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Vern  A.  Brenn

 

Personal Legacy
VERN ALLAN BRENN
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

July 8, 1986

Dear Mr. Lundy:

My name is Vern Allan Brenn (Vernon is incorrect), and this is to try to answer you as best I can remember. My memory is not all that great any more. It and my vision are both dim with time.

First, I'll just say that the memory of that day has been a very painful one for me. I sort of think that I've intentionally tried to forget it and block it out. I've always carried a sense of guilt about being one of the three of us who lived through it. All of the other seven were far more deserving to live than me.

I cannot type as you have done your letter. My spelling may not be so good either, so hope you'll be able to figure it out.

This is a list of the crew and their rank, grade, and position on the plane that day. The only one who was not one of our regular crewmembers, was the navigator. He flew as a spare, and his name was Edmons. I do not remember for sure, but I believe he was a 1st Lt. I did not know his first name.

John Scarborough, pilot 1st Lt. - Louisiana
Loren Bean, copilot 2nd Lt. Wichita, Kansas
Alden C. Nesbit, bombardier 2nd Lt. Magnolia, Arkansas (Texas)
David Edmons, spare navigator Lt. Do not know

Edgar Muirhead, engineer, radio Sgt. Houston, Texas
Robert (Bob) Howley, operator Sgt. Spokane, Washington
Charles (Charlie) Landells, waist gunner Sgt. New Jersey
Jerome (Jerry) Silverman, Engineer, gunner Sgt. The Bronx, New York
Vern A. Brenn Sgt. California

All of the positions that are listed are the positions they flew on March 16, 1944, and are also their regular positions. Had 2nd Lt. John J. O'Connell flown that day. He was the regular navigator of our crew. He, too, was from New York.

Yes, we were a new crew in the 67th. Lt. Scarborough and I had flown our first mission as spares on another crew. Lt. Scarborough flew that first mission as a copilot, and I flew on the same crew as a ball gunner. If my memory is correct, that mission was to Berlin, Germany [6,8 March].

The plane we were flying the day we crashed trying to make it home was The Shark. Bet you well remember this plane with the shark's face and teeth. It had a lot of missions to its credit.

[Note: Runay was crew chief on it for a week or two]

The day we went down was mission number three for Lt. Scarborough and me. We had gone to Frederickhaven, Germany near the Swiss border. It may be Fredrickshaven.

I also seem to think the target was a ball bearing factory that day. Flak was heavy and we had to feather one engine due to oil pressure, on our way to the target. We were still able to stay in formation and did complete the bomb run.

On our way back to our home base, we lost another engine. We could no longer keep up with our group, and the P-38 fighters took turns escorting us back to the English Channel.

By this time, our fuel supply was about gone. I remember the pilot asking all of us on the crew if we wanted to ditch in the Channel, or try to make it to the English shore. We all said go for the English shore.

Somewhere over the Channel, we lost another engine, and started losing altitude real fast. The crew in front of the plane spotted a farmer's field, and we headed for it. At this time, we were only about five hundred feet above the ground. The pilot and copilot were struggling to keep the plane in a position to crash land when I heard the last engine cough and die.

I seem to remember a large bump and very loud crushing noise, then it must have knocked me out. When I came too and realized I was still alive, I tried to get out and run.

Jerry Silverman and Charlie Landells carried me to a grassy place away from the wreckage and went back to check on the rest of the crew. All were dead except Bob Stickel, and he was hurt so bad that I do not think they moved him.

Some English farmers were the first to arrive on the scene. They called an English Hospital for an ambulance (I don't know which) and they took Bob Stickel, Jerry Silverman, Charlie Landells, and me to an English hospital. We were there several days until they transferred all of us except Bob Stickel to an American hospital in South Hampton.

We were told that Bob was hurt too bad to try to move him when they transferred us. A short time later we heard he had died. All of this seemed so tragic because he was a crewmember on one of the three B-24 planes that survived the Ploesti oil bomb run [1 August 1943]. If my memory is correct, General Johnson made the Ploesti bomb raid, too [Medal of Honor].

My ASN is 39266431. If you want to call me sometime, my wife and I are usually home in the evenings. Our phone is unlisted. The area code is 619-444-4960.
Charles Landells can probably tell you a lot more than I can. He has been back to England. I think he has a lot of pictures too - even some of the planes after it crashed. His address is: Charles Landells, 193 Woodridge Avenue, Woodridge, New Jersey 07075.

He plans to go to Colorado Springs too, so perhaps you all can get together. He is a nice fellow, and think you will like him. He was hurt the worst and he never flew again after 16 March 1944.

Jerry Silverman re-trained to fly the nose gun, the position in which he flew the rest of his missions. I do not know his present home or address. Neither can I help you with his or Bob Stickel's ASNs.

I only flew three more missions after being grounded for quite a while. Two of them were the day of the invasion across the Rhine River.

Hope this will be of some help to you.

Sincerely,

Vern
 
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