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WWII US Army Air Corps Named Theater Made Eagle Hat Device Dog Tag & Leather Name Plate
Item #: VF2179
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Beautiful WWII grouping of a POW named left waist gunner Bertram T. Babbitt ASN. 12146313 of Brooklyn New York who was a staff sergeant of the 44th Bomb Group (H) 66th Squadron of the 8th Air Force and was shot down on 2/24/44 over Gotha Germany and was sent to Stalag Luft 4 Gross Tychow Formerly Heyd. He was repatriated on 07/07/45. Grouping includes 1 dog tag, leather name tape for his flight jacket or flight suit and finally a theater made eagle hat device normally seen on officers hats. But as a staff sergeant I'm sure he was able to get away with wearing the insignia. All items are in excellent condition worthy in any US Army Air Corps collection!
Here is a stunning account of his crew getting shot down that fateful day:
This was a very successful mission with excellent bombing results as the 44th BG led the 14th Combat Bomb Wing. T/Sgt. Kipnes made this evaluation: "Enemy fighters were with us all the way into and out of the target. We fought off at least 40 fighters. Attacking planes were Me 109s and FW 190s. But our formation was tight and few could break through.” However, the 44th BGdid have two losses – one each by the 66th and 68th Squadrons. The MACR states in part, "At 1331 hours, A/C #148 was seen to be hit by enemy aircraft. It began to straggle and became a victim of concentrated attacks by the enemy. #4 engine was smoking and aircraft lagged farther behind, losing altitude. #4 and #2 engines burst into flames at 1334 hours and seven chutes opened. It crashed at 1354.” The aircraft crashed 800 meters west of Dippach, 200 meters west of the Dippach/Simmershausen road, 20 kilomenters east northeast of Fulda. The MACR also included a statement made by the engineer, Sgt. Ambler, "All but one of us bailed out. About 5 minutes past the target, we got orders to bail out. Paul Nablo went out first, then Lewis, followed by me. Our plane hit the ground about 50 yards from us. The Germans said one man remained in the crashed plane in the nose section...” Pilot Lt. Etheridge stated that, "While on the bomb run, at an altitude of about 20,000 feet, a few minutes before bombs away, the aircraft received considerable damage from anti-aircraft fire. The two right engines were knocked out, the right horizontal stabilizer was badly damaged, and there was other undetermined damage in the bomb bay which prevented releasing the bombs by either normal or emergency systems when we passed over the target. "Consequently, the remainder of the formation quickly pulled away from us as soon as they dropped their bombs. Almost immediately, we came under attack by about a dozen German aircraft. The crippled condition of our aircraft soon made it apparent that when enemy fighters began an attack, our best defense was to fire our longer range .50-caliber machine guns from as stable flight as I could maintain, until the enemy fighters were close enough to effectively fire their shorter range .303-caliber guns. At that moment we would take abrupt evasive action. This evasive action consisted of diving, banking, skidding, and slipping our aircraft in as violent and erratic manner as possible. "These maneuvers were repeated for as long as we were under attack – two or three times with such violence that one or more bombs broke loose and clattered out of the bomb bay. I thought the aircraft was breaking up on these occasions. With two engines inoperative, we were losing altitude rapidly while performing these maneuvers, and after passing over a low range of hills, we approached a higher range ahead which we could not clear. At this point I ordered the crew to bail out. We were still under fighter attack, and as the tail gunner, Sgt. Roland, was crawling forward to the waist to be in position to bail out, he was thrown completely out of the plane through the open camera hatch when I made an abrupt diving, twisting turn."Normally, all of the crew members are belted down except the two waist gunner, who must stand beside an open window on either side of the plane and hold the butt of a .50 cal. gun, which is mounted on a post in the window. These two men are not belted in as they must stand and move around in order to fire the guns. Therefore, they were being thrown around like popcorn in a popper during my evasive maneuvers. "After bailing out, I landed on the side of a mountain and soon saw Sgt. Stubbs, my waist gunner, lying behind a log about a hundred yards above me. I climbed up to where he was and asked if he was injured. He said he hadn’t been wounded but that he was afraid his neck or back was either cracked or broken because it hurt so badly. I asked if it was due to landing hard in the chute (I had fractured my right leg on landing because my chute had not fully opened and assumed the same thing might have happened to him.) But he said it had happened when he had struck the top of the aircraft with his head a couple of times while being thrown about. "We were captured a few minutes later by armed citizens from a village nearby. They were quite abusive and made life miserable for Sgt. Stubbs because he could not raise his arms in surrender. "The walk to the village over rough ground covered with several inches of snow, was obviously very painful for Stubbs. Each time he slipped or stumbled he could not refrain from exclaiming in agony. We had to stop several times to allow him to get himself together to go a little farther. ”After we got to the village, I was taken to the dispensary where my leg was splinted, and did not see Stubbs again until that night when we were locked up along with two others of our crew. During the night, he spoke of having stiffness and severe pains in his neck and back. Next morning we were taken to the city of Eisenach, and during the day we were sent to different POW camps.” S/Sgt. Erskine H. Stubbs, this waist gunner, added, "The 24th of February, 1944 at times seems like only yesterday; at other times it is like a lifetime ago. There’s no way to forget it – only some parts of it. "To the best of my knowledge, #3 engine propeller was running away and wouldn’t feather. #4 engine was on fire and the right tail section was almost gone. We were under very heavy fighter attacks. My position was right waist so I don’t know about the #1 and #2 engines. The fighters literally ate us up. I am sure our aircraft accounted for either 4 or 5 German fighters, so all was not lost in vain. "Our navigator, Buechsenstein, was KIA but I never could get the details. The Germans had different stories. We don’t know if his parachute didn’t open, if he was strafed in his parachute, or was in the crash itself. The rest of the crew parachuted and were POWs for the remainder of the war. To my knowledge, the pilot and I were the only ones who were injured.” T/Sgt. Paul Nablo confirmed statements made above, "I recall we had flak hits on two engines, one out and one running away that could not be feathered. Then fighters shot away the right vertical stabilizer, making it impossible for our pilot to keep the plane flying, so told us to get out. I was not wounded but received facial cuts from being thrown around on the flight deck – I was the radio operator.” Konrad Rudolph, a German war historian from Homberg, West Germany, sent this information, "I have found an eyewitness to this crash in the Dippach-Simmershausen area. A woman, who at that time was a sixteen year old girl, was at a camp for ‘B.D.M.’ (girls from the Hitlerjugend) in the Rhon-Hills. The plane crashed near her camp. She saw some parachutes coming down and ran to that crash area. Some German policemen and men from the ‘Land-wacht’ captured the airmen, and were rounding them up. "However, one of the American airmen was very badly injured. A policeman said that perhaps when the airman jumped from the airplane, he was struck by a propeller or was thrown against the plane, (tail section, etc.) as he had one arm and one leg torn or sheared (almost) completely loose from his body, and was unconscious. One policeman suggested that they shoot him to end his suffering, but the Burgermeister from the village said ‘No’. But this policeman still wanted to kill him as he said these "Terror-flyers” had bombed his home in Kassel and killed his family. "While these two men disputed the airman’s fate, another crewman came up, carrying his parachute. His presence apparently threatened the policeman, as he then left the wounded man. But in a few minutes this wounded airman died of his terrible injuries. "The name of this witness is Mrs. Ludwig.” Sidney Hawkins wrote: "I landed in a tree and with little injuries. So I cut myself free from my chute and fell to the ground. As the ground was covered with snow, I assumed the snow would help break my fall. But there was little snow so I injured my back. I still suffer from that injury. Later, I was captured by German Brown Shirt kids who hit me in the face with a rifle butt, losing most of my teeth.” Harold Etheridge wrote: "Fields was ball gunner on my crew. On the mission before we were shot down (13 February 44). Fields’ feet were frozen, frost bitten, etc. I took Fields to the hospital when we returned to base, so he wasn’t on the crew when we were shot down. I didn’t see Fields again. Another 44th POW gave me info on Fields.”Alfred McDonnell (on Jack Thames’ crew) wrote: "Harold Etheridge and crew were flying on our right wing on that mission over Gothia, Germany when fighter plane came through and knocked them out. As they went down, we counted the chutes that came out and all ten made it. About two months later, we heard they were all taken prisoners of war. From my ball turret that morning, I counted 45 chutes in the air. I am sure there were more for we lost a number of planes that day.”
Shipping Weight: 0.8 lb
Your Price $325.00 USD