World War II Flight Training Museum and
63rd AAF Flying Training Detachment

Douglas, Georgia

Edsel Ernest Bishop

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Edsel Ernest Bishop

European Theater: He was with the 15th A.F., 464th Bomb Group, 778th Bomb Sqdn.

Rank: 2nd Lt. at the time of his capture.

S/N O-826859.

Wife: Ruth F. Bishop of Indiana, PA.

From a web site that no longer exists: 464th Bomb Group stories as told by Art Rawlings, fellow crew member of Bishop's plane:

The date was Friday, October 13, 1944 over Blechammer, Germany's South Oil Refinery. On this mission I was the engineer top turret gunner with Bernard Eiler as pilot and Edsel Bishop as co-pilot.

The briefing officer had told us what the mission would be and where it would be. He warned us that an excessive amount of flak guns were active on the ground and fighters were on the ground.

On take-off my position as engineer was in a stand-up position directly behind the pilot. The reason for that was to assist the pilot in doing anything needed to get the aircraft off the ground.

The first thing we would do before take off was to pull the props through. And following that, I would start the motor on the auxiliary power unit and move to the compartment and start engine #3. Then the pilot would start engines #1, 2 and 4. After all engines were fired and running the auxiliary unit was turned off. Thus, the reason for pulling props through (and we did this 4-5 times) was because the overnight inactivity would cause the oil to become sticky.

With every flight we were escorted to and from our destination by Muskhogee airmen (Checkerboards) P-51 or P-38 fighter planes. They would fly high above our altitude and if they saw any enemy planes they would engage in a dog-fight in hopes to destroy their aircraft and protect us throughout the bomb runs. We would maintain radio silence unless in extreme emergency. We could use the intercom on the aircraft but could not use command radio unless it was an extreme emergency.

The nauseating stench of the interior of the B-24s was almost sickening; the heat, 100 octane gas and neoprene rubber gasoline tank. After the plane got in position and the rest of the crew took their positions within the aircraft we cleared airspace and started into another country. All artillery positions tested their weapons to assure guns would operate properly.

We soon saw warnings given to us at briefing holding true. We had heavy black flak from the ground before we got to the target, over the target and their fighter planes were already engaged in battle with our escort planes.

We made the bomb run and were coming off the target when the flak burst through our plane — above the pilot and co-pilot — leaving a huge hole in our aircraft above their heads. Our plane was riddled by flak and the cockpit and instrument panel were covered with blood.

Bernard Eiler got an enormous piece of shrapnel through his head, peeling his scalp and cracking his skull wide open. His brains were spilled and laying out of his skull and out across his eyes in front. His pain was so intense he lost conciousness and he looked like he was dead.

As quickly as I could, I managed to get Bernard out of his seat and found a heated suit and wrapped it around his head so it would not freeze. I kept talking to him, trying to give him encouraging words and hoping and praying that he could hear me.

Bishop got hit in his left leg tearing his leg open from his thigh to his ankle. It ripped through his heated flying suit, heavy coat and flak suit.

I took over the pilot seat, called for fighter escort, broke formation and with two P-51s escorting got on radio frequency for Bari, Italy. I gave our call letters adn asked for landing instructions into their airport.

Bari warned us about their cabled balloons around their runways, which was a defense device to keep enemy planes from landing. Bishop was handicapped but still doing all that he could with the instruments on right-hand side of the plane. Luckily we missed all the cabled balloons and landed safely on the ground.

As soon as we landed we got Bernard and Bishop off the plane and into the hospital as quickly as possible. The flak had blown a large hole in our plane directly over the top of the pilot's compartment.

The next time I saw Bernard was in Nashville, Tenn., in 1984 at our 464th Bomb Group Reunion. He was totally blind, but glad to be alive. It was a very teary, touching meeting. He greeted me with hugs, kisses and tears. There were a lot of wet eyes at that reunion.

For many years I was unable to talk about the pain of this wartime memory. My wife seems to know and have patience living with an emotionally traumatized veteran coping with disability. I would like to add that war does not end when the shooting stops, but lives on in the memories of those who survived.

Bishop recalled that he landed the plane by using a ground loop in order to avoid flipping it over. He reported that 450 flak holes permeated the plane.

On Mar. 21, 1945, he was the co-pilot of a B-24J (S/N: 42-78692) leaving Italy on a bombing mission on the Neuberg jet airdrome in Germany. The pilot was William J. McGowan, Jr. and there was a crew of 11 on board. According to eyewitness reports (MACR #13128), their plane fell behind the formation on the way to the bomb run. Just before reaching the target, they dropped their bombs. After the target, the plane stayed in formation for about 20 minutes, but her number 1 engine continued to smoke and was feathered. The ship slowly lost altitude and fell back, veering to the right. It was calling for fighter support. About 40 minutes after target, the plane disappeared.

According to Bishop after the War, the plane struck some mountain peak near the Germany-Austria border. All of the crew bailed out and were made P.O.W.s. All returned safely to the U.S. after the War.

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