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Datum: WGS84 [ Help ]
Latitude: 45° 9' N
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How? By boat
Distance Long boat time (> 30min)
Easy to find? Hard to find
Alternative name Consolidated B-24 H
Average depth 27 m / 88.6 ft
Max depth 32 m / 105 ft
Current Medium ( 1-2 knots)
Visibility Medium ( 5 - 10 m)
Dive site quality Good
Experience CMAS ** / AOW
Bio interest Interesting
- Drift dive
The history of this US B-24 bomber is unknown. It could be one of the Italien positioned bombers who attacked Austria and South Germany from late november 1943 on, or a later one, who tried to reach the secret landing strip an the island of Vis for damaged planes, which was build in the middle of 1944. The propellors were first saved by private diving schools but now you can find them at the airfield of Vrsar.
-GS, Big Blue Dive Academy-
By Matt14 , 03-03-2018
The Feather Merchant Serial #42-52655 - https://www.archeologidellaria.org/index.php?topic=1855.0
The intervention report drawn up by the crew of the 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron Catalina (Translated)
In fact it is the Ford B-24H-15-FO S / n 42-52655 (484th BG 824th BS) shot down on 13 June 1944. 3 KIA 7RTD,
Adriatic Sea estimated coordinates (MACR) 45 ° 09'N 13 ° 25 'E. Real coordinates 45 ° 09' N 13 ° 31 'E.
The seven survivors had been recovered from a German hospital ship and, after being treated, had been freed waiting for the rescue seaplane. MACR 6389.
It is also rather strange and very rare that the commander was able to transmit the almost exact coordinates of the ditching, as a rule the approximation was such that the rescue Catalina had often been forced to return without finding anyone.
However, at least as far as my data are concerned, no other B-24 is in this part of the sea, there are many others, but almost all of them much further south or much more in the middle of the gulf or towards the Italian coast .
I attach, just for a curiosity, the intervention report drawn up by the crew of the 1st Emergency Rescue Squadron Catalina.
It was noon. They were now over the Adriatic, thirty miles off the Yugoslavian Coast and dropping fast! Each fractional second counted. With flaps lowered to 10 degrees the bomber plunged, striking the waters surface at a paralyzing, breath-taking speed – 280 miles per hour. The radio operator, with death backing his feverish efforts, sent waves of frantic distress call over the air. There was a horrifying crash: a grinding of metal as the tail ripped away. A mighty roar of water. The Armorer gunner struck by the collapsing top turret, dead with a broken skull, before the bombardier, handicapped by a fractured hand? and dazed from a head injury, could reach him. The Pilot and Co-pilot, by the grace of God, escaped the fray uninjured. All of the crew with the exception of the waist gunner, Nathan Y Conn, Radio Operator, Vincent Willour and Nose Gunner, Leonard E Long, all of whom succumbed almost instantly, reached the dinghies safely. The Ball turret gunner, Verlin E Upton, was the most seriously injured: having suffered a possible fracture of the left foot and multiple lacerations about the face. During the afternoon, two B-24’s from their squadron “buzzed” the rafts. Lieutenant Menlo, their element leader, was identified as one of the pilots who flew over them. Two sweeping “Spitfires”, keeping vigil over the dinghies, tended to sustain the morals of the occupants. An old rug and an escape map served as bandage for the ball gunner’s leg. At dusk, the stranded men thought they saw land and, those with lesser injuries, paddling vigorously, struck out for shore, it soon however, because so dark that only discouraging darkness could be seen. It was then they began to ??, all through the sleepless night, punctuated by ???? ???, they tossed on a restless sea
It was on the day following the catastrophe, they saw a ship which was assumed to be Allied, and began waving excitedly in the ?? direction; shortly to be confronted by the hated “Sweetions” which looked ???ingly on the gunwale above them. When loss than on hundred feet from the surface craft, then recognized as a German Hospital ship, a life boat was lowered and rowed to the dinghies. When it drew near, the German in charge told them, in passable English that if they were taken aboard they would ??? etically be made Prisoners of War. Not desiring this fate, they pleaded for medical supplies. The German, on?? ,told, nodded in sympathy and invited them into the boat. They accepted resignedly, or in desperate need of medical attention: had and no other recourse – even though it meant internment, possibly death or worse
End of bad microfilm
The hospital ship of Italian design, but manned by a German crew, was painted white and green. I, they were informed, was returning from Barcelona, Spain, where prisoners of War had been exchanged, and was now on its way to Venice. To the astonishment of the Americans, they were greeted not harshly but graciously and were accorded every kindness and courtesy. The wounded were given immediate and expert care. All were made comfortable and after refreshments, consisting of orange juice, graham crackers, pumpernickel bread and black coffee; despite its color was exceptionally palatable, they were offered American “Luckies” to smoke. There was no demonstration of belligerence or antipathy on the part of the Germans, rather a lively exhibition of eagerness to please. When fed and interrogated, much to the surprise of the fliers they were asked if they chose to return to the rafts. All promptly replied in the affirmative. The Ship’s captain aware of their needs and finding they lacked two life vests, willingly supplied them. They were given food, water and medical supplies and were helped back into the dinghies. As they drifted away, the Germans waved farewell bidding them adieu with “Aufwiedersehn”, the Americans, appreciative of the unexpected turn of events, responded in kind.
Three and one half hours later a Catalina, fast becoming a heart warming sight, to men lost at sea, circled over the rafts and landing, taxied up to the exuberant septet; none the worse for its harrowing experience.
The survivors by position, rank, name army serial number, age and home address are listed:
Pilot 2nd Lt Bedwell, Robert E 0-181096 21 Box 193, Calipatric, California
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Poston, Dennis W 0-814545 21 11444 Osborne Ave. San Fernando, California
Navigator 2nd Lt Flood, Frank J 0169109 26 Chicago, Illinois
Bombardier F/O Johnson, H. M. T-123003 21 St. Joes, Missouri
Engineer T/Sgt Solis, Harry F. 38376767 25 New Orleans, Louisiana
Tail Gunner S/Sgt Hahn, John F 15109235 23 Indianapolis, Indiana
Ball Turret G S/Sgt Upton, Veslin B 32641001 23 Statin Island, New York
Radio Operator S/Sgt Willour, Vincent 19 Boston, Mass
Armorer Gunner S/Sgt Conn, Nathan Y. 27 Gulfport, Miss
Nose Gunner S/Sgt Long, Leonard E. 23 Chicago, Illinois
PBY CREW MEMBERS:
Pilot 2nd Lt Milburn, Walter B 0-739828
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Busby, Murrel 0-750334
Navigator 1st Lt Haynie, Otho J Jr 0-725864
Engineer Sgt Lasater, Paul A 17122437
Radio Oper Cpl Bols, Harold A 35625492
Radar Oper Sgt Hendrix, Louis L 37224826
Surgical Tech Cpl Giza, Stanley F 36602581
By Matt14 , 30-12-2013
My Grandfathers B-24 - My name is Matt Hahn and I've been researching my grandfather's military career for quite some time now.
I googled his B-24's serial number #42-52655 and stumbled across this page. If you have any information at all, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you I pray that you would be willing to share it with me. I loved my grandfather dearly and would treasure anything that you may be willing to share. I have several photographs the details regarding his crew, his war experience and so much more if you are interested. Below is what detailed information that I have at this point.
Staff Sergeant John Francis Hahn, tail gunner, Serial Number: 15109235
484th Bombardment Group (H),
824th Bombardier Squadron (Pathfinder).
Ship #17: “The Feather Merchants”
Ship Serial Number 42-52655
Stationed in Toretta Air Field, Italy
Was on 21 missions: April 29th, 1944 – June 13th, 1944
June 13, 1944 – Five weeks after D-Day:
At 5:55am bombers headed off to destroy a concentration of oil storage tanks on the banks of The Danube in Giurgiu, Romania. The target was completely destroyed.
With only 30 minutes away from their initial target of Munich, Germany, the group encountered what was described to be heavy and accurate flak as well as fighter attacks by more than thirty Messerschmitt and Flock Wolfe single engine fighters. The attacks came in both head on and tail end passes. So well-coordinated were these attacks that fifteen and twenty passes were made simultaneously by fighters flying either three or four abreast or in six line astern. The attacks were extremely aggressive, in some instances fighters came within eight feet of the bombers. In the running fight, which lasted about twenty minutes, the group lost three bombers.
Due to heavy cloud cover, the group was diverted to a secondary target, which was Innsbruck, Austria. Once again encountered what was described as heavy and accurate flak as well as heavy enemy fighter resistance. Successfully dropped bombs on Innsburg and was forced to ditch plane into the Adriatic Sea due to damage sustained from flak and fighters.
The Feather Merchants was escorted by Ship #20 of the 24th Squadron. “The Guardian Angel” which was another B-24H out of the 824th. Piloted by Lowell K. Davis, Guardian Angel stayed with The Feather Merchants until the badly damaged plane made her crash landing into the Adriatic. Prior to ditching the aircraft pilot, Lieutenant Robert Bedwell, informed his crew that if anyone wanted to parachute out of the plane instead of taking part in the crash landing that was about take place now would be the time and that he would radio their position for them. The crew began to throw whatever they could overboard to lighten the aircrafts load, help with the plane’s maneuverability and enable them to stay in the air longer. All fuel tanks were damaged on The Feather Merchants, thus they ran out of fuel. Before the plane skidded onto the water, John was tossing out his 5o caliber machine guns and the last thing he remembered saying was “Mary, I love you.”
At this same time John’s wife Mary and their first born son Tim were living with Tim’s Uncle Joe and Aunt Donna in Indianapolis. Mary suddenly awoke on that same day and told Uncle Joe “John is in some kind of danger; something is wrong.” A few days later Mary received telegram that said that John was missing in action. Later, they figured in the time difference and determined that she awoke at the same time that the plane was was going down and John was saying those words.
While at sea, the crew sent up flares and dropped dye into the water in hope of being spotted and rescued. Three members of the ten man crew remained. Top turret gunner Nathan Conn, aerial engineer Leonard Long and side gunner and radio operator Vincent Willour had all three died. With the exception of the plane’s pilot and co-pilot, all of the crew members had suffered injuries from either the flak, from the intense aerial fighting that they incurred during their flight or from the intense and hard landing that they subjected to. Some of these injuries were quite severe. John’s left knee was severely wounded by shrapnel.
The crew of seven spent the first 22 hours adrift in a life raft. John Hahn was suffering from exposure, shock and severe wounds. While floating adrift in their raft, side gunner and engineer, Harry Solis was suffering from a severely injured leg that was hit by shrapnel as well. Years later Harry told John’s son Tim that John had spent almost the entire time at sea holding Harry’s wound together so that it fuse.
Finally, after having spent first 22 hours at sea, they spotted a ship off in the distance and signaled this ship by using a flare. This ship turned out to be a German hospital ship and picked up the crew.
They were given first aid by the German crew. John’s severely injured knee was operated on, I am unsure as to what procedure was done. The other members of his crew were also operated on. They were given no anesthetic, as they saved that in case they needed it for their own crew. . He was given no medicine for the pain during this procedure; however John did say that a German crew member did offer his hand for John to squeeze while the medical procedure took place. I remember him saying that this man offering his hand for him to squeeze meant a lot to him. He told me that he wanted to show his appreciation and his gratitude to this man and considered giving this man his wedding ring as a way of saying thanks, but he didn’t because he passed out during this medical procedure because of the extreme pain that he was incurring while they worked on his knee. When he regained consciousness that man was no longer there.
The Captain of this vessel, who was said to have had spoken very good English, offered the crew a choice of remaining on the boat to be turned over to German authorities as prisoners of war or return to their life raft. All crew members elected to return to the sea in their dingy. However, the Captain of the ship added that he was going to radio the German Air Force of there position of their position at sea.
They spent the next two hours once again a lone at sea still suffering from their wounds. Then they were spotted by an allied plane. The plane waved its wings, which is a universal sign of acknowledgement. Shortly after being spotted by this plane, they were picked up by a PBY Catalina flying boat. John recalled how funny these men spoke. They said “Step lively mates,” as the loaded them into their plane.
When John was hospitalized in England he weighed 110lbs after the whole ordeal. He returned home to wife beloved wife Mary and held his 2 ½ year son for the first time in October of 1945.
Rarely did John speak of the war, as a young boy I would often ask him about it, but I was told by my father Tim not to ask frequently as well as to be very cautious about what I say and how I say it. I was a curious boy who was deeply intrigued by what my grandfather did and experienced during the war. I had great admiration and tremendous respect for him. In some ways, I feel as though even though I am 41 years old today-that I’m still that little boy who loves and respects my grandfather who did so much for our country.
In reading narratives, official reports pertaining to these bombing missions and reading firsthand accounts by the men of 848th Bombardment Squadron I am amazed at what these men encountered.
I anxiously wait to hear from you.
4351 Idlewild Lane
Carmel, Indiana 46033
By Anonymous , 30-05-2012
- Si tratta, con molta probabilità, del Ford B-24H-15-FO S/n 42-52655 (484th BG 824th BS) abbattuto il 13 giugno 1944. 3 KIA 7RTD, Mar Adriatico alle coordinate stimate dal pilota (MACR) 45°09'N 13°25' E. Coordinate reali 45°09' N 13°31' E. I sette superstiti erano stati recuperati da una nave ospedale tedesca e, dopo essere stati curati erano stati liberati in attesa dell'idrovolante di soccorso. MACR 6389.
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