Last Known Activity
Elmer J. Anderson was born in California in 1916. Data on his parents nor census records have not been located. It is known he graduated from Central Union High School in 1943, and worked in the pharmacy department of the Fresno County Hospital.
He was drafted, as shown by his service number, and inducted into military service on May 10, 1943. He is listed as having completed 4 years of high school, and that he was divorced, with dependents. One source states he had a son, Donald N. Anderson, with no mention of his wife.
Anderson was assigned to the Army Air Forces, selected for flight duty, and trained as an aerial gunner in Utah and Arizona before being promoted to Sergeant, and sent to crew training. He trained with the Ryan crew, moving overseas to England in May, 1944.
On June 12, 1944, the crew received their first combat mission assignment - bombardment of the coastal defenses at Dunkirk, France. Over the target, the aircraft was hit by flak. A fire broke out in the wing fuel tank between the # 3 and # 4 engines. The wing broke off, then the aircraft exploded, throwing one crew member out into space.
The aircraft crashed into the North Sea, approximately 14 miles north of Dunkirk, killing the remaining crew. No remains were recovered, and all the crew are remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium.
NARA Enlistment Records
Elmer J. Anderson was acting as the tail gunner on B-17G # 43-37601, named "Pack of Trouble," assigned to the 349th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 5625 was issued for this loss. Crew rosters show the crew consisted of:
2 Lt John F. Ryan, Jr. p
2 Lt Joseph H. Tobiczyk c-p
2 Lt Hans J. Chorpenning nav
2 Lt Carl S. McGinty bomb
TSgt Marvin F. Fenner eng/tt gun
TSgt George L. Sherback r/o
SSgt James F. Healy btg
SSgt Harold R. Whipple wg
SSgt Archie J. McFarland wg
SSgt Elmer J. Anderson tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
TSgt Sherback was the only survivor
Anderson is not shown in the crew photo. (His name, in some sources, is spelled "Andersen," but the personnel records of the 100th Bomb Group lists "Anderson," which is used here.