Legacy Page
 

Home
Back

 

 

Legacy Of:

Edwin  W.  Hornberger

 

Personal Legacy
EDWIN HORNBERGER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

10166 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77024

Dear Will:

Thank you for your letter of 20 January with more information on U+. I vaguely remember that it had been damaged pretty severely right before we flew our first mission in it.

Lt. Derrick and his navigator and copilot were quartered in our barracks so we got to know them pretty well. They kidded us a lot when we flew our first mission in U+, and I guess it was because they had had a pretty rough experience in the plane. Anyway, it certainly got us through our tour of duty and brought us home.

Incidentally, Lt. Derrick and his crew had to bail out over Brussels on a later mission [25 February 1945]. They came down near the city of Brussels and their copilot broke his back when his chute hung on a building and he fell about three stories to the concrete. The rest of the crew returned to the base. I cannot remember whether they went home or remained to finish their tour.

I just spoke with Tom Farris who was our tail gunner. He has moved and his new address is: Thomas Farris, 4045 Linkwood, Houston, Texas 77025.

I also am sorry to report that our copilot, C. J. Obier, passed away last summer. He had stayed in the service and had obtained the rank of Lt. Col. before he retired in 1975. He was a builder in Tucson, Arizona at the time of his death.

I am looking forward to the next edition of the 44th Logbook.

Very truly yours,

Edwin





EDWIN HORNBERGER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

10166 Memorial Drive
Houston, Texas 77024

31 October 1984

Dear Will:

It was good to hear from you again and I appreciate you telling me about your visit to Norwich, and Shipdham. Your letter did clarify a few things about our base that I had a hard time figuring out while I was there. It also pleased me to hear that you had married a Norwich girl. During my stay there, I went with one girl most of the time. Her name was Muriel Base. She was in her early 20s at the time. Both of her parents had been killed in the bombings of Norwich during the early days of the war.

I did write to Kelly immediately, but so far have not heard from him. Bos called up to say he had received your letter and appreciated it very much. I have O'Bier's and Farris's addresses which are as follows:

Thomas E. Farris
4102 Falkirk
Houston, Texas 77025

Charlie O'Bier
2124 Cerrado Brio
Tucson, Arizona 85718

I have lost track of the rest of the crew. As I mentioned in my last letter, I had kept in touch with Hugh May up until about 20 years ago. At that time he had had a heart attack and was in pretty bad health. If, in your correspondence with other members of the 44th, you run across any information on them, let me know.

Will be looking forward to hearing from you at some future date and if you are ever in Houston, look me up.

Best wishes,

Ed

***

20 February 1988

Dear Will:

A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from Ian Shuttleworth, and in it he included pictures of Ketchum's crash sight. He really seems like a fine young man, and it really makes you feel good to know that our efforts during WWII were really appreciated. I wish that I could have given him more information on Lt. Ketchum and his crew, but I really did not know him too well, and did not know any of his crew.

I mentioned to him that I had this videotape of a mission that the 44th flew, and will be glad to have a copy made and send it to him if he so wishes. I realize that our tapes will not work on VCRs used in Europe, but I am sure a copy could be made that would work on their machines.

Jack Butler, who I am sure you know, has gotten together about ten guys who live in Houston and were stationed at Shipdham during the war. We have met a couple of times and we have really enjoyed discussing old times together. I thought that I was in the 66th squadron, but after talking to some of these guys, I am not so sure. Jack Francis, who is in this group says that he was in the 66th, but none of the names of his leader's rings a bell with me. Can you verify for me which squadron I was in?

Something else comes to my mind concerning our group on our trip home. The day we flew out of Greenland on our last leg home we ran into severe icing conditions. We had a large build up of ice on the leading edge of our wings and we could not break it loose with our de-icer boots. Ice was also building up on our props and the only way we finally got rid of the stuff was to go to a lower altitude. While we were working on our problem there was another plane in our group calling for help. They were advised to throw out all their excess baggage to see if they could maintain altitude. They followed these instructions, but then called in to say they were still losing altitude because of the ice. They finally ended up by asking the ground station to get a fix on them because they were going to bail out..

We never heard any more radio messages from them and we assumed that they bailed out somewhere near Gander. On our arrival at Bradley Field in Connecticut, we inquired about this crew and their fate and nobody seemed to know anything about them. Do you have any information on this crew and what their fate was? [No.]

I guess that is about all for now, and I will be looking forward to hearing from you again in the near future.

Very truly yours,

Ed

****************************************************


EDWIN HORNBERGER
World War II
Memories and Biography

(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy)

10166 Memorial Dr.
Houston, Texas 77024

Dear Will:

I was really surprised to see your article on the Mystery Crash in the December "Fighting 44th Logbook." My crew and I might owe our lives to Lt. Ketchum and his crew for the decision they made not to fly home in the only plane left in the 66th Squadron, but instead elected to let ATC fly them home.

Shortly after VE Day, we were notified that our group would fly home in the 44th Bomb Group's planes. In our squadron there were two planes that they would not ask anyone to fly if they did not want to fly home in them. The crews with the most time in the squadrons got first choice. Since we were the last crew in our squadron to arrive, we had last choice. One of the planes that was considered expendable had been grounded from flying missions for the two months before VE Day. This plane was so out of trim that it could not keep up with the formation without pulling excessive power. So it had been used for monitoring practice missions and occasionally it would be robbed for parts when needed for other aircraft. The other plane was U+, and our crew had flown this plane on 19 missions [42-110030 U+, 66th Sq. over 90 missions-Will].

U+ had been in the 44th since April 1944 in the 506 Sq. Group. The crew chief had also crewed this plane since transfer to 66th Sq. 31 December 1944. When he heard that his plane could be turned down if no crew wished to fly it home, he told us if we would choose it, he would get four brand new engines for it and would guarantee that it would get us all home. The group had said that if a crew was left without a plane, they would be flown home by ATC in at least within 30 days.

Captain Hendrix, even though he had seniority over at least ten of the crews, chose the plane that had been grounded for missions. Hendrix was a real wild sort of a guy who had been promoted to lead crew status just a couple of months earlier. I had flown my first mission as his copilot, and believe me, it was my most thrilling mission, and I learned a lot from him. He and his crew were always ready to accept a challenge and believe me, flying this plane home was a real challenge. They flew it home without a windshield and all those on the flight deck had to wear goggles and helmets.

Well, after all the planes had been chosen, Ketchum still could choose our plane if he wanted it. Instead, he chose to fly ATC. They found him a plane recently repaired at a subdepot. This cleared the way for us to be able to fly our choice home. U+ again behaved perfectly, and our crew chief stayed with the plane every stop, checking everything thoroughly before proceeding on the next leg of our journey home.

When we came back from our month's leave, we heard that Ketchum and his crew had hit a mountain in Scotland and that all had been killed. It certainly did give us a funny feeling to know that if he had not consented to let us fly U+ home, we could have all been killed. As I said earlier, we were under the impression that they were just returning home as passengers. Now, 42 years later, your article again brings back all those memories, and again makes me thank God for getting us home safely.

Now, at least I can think that maybe if Ketchum had chosen U+, I might still have made it home because we might have chosen ATC or some other plane and would have been luckier than Ketchum and his crew.

Very truly yours,

Edwin Hornberger
 
Send mail to Support@8thAirForce.com with questions or comments about this web site.   Copyright 2013 8thAirForce.com
Last modified: 01/26/14