The Bulverhithe B-24

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by flakdodger, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. flakdodger

    flakdodger Member

    In a recent post KevinBattle made reference to a B-24 that came down at Bulverhithe, St Leonards on Sea.
    This beast had been a mystery for a long while and another look was prompted by an enquiry that came in to us at Bexhill Museum. Using Roger Freeman's Mighty Eighth War diary it was found as "Becks Hill, Kent".

    1943 31 Dec. B-24D-15-CF 42-63957 'Unstable Mabel' of the 389th Bomb Group, 564 Bomb Squadron.
    Target St Jean D'Angely airfield 1211-1235 hours
    GPs and Incendiaries

    Four 2nd Bombardment Division Groups* talking part dispatching 94 aircraft of which 87 effective.
    The 389th fielded 25 aircraft and for no combat loss accounted for 6 definite and 1 probable kills.
    They lost only 2 aircraft written off on return.
    Unstable Mabel being near the coast at ‘Becks Hill’.
    * The 392nd BG where unlucky in losing 10 Libs.

    Roy Green, a Pebsham resident, recalled in a tape made in 2016, seeing a bomber coming in low over Pebsham from the north west. He thought an engine was on fire.

    John Dowling reports the memory of a relative who lived on the south side of Bexhill Road:
    "This thing had been circling round, looking for a suitable landing ground I suppose. It went out to sea a little way then turned and came back inland. It came in very low over the playing fields. My mum said we ought to go out into the back garden in case it crashed on the house..."

    And away she went. Her brother, who was interested in aircraft, went over to see the wreck. She was not allowed over until later. She confirmed all the details - plane hit the cricket hut, swerved round and went into someone's back garden etc.

    She couldn't remember it being on fire as it came over though it was clear that it was in difficulties. Also, she had always thought it was a Flying Fortress but confesses that she doesn't know about aircraft.

    Date of event is not recorded for these two memories:
    Both of Carol Sargent's parents were on record some years ago talking about a Flying Fortress they saw circling over the centre of has always been taken as B-17 Mizpah II - that came down in the sea 06 September 1943 - but could not have been as that aircraft made a straight-in ditching off of the Clock tower. It can only be Unstable Mabel

    Bert Kiff, a carpenter, reported almost being clouted by a parachute pack [which he handed into the police] whilst working 'on the green roofs of the bungalows at Pebsham'

    This image is of B-24 42-63960 which was only three aircraft away from Unstable Mabel on the production line. It is also served with the 564th [photographed in the spring of 1944] so apart from the individual aircraft letter on the lower tailplane this is probably what Unstable Mabel looked like.

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  2. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks for the update, Oliver seems to have shotter way....
    Cor, John Dowling, no doubt Julian and Mr Newport too!
    Couldn't find that serial in Joe Baughers extensive USAAF lists, so your information most useful.
    As regards the Squadron, seems to have been one of the most travelled.. See Wiki
    Activated as a B-24 Liberator heavy bombardment squadron in December 1942; assigned to II Bomber Command for training. Primarily trained in Texas and Colorado. Received deployment orders for the European Theater of Operations (ETO) in April 1943.
    Deployed to England in May 1943, being assigned to the VIII Bomber Command and stationed at RAF Hethel. Upon its arrival at Hethel, was sent almost immediately to Libya, where it began operations on July 9, 1943. The detachment flew missions to Crete, Sicily, Italy, Austria, and Romania. Received a Distinguished Unit Citation for the detachment's participation in the famed low-level attack against oil refineries at Ploesti on August 1, 1943. Returned to England in August and the squadron flew several missions against airfields in France and the Netherlands.
    The squadron deployed again temporarily to Tunisia during September and October 1943 with the group supporting Allied operations at Salerno and hit targets in Corsica, Italy, and Austria.
    Resumed operations from RAF Hethel in October 1943 the squadron engaged in very long range strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany. Targets included industrial facilities; oil production facilities and refineries, rail and other transportation centers, enemy military airfields and garrisons. The squadron participated in the intensive air campaign against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, February 20–25, 1944.
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