Van STEENIS, L.C CAPT           P 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
OGG, J. LT                            CP 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
BECKER  H.C. LT            NAV 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
TORBETT  L.D. LT         BOM 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
SANSEVERO N. T/SGT      ROG 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
BUTCHINO  M.C. T/SGT  TTE 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
GOODMAN  R.N. S/SGT  BTG 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
CLOUTHIER  J.V. S/SGT  RWG 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
ACKER  F. S/SGT         LWG 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
SCHNEIDER  W.A. S/SGT  TG 5/7/44 BERLIN 31903
 
Above is the complete crew for the 5/7/44 Berlin mission.

Excerpts from a letter to Paul West, Dec 1993...pw

 The May 7th entry to the log of our crew is in addition to the six pages from Earl Benham's log. His log is almost word for word with my diary. We did not all finish our tour on the same date. I will try an explain:
 Going back to the Feb 4th (1944) mission one will see that Van Steenis was sick and we had another pilot. 

 On the mission of Apr 22nd (1944) our crew lead the Group with the rest of the 8th Air Force behind us. Because of the position in the formation our regular co-pilot flew as formation observer and Tail Gunner for the mission. Thus I missed this mission.

 Along the way Goodman (Robert Goodman) and Butchino (Edward C. Butchino) missed missions due to illness.

 When we first started flying combat, a tour of missions was twenty-five (25). Along in Feb. or Mar. (1944) the number of missions was increased to thirty (30). As we had seventeen (17) missions already our tour was extended to twenty-eight (28). Later a tour was further extended to thirty-five (35).

 Robert Goodman finished his tour on 24 May 1944, the target was Berlin. (the 100th lost nine (9) aircraft..pw) 

I have added this page to the pages of Earl Benham sent me.

    Walter A. Schneider
    Tail Gunner Crew #13
     "Hard Luck" 

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT CREW #13 AND THEIR MISSIONS

DATE  TARGET  8th 3RD    100   FIGHTERS  BOMBERS  BOMBERS TH  P38s  P47s  P51s TOTALS

Nov 7 Duren,Ger.   122 57 23    283  405
Nov 16 Rujkan,Norway   388  147 20  NO ESCORT  338
Nov 19 Gelsenkirchen   167 130 15    288  455
Nov 26 Paris, France   633 97 29 28   353  1014
Nov 29 Bremen, Ger.   360 140 19 38   314  712
Dec 5  Bordeaux, Fr.   548 236 22 34   266 36 884
Dec 22 Munster, Ger.   574 194 29 40   448 28 1090
Dec 24 No Ball, Fr.   722 230 21 40   459 42 1263
Jan 4  Keil, Ger.   569 166 u 70  42 681
Jan 5  Ebberfield,Ger.     519 73 u    243  762
Jan 7     Ludwigshafen.Ger.    502 167 u 71   463 37 1073
Jan 21 No Ball, Fr.        795 161 u 49   531 48 1423
Jan 24 Frankfurt, Ger.     563 272 u 101   535 42 1241
Feb 4  Frankfort, Ger.     748 302 u 56   537 44 1385
Feb 13 No Ba11, Fr.        469 277 u    189 43 701
Feb 21 Brunswick,Ger.   861 281 u 69   542 68 1540
Feb   24 Posen, Poland 809 334 u 70   609 88 1575
Feb   25 Regensburg,Ger. 754 290 u 73   687 193 1707
Mar  18 Augsburg, Ger. 738 221 u 113   598 214 1663
May 27 Bordeaux, Fr. 714 256 u 132 736 122 1674
Apr 8  Quakenburck,Ger     664 255 u 136 438 206 1!44
Apr 11 Posen, Poland       917 302 u 124 454 241 1736
Apr   20   No Ball, Fr. 596 282 u 89 211 88 1230
Apr     22  Hamm, Ger. 803 248 u 132 485 242 1662
Apr 26 Brunwick Ger.   589 183 u 90 311 153 1143
Apr   27 No Balll, Fr.     596 187 u 47 252 48 953
Apr  27 Air Field, Fr.     486 120 u 105 283 154 1029
May   1 Metz, Fr.       917 312 u 120 272 166 1475
May   7 Berlin, Ger.      600 270 u 153 317 284 1,54


The above information was compiled from our misslons and from "The  MIGHTY EIGHTH WAR DIARY" by Roger A Freeman. 
An interesting note is that the begining of our tour Freeman's book does not mention the Spitfires we had for escorts.

On the 20th April 1944 was the only time we carried 1000 lb bombs in external racks.

After the 1st of Jan 44 Freeman does not list the number of aircraft dispatched for each group…...from Walter A. Schneider

MEMO 2:

Harold C. Becker was born in Wisconsin. (Believed to be in 1913.) His parents supposedly were Charles J. and Nelda Becker. The US Census 1930 lists a family meeting this criteria living in Saxon, Wisconsin. No early life records have been located.

The only NARA enlistment record that fits Becker is one in which he enlisted on August 24, 1943 in the Army Air Forces. This record states he had completed 4 years of high school, and was employed as a semi-skilled heat treatment worker. The file confirms state and date of birth, and adds he was divorced, with dependents.

He was selected for flight training, and received training as a navigator. He was then commissioned, awarded wings, and assigned to crew training at Moses Lake, Washington. The crew trained together, then ferried a B-17 to England, arriving there on October 13, 1943. They were assigned a B-17 which they named "Hard Luck." The first mission scheduled was scrubbed. The first combat mission came on November 7, 1943.

The crew flew 17 missions in "Hard Luck," then they were assigned a new B-17 that they named "Hard Luck II." Most of the crew completed their combat tour. The tour was 25 missions, later pushed to 28, then reached 30. On the 28th mission for most of the crew came on May 7, 1944. On this date, the crew was assigned to bomb Berlin, Germany. Just as the bombs were released. the formation was subjected to intense flak fire. Several hit near or on "Hard Luck II" creating severe damage, wounding the bombardier, and killing the navigator. Crew members gave first-ad to the bombardier, but realized the navigator was dead. All returned to England, where Lt Becker was buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery in Cambridge, England. He lies in Plot E, Row 1, Grave 24.

Lt Harold C. Becker was performing duty as the navigator on B-17G # 42-31908, named "Hard Luck II," assigned to the 350th Bomb Squadron.

Because all the crew returned, no Missing Air Crew Report was issued. Personnel files give crew make-up. The crew consisted of:

Cpt Loren C. Van Steenis  p
2 Lt Jack Ogg  c-p
1 Lt Harold C. Becker  nav
2 Lt Lester Torbett bomb
Sgt  Andrew K. Holladay  eng/tt gun
Sgt  Earl V. Benham  r/o
Sgt  Robert N. Goodman  btg
Sgt  Edward C. Butchino  wg
Sgt  Joseph V. Clothier  wg
Sgt  Walter A. Schneider  tail gun


Sgt Clothier replaced Sgt James Yarnell (original crew) as Yarnell was wounded on February 24, 1944 mission.

In the crew photo, Lt Becker is kneeling, 3rd from left.

KIA / MIA / EVA / INT INFORMATION:

TARGET: Berlin DATE: 1944-05-07  
AIRCRAFT: "Hard Luck II" (42-31903 CAUSE: FLAK  

BURIAL INFORMATION

PLOT: E ROW: 1  
GRAVE: 24 CEMETERY: Cambridge Military Cemetery  

PHOTOS:

Harold C. Becker 350th NAV Wisconsin KIA 7 May 44 Berlin Loren C. VanSteenis Crew

Harold C. Becker 350th NAV Wisconsin KIA 7 May 44 Berlin Loren C. VanSteenis Crew

 

SERVED IN:

Crew 1

ID: 291