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Lt. Fritz Morrison 344th BG 497th BS

Lt. Fritz Morrison 344th BG 497th BS

Materials provided by relative Bruce Guertin- “He and men like him gave all of their tomorrows for us. They deserve to have their stories told.”

Lt. Fritz Morrison was born in 1922 in Manistique, Michigan. He graduated from Manistique HS in June 1940. He enlisted in April 1942 listing his occupation as a mechanic. He entered class 43-B at Randolph Field. fritzmorrison2

He was commissioned at Ellington Field in Texas. After leave in Manistique he was sent to Tampa, probably McDill Field where the 344th trained in Lakeland until December 31, 1944. In the beginning of January 1944 he flew from McDill to Hunter Field, in Savannah, Georgia. It is here that he may have been assigned to B-26, Fertile Mertile 42-95856 7I-A 344th BG 497th BS. There are no known photos of Fertile Mertile. If anyone has one, please contact the webmaster (damonbok@hotmail.com).

“On the morning of May 10, 1944, our planes were dispatched to Mons, Belgium. to destroy the marshaling yard, flight bombing to be the method of attack. The enemy defenses at this yard were strong and accurate, and of the 38 planes participating, 25 received battle damage, and one plane was shot down, bearing a crew of six. Five of the crewmen were wounded.
The plane destroyed at the target was piloted by 1st Lt. Fredrick M. Morrison, of the 497th Bomb Squadron…”

-Lambert Austin 344th BG-

Morrison’s crew consisted of (according to MACR which differs from Havener);

Pilot- 1st Lt. Fredrick Mackay Morrison (killed by flak)

Co-Pilot- 2nd Lt. Edward Wadleigh Borresen (POW RTD-DEC)- He was captured at Brussels-Schaerbeek then transferred to Secret M.P. Air force, Brussels.

Toggelier – S/Sgt. John George Erickson (killed)

Radio/Gun.- Sgt. Ralph Herbert Fitch (killed)

Tail Gun/Armourer- Sgt. Joseph Leo Gussmann (POW RTD)- He was captured at Brussels-Schaerbeek then transferred to Secret M.P. Air force, Brussels.

Eng/Turret- S/Sgt. Lindsay Merlin Oliver (POW RTD)- He was wounded and taken to the Air Force Hospital in St. Gilles, then transferred to Secret M.P. Air force, Brussels.

They were shot down by flak on the 10/5/44 at 1014 hours. The mission was to the Mons Marshalling yards (about 30 miles from Brussels). According to lt-fritz-morrison-macr-4511, the aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Frederick Mackay Morrison took a direct hit between the forward bomb bay and the right wing, and exploded in mid air. Three of the crew managed to bail out of the aircraft which broke into several pieces, and survived. The pieces of the shattered aircraft came down in Brussels. A navigational error had taken the formation over a heavily flak defended area close to Brussels.

Notes from MACR 4511;

The plane was hit by flak over Brussels, Belgium. The plane immediately burst into flame and exploded. Two chutes were seen to land on the streets of Brussels.

According to 2nd Lt. Borresen, 1st Lt. Morrison was fatally injured by flak when the plane was hit even though he was protected by armor. He was slumped over the wheel dead. Co-pilot, Borresen tried to pull him out but was unable to because the nose section was heading straight down. It was Morrison’s 21st mission.

Sgt. Erickson was not the regular bombardier. He flew with this crew two or three times over a period of two months. Since the plane broke in two, right behind the pilots compartment, Erickson was not able to retrieve his parachute stored in the radio section. Bombardiers routinely stored their chute their because it was on the way to the usual bail-out point.

Sgt. Fitch (Radio/Gun) was manning the waist gun when the plane was hit by fragments that also wounded Turret Gunner, Oliver’s feet. He was seen to be struggling on the floor by the tail gunner, Gussman as he bailed out. It is reported that he was not wearing his flak suit.

Tail Gunner, Sgt. Gussman, surmised that both wings were blown off the fuselage and the fuselage in at least four pieces. After the explosion, he was falling in a six foot section of the plane. He had to search for his chest pack before bailing out. Sgt. Fitch was not in the piece the Gussman was in. All he saw of the plane was the piece he bailed out of and the left wing and engine that almost hit him. Numerous pieces of the plane fell around him.

Turret Gunner, Sgt. Oliver had a damning comment to make. “Our route was to leave the English coast at North Foreland. Going in on the enemy coast at Ferness, just North of Dunkirk. We were to fly to the North of Brussels, making a wide sweep and hitting Mons, and returning South of Brussels, leaving the enemy coast at the same place we went in. At no time were we supposed to be closer than 15 miles of Brussels. Our lead navigator was Capt, Lundin. Getting off course is something that might happen once, but he took us over Ultrecht, Holland on our second mission to the airport at Soesterberg, Holland. That time we were lucky and all escaped. I have never told this before in any reports. It is not so bad to be shot down over the target, but to be shot down because of a very bad mistake by one man, has and will always make me feel that he was the direct cause of my crew member being killed.”

I asked Joe Crossan of the 494th BS his opinion regarding the severe criticism of navigator, Lundin. Joe is reluctant to “cast stones.” Joe wrote, “I did not know this fellow [Morrison], second I wouldn’t criticize the man [the navigator]. I’ve made mistakes as anyone has. I was up one night with my pilot to check out an R&R pilot when he failed to put down the landing gear, I wondered why my pilot had not put them down, when I checked the other wheels and they were still not down, I quickly hit the down lever, as we hit the runway they had just locked. I never said anything to my pilot, but I felt as though I saved the day. I made a mistake on one of our longest missions by transferring gas the wrong way. [That’s] one thing I never liked about our planes. As you know I caught Holy H— , from my Pilot, I’m sure others did the same, but I was wrong and never repeated my mistake. I don’t like to criticize others, I’m sure that navigator has relived his mistake over and over.”

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Lt. Morrison is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Liege, Belgium

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