31.10.1944 701st Bomb Squadron B-24H 44-40294 ‘Slossie’ 1st.Lt. Speers
Operation: Non-Operational Sortie
Date: 31st October 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: 445th Bombardment Group (H), 701st Bombardment Squadron (H), 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force
Type: B-24J Slossie
Serial No: 44-40294
Base: Tibenham (Station #124), Norfolk, England
Pilot: 1st.Lt. Edward Joseph Speers O-819198 AAF Age 25. Missing
Co-Pilot: 1st.Lt. William Henry Moran Jr. O-550458 AAF Age 24. Missing (1)
Navigator: 1st.Lt. Robert Kendal Rouse O-711482 AAF Age 23. Missing
Radio/Op: T/Sgt. Robert Maurice Dickey 15132373 AAF Age 20. Missing
Engineer: T/Sgt. James R. Byars 34606613 AAF Age? Missing (3)
Top Turret: -
Ball Turret: -
Right Waist: S/Sgt. Robert A. Dittmar 12194272 AAF Age? Missing
Left Waist: S/Sgt. Albert J. Clark 33733116 AAF Age 20. Missing
Tail: S/Sgt. William A. Morris 38564249 AAF Age 19. Missing
The B-24 had 10 crew positions. Crew complements evolved during the war and generally comprised 9 personnel who were typically, but not always, Pilot, Co-Pilot, Bombardier, Navigator, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner, Radio Operator/Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner, Ball Turret Gunner, Waist Gunner, Tail Gunner.
The Ball Turret was being removed from July 1944 as an operational decision to reduce weight and the improve manoeuvrability of the aircraft.
Back row, left to right: unknown, unknown, Sgt. William A. Morris, unknown, unknown, unknown. Front, left to right: unknown, 1st.Lt. Robert Kendal Rouse, 2nd.Lt. Peter S. Belitsos, unknown.
This is an image of the original Speers’ crew standing in front of 'Bessie' 625. Others on the crew but not identified on this picture are: 1st.Lt. Edward J. Speers, T/Sgt. Robert M. Dickey, T/Sgt. James R Byars, S/Sgt Robert A. Dittmar, S/Sgt Albert J. Clark and two unknown airmen. (credit. Kassel Mission Historical Society archives)
(1) 1st.Lt. William Henry Moran Jr. was the stand-in pilot for this flight.
REASON FOR LOSS:
B-24J Liberator 44-40294 Slossie departed Tibenham on 31st October 1944 at about 12:50 hours to take part in a 30 aircraft training mission. Nothing was heard from Slossie after take-off. The weather had been overcast between 600 and 8000 feet and the returning crews reported light icing conditions as their aircraft climbed out through the overcast skies. Slossie was missing from the formation when the other aircraft emerged from the overcast. Although not confirmed, it was suspected that icing caused the plane to stall and spin into the North Sea so quickly that there was no time to make a mayday call. Although it was reported that the briefed flight path was not over the English Channel the last known position of Slossie was 10 miles NE of Yarmouth. Subsequent search and rescue operations found no wreckage or the crew.
The crew are remembered in the ‘Tablets of the Missing’ at the Cambridge American Cemetery (Madingley American Cemetery) in Cambridgeshire, England.
1st.Lt. Edward Joseph Speers. DFC, Air Medal (2 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born on the 1st October 1919 in Geneva, Ontario, New York. Son of Elwood Arthur and Mary F. (née Murphy) Speers. Husband to Mrs. Betty Hospes Speers from Geneva, New York, USA.
(Left: Courtesy of the Democrat and Chronicle, dated Wednesday November 7, 1945)
1st.Lt. William Henry Moran Jr. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). There is also has a cenotaph memorial marker at the Arlington National Cemetery. Born on the 18th June 1920 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Son to William Henry and Anna Elizabeth (née Schmotzer) Moran. Husband to Mary Jane (née Hannon) Moran from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
1st.Lt. Robert Kendal Rouse. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born on the 14th August 1921. Son to Michael G. and Pauline L. Rouse. Husband to Madelynn A. (née Ney) Rouse from Los Angeles, California, USA.
T/Sgt. Robert Maurice Dickey. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). There is also has a memorial marker at the Trinity Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania. Born on the 18th July 1922 in Erie, Erie County, Pennsylvania. The son to Maurice Lawrence and Bertha (née Schruefer) Dickey from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, USA.
Right: Courtesy of The Charlotte Observer dated, Wednesday November 29, 1944.
T/Sgt. James R. Byars. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Husband to Mrs. Joe Nell Byars from Salisbury, North Carolina, USA.
S/Sgt. Robert A. Dittmar. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Son to Mr. Ferdinand Dittmar from Laurelton, New York, USA.
S/Sgt. Albert J. Clark. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born in 1924, the son to Mrs. Elizabeth M. Clark from Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
S/Sgt. William A. Morris. Air Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). Born on the 28th December 1925, the husband to Mrs Mattie Lee Morris from Chickasha, Oklahoma, USA.
Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to ‘The Kassel Mission’ Historical Society for their kind permission for the use of images from their site. Thanks to Nancy Hoxley for the correction to the names on the crew photograph (Feb 2019).