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Dallas O. Books was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on February 3, 1919, the son of Mr and Mrs Oliver Books. He graduated from Eau Claire High School and briefly attended State Teachers College.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940 and entered aviation training. His flight training took him to Muskogee, Oklahoma and Randolph Field, Texas. He graduated and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, with pilot wings, in June, 1941 at Kelly Field, Texas.
Books was assigned to coastal patrol duty on the East Coast, but then was selected as an A-20 instructor. He attended B-25 school in South Carolina, and learned to fly a B-17 in Florida. He then underwent intensive training as a B-24 pilot at Clovis and Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was said of him that he could fly any aircraft in the Army Air Corps' inventory.
In December, 1943, he was assigned to England, and wound up at the 579th Bomb Squadron of the 392nd Bomb Group at Wendling Air Station. A crew was assembled, and on his first mission, he managed to crash-land his aircraft at the base after German fighters had shot the nose gear assembly off.
He and his crew went on to fly 6 more missions, in 5 different aircraft. The 579th acquired a new aircraft, and Books became the pilot. The next day, on the crew's 8th mission, the aircraft, now dubbed "Old Glory," flew its first mission.
The target was the Dornier Aircraft Assembly Plant at Friedrichshafen. Flak was extremely heavy over the target, and as the aircraft bombed, they were attacked by approximately 75 enemy fighters. Everyone was reduced to fighting for survival, so reports were sketchy at best. Book's aircraft was under attack by a pack of fighters when a round hit the oxygen tank that exploded and blew SSgt Strickler out of the aircraft. He was later taken POW. The Colonel in charge of the mission stated he saw Lt. Book's aircraft with a fire on the flight deck, at low altitude, but apparently under control, He also stated he saw 8 parachutes, a curious fact in light of other information.
The aircraft crashed near the village of Hardt, on the German-Swiss border. German accounts state that 9 bodies were recovered, with 3 so badly burned no identification was possible. The POW Strickler made 10, which accounted for the crew. The Germans buried the bodies in the cemetery at Locherhof on March 21, 1944. Later, Graves Registration moved all bodies to the American Military Cemetery at St. Alvord, France. No overseas cemetery has a record of a present internment, so all bodies were eventually returned to the U.S. Lt. Books is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
The 392nd Bomb Group put up 22 aircraft for the raid, and lost 15 of them.
As stated, the B-24H #41-28742 "Old Glory" was a new aircraft on its first mission.
The entire crew consisted of:
1Lt Dallas O. Books p
2Lt Harry E. Gray c-p
Capt John E. Slowik nav
SSgt Clifford T. Porter bomb
SSgt Everette N. Morris eng/ttg
TSgt George E. Slack ro
SSgt Charles C. Strickler lwg
SSgt Norman K. Willing rwg
Sgt Robert G. Hampton btg
SSgt Daniel C. James tg
All were killed in action except SSgt Strickler who was taken POW. Missing Air Crew Report 3319 applies
Questions arise from the different accounts of this episode. SSgt Strickler was blown from the aircraft, and supposedly 8 chutes were later observed. The Germans state they found 9 bodies in the wreckage. It is entirely possible that the chutes in question were of another crew, as other bombers were shot down over target. There is a discrepancy between German reports of first burial; however, eyewitness accounts and Graves Registration have proven the accounts incorrect.
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