Last Known Activity
Robert Franklin Bare was born in Yoakum, Texas on August 2, 1922. He enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps at Houston on September 19, 1942.
After training, he was assigned to the 563rd Bomb Squadron of the 388th Bomb Group, stationed at Knettishall Air Station, England. He was fully qualified as a pilot in B-17 aircraft, and was assigned a crew.
The crew flew two missions, one on April 6, 1945, the other on April 7, 1945. This mission was a scheduled bombing run on the city of Kaltenkirchen, Germany and war-related industries. The 388th Bomb Group put up 38 aircraft for the raid.
After releasing bombs on the target, the formation began the return trip to England. Over the town of Luneburg, the bomber stream was engaged by enemy aircraft of the Sonderkommando Elbe. This was a unit formed to implement a new tactic by which to slow down USAAF raids in order to create more time to bring ME-262 jet fighters into use.
The tactic was simple - ram the U.S. bombers. Favorite places to ram included tail assembly, engine nacelles and wing roots, and the cockpit area. Aircraft were usually BF-109 fighters, stripped of armor and armament.
On this mission, two of the B-17s were rammed. The one piloted by Lt. Bare evidently exploded, killing all the crew members. The other aircraft rammed was B-17 #42-97105 which evidently survived because records show it was salvaged on June 21, 1947.
Luftwaffe records indicate OberFeldwebel Werner Linden was successful in an attack on a bomber from the 388th Bomb Group on this date, and was killed in the incident.
The aircraft piloted by Lt. Bare was B-17G #43-38869, nicknamed "Paula Sue," from the 388th Bomb Group. This was the second mission for Lt. Bare's crew, but the aircraft had flown 47 missions prior to this one.
According to loading lists and 388th personnel rosters, the crew consisted of:
2 Lt Robert F. Bare p
2 Lt James D. Westbrook c-p
1 Lt Robert L. Sonnenberg nav
Cpl George Shantz, Jr togglier (bomb)
Sgt Vernon F. Hoffman r/o
Sgt Samuel P. Ulmstead eng
Cpl David S. Becker rwg
Sgt Jesse B. Rorie, Jr. tail gun
Sgt Ledrew R. Strable btg
R. C. Pederson MICK
Missing Air Crew Report 13723 is applicable.
Information from other accounts indicate the MICK position was used to denote radar observer.
Service photo source: