The Bill Griffin Crew

The William F. (Bill) Griffin crew was assembled at Westover Field, Springfield, Mass during March 1944 for pre-combat training in the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. Completing the assignment they transited the North Atlantic route from Mitchel Field, Long Island to Valley, Wales in late June in their brand new Ford-manufactured Liberator. Ownership of "their" plane was short-lived as it disappeared from view immediately on landing in Wales. The aircraft Serial # 42-50713 later was assigned to the 705th Bomb Squadron of the 446th Bomb Group(code Letters HN-C) and flew 44 missions before it crashed on Jan 41, 1945 on returning from a mission.

On assignment to the 704th BS of the 446th BG in late July, the Griffin crew members each flew at least one mission with a seasoned crew--a series of check rides before they flew their first mission with the crew intact. This occurred on 5 August, 1944 on the mission to Fallersleben. The crew flew six missions and then was removed from routine combat flight status to begin lead crew training at Flixton. Joe Redden was assigned as the crew bombardier. The crew flew their first mission as 704th Squadron Deputy lead on the mission of Sept. 12th to Kiel, Germany, a jet aircraft factory.

Prior to being detached on Nov 11th to the 93rd BG for further pathfinder training the crew had completer 13 missions and had flown a total of 21 different Liberators on these missions and 38 training flights. The crew while at the 93rd trained for blind bombing techniques in GH radar and H2X (Mickey) equipped aircraft.

Flying 93rd based aircraft from Hardwick the crew flew lead for the 446th starting with a group lead on a GH mission to Neunkirchen on Nov 30th. The crew flew five missions from 24th to 28 Dec doing tactical bombing in support of Allied ground forces during the Battle of the Bulge and received a Lead Crew Certificate of Commendation for leading the 446th to Sinzing on Dec. 26th. They were lead Pathfinder for the 20th Combat Wing on Dec 27th mission to Kaiserslauten.
The crew remained at Hardwick until transferred back to Flixton early Feb. 1945.

I credit our good fortune to our Pilot, Capt. William F. Griffin, a consummate formation leader who knew that the quality of the formation was a direct reflection of the relative skill of the leader and that to be a good leader a pilot first had to be a good formation flyer. Bill Griffin was both, and since German fighter pilots generally preferred to attack poor and straggling formations, rather than a tight one. I credit him in a large measure for our great good luck during our 9 month tour. Sadly, Major Bill Griffin, of the Iowa Air Guard was killed in Jan 1957 in a F-84 Thunderjet crash near Des Moines, Iowa.

This story was written by Dave Lundy, pilotage navigator on the Wm. Griffin crew

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