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Verification of 449th BG's 42-51642 found near Grado Italy

Discussion in '449th BG - Grottaglie' started by B-24 Best Web, May 28, 2016.

  1. B-24 Best Web

    B-24 Best Web Member

  2. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

  3. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 28, 2016
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  4. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    28 February 1945, 449th BG, Mission No. 231, target RR Bridge at Albes, Italy crossing the Isarco River, mapping of 42-51642:

    42-51642 mission #231 28 Feb 45 overview
    [1] 42-51642 mission #231 28Feb45 overview.jpg
    Target photo Rail Road Bridge - Isarco-Albes, Italy (photo courtesy 449BG http://www.450thbg.com/real/targets/194502/pages/15.shtml
    [2] Target Rail Road Bridge - Isarco-Albes, Italy.jpg
    42-51642 Target RR Bridge at Albes crossing the Isarco River
    [3] 42-51642 Target RR Bridge at Albes crossing the Isarco River.jpg
    42-51642 last seen map
    [4] 42-51642 last seen map.jpg
    Mission #231, 42-51642 Target, Last Seen, Ditching map. Last seen coordinates to ditching site 70 miles linear distance.
    [5] Mission #231, 42-51642 Target, Last Seen, Ditching map.jpg
    Last edited: May 28, 2016
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  5. Airwar

    Airwar Well-Known Member

    Well Done Scott.
  6. mcoffee

    mcoffee Member

    25Kingman49 likes this.
  7. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    to save some navigation http://449th.com/hanson-crew/ to https://issuu.com/449th/docs/latepass_spring2016_issuu

    Hanson Crew photo courtesy 449BG website
    Hanson-Howard-Crew-716th - fsize.jpg
    Standing (L to R): James S Cox (TG); Darrell E German (B); Edward H Betz (CP); Howard Hanson (P); Antonio D Fermano (N); Lawrence W Brady (FE).
    Kneeling (L to R): Thomas M McGraw (NG); Albert Acampora (BG); Adolph Turpin (LW); Lawrence F Nally (RW).

    From the excellent mcoffee contribution discussion on WW2F of this loss of 42-51642 it is learned Clarence Dragoo replaced Albert Acampora on this mission as Navigator. For those without membership to that forum mcoffee added these additionally important documents. Dragoo was normally a member of the McGrath Crew pictured below, unfortunately with the unspecific (no L to R) name caption Dragoo remains unknown.

    However; 2nd Lt. Clarence Dragoo is found here on Find A Grave http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=56363297 Tablet of the missing Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, along with the rest of his crew that day.

    Also not a regular member of the Hanson crew was PFF (Radar) Navigator 2Lt Richard M Horwitz pictured with the Nuzum Crew here http://449th.com/nuzum-crew/

    2Lt Richard M Horwitz
    2Lt Richard M Horwitz.jpg

    McGrath Crew
    Crew includes: John Andrews (TG); Clarence Van Zile (CP); William McGrath (P); Clarence Dragoo (N); Clem Granger (BF); Clarence Hughey(FE); Don Adsit (NG); William Feller (RO); Harolw Swensen (WG)

    Hanson Crew: Enemy Evasion Aid Report (should the need arise - unfortunately it didn't)

    Mission No. 215 flight formation
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
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  8. mcoffee

    mcoffee Member

    Thanks for posting the full links. I only have my phone this week which made it difficult. Dragoo replaced Antonio Fermano - Thomas McGraw is among the MIA. DPAA should have DNA results soon on the recovered remains.
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  9. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, mcoffee.
    I have corrected my Clarence Dragoo / Thomas McGraw / Albert Acampora error in post #7. You did a wonderful job working with the families of the MIA's!! Did the IDPF for Albert Acampora reveal anything new and why he was buried in a grave at Venice, Italy 60 miles away from the crash site?
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
  10. mcoffee

    mcoffee Member

    The prevailing currents run toward Venice. Rather than trustingly my memory, I will post a document next week detailing the bodies that were recovered.
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  11. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Mark.

    I know you have been dedicated to this mission for years now working with JPAC, DPAA and the Hanson Crew families in this MIA remains recovery effort, hopefully to yield results "shortly". I know how difficult it can be being away from ones computer and files. This Hanson Crew study is still pretty new to me but fascinating in its family member content on the other forum and your guiding hand as 449BG Historian.

    I'll add what I think I know from what you and others have already posted regarding crew members recovered and those still missing (hopefully not for long!); please correct if needed and add more.
    2nd Lt. Edward H. Betz, Co-pilot (Buffalo, NY), KIA: 1945 beach recovery between Grado and Venice, Italy
    2nd Lt. Darrell E. German, Bombardier (Dayton, OH), KIA: 1945 beach recovery between Grado and Venice, Italy
    S/Sgt. James Cox, Tail Gunner (Hopedale, MA), KIA: 1945 beach recovery between Grado and Venice, Italy
    S/Sgt. Adolph Turpin, Right Waist Gunner (Bedford, IN), KIA: 1945 beach recovery between Grado and Venice, Italy
    S/Sgt. Albert Acampora, Left Waist Gunner (New Haven, CT), KIA: 01 Dec. 1950 fishing trawler, 20 miles off the coast of Venice discovered remains, [still enveloped in his parachute???]. He was then buried at Pellestrina, Italy [island south of Venice], and, after being identified, was returned to the St. Lawrence Cemetery in New Haven for final burial, see http://www.ww2research.com/mia-no-man-left-behind/
    Your account http://www.ww2f.com/topic/51024-b-24-wreck-in-the-adriatic-identified/ post #12: The remains of gunner Albert Acampora were discovered in a mass grave near Venice, Italy in 1957, identified by dog tag and returned to New Haven, CT where they were buried. Per the attached newspaper articles, the remains of POWs were also in the grave. [Clarification required here if you please] as to which account is accurate; maybe a combination of the two...?
    Pellestrina island; Albert Acampora initial burial???
    Pellestrina island; Albert Acampora initial burial.jpg

    Still MIA:
    1st Lt. Howard Hanson, Pilot (Soughton, WI) Age 23, MIA
    2nd Lt. Clarence L. Dragoo, Navigator (Sandyville, WV), Age 21, MIA
    2nd Lt. Richard M. Horowitz, Radar Navigator (Brookline, MA), Age 22, MIA
    T/Sgt. Lawrence W. Brady, Flight Engineer (Tyler, TX), Age 22, MIA
    T/Sgt. Lawrence F. Nally, Ball Turret Gunner (Pittsburgh, PA), Age 23, MIA
    S/Sgt. Thomas M. McGraw, Nose Gunner (Lakewood, OH), Age 27, MIA

    It is a shame that DPMO and JPAC continue to under perform in their assigned mission with their earlier admittance of having an acquitted funding budget (to my understanding in the last half decade with prevalent DEEP force reductions ZERO other DoD entities would or could make this statement); and your headline news highlight here http://www.foxnews.c...pow-mia-office/
    That having been said the actual Hanson Crew recovery team aboard the USNS Grasp certainly appeared to conduct themselves commendably in this military recovery operation very task and mission oriented, video link here http://www.navy.mil/...ssue=3&id=91656

    We all hope remains of all six crew members have been recovered during this 24 Aug. 2015 thru 12 Oct 2015 operation to close this WW II chapter on this crew, only waiting for DNA testing results from DPAA that I hope you will share when available.

    One last question before retiring. In all my resent hunting on this topic this 28 Feb 1945 Mission No. 231 strike force routing map (attached) was found. Do you know the source of this map? My main interest here is the coordinate this map reflects as to when 42-51642 left formation to head south. This map coordinate places it over San Candido 46° 44′ 0″ N, 12° 17′ 0″ E which does not seem to jive (far too early) with the MACR last seen coordinate. Also this map shows a 'fairly" detailed route of 42-51642 after leaving formation, which begs the questions: Were there reported/recorded Italian/German sightings of this ship on this route?

    And lastly are there, were there any recorded Grado, Italy resident accounts of this ditching just off shore (village lore or otherwise)??? i.e. was S/Sgt. Albert Acampora parachute deployment noticed by towns people, and maybe other crew member chutes? By this late date in the war there were far more "Partisans" than Mussolini or Nazi supporters.

    If I had to bet, my money would be on Betz, German, Cox, Turpin, and Acampora having bailed out. No clue as to the others, perhaps wounded during the flak attack or elected to stay with the ship for ditching with Hanson in control having ordering Betz to jump?? I guess we'll never know the last moments for this crew however I suspect heroism was involved between these aerial brothers to the very end.

    Makes for a nice Memorial Day study with the hope of MIA recovery and identification!

    New Picture - Copy.png
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
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  12. mcoffee

    mcoffee Member

    I believe that map originated from the Italian researcher who was responsible for the identification of the wreck. I'm not sure where the data came from - possibly before he had the MACR, but I agree that it does not match the last reported position. From Lake Weissensee it appears the aircraft was proceeding on a direct line toward Ancona which had a fighter strip in Allied hands.

    Its not possible to determine whether any of the crew bailed or if they were all aboard when it ditched. Acampora's remains were found wrapped in his chute (see below) but no mention of chutes with the other remains that washed ashore. The prevailing Adriatic current most likely took the bodies from the wreck site west and south towards the Venice area. Acampora's IDPF speculated that the aircraft crashed near Venice based on the bodies recovered near there. There were no known sightings of the aircraft or parachutes prior to ditching. The ditching location was about 8 nm offshore.


    The 11 missing men aboard 42-51642 were:

    1 Lt Howard Hanson O-825850 Pilot

    2 Lt Edward H. Betz O-2001248 Co-pilot

    2 Lt Clarence L. Dragoo O-2063382 Navigator

    2 Lt Richard M. Horwitz O-2064188 Radar Navigator

    2 Lt Darrell E. German O-2001247 Bombardier

    T/Sgt Lawrence W. Brady 18097798 Flight Engineer

    S/Sgt Adolph Turpin 35898272 Left Waist Gunner

    T/Sgt Lawrence F. Nally 13170107 Radio Operator/Right Waist Gunner

    S/Sgt Thomas M. McGraw 35917489 Nose Gunner

    S/Sgt Albert Acampora 31330533 Ball Gunner

    S/Sgt James S. Cox 11139161 Tail Gunner

    Aircraft 42-51642 was a radar equipped “Mickey Ship” with a radome replacing the ball turret. Flying as deputy lead, the radio operator would have been dedicated to the radio console rather than manning a gun position as normal. Thus Lawrence Nally would have been at the radio console and ball turret gunner Adolph Turpin took his place at the right waist position. Antonio D. Fermano was the normal navigator of the Hanson crew but was replaced by Clarence L. Dragoo of the McGrath crew for the mission as a lead navigator. Richard Horwitz flew aboard lead ships as needed to operate the Mickey radar set.

    The body of Adolph Turpin, waist gunner was found on the beach near Grado on 24 May 1945. He was initially buried in a local cemetery and reburied in the US Military Cemetery at Mirandola on 26 July 1945.

    The body of Darrell E. German washed ashore at Chioggia on 3 July 1945. He was interred in a local cemetery and reburied at Bari on 7 September 1945.

    The body of James S. Cox floated ashore near Comacchio on 26 July 1945 and was buried in a local cemetery. He was reinterred at Mirandola on 28 February, 1946.

    The body of Edward H. Betz washed ashore in the vicinity of Cavanella D’Adige south of Venice in July 1945. He was buried in the US Military Cemetery at Mirandola on 9 August 1945.

    The body of Albert Acampora was hauled aboard a fishing boat in its nets off Chioggia on 1 December 1950. The remains were buried in the Pellestrina cemetery near Venice without Allied authorities being notified. In 1957, the German War Graves Commission was moving German war dead from the Pellestrina cemetery to the new German military cemetery at Costermano Lake Garda. During this process, they came across the remains of Acampora which were identified by dog tag. His remains were returned to the US and buried in New Haven, Connecticut in July 1957.

    The wreck of the Hanson aircraft, 42-51642, lies in about 40 feet of water 8 nautical miles from Grado and 8.5 nm from Lignano Sabbiadoro in the northern Adriatic Sea. This wreck had long been known to local divers and fishermen, but no one knew the identity of the aircraft. Today there is little left of the wreck, only the central structure of the fuselage, the wings and four engines. Armament, propellers, instruments and everything that was easy to remove has been removed, cut or broken off the wreck.

    While the wreck had been frequented by divers for years, only in the last few years had a few researchers begun to try to identify the aircraft, reconstruct its history and tell the story of its crew. None of the data plates containing engine serial numbers remain, the radio call sign placard is missing from the instrument panel and the machine guns with their serial numbers are gone. Thus the actual identity of the wreck was elusive.

    Retired Italian archaeologist and aviation researcher Freddy Furlan had become interested in this wreck in the early as 2000’s. Early on the wreck was assumed to be 42-94741 of the 484th Bomb Group named Vivacious Lady. Freddy was not convinced that this identification was correct and began a laborious project to positively identify the wreck.

    An examination of photos of the wreck revealed that the #3 engine had been feathered prior to ditching, the landing gear was retracted, and the flaps had been lowered a few degrees. At impact, the tail of the aircraft had been torn away and the nose turret had broken away by impact with the sea floor and was apparently buried in the sand.

    From official documents, none of the B-24s known to have ditched in that area of the Adriatic had the number three engine out which seemingly put the research at a dead end. In the Fall of 2009, Furlan learned that a Browning M2 machine gun had been recovered in the nets of a fishing boat near Lignano. The gun carried the serial number 1033487 which was traced back to Missing Aircrew Report 12511 and aircraft 42-51642. It is listed as the right waist gun in the MACR.

    The last reported position of Hanson and 41-51642 was over southern Austria, so how a machine gun from aboard it was found in the Adriatic remained a mystery. Freddy Furlan obtained the Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF) for Howard Hanson to try to unravel the mystery. From the IDPF he learned that the body of Adolph Turpin had been recovered near Grado, and the bodies of Betz, German and Cox had been recovered south of Venice. The IDPF speculated that the aircraft had crashed in the Gulf of Venice.

    Based on prevailing currents in the Adriatic, Furlan speculated that the aircraft had actually crashed near Grado where Turpin and the Browning gun had been discovered and the prevailing currents had carried the bodies of the other three southwest past Venice. Information from the Missing Aircraft Report confirmed that 42-51642 was last sighted with the #3 engine feathered and the #4 engine smoking.

    A data plate found on an engine oil tank carried a contract number which was awarded to the Willow Run plant producing Ford built B-24s. This did not eliminate Vivacious Lady as the wreck as both it and the Hanson aircraft were built at Willow Run.

    A glass tube was found that was later identified as part of the E.C.M. or radar countermeasures equipment which would have been installed aboard lead aircraft. This and the above evidence implied that the wreck was probably the Hanson aircraft. However, nothing definitive had been found to prove the identity of the aircraft.

    In the Summer of 2013, Freddy presented his research regarding this wreck to the local marine protection group which included his opinion that it was most probably 42-51642. Inspired by his research, the Civil Protection of Grado organized a dive on the wreck to attempt to positively identify it. From this effort, the vertical stabilizer showing the aircraft serial number was discovered buried in the sand a short distance from the fuselage. After 69 years, the fate of the Hanson crew was finally known.
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  13. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member


    Outstanding historical accounting of this 41-51642 Hanson Crew loss and recovery with a forensic flavor. Your work serves to honor these crew members who have been recovered and those still MIA, hopefully not for long once DPAA releases results from the resent remains recovery at the crash site.

    Thank you for adding the two points of reference for the crash site making it easier to be more accurate in mapping this location. Also the locations of where Turpin, German, Cox, and Betz washed ashore, with the estimated recovery location of S/Sgt. Acampora's remains nearly five (5) years later. Attached is a revised map identifying these locations intended to further honor this crew as once they ditched on 28 February 1945, their journey was not yet over. Additionally the ditching/crash site location has been revised.

    42-51642 Hanson Crew recovery
    42-51642 Hanson Crew recovery.jpg

    We will never know the intended or actual course of 41-51642 once Hanson left formation near Lake Weissensee over Austria. It certainly seems obvious his intention was to head directly south to Allied held positions in northern Italy. You indicated Ancona and I have plotted airfields near there, and another a bit further north. I see nothing unusual about a 41-51642 M2 .50 Cal being recovered in the nets of a fishing boat near Lignano (close to the ditch site).

    We know the ship was in bad shape with #3 engine feathered and #4 engine smoking. If this is accurate with #3 feathered it was remarkable Hanson and Betz (I'm sure it took two) where able to keep this bird in the air at all! The #3 engine on a Liberator powered the primary hydraulic pump, so with it feathered they were flying a brick.

    Additionally what we don't have, or ever will is an in flight crew casualty report, as Hanson and company made there way south, now all alone. As such, Hanson may have elected to keep his defensive armament on-board until approaching or over the Adriatic, then ordered it overboard to lighten the load for the crippled Liberator. It seems all for not crashing/ditching only 8 mile off shore. Here is another map of alternative "friendly airfields" they might have been headed to, and note the red line Allied line of advancement (caption in green).

    42-51642 Hanson Crew possible destinations
    42-51642 Hanson Crew destination.jpg

    Back up in post #3 I offered a couple of maps denoting the Allied line of advance in December 1944, and I thought for sure that these lines would have progress northward by the time of the 28 February 1945, 449th BG, Mission No. 231 where Hanson and crew got in trouble. Sadly I was mistaken this line appears to have been pretty stable from December 1944 thru April 1945 and the Allied "Spring" offensive, as seen in the map below. All a moot point for the Hanson Crew who barely made it over the Adriatic before time ran out.

    9 April-2 May 1945 Northern Italy "Allied Spring Offensive"

    Mark, please keep us informed when the DPAA results are available from recovered remains DNA testing samples identifying crew members recovered.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
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  14. Dnalor

    Dnalor Member

    Freddy Furlan, can you contact me please.
  15. mcoffee

    mcoffee Member

    DPAA has recently made positive identification of remains of:

    2 Lt Clarence L. Dragoo O-2063382 Navigator
    2 Lt Richard M. Horwitz O-2064188 Radar Navigator
    S/Sgt Thomas M. McGraw 35917489 Nose Gunner

    Which leaves unaccounted for:

    1 Lt Howard Hanson O-825850 Pilot
    T/Sgt Lawrence W. Brady 18097798 Flight Engineer
    T/Sgt Lawrence F. Nally 13170107 Radio Operator/Right Waist Gunner

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