History of the 446th Bomb Squadron from Lt. James A. McRae
Left Image: James A. McRae as a flight cadet in 1942.
Center Image: McRae's USAAF ID card.
Right Image: McRae in a standard USAAF Photo.
Here’s a good story, from Lorraine McRae:
"My Dad was quite taken with George Walsh.
They were both born on the same day, same year and in the same place.
The story goes that my Dad was listed to fly in two planes on the same mission.
The two pilots, Hurley and Walsh, wanted my Dad to go on their plane and they
couldn't settle it between themselves. So, they wanted my Dad to decide who
he wanted to fly with. My Dad liked them both, didn't want to pick one over
the other and hurt someone's feelings. Hurley and Walsh decided to settle
the matter with a coin toss. Hurley won the toss. My Dad flew with Hurley.
Walsh and his crew were killed when their plane crashed on the runway as they
were returning from the mission."
This was the mission:
446th BS Mission Summary: Squadron Mission 247
TARGET: Orvieto Station RR Bridge DATE: 15 May 1944
Porto Ferraio, Elba (Alt)
Type of Bombs: 1000 lb. Demo. 446th Planes: 8
Lt. Morris and Lt. Moss led the formation.
The first flight reported direct his on the center and both approaches of the bridge.
At the alternate, the second flight reported direct hits in the commercial harbor
area and on two boats. Flak was heavy, intense and accurate. Lt. Othick’s plane
was badly hit over the target and was reported to have made a successful crash-landing
on the Island of Pianosa. It is assumed that the crew members were taken prisoners by the enemy.
Lt. Sampson’s plane also suffered direct hits from flak and the entire crew wounded by fragments.
Heading for the open sea, Lt. Sampson gave the order to bail out, he being the last to leave,
after which the plane exploded in mid-air. Air-Sea Rescue were able to pick up all the men.
Lt. Walsh crash-landed at the home base, upon hitting the runway, the plane exploded and
burned, due to the fact that it was saturated with gasoline from leaking fuel lines.
Lt. Walsh was thrown clear of the plane, but died in the hospital from burns received.
The other crew members could not be rescued, and all perished in the burning bomber.
After an emergency landing Lt. Hodges’ emergency brakes failed while taxiing and the
plane crashed into a ditch, collapsing the landing gear. Lt. Vivas returned early
with an oil leak in the right engine.
A/C No: A/C No. 42-32427
Pilot: Walsh, George F., 1Lt
C-pilot: Lee, Roy N., 2Lt
Bombardier: Wilcox, Harry B., Jr., 2Lt
Engineer-gunner: Shellhamer, Lawrence, S/Sgt
Radio-gunner: Orechia, James R., T/Sgt
Gunner: Thornton, Edward P., S/Sgt
John Fitzgerald says: "My dad was also on the 15 May mission, but had become 1st pilot and flew another plane.
But, (if I counted right) he was Walsh’s co-pilot on 22 of the last 25 missions flown
by Walsh. Fate for McRae and my dad? My dad said that a lot of the flyers were very
superstitious, but he wasn’t however, he also said that if there was ever a case for
it, his time in the MTO was it."
John Fitzgerald also points out the interesting fact that some of the B-25 crews
on Corsica were trained in, and flew over from the States in B-26 Marauders.
John's father, Jack Fitzgerald, Stuart Huntoon and James McRae of the
446th squadron as well as the others shown in the above photo were some of those initially trained in B-26s.
This is James McRae's certificate for flying 65 missions signed by General Cannon.
More Photos from bombardier James McRae provided by his daughter, Lorraine McRae: