Last Known Activity
Charles E, Baker was born on January 9, 1920 in Ohio. No parentage or census data has been located; although, it appears from the Ohio Birth Index that his mother's maiden name was Creone.
His NARA enlistment file states he enlisted in Detroit, Michigan on November 10, 1941 as a private in the Army Air Forces. The file also confirms nativity, that he had completed 4 years of high school, and that he was employed as an architect.
He was selected for flight duty, and trained as a pilot. He was then commissioned , awarded wings, and assigned to crew training. Later, he deployed to England with this crew, arriving August 2, 1944. The crew was dispatched on, and received credit for, 6 combat missions.
On September 11, 1944, the crew was part of a formation that attacked the Ruhland oil refinery in Germany. Over the target, the formation was attacked by 50-70 enemy aircraft. At least three B-17s were set ablaze in the first firing pass. Baker's aircraft was hit by 20mm shells, 2 through the waist window, and 1 hit a fuel tank. Some of the crew were wounded by shells or shrapnel.
One wing came off the aircraft, and the aircraft exploded. It broke in two pieces at the waist, hurling most crew members out into space, dead or unconscious and unable to use their parachutes. At least three reached the ground safely, but were immediately captured.
Six dead were recovered from the crash site near Liepnitzen, in what is now the present-day Czech Republic. They were buried locally, and retrieved after the war. Lt Baker now lies in a group burial with men who died that day in the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. The grave location is in Section 85, Sites 72-76.
Ohio Birth Index
NARA Enlistment Records
Lt Charles E. Baker was performing duty as First Pilot on B-17G # 42-97806, named "Now An' Then," assigned to the 349th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report covers this loss. Crew roster and personnel files state the crew consisted of:
2 Lt Charles E. Baker p
2 Lt Charles D. Chiles c-p
2 Lt Donald H. Lienemann nav
2 Lt Raymond J. McGuinness bomb
TSgt Eugene C. Damrel eng/tt gun
SSgt Davis A. Gurman r/o
SSgt Roy C. Johannesen btg
SSgt David Rattin wg
SSgt Fred A. Fischer tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
SSgt William R. Gee (waist gunner) was removed from original crew due to dropping crew size to nine.
Lts Chiles and Lienemann, along with TSgt Damrel (right hand blown off) survived to become POWs.
Service photo source: