Last Known Activity
Russell C. Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois on August 16, 1918. Nothing has been found to date concerning his early childhood, but it is known he enlisted in the USAAF on December 5, 1943, and was accepted as an Aviation Cadet. Assuming the normal training period was the prevailing 26 weeks, he would have graduated and been commissioned in early1944.
Records indicate he attended B-24 pilot training, and was part of a crew that flew B-24 #42-50459 from the United States to England where it was assigned to the 448th Bomb Group. Anderson and the remainder of the crew were then assigned to the 732nd Bomb Squadron of the 453rd Bomb Group.
His first combat mission was on July 18, 1944. On August 1, 1944, while participating in a mission, one engine on the aircraft caught fire and the crew bailed out safely over southern England. He flew 9 missions in total.
On December 27, 1944, although no missions were scheduled for the 732nd Bomb Squadron, the combat-loaded aircraft took off at 0827 to join another mission. The weather was extremely bad, and even the tower did not observe the take-off roll. However, shortly after lifting off, the pilot was heard on radio to say, "I can't keep it up. We've had it."
The aircraft crashed approximately 500 meters from the air strip, and the tail section was ripped off. The remainder of the craft began to burn. The waist gunners managed to free themselves, and then they rescued the tail gunner. Ammunition began to cook off, and all fire fighting equipment was held at a distance. One bomb exploded, followed by another, and then the entire load exploded. Nine crewmen were killed.
Lt. Anderson, who was 26 years old and married, was eventually buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. He lies in Section 81, Site 13.
The aircraft involved in this incident was B-24J #42-50898, no name given, although 732nd records and inventory indicate the aircraft had previously been called "Bayou Tiger," "Youthful Rocket," as well as "Silent Yokum." In some cases, these names are given in conjunction with other aircraft, with serial numbers cited. USAAC-USAAF records state the loss, with no name given.
The aircraft had been modified to be a Pathfinder Force (PFF) aircraft that usually led formations. The ball turret had been replaced by a radar radome.
According to mission and squadron loading lists, the crew consisted of:
1 Lt Roscoe C. Brown p
2 Lt Russell C. Anderson c-p
2 Lt Thomas F. Volkman bomb
2 Lt Charles D. Todd bomb (radar)
2 Lt Robert Prudhon nav
2 Lt Carrol E. Archibald nav (radar)
SSgt Henry Surowiec eng
Sgt James A. Corwin r/o
Sgt George H. Battle gun
SSgt Marvin G. McKay rwg
SSgt Tommie F Dickerson lwg
Sgt Earle M. Richmond tail gun
Because the aircraft was PFF, there were two navigators, one acting as radar observer, and two bombardiers (one acting as radar back-up to Norden bomb sight) Therefore, while the 3 gunners survived, the remaining nine men were all killed.
There is no Missing Air Crew Report on this incident as it happened in friendly territory; however, there is a USAAF Accident Report that lists conditions and KTOA (Killed on Take-Off Accident.)
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