96th Squadron People and Information


June 21, 2003 11:16 AM


Just received a copy of letter to Earl Martin, Historian, from Kim Lindaberry

son of the late Sgt. Harold L. Lindaberry, Jr. a crew  member of  2nd Lt.

Frank Rickman's  crew on Mission 337 to Brux,  Czechoslovakia to bomb the

Synthetic Oil Refinery.


Kim's letter:


"It has been almost a year since I began researching some of the events of my

father's  service during W. W. II and written with you all. I just wanted to touch

base with you guys and share a little of what I've found out so far."


After digging through the Second Bombardment Association's roster

of members I sent out several letters to gentlemen that had names that

matched with names on photos found in my father's belongings.  I was

sure surprised when I got a phone call several months ago from one of

the men that served with my father. They trained together and flew to

Foggia together.  I have been in touch with the radio operator that was

on the same crew as my dad when they were shot down on December 25,

1944.  The radio operator, William (Bill) Forehand, has sent me his hand

written recollection of the event.  I thought I would share it with you. I

know that the "Second was First" and "Defenders of Liberty" do not

 list this particular event, but I have to say in my opinion a handwritten

account from a crew member is about as good as it can get when it

comes validation of the story.  Here is a condensed version of what

he wrote:


Flying B-17 #446414 on 12/25/1944 they lost an engine due to flak over

target Brux.  Soon after they lost a second engine (and at some point they

eventually lost a third, unknown if it was before or after the Alps) After

barely making it past the Alps the pilot sent our a Mayday and they prepared

to ditch in the Adriatic.  British Air-Sea Rescue sent a Supermarine Walrus

 Seaplane to rescue the crew once they had ditched. Before ditching the

Walrus relayed a communication that indicated a short landing strip

abandoned by the German Air Force near the beach at Ancona. The British

8th Army had driven the German 10th back far enough for the British to

occupy the landing strip.  At the last moment the decision was made to try

the strip instead of ditching in the freezing Adriatic.  Upon landing the

B-17 went off the end of the strip and got its wheels mired in the mud.

The battle line between the British Eight and the German 10th Armies was

close enough that they could hear the noise from the confrontation. 


They were treated well by the Brits who shared their Christmas rations

and cheer with the crew.  The British also notified USAAF command of

the situation.  With 3 engines our of commission and wheels stuck in the

mud the next day the crew returned to Foggia via Army Truck.



2nd Lt. James F. Rickman, Crew 96th Squadron 2nd Bomb Group

Standing L-R

Sgt. Harold (Whitey) L. Lindaberry, Armorer, Pompton Lakes, NJ

Cpl. Wilbur Bennett, Engineer, Sidney NE

Cpl. Thomas Bryant, Waist Gunner, Wynne, AK

Sgt. Benjamin Prostic, Ball Turret, Baltimore, Maryland

Cpl. Thomas Benedick, Tail Gunner, Lolo, Montana

Below L-R

Cpl. William (Bill) Forehand, Radio Operator, Portsmouth VI

2nd Lt. Edward A. Gates, Copilot, Milwaukee, WI

2nd Lt. James F. Rickman, Pilot, Chapelhill TE

F/O  Isaac Bowman, Navigator, Wilmington, DE




                                                       Forward to 429th Squadron