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360th Castle Crew
John A. Castle, Pilot
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JOHN A. CASTLE CREW - 360th BS
B-17F Thumper #41-24579 (PU-F)
(original crew assigned 360BS: 17 Feb 1942 - photo: 14 Oct 1942)

(Back L-R) 1Lt John A. Castle (P),
1Lt Kent M. Fitzsimmons (CP)(KIA), 2Lt Louis B. Sinopoli (B)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt Gene K. Smith (E)(KIA), T/Sgt Meyer "Mike" Levin (E),
T/Sgt Emilio J. Yannie, Jr. (R)(WIA), S/Sgt Cecil E. Craft (BTG)(POW),
S/Sgt Martin A. Semonick (TG)(POW), M/Sgt John M. Freeman (Crew Chief/Passenger)

Original crewmen not in photo:
Capt Samuel H. Anderson (N) and S/Sgt Billie L. Staner (RWG)(KIA)

Ranks and Grades at time of last combat mission

Eight dispatched (7 credited) combat missions of 1Lt John A. Castle:
1 (A) (17 Nov 1942), 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 17, 30 (16 April 1943)
For mission dates and targets see Combat Missions.
(A) Non-credited aborted mission - (Flight time 1:47) Supercharge trouble

Three B-17Fs flown by 1Lt John A. Castle on his 8 dispatched combat missions:

  • 41-24579 - (P) Thumper (360BS) PU-F - Missions 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 11 (Belly landing salvaged 23 Jan 44)
  • 42-5483 Red Ass aka The Devil Himself (360BS) PU-F - Mission 27 (MIA 29 Nov 1943)
  • 42-29570 (No name) (360BS) PU-D - Mission 30 (To 381BG (H) Ridgewell, 9 Sept 1943)
    (P) See Nose Art Photos
Crew Notes
  • 1Lt John A. Castle (P) - Completed 7 credited combat missions. First six missions flown as First Pilot (1 (Aborted), 2, 4, 5, 7, 11). Mission 27 Flown as CoPilot with the Lt David S. Clifton Crew. Last mission (30) flown as First Pilot with the Lt John A. Wie Crew with Lt Van Wie flying as CoPilot. Flew no more combat missions after mission 30 for reasons unknown.

  • 1Lt Kent McHenry Fitzsimmons (CP)(KIA) - 11 Dispatched (10 credited) missions flown: 5 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1(A), 2, 4, 5, 7, 11); 5 credited missions with other Pilots - 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27), Other Pilots (15, 17, 22). KIA on mission 27, 31 March 1943, with 1Lt Bartlett who had been upgraded from CoPilot, Capt Lewis E. Lyle Crew, to First Pilot on 22 March 1943. Mid-air collision in B-17F 41-24559 Ooold Soljer (360BS) PU-C. Is buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery. See Mission note below

  • Capt Samuel H. Anderson (N) - 26 dispatched (25 credited) combat missions flown: 2 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1 (A), 2, 3). 23 credited missions as a Lead Crew Navigator (5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 34, 36). Completed his 25 mission combat tour 15 May 1943 (Mission 36).

  • 2Lt Louis B. Sinopoli (B) - 6 dispatched (5 credited) combat missions flown: 5 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1 (A) , 2, 4, 5, 7, 11); 1 credited mission with the Capt Lewis E. Lyle Crew (9). Last mission (11) on 23 January 1943 when he bailed-out.

  • T/Sgt Meyer "Mike" Levin (E) - 27 dispatched (25 credited) combat missions flown: 5 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1 (A), 2, 4, 5, 7, 11). Bailed-out, injured and hospitalized at Barrow Gurney on mission 11; 23 dispatched (22 credited) missions with other Pilots - 9 with Capt George V. Stallings, Jr. Crew as Left Waist Gunner (53, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66, 67); 2 with Lt Willard Bergeron as Engineer (79, 88), 9 credited missions with Lt John H. Parrott as Engineer (100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 109 (Aborted), 110, 111). Completed 25 mission combat tour on 22 February 1944 (Mission 111).

  • T/Sgt Gene K. Smith (E)(KIA) - 19 dispatched (17 credited) missions flown: With 1Lt Castle (No missions); With other Pilots - 17 credited missions with Capt Lewis E. Lyle (1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (A), 14, 15, 16(A), 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26). 2 credited missions with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27). Killed on mission 27, 31 March 1943, in B-17F 41-24559 Ooold Soljer (360BS) PU-C with 1Lt Bartlett after bailing out of the B-17 following a mid-air collision. Parachute failed to open. Buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery. See Mission Note below.

  • T/Sgt Emilio J. Yannie, Jr. (R) - 6 dispatched (5 credited) missions flown with 1Lt Castle (1 (A), 2, 4, 5, 7, 11). His final mission (11) was on 23 January 1943 when he was seriously injured in the bail-out. See Mission Note below.

  • S/Sgt Cecil E. Craft (BTG)(POW) - 8 dispatched (6 credited) missions flown: 4 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1 (A), 2, 5, 7, 11); Was injured and hospitalized at Barrow Gurney following his bail-out on mission 11; 3 credited missions with Lt Joseph E. Trojan (37, 39 (Aborted), 40). Last mission on 29 May 1943 (Mission 40) when he became a POW. See Mission Note below.

  • S/Sgt Billie L. Staner (RWG)(KIA) - 5 dispatched and credited mission flown: 4 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (4, 5, 7, 11); 1 credited mission (9) with 1Lt William H. Breed. Was killed on mission 11 following a bail-out when his parachute failed to open.

  • S/Sgt Martin A. Semonick (TG)(POW) - 17 dispatched (15 credited) missions flown: 4 credited missions with 1Lt Castle (1(A), 4, 5 ,7, 11) - Slightly injured following his bail-out on mission 11; 11 credited missions with other Pilots - As Tail Gunner (30, 37), As Ball Turret Gunner (18, 19, 33), As Waist Gunner (22, 23, 25, 31, 39 (Aborted), 40). Became a POW on 29 May 1943. (Mission 40). See Mission Note below.
Mission Notes

    Crash of B-17F Thumper on 23 Jan 1943

  • 23 January 1943 (Mission 11) to Lorient, France in B-17F 41-24579 Thumper (360BS) PU-F. Lt's John A. Castle and Kent M. Fitzsimmons made a wheel-up "Belly" landing at Lulsgate Bottom, England. The hydraulic system and two engines were out. During the landing the rear fuselage was twisted when the ball turret suspension system was forced up through the spine aft of the radio room.

    The eight other crewmen were ordered to bail-out before the emergency landing.

    • S/Sgt Billie L. Staner (RWG) was killed when his parachute failed to open.

    • T/Sgt Meyer Levin (E) and S/Sgt Cecil E. Craft (BTG) were seriously injured and placed in the Barrow Gurney Hospital.

    • Sgt Emilio J. Yannie was hit in the forehead, but his Army helmet saved him, then he was was badly wounded in the bail out. By the time he bailed out, they were too close to the ground. His legs were severely crushed and he was eventually found by a farmer in a field. He was returned to the USA on a hospital ship in August 1943 and remained in U.S. Army Hospitals in the United States until his discharge on 28 September 1944.

    • Lt Charles L. Herman, substitute Navigator and S/Sgt Martin A. Semonick (TG) were slightly injured but were not hospitalized.

    • 2Lt Louis B. Sinopoli (B) and Sgt Joseph S. Klasnick, substitute Waist Gunner, were not injured during their parachute jumps.

    • B-17F 41-24579 Thumper was salvaged.


  • 31 March 1943 (Mission 27) to Rotterdam, The Netherlands in B-17F 41-24559 Ooold Soljer (360BS) PU-C. Pilot was 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett recently upgraded CoPilot on the Capt Lewis E. Lyle Crew. Two members of the 1Lt John A. Castle crew were on this mission - 1Lt Kent M. Fitzsimmons (CP) and T/Sgt Gene K. Smith (E). Both were Killed. B-17F 41-24559 Ooold Soljer (360BS) and B-17F 42-29573 Two Beauts (358BS), 1Lt J.R. Dunn Pilot, had a mid-air collision and crashed near Mears Ashby, England. Fifteen crewmen were killed and five managed to bail-out

  • 29 May 1943 (Mission 40) to St. Nazaire, France in B-17F 42-24602 Yardbird (360BS) piloted by 1Lt Joseph E. Trojan. Two members of the 1Lt John A. Castle crew were on this mission - S/Sgt Martin A. Semonick (LWG) and S/Sgt Cecil E. Craft (R). Both bailed out and became POWs. The B-17 Yardbird was disabled by flak after leaving the target and was subsequently hit by attacking FW-190s and ME-109s and crashed near Pleubian, France (1 KIA, 9 POW one of which later died of his injuries)
[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives, crew identification by Mike Levin and Michael Wegman]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]