Quick Search
303rd BG Original Crew
360th Lyle Crew
Lewis E. Lyle, Pilot
 Home About Us Contact Us Donate Newsletter 8th AFHS Links FAQ Facebook Search
 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


LEWIS E. LYLE CREW - 360th BS
B-17F Ooold Soljer #41-24559 (PU-C)
(original crew assigned 360BS: 06 Mar 1942 - photo: 14 Oct 1942)

(Back L-R) Major Lewis E. Lyle (P), 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (CP(KIA),
Capt Paul G. Moore (N), 2Lt Anton H. Haas (B)

(Front L-R) T/Sgt Gene K. Smith (E)(KIA), S/Sgt Edward R. Bradford (RWG)(KIA),
S/Sgt Woodrow W. Smith (LWG/TG)(KIA), T/Sgt Clayton S. Balcombe (R)(INJ/B/O),
S/Sgt Robert A. Sangster (BTG)(KIA)

Ranks and Grades at time of last combat mission during 1st Combat tour of Lewis E. Lyle

Twenty-five credited combat missions flown by Major Lewis E. Lyle on his first Combat Tour:
With 303rd BG(H) - Regular missions - (5, 6, 12, 17)- Squadron Lead Crew and Group Lead Crew missions [1 (17 Nov 1942), 2, 9, 10, 11, 13 (A), 14(AS), 15(AS), 16 (A), 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26, 29, 31, 36, 39, 41, 42, 48 (14 May 1943)] . With 351st BG(H) - Lead crew CoPilot with Colonel Hatcher, CO 351st BG(H) missions - 1 (A) (13 May 1943, 2 (14 May 1943)
For 303rd BG(H) mission dates and targets see Combat Missions.
   (A) Aborted missions: #13 (Flight time (3:00) - 1st BW and Group recall order due to bad weather; #16 (Flight time 2:09) Ball Turret heating suit out. All radio and interphone equipment out. 351st BG(H) #1
   (AS) Credited abortive sorties - No bombs dropped: #14 Bombs wouldn't release - Completed full flight; #15 Recall due to bad weather over enemy territory.

Five 303rd BG(H) B17Fs flown by Major Lewis E. Lyle on his first Combat Tour:

  • 41-24559 (P) Ooold Soljer (360BS) PU-C - Missions 1, 2, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13(A), 14, 15, 16(A), 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26 -- B-17 flown to England. B-17 obtained at Kellogg Field, Battle Creek, MI in Sept 1942. Departed Kellogg Field on 13 Oct 1943 Arrived Molesworth on 24 October 1943 with no Tail Gunner and Passenger 1Lt Walter K. Shayler, 360BS Operations Officer.
  • 41-24579 (P) Thumper (360BS) PU-F - Mission 9
  • 42-5390 The Avenger (360BS) PU-L - Mission 29
  • 42-5260 (P) Yardbird II (360BS) PU-A - Missions 31, 36, 42
  • 42-5788 (P) Pluto's Avenger aka A.O.G. Not in Stock (360BS) PU-H - Missions 39, 41, 48
    (P) See Nose Art Photos
Crew Notes - Original Crew:
  • Major Lewis E. Lyle (P) - Graduated from Brooks Field, TX, 2Lt (Class1-I) On 12 Dec 1941. Assigned to 303rd BG(H) at Gowen Field, Boise, ID in February 1942 as a Pilot. Completed 69 credited combat missions:
    • 25 missions -1st Combat Tour (17 Nov 42 through 4 July 1943); 25 missions. On 10 Dec 1942 flew General Eaker and his staff to attend the top secret Casablanca Conference in North Africa.
    • 25 missions - 2nd Combat Tour (24 July 1943 through 20 July 1944 - Missions 52, 58, 60, 67, 94, 101, 116, 124, 125, 132, 141, 158, 159, 161, 162, 164, 172 (B), 176, 178 (B), 180 (B), 181, 187, 192, 203, 208).
    • 19 missions - 3rd combat tour: With 303rd BG(H) (Missions 211 (B), 221, 244, 252 (6 Oct 1944); With 2nd Bomb Group, 15th AF from Italy (15, 24 and 29 Aug 1944); With 379th BG(H) (8 Nov 1944 through 19 April 1944). Most of these missions were as a Squadron, Group, Wing or Division Lead Crew Pilot.
    • (B) Flew on four 303rd BG(H) missions as a Bombardier (172, 178, 180 and 211).

    Became Commanding Officer of the 360th BS (Major) on 31 Dec 1942., Deputy Commander, 303rd BG(H) on 20 June 1943 (Lt Col), Acting Commander 303rd BG(H) on 01 September 1944, Commanding Officer 379th BG(H) (Colonel) on 10 October 1944 and Commanding Officer 41st CBW on 06 May 1945. Remained in the USAF after WWII and retired as a Major General.

    Military Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star, Air Medal (9 Oak Leaf Clusters), Presidential Unit Citation, British DFC Medal, French Croix de Guerre Medal

    Aeronautical Ratings: Pilot (12 Dec 1941), Senior Pilot (12 Dec 1946), Command Pilot (12 Dec 1951), Missileer Badge (1956), Senior Missileer Badge (1961). Accumulated 7,052 flying hours. Founder of the Mighty 8th AF Museum at Pooler, Georgia.

  • 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (CP)(KIA) - Flew on 14 combat missions: As CoPilot with Capt Lyle. (9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 22, 26); As a Lead Crew Tail Gunner/Observer (1, 12, 14, 23); Upgraded from CoPilot to Pilot. Flew two missions as Fist Pilot (25, 27). KIA on 31 March 1943 mission #27 to Rotterdam, Germany with six members of the original Capt Lewis E. Lyle Crew. See Mission Note below. 1Lt Bartlett is buried in the Cambridge, England American Cemetery.

  • 1Lt Paul G. Moore (N) - Flew on 16 credited missions: 9 with Capt Lyle (5, 9, 11, 13 (A), 14, 15, 16 (A), 18, 20, 23, 39); 5 as a Lead Crew Navigator with other Pilots (1, 10, 17, 22, 38). Substitute Navigators were used on the other Capt Lyle 1st Combat tour missions. Last mission on 21 May 1943 (Mission 39). Capt Lyle used substitute Navigators on his other missions.

  • 2Lt Anton H. Haas (B) - Flew on 3 credited missions: None with Capt Lyle; With other Pilots as a Lead Crew Bombardier (1, 2, 4). Last Mission on 23 Nov 1942 (Mission 4). Subsequent assignments unknown. Capt Lyle flew with substitute Bombardiers on all of his 1st combat tour missions.

  • T/Sgt Gene K. Smith (E)(KIA). Flew on 17 credited missions: 15 with Capt Lyle (1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (A), 14, 15, 16 (A), 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27). KIA on 31 March 1943 (Mission 27). Capt Lyle used substitute Engineers after mission 26.

  • T/Sgt Clayton S. Balcombe (R)(INJ/B/O) - Flew on 30 credited combat missions: 15 with Capt Lyle (1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (A), 14, 15, 16 (A), 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 26); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27); 14 with 1Lt Murdock B. McMillan (172, 174, 176, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186). Mission 27 - Made a successful bail-out but was injured. Returned to combat after recovering from his hospitalization and injuries. Completed a 30 mission combat tour on 22 June 1944 (Mission 186). Capt Lyle used substitute Radio Operators on mission 17 and after mission 26.

  • S/Sgt Robert A. Sangster (BTG)(KIA) - 13 credited combat missions: 11 with Capt Lyle (1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 (A), 14, 22, 23, 26); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27). KIA on 31 March 1943 (Mission 27). Capt Lyle used substitute BTGs on missions not flown by S/Sgt Sangster.

  • S/Sgt Woodrow W, Smith (LWG)(KIA) - Flew on 10 credited combat missions: 8 with Capt Lyle - As Left Waist Gunner (9, 10, 11), As Tail Gunner (12, 18, 19, 26), As Ball Turret Gunner (16 (A), 20); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27). KIA on 31 March 1943 (Mission 27).

  • S/Sgt Edward R. Bradford (RWG)(KIA) - Flew on 17 credited missions: 15 with Capt Lyle: As Right Waist Gunner (1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16 (A), 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, As Left Waist Gunner (13 (A), 26); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27), KIA on 31 March 1943 (Mission 27). S/Sgt Bradford is buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery.
Crew Notes: Major substitute crewmen used by Capt Lyle on his 1st Combat Tour missions:
  • Tail Gunner - Capt Lyle had no regularly assigned Tail Gunner. Substitute Tail Gunners used on all of his 1st combat tour missions.

  • S/Sgt Tom McGriffin (TG/WG)(B/O) - Flew on 15 credited combat missions: 12 with Capt Lyle - As Tail Gunner - (5, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16 (A), 20, 22, 23), As Waist Gunner (13 (A), 15, 18, 19, 26); 2 with 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett (25, 27); 1 with Capt Jacob W. Fredericks (28). Successful bail out without injury on mission 27 with 1Lt Bartlett.

  • Lt Otis A. Hoyt (N) - Substitute for Capt Paul G. Moore on 6 credited Capt Lyle combat missions (17, 19, 29, 39, 41, 42).

  • Lt Reinaldo J. Saiz (B) - Substitute for 2Lt Anton H. Haas on 9 credited Capt Lyle 1st combat tour missions (11, 12, 13 (A), 14, 15, 16 (A), 17, 18, 19, 22, 23).

  • Lt Milton S. Fonorow (B) - Substitute for 2Lt Anton H. Haas on 8 credited Capt Lyle 1st combat tour missions (20, 29, 31, 36, 39, 41, 42, 48).

  • S/Sgt Edmund W. Durrant (TG)(KIA) - Flew on 2 credited missions as Tail Gunner with Capt Lyle (Mission 1 and 2). He then flew on 2 missions with Lt Arthur A. Adams (8, 9). Was Killed in Action as mission #9 on 3 January 1943.

  • Sgt Frederick A. Hartung (LWG)(Evadee) - Flew on 3 missions with Capt Lyle (1, 2, 5) as substitute for S/Sgt Woodrow W. Smith. Was shot down on mission #6, 1Lt P.F. Flickenger Pilot on 12 December 1942. Evaded capture and returned to Molesworth on 10 March 1943 and was transferred back to the United States.
Mission Note - Original Capt Lyle crewmen who were KIA or Bailed out:
  • 31 March 1943 to Rotterdam, Netherlands, in B-17F 41-24559, Ooold Soljer (360BS) PU-C, 1Lt Keith O. Bartlett Pilot (8 KIA and 2 Bail outs) with six members of the original Capt Lyle crew. Ooold Soljer had a mid-air collision with B-17F 41-29573 Two Beauts (358BS) VK-H, Lt James R. Dunn, Pilot (7 KIA and 3 Bail outs). The two B-17 collided when the tight formation passed through 10/10th clouds in the vicinity of Wellingboro, England. Ooold Soljer lost its wing from the #4 engine and out. Both B-17s crashed near Mears Ashby, England. A memorial was erected at Mears Ashby on March 1996. Read the mission #48 story here.

    In addition to the six Original Capt Lyle crewmen (Bartlett, G.K. Smith, Balcombe, Sangster, W.W. Smith and Bradford) there were four additional crewmen on the 31 March 1943 flight with 1Lt Bartlett:

    • 1Lt Kent M. Fitzsimmons (CP)(KIA) (*) - On his 11th dispatched combat mission
    • 1Lt Richard C. Browning (N)(358BS)(KIA(*) - On his 16th dispatched combat mission
    • S/Sgt Claude A. Hamilton (Togglier)(KIA)(*) - On his 8th dispatched combat mission
    • S/Sgt Tom McGriffin (TG)(B/O) - See Crew Note - Major substitute crewmen above.
      (*) Buried in the Cambridge American Cemetery

[photo from the 303rdBGA Archives - identification by Harry D. Gobrecht & Mark Forlow]
[Researched by Harry D. Gobrecht, 303rdBGA Historian Emeritus]