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360th Burkitt Crew
Benajah G. Burkitt, Pilot
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(crew assigned 360BS: 16 Nov 1943 - photo: 26 Nov 1943)

Original Burkitt Crew - All KIA 05 Jan 44
(Back L-R) Sgt Cleve C. Rush (TG)(KIA), 2Lt Harold J. Kuhn (CP)(KIA),
2Lt Benajah G. Burkitt (P)(KIA), 2Lt Fred J. Reith (B)(KIA), 2Lt Herbert A. Foote, Jr. (N)(KIA)

(Front L-R) Sgt William E. Stoffregen (LWG)(KIA), S/Sgt Alvin D. Cantrell (R)(KIA),
Sgt Lee E. Brown (RWG)(KIA), S/Sgt Philip H. Gatewood (E)(KIA), Sgt Arthur O. Berntzen (BTG)(KIA)

(KIA) On 05 Jan 44 mission #96 to Kiel, Germany in B-17G #42-31441 (No name) (360BS) PU-E. Take off was made in semi-darkness with very poor visibility. Aldis lamps and flares were used in an attempt to identify aircraft. #42-31441, a brand new B-17G on her first mission, collided with 379BG B-17F #42-29747 (FO-D) “Rikki-Tikki Tavi II”, piloted by 2Lt.Dale C. Killion of the 527BS, ripping off #747’s left stabiliser. Both aircraft plummeted to the ground and all 20 crewman were KIA. The 303rd BG(H) B-17 crashed near Catworth, England. The 379th B-17 crashed near Covington.

Seven Dispatched (5 Credited) combat missions of the 2Lt Benajah G. Burkitt Crew:

  • 86 (AS) 5 Dec 43 to St. Jean D'Angely, France in B17G 42-31213 359BS (BN-Z) Pistol Packin' Mama 359BS (BN-Z) [Lt Burkitt only]
  • 88 13 Dec 43 to Bremen, Germany in B-17F 42-5054 "Belle of San Joaquin" 360BS (PU-I)
  • 91 (AS) 22 Dec 43 to Osnabruck, Germany in B-17F 42-5854 "Alley Ooop" 360BS (PU-C)
  • 92 (S) 24 Dec 43 to Vacqueriette, France in B-17G 42-39810 "Big 'A' Bird" 358BS (VK-E)
  • 93 30 Dec 43 to Ludwigshafen, Germany in B-17F 42-5054 "Belle of San Joaquin"360BS(PU-I)
  • 94 31 Dec 43 to Bordeaux, France in B-17F 42-5054 "Belle of San Joaquin" 360BS (PU-I)
  • 95 (A) 05 Jan 44 to Kiel, Germany in B-17G 42-31441 (No name) 360BS (PU-E)
    (A) Non-Credited Aborted mission (AS) Credited Abortive Sortie - No bombs dropped
    (S) Non-Credited mission in spare B-17 that returned to Molesworth
Crew Notes:
  • 2Lt Benajah G. Burkitt (P) - Mission #86 flown as his combat orientation mission as Pilot with members of the 360th BS Lt William T. Baker crew
  • S/Sgt Phillip H. Gatewood (E) - Stood down on missions 86, 91 & 92 where substitute Flight Engineers were utilized. Flew with crew on missions 88, 93, 94 & 96.
  • Other 2Lt Burkitt crewmen - Stood down on mission #86. Flew on the other six 2Lt Burkitt Crew dispatched missions.
  • Passenger - Mission 91- 22 Dec 43 - Capt J.E. Kiskis (Group & Assignment unknown)
Known Burial Locations - KIA Crewmen:
Cambridge American Cemetery, England-
2Lt Kuhn (CP), 2Lt Reith (B), Sgt Brown (RWG) & Sgt Rush (TG)

Brittany American Cemetery near St. James, France-
Sgt Arthur O. Berntzen (BTG) [Plot C-17-13)] next to his brother F/O Yngvar S. Berntzen (CP) 336th BS/95th BG(H) Lt Lawrence D. Clark Crew KIA on 29 May 1943 on a mid-air collision with another 95th BG(H) B-17 on mission to Rennes, France.

[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives]
[Researched by 303rdBGA Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]