Christmas Day 1944 mission for B-26G-5-MA serial number 43-34303 with the 387th Bomb Group, 556th Bomb Squadron.
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After waiting most of the morning for a special mission, which did not materialize, 
the six plane flight was tacked on to the Group's second mission.
The afternoon mission to Saint Vith, Belgium
Christmas day. The I.P. was the town of Malmedy, approximately twenty-eight miles north of St. Vith. The flight leveled out for the bomb run.
Thompson in gun position as tail-gunner.  
Lt. Vernon Briscoe was calling last second corrections.

Plane seemed to shudder. The next second, the plane was descending fast in a steep left turn.

Thompson saw smoke coming from one of the engines and called Neff on the intercome. 
Neff's calm reply was, 'I know it.' Neff called Gamble to come forward, 'On the double.' 
Gamble waded through ankle deep gasoline in the aft bomb bay. He notified Neff of this potential danger.
Thompson then saw that the left wing had holes in it, as well as the tail section. 
Neff adroitly managed to control the descent, and told the crew to standby to bail out. 
Thompson grabbed his chest pack and met Walt Simmons(AG-top turret gun.) at the waist gun window. 
Walt plugged into the waist window intercom as Thompson made ready to jump. 

The pilot's compartment was a shambles. Jimmy Harris, copilot, was bleeding from shoulder and face wounds. 
The plexiglas was shattered and the pilot's instruments were shot out. 
Neff had his hands full trying to maintain control of our aircraft's desecent. 
Bris and Lt. Russ Trapper, navigatorand Hooper GEE, methodically plotted position, and relayed headings for Neff to steer in order to be over friendly lines. 
The left engine seized up and Neff feathered it, when Harris announced that our right engine had burst into flames. 
Neff delayed the bail out order until Bris assured him we were over our lines. Neff ordered Trapper and Briscoe out of their nose compartment. 
Neff then gave the order to bail out. 

William J. Thompson, Jr. and Walter H. Simmons exited the flaming aircraft from the waist window.

Vernon L. Briscoe, Russell H. Trapper, Parris W. Hooper and William F. Gamble  jumped through the open bomb bay.

James I. Harris jumped through the open bomb bay.

James M. Neff  was the last member of the crew to jump using the open bomb bay. 

The B-26G circled under Neff, and then exploded in mid air! 
The fuselage fell into the Muese River near Huy, Belgium, while its two engines fell on each embankment. 

Four (Thompson,Simmons,?,?) descended by parachute into the front-line positions held by the 84th ID, where they ate Xmas supper. French Border
A-71 to St. Vith to Huy Bill Thompson's account from
Location of map
Aircraft on 12-25-1944 Mission          

Created: 10-17-2008
Updated: 11/25/2009 14:58:26
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