66 years ago: Beeson’s bail-out and two Fw 190s for the 362nd FG

On March 16, the 362nd Fighter Group group flew 44 four-plane missions on what may have been its busiest day of the war. One 379th Fighter Squadron flight destroyed 24 enemy vehicles and a pair of flak guns in the Bad Kreuznach area. “Lt. (Jack) Taylor and his wingman went down to strafe some vehicles coming out of a small town just south of Bingen,” reported Lt. Thomas Peyton. “I saw no flak, but Lt. Taylor called in that he had been hit in the engine. He immediately headed northwest, trailing smoke and oil. After about three minutes he called that his oil pressure was zero and that he was going to belly in. He headed for an open field, but failed to clear the edge of a forest and crashed into the trees. The plane burned immediately upon hitting.” Taylor was killed in the crash of “Putt III,” P-47D-30 44-20619.

The 378th knocked out two tanks and four trucks in the Ober Bieber and destroyed 11 more trucks and horse-drawn vehicles trying to escape north during the same flight, but Lt. James Ward was hit again and had to crash-land near Koblenz. The 11:35 flight of the 379th bombed a marshalling yard, damaged about 20 empty oil cars and destroyed 29 trucks.  The 377th’s 1230 flight bombed and destroyed a tank, then took out 32 trucks with bombing and strafing. The 379th’s 1335 flight claimed 45 assorted motor vehicles, and the same squadron’s 1415 flight destroyed 36 trucks and two tanks. During the 1510 flight of the 377th, the squadron was striking targets in the Coblenz area in support of U.S. troops. “We were at approximately 4500 feet when Maj. (Thomas) Beeson started down on a strafing run,” said Lt. Glenn A. Jacobs. “He was hit by ainti-aircraft fire, causing his right wing root to catch fire.” Beeson bailed out of “Cherokee Maid,” P-47D-27 42-27335, about 14 miles east of the Remagen bridgehead; the Thunderbolt “did a half-roll and went right in,” Jacobs said. Beeson’s chute blossomed, but he was not seen to be moving after he landed on the ground. On March 31, the group received a telephone report that Maj. Beeson was at the 194th General Hospital suffering from burns to his legs. After Beeson had jumped from his flaming Thunderbolt, a German civilian wielding a large axe cornered him and turned him over to military police. His P-47 had crashed into the house of the burgomeister of the town of Herschbach, killing four people, and the locals sounded as if they would have preferred to kill the flyer. When darkness fell, he was taken to a nearby military hospital and treated by captive U.S. medics. Within a few days, American artillery shells began landing near the hospital and the Germans decided to leave the prisoners –among them Poles and Frenchmen who had been captives for more than five years – to their own devices. Beeson had been a POW for just two weeks before being American troops burst into the cellar where the POWs had been moved.

The 377th’s 1550 mission knocked down two Fw 190s, which fell to the guns of Lt. Cole E. Gardner and Lt. Arthur Davis, but lost Lt. Stan Krzywicki, who bailed out over enemy territory. Krzywicki was aided by some Russian laborers and was able to greet the advancing American forces on March 20. The 378th flew 15 four-ship missions, wiping out a total of 57 trucks, 29 rail cars, 22 horse-drawn vehicles, three half-tracks and four trailers.

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3 Comments

  1. I happen to have a photograph of Lt. Jack Taylor standing beside his P-47 with the name PUTT on the side. Not sure of the exact date. He and my father were friends, that is how I obtained the photo.

    • Boy, would I love to see that photo, Stan!

      • Chris, send me an e-mail with your address like you did when I sent you my fathers pilot log/diary and I will see if I can find someone to enlarge the photo


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