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 Charles H. Harmeyer

Charles H. Harmeyer

Birth
Death 27 May 1996 (aged 73)
Burial Lakeland, Polk County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 100140775 · View Source
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USAAF WORLD WAR II
Gunner Sgt. Charles H. Harmeyer Parachuted OK
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Squadron: 67th 44th Bomb Group
Service# 15336777
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross
2nd/Lt. William L. Wahler Pilot

Target: Airdrome, Langenhagen, Germany
Mission Date: 8-Apr-44
Serial Number: #42-52293
Aircraft Model B-24
Aircraft Letter:G-Bar,
Aircraft Name: JUDY’S BUGGY
Location: Fighters
Cause: Crew of 10 9Returned 1KIA

The month of April cost more plane losses and casualties of the entire war so far as the 44th Bomb Group was concerned! More so than the August 1943 disasters of Ploesti and a later mission to Foggia, Italy. The 8th of April was the worst single day. For the first time in the war, the 44th BG was led by 389th BG aircraft equipped with PFF
(Pathfinder equipment). With them as Command Pilots were Col. Gibson, Group C.O., and Captain Robert Lehnhausen, 68th Squadron C.O. They flew with 389th Bomb Group personnel and airplanes. It was not a successful endeavor. The primary target, Brunswick, as well as the secondary were obscured by a successful smoke screen, so a target of opportunity, Langenhagen Airdrome, was bombed instead. Enemy aircraft attacks were numerous and severe, with our gunners claiming 12 destroyed, 6 probables and I damaged. But the 44th Bomb Group’s formation was subjected to concentrated attacks and lost a total of eleven aircraft! This, compared to the nineteen other B-24s lost by all other Groups. This was the worst loss of the war for one mission by the “Flying Eightballs”.

A third 67th plane was badly damaged but was not counted in the total of eleven lost as the pilots succeeded in getting it back to England Co-pilot Lt. Pietro Pino wrote that, “The 67th Squadron was leading the Group and the Group was leading the entire 8th A.F. We were flying in the #4 position, and that probably is why I am alive today. We were in the vicinity of Dummer Lake where we were making a turn to the right towards our target, when approximately 100 enemy aircraft made one sweeping attack on us out of the sun, with almost no one seeing them coming. It reminded me of the second-hand car lots, with their hundreds of bare bulbs, only these “bulbs” were 20-mm cannon shells Exploding!

“They made only one pass but they got several planes, and hit us quite badly. They hit both #3 and #4 engines, with the oil pressure on #3 dropping to nothing quickly, but we held formation, got to the target and bombed. Soon, #4 engine quit and we lost more altitude quickly, while the crew was heaving everything that they could overboard so we wouldn’t go all the way down. “Alone now, we got back over Holland, having a difficult time trying to fly a course with full rudder and trip tabs set against that loss of all power on the right side. Lt. Wahler suggested that perhaps we should bail out over Holland, but I felt that as long as we were not on fire, we should try for England – and that is what we did. “We came in from over the North Sea over a small village of Beccles, where we saw an airfield with newly completed runways and bailed our crew out except for five of us. Sgt. Meskinis, our tail turret gunner, had his turret almost completely demolished around him, but not too badly injured. Our bombardier, Lt. Murray, helped Meskinis from the tangled wreckage, put his chute on his harness, got him to the rear hatch and helped him bail out. But Joe never did pull his ripcord. Instead, he must have become confused because when they found him, he had his heated suit cord in his hand – not the ripcord – and his chute was unopened.
“Wahler and I landed the plane at Beccles without further trouble as our engineer, Robert G. Jones, pumped the flaps and the landing gear down manually (#3 engine out). Those with us still in the plane were the two waist gunners who had been peppered full of shrapnel. When we checked the waist area, there were so many holes for daylight that it was like looking at the sky at night and seeing stars everywhere.”
Frank Stegbaur, Squadron navigator, who was the regular navigator on this crew, sent his recollections of this crew: “The Wahler crew was assigned to the 67th in February ‘44, but because of a shortage of navigators, I was assigned to another, more experienced crew to fly while the rest of the Wahler crew were undergoing ground Training. I had flown 5 missions before I was re-assigned back to Wahler. Later, I was sent to PFF School, and it was during this time that the incident involving Joe Meskinis occurred.
“Lt. Wahler informed me the crew had been decimated while on this mission. Their aircraft encountered severe fighter attacks and was badly damaged. His two waist gunners, Charles Ray and James Warren, had been badly wounded in the buttocks and legs when a 20-mm shell burst in the waist position between these two gunners. The aircraft had other serious damage as well. Lt. Wahler was able to nurse the aircraft back to England, and then ordered the crew to bail out, and they did. All landed safely except Joe Meskinis. They found him on a hillside with his chute unopened. The ripcord was still in the chute and the handle or cord was not fouled. “Joe and I were good friends. Our friendship started because we both had type AB blood and we always said we had to stick together in case either of us needed a blood transfusion. “After this experience, S/Sgt. Robert Jones was so badly shaken that he was taken off of flying status and re-assigned.”

JUDY’S BUGGY Crew
2nd/Lt. William L. Wahler Pilot
2nd/Lt. Pietro Pino Co Pilot
2nd/Lt. Thomas P. Murray Navigator
Grover C. Trumbo WIA
S/Sgt. Robert G Jones Engineer
S/Sgt. Edward Mazer Radio Op.
Sgt. Charles H. Harmeyer Gunner
Sgt. Charles W. Ray Gunner WIA
Sgt. James H. Warren Gunner
S/Sgt Joseph M. Meskinis Gunner KIA
S/Sgt Joseph M. Meskinis Gunner KIA


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Gravesite Details SSGT US Army Air Corps WW II

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  • Maintained by: John Dowdy
  • Originally Created by: Donna McPherson
  • Added: 4 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100140775
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Charles H. Harmeyer (19 Nov 1922–27 May 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100140775, citing Oak Hill Burial Park, Lakeland, Polk County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by John Dowdy (contributor 47791572) .