Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Circa. 1906,-07 El Campo Texas home of Lewis & Emma Peterson pictured with daughter Esther, b 1902 and son Clarence b. 1906

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are you serious? I'm guilty... The great con job

I just read a very good article on bad data in genealogy web sites at:  I too fell victim to bad data years ago. I was the one who posted it.  I purchased FTM (Family Tree Maker) way back when and along with my fellow researcher, my mother-in-law, we set about building our family trees from the data we had. The internet was still new, and FTM was just beginning to push their World Family Tree.  The advertisements all stated how using their service to publish our trees to the internet would help other people find us and help "grow our family trees". So both of us did this.

About a year later, the next generation of the software came out, and my Mother-in-law bought it, it had the first World Family Tree included in it. We were very excited!  We got on and started searching, finding our own data and of course, as it was now, no other information.

Years pass, I went to get onto my FTM site where now and again, I had added new updates and pictures, made a few corrections, and one day, discovered I could no longer access my "free" web tree.  I had to purchase access.  Unfortunately, I did not have the $$ to do this, so said to heck with it.

Last year, a distant relative contacted me about bad data in my tree at So I'm one of the ones to blame for bad data bases.  I'm not about to pay for something that was touted to be free when I first did the work, and now is selling my "free" tree.   I honestly didn't mind when they were cutting it to CD and bundling it with the software, until that became too expensive and I went to one for free on the internet (which I like even better). But the great con job became "do this for free" and then the lock me out of it, wanting money to get back in, AND selling what I thought was going to be free access to all, not just paid members.

In one way, I should apologize for the bad data, and in another way, too damn bad you got it, I have no way to fix it without spending my gas money every month to pay for an account. I need the gas a whole lot more than I need the access.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Honoring my Military WWII (1945)

I was rescanning some pictures at a higher resolution and came across the following pictures:
Sept 9, 1945
These two photo's are attached to a black page with glue, it came from a photo album belonging to my Grandmother Esther Jones, my dad is the non-officer :-) with his half cousins. Thanks grandma! One of a few pictures you labeled.

Wild Blue Yonder Honoring my WWII dead family member

Synopsis of Willard O. Simpson and the B17 41-24515 Marie Jane: Willard was a Staff Sargent serving with the 91st Bomb Group Heavy, 324th Bomb Squadron in the Army Air Force flying B17F Flying Fortress'. Pictures and letters he sent home all related how "clerk" work kept him busy, and if it wasn't for his radio that he got to take from Jefferson Barracks in Mo. he would be really bored.

The 91st Bomb Group, 324th Squadron (DF-H) was assigned to Bassingbourn, England, 41-24515 became named "Jersey Bounce" by the pilot, Lt. Phillip Fischer when it was assigned to him in September 1942.  Later a replacement pilot, Lt. J.S. Jackson, renamed the craft the "Marie Jane" (Lt. Fischer was temporarily blinded on January 23, 1943).

From the Dailies of the 91st Bomb Group, we know that 21 aircraft were set up to attack the U-boat and shipbuilding installations at Wihelmshaven, and when they took off, "shortly after 0830 hours and after some slight difficulty got into formation above the clouds which dominated the skies over this part of England".

With bad weather conditions, and a large force of enemy aircraft, estimated to be between 100 and 150, the bomber group got into position over the Black Sea to begin their bomb run.  It was while forming up, that the German aircraft launched a most "vigorous attack" on the leading squadron. They initially  attacked in groups from 10 to 12, coming in rapid succession. As they completed their initial attack, they then moved in from below the rear and from both sides, hoping to break up the formation of Fortresses before they reached the bomb release line.

From the MARC record of Sidney L Kohn, I discovered that there was a casualty report:

Note: This Group lost 4 aircraft this date. None were identified. Two were seen to leave the formation, one east of Alte Mollen, one just after target, it headed back to Germany.
* S/Sgt SIMPSON, Willard O., 37117178, reported Killed in Action per SOS Casualty Report 449, 23 Jan 44.
Then, back to the Daillies:

The vicious frontal attacks continued, this time concentrating on the exposed right flank of the lead formation. Retchin's plane from the 323rd, flying "Tail End Charlie" in the second element had already been hit and dropped out of formation before the bomb drop. Now the fighters poured into the gap behind the second element, concentrating on the six planes in the middle of the pattern. The 324th, leading B Flight, took the brunt of the attack. "Marie Jane," leading the Flight was hit and went down with its entire crew. Two planes behind, Koll's "Desperate Journey," leading the second element was hit and going down, too.

  And so, my story of Willard O. Simpson comes to an end.  He was a wrestler in high school, had a dog and a large family. His youngest brother was born between my mother and her older brother, so they were sort of raised together. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Lets go Flying or Into the Wild Blue Yonder...

Map of area 2011

Route flown

I was finally able to find the below excerpt from the Dailies for the 91st Bomb Group Heavy and specifically for the 21st of May 1943.  I have cherry picked through this document for just the information about the crew of the 41-24515 Marie Jane, if you would like to see the rest of it, go to:

Dailies of the 91st Bomb Group
Transcribed by
 Mike McClanahan, Assoc. Member, 91st BGMA

21 May 1943 - Today the 91st Group was dispatched on one of its less fortunate missions. The field order last night called for maximum effort of 21 aircraft for an attack on the U-boat and shipbuilding installations at Wilhelmshaven. At the same time another field order directed that the 4th Bombardment Wing attack the German port at Emden. The missions were to be coordinated so that the attacks came at the same time. The combat crews of the 91st Group were awakened at approximately 0230 hours and after a hot breakfast, briefing for the Wilhelmshaven mission began shortly after 0300 hours. The 94th Group was not scheduled to take off until after the 91st had gotten into formation. This enabled the combat crews of the 94th to get an additional half hour of sleep. Twenty-one aircraft of the 91st Group began to take off from Bassingbourn shortly after 0830 hours and after some slight difficulty got into formation above the clouds which dominated the skies over this part of England. As soon as the sound of their engines faded away, the aircraft of the 94th Group followed, to make rendezvous with their other two squadrons.
"one of its less fortunate missions" is just a little bit of an understatement.

May 21 1943 – In Memoriam

Sixty years ago today, 2nd Lieutenant Roscoe V. Black, Jr. was awakened along with several hundred other men of the 91st Heavy Bombardment Group at 2:30 AM British Double Summer Time for his fourth combat mission. At the briefing shortly after 3 AM the men were told that this would be a "maximum effort" mission to the shipbuilding yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

These shipyards were of vital strategic importance, and previous attempts to disable them had been unsuccessful. Today every available plane and crew of the 1st Bombardment Wing would attack the German port city. The 91st would lead the mission. Bombers of the 4th Wing would mount a second attack on Emden. Takeoff was at 10 o'clock and opposition was expected to be heavy.

When the crews headed for the dispersal areas after breakfast to ready their planes, the weather was marginal with low clouds throughout the area. The 91st would be joined on the mission by the two squadrons of the new 94th Group who were temporarily housed at Bassingbourn while their base was being completed. The 94th would take off after the 91st had formed up and would follow them to the target.

The weather enroute was even worse than over England. By the middle of the North Sea, the formation was flying over a cloud cover that varied from 80 to 100 percent. But as they approached the German coast from the northwest, the clouds broke. Under the clouds, though, was a heavy ground haze compounded by a thick smoke screen put up by the enemy in anticipation of the raid.

As the bombers approached the target area, they noticed a large formation of German fighters standing slightly off the front of the formation. When the B-17s turned into the bomb run, the fighters jumped on them. Between 100 and 150 single- and twin-engine fighters began relentless frontal attacks on the 91st in larger-than-normal groups of up to twelve aircraft at a time. Rather than breaking off their attacks and reforming for another assault, the Germans dove daringly through the bomber formation while other fighters attacked from the flanks and below from the rear in a desperate attempt to disrupt and scatter the bombers so the assault on the target would be ineffective. It was one of the most aggressive attacks the 91st had ever seen.

Several of the 91st's lead group was shot up, including the lead plane piloted by Captain Clancy with the new CO Colonel Reid onboard as copilot. It took a cannon shot in the nose compartment, disabling its navigation and bombing gear as well as knocking out the oxygen system, causing it to jettison its bomb load and descend to low altitude so its crew could breathe. The Group began reforming on the deputy lead, but the brief time it had loosened up allowed the determined German fighters to break through and attack inside as well as from the perimeter. But the formation pulled together and pushed on to the aiming point to deliver their bombs.

As the target was approached, the fighters pulled back so as not to be hit by their own intense antiaircraft fire from the ground, but not before more fighters flying high above them unloosed a barrage of aerial bombs that, while not having the intended effect of blowing the planes out of the air, nonetheless caused considerable concern. The Group dropped its bombs relatively effectively, considering the circumstances, causing a great deal of damage to the port area and the support facilities nearby. But the German fighters were not yet through with the 91st.

The vicious frontal attacks continued, this time concentrating on the exposed right flank of the lead formation. Retchin's plane from the 323rd, flying "Tail End Charlie" in the second element had already been hit and dropped out of formation before the bomb drop. Now the fighters poured into the gap behind the second element, concentrating on the six planes in the middle of the pattern. The 324th, leading B Flight, took the brunt of the attack. "Marie Jane," leading the Flight was hit and went down with its entire crew. Two planes behind, Koll's "Desperate Journey," leading the second element was hit and going down, too.

Off his right wing, Jack Miller and Ross Black in 857 were jumped by six FW-190s that raked their left side with machine gun and cannon fire. Fire broke out in the No. 1 and 2 engines on the left and threatened to engulf the entire wing. When Jack hit the alarm bell signaling the crew to bail out, Tail Gunner Newell Lane went  out his back escape door. Bombardier David Snow made it out the bottom nose hatch and Ball Turret Gunner "Shorty" Trahan either made it out of the turret and through the crew door or, more  likely (if he had his 'chute in the ball with him), dropped straight out of the escape hatch in his turret. While Miller kept the plane as steady as he could, the other men moved to their assigned bailout spots. Navigator John Ragsdale may have been working his way toward the bomb bay to avoid the raging fire that threatened to melt the left wing off. Oscar Stuart probably sent out a distress signal from his radio room before heading for the bomb bay to jump. The waist gunners, Ron Taylor and Curtiss Pope, struggled toward the crew door on the right side of the tail as the plane began losing altitude quickly. Bill Spofford, the Flight Engineer and Top Turret Gunner, kept his parachute stowed behind Lt. Black's copilot seat. As he came down from the turret for his 'chute, Black was standing by the seat, ready to head for the bomb bay just ahead of Miller as soon as Jack was ready to let the ship go. Black stopped to help Spofford get his 'chute on and Spofford went through the door to the bomb bay and out of the plane.

Seconds earlier, Dave Snow's 'chute had deployed and he looked up at the burning wreck he had just abandoned. As he saw Spofford fall from the bomb bay and open his parachute, 857 exploded in a ball of flame, trapping the other six crewmen inside. It plunged to the ground just outside the German town of Jevers, where it remained until the end of the war; a twisted wreck entombing what little was left of the six men who rode it down.
  The following is a list of the casualties suffered by the 91st Group today:

Missing in Action –

Aircraft No. 41-24515; Crew: 1st Lieutenants Fisher, pilot; Freschauf, co-pilot and Joslin, bombardier; 2d Lieutenant Ball, navigator; Technical Sergeant Harvey, engineer and top turret gunner; and Staff Sergeants Cole, assistant radio operator and ball turret gunner; Jones, tail gunner; Kohn, waist gunner; Margeson, radio operator, and Simpson, waist gunner. 

Aircraft No. 42-29657; Crew: 1st Lieutenant Retchin, pilot; 2d Lieutenants Byrnes, bombardier; Floyd, navigator, and Lamberson, co-pilot; Technical Sergeants Kalfsbeck, engineer and waist gunner, and Muzik, radio operator, and Staff Sergeants Conard, tail gunner; Huber, waist gunner; Meade, assistant radio operator and ball turret gunner, and Wing, top turret gunner. 

Aircraft No. 42-3053; Crew:  1st Lieutenant Koll, pilot; 2d Lieutenants Bruton, bombardier; Buck, co-pilot, and Frey, navigator; Technical Sergeants Abt, assistant radio operator and ball turret gunner; Davila, radio operator, and Daverl, engineer and top turret gunner, and Staff Sergeants Caligan, tail gunner; Roberts, waist gunner, and Wyatt, waist gunner.  

Aircraft No. 42-5857; Crew:  1st Lieutenant Miller, Pilot; 2d Lieutenants Black, co-pilot; Ragsdale, navigator, and Snow, bombardier: Technical Sergeant Stuart, radio operator, and Staff Sergeants Lane, tail gunner; Pope, waist gunner; Spofford, engineer and top turret gunner; Taylor, waist gunner, and Trahan, assistant radio operator and ball turret gunner. 

Wounded in Action - Captain Hosman, navigator; 1st Lieutenants Ackerman, navigator; Fisher, bombardier; Jackson, pilot, and Weineth, copilot, and 2d Lieutenant Gladhart, co-pilot.
The results of the bombing by the 91st Group were relatively good when one considers the circumstances. The Germans did everything possible to prevent our formation from completing its bombing run. Yet, In spite of this situation, practically all of the bombs of the 91st Group landed within 3,000 feet of the aiming point and a bomb pattern of one of our squadrons appears to have straddled the aiming point itself. Many of our bombs were wide of the target because of the difficulty our pilots experienced in maintaining their place in formation and flying a straight and level course at the same time. Practically all of those bombs which did not land in the target area proper were seen to explode in various parts of the city of Wilhelmshaven.Those bombs which did not contribute to the obliteration of the target were not wasted, as practically none of our bombs were seen to explode beyond the limits of the city. The 91st Group was officially credited with having shot down more enemy aircraft than any other group participating in this assault. Our air gunners received credit for 17 enemy aircraft destroyed, one probably destroyed and nine damaged. To have bombed accurately under these conditions is itself a tribute to the morale and efficient training of our organization.