Personnel Aircraft Nose Art B-17 Thunderbird Ground Support Uniforms Journals More Info
Mission Reports Combat Crews Individual Photos Photos POW KIA MACR Overseas Graves TAPS
JACOB W. FREDERICKS CREW - 360th BS
B-17F Snap! Crackle! Pop! #41-24620 (PU-O)
(original crew assigned 360BS: 23 June 1942 - photo: 14 Oct 1942)
(Back L-R) 1Lt Jacob W. Fredericks (P), 2Lt Arthur C. Way (CP),
2Lt Otis A. Hoyt (N), 2Lt Milton S. Fonorow (B)
(Front L-R) T/Sgt Michael S. Hlastala (E), S/Sgt Henry G. Schneiderman (WG),
T/Sgt Richard J. Smith (R), S/Sgt Howard Henry Nardine (BTG), S/Sgt Gilbert A. Murray, Jr (TG)
JACOB W. FREDERICKS CREW - 360th BS
(Back L-R) T/Sgt Richard J. Smith (R), S/Sgt Henry G. Schneiderman (WG),
T/Sgt Michael S. Hlastala (E), S/Sgt Harvie L. Collins (WG)
(Front L-R) 2Lt Arthur C. Way (CP), 2Lt Milton S. Fonorow (B), 1Lt Jacob W. Fredericks (P),
2Lt Otis A. Hoyt (N), S/Sgt Gilbert A. Murray, Jr (TG)
S/Sgt Harvie L. Collins (WG) did not make the overseas flight from USA to Molesworth with the rest of his crew. Passenger on the flight from the USA to Molesworth was M/Sgt Nicolai Hansen (not in photo).
Twenty five credited combat missions flown by Captain Jacob W. Fredericks:
Prior to WWII Jake Fredericks worked with the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Michigan serving as Director of their Engineering Development section. The Fredericks crew picked up their new B-17F at Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, MI, In October 1942, where a design artist friend at Kellogg painted on the nose art Snap! Crackle! Pop!. His B-17 later crashed with another aircraft over St. Nazaire, France on 3 January 1943 on it's fifth combat mission The Germans cut off a panel of the B-17 with the nose art and exhibited it in the German headquarters building in St. Nazaire. When St. Nazaire was liberated the Germans tossed the nose art panel in a ravine where it was rescued by some Frenchmen. It still exists at an unknown location in St. Nazaire.
Crew Note - Captain Jacob W. "Jake" Fredericks:
His Story — found hand written on a legal pad — May 2019
– courtesy of the Collins family –
I always wanted to join the service. At 18 or 19 years of age I went to the recruiter and at that time they had to be an opening or slot in the organization you were trying to join. The recruiter told me the only vacancy was with an artillery outfit in the Philippine Islands. I signed up for that position, but nothing happened. In 1940, I was hitchhiking from Texas to Arkansas and was given a ride by a Colonel in the US Army Air Corps. He talked to me about joining the Army Air Corps at Randolph Air Base at San Antonio where he was stationed. I agreed. He took me to the recruiting section there. I began the process of signing up. The first part of the process I had to give the grade I had completed in school. I only had an 8th grade education. A high school education was required so that ended that.
When the draft was enacted, I had to register for that but I didn't want to be drafted. So I went to the Navy Recruiter and the Marine Recruiter and volunteered there and during my physical I weighted 118 lbs and for my height I had to go a minimum of 122. So that ended that process. This happened in Michigan. I went back to Arkansas. I had to notify the draft board of my new address. About a month after changing my address I got a notice to report to the draft board for induction into the Army. I was sworn in on November 10, 1941. I chose the Air Corps again. I was turned down because of lack of education. November 15th I was reading the bulletin board in my section. I noticed a new piece of instruction....anyone who did not have a high school education but had 120 or more IQ score could get in the Air Corps. I went to the orderly room to sign up for the Air Corps. Before the end of the day I had been discharged from the Army and was sworn in to the Air Corps for a period of 3 years!
I was assigned to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri for my basic training. About two weeks into basics WHAM...Pearl Harbor was bombed. That ended my basic training and was shipped to Chanute Field, Illinois for aircraft and engine mechanic school. I graduated from that school. All my class shipped out and I was the only one left in the barracks. I went to the 1st Sgt. and asked about my future assignment. He was sort of suspicious because I wasn't gone. He checked everything out and told me I had been left out, but there was a group of guys that was going to Gunnery School in Las Vegas but I had to volunteer to go to make that list and pass a flight physical to go. I signed up to go, passed the physical and I was on my way to Gunnery School. After graduation, the whole class was assigned to Gowen Field at Boise, Idaho with the 303rd Bomb Group. I was assigned to a flight crew for training. There were approximately 8 crews in each Squadron with 4 Squadrons in each group. We had seven aircraft for training all the crews in the group. We (the gunners) had no training while at Boise. About six weeks later we packed up and went to Holliman Air Base in New Mexico. I flew one flight with my crew. While there our aircraft had no guns installed so we didn't get any gunnery training there, only aircraft recognition.
After a month at Holliman, we packed up to move again. We didn't go far....to Biggs Field at El Paso, Texas. Same routine...the same old aircraft...no training there. Soon after arriving in Texas, we were told to pack up again, but this move was different. We were given detailed instructions on what to pack and how to pack. Everything went into wood crates and the crates were painted with white and blue stripes. We knew this time that we were probably going overseas. The flight crew left a couple of days ahead of the ground crew. They went to Kellogg Field at Battle Creek, Michigan to get an all new aircraft. One crew member from each crew had to go with the ground crew. That was me since I was the lowest ranked flight crew. We shipped out the first part of September 1942. Processed for overseas at Fort Dix, New Jersey, boarded the Queen Mary and arrived in Scotland on the 12th of September 1942 and on to Molesworth, a British Air Base. The flight crews arrived in October. After the flight crews arrived we were all sent to the Wash...another Brit base for Gunnery refresher course...Brit instructors. Didn't get much there either.
After arriving back at Molesworth, the aircrafts were ready...so were the crews. On November 17, 1942 the 303rd Bomb Group made their first mission. The target was St Nazaire, France sub pens. The target was covered with clouds so they didn't drop their bombs. All crews didn't make this mission. What a mission was planned each Bomb Group would schedule three Squadrons of six or seven aircraft in each Squadron. Other aircraft was held in reserve.
November 18th same target only this day there were no clouds. We were lead crew for the day. The take off, forming the formation and heading off toward France went well. When we got out over the English Channel, we were told to test fire our guns. At that point I just realized that I had never fired a 50 caliber gun from an aircraft in flight. Within the same hour I was firing at German fighters as my target. That first encounter I had fired approximately 400 rounds of ammunition. In those days we didn't have fighter escort. Sometime they would escort us to the coast then we were on our own. On that mission, one B-17 went down.
I made 25 missions and the only time we had problems was about mid-way or 12th mission. We were hit by enemy aircraft fire. One 20mm projectile came through the window of the co-pilot, knocked the co-pilot's stick off as it exploded. It injured the upper turret gunner. That was the only crew member injured during the 25 missions. We were the first and only crew to complete 25 missions out of the original crews of the Four Horsemen Bomb Groups. They were the 91st BG (B-24 aircraft), 303rd BG, 305th BG and the 306th BG (B-17 aircraft). These groups were the first bombers to reach England. All the ground troops arrived September 12th on the Queen Mary.
My last mission was on 4th July, 1943. Rouen, France was the target. I was the togglier for that mission. Everything went as planned. We had a few fighters attack us before we reached the target. Shortly after turning on IP (Initial Point), we hit the flack. After a blast under the right wing, the first thing I knew the wings are vertical instead of horizontal and I could not see any other aircraft. After what seemed like an eternity, the pilot got the aircraft back horizontal and back in formation just in time for me to drop the bombs. You didn't last long if you got out of formation. Fighters were also there to pick off stragglers after the bomb run. There was a constant battle that went on with 35 to 50 German fighters until we reached the English Channel.
The Army troops sometimes had to dig fox holes to protect themselves, but did you ever try to find a 20mm projectile that came through the aircraft skin and didn't explode? And if you found one you would run to the nearest opening and throw it out? This happened to me one time. I had fired approximately 600 rounds of 50 caliber ammo. When we got hit by fire from a FW190 aircraft fire of 20mm cannon, one of the projectiles came through the aircraft about 10 inches from my head and it did not explode as it should have but fell to the floor of the aircraft. The left waist gunner and I began digging in the spent rounds from our guns looking for the projectile. I found the unexploded projectile, picked it up and threw it out of the window. (We did some scratching fast to find the 20mm projectile!)
[Researched by Historian Harry D. Gobrecht]