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S/Sgt. Charles Franklin Brooker

(Click any picture to enlarge)

Charles Brooker Colorized

Photo colorized by Carrozza-

S/Sgt. Charles Franklin Brooker of the 344th bomb group 495th bomb squadron was killed Feb. 24th, 1945. He was a toggilier on his 13th mission. He had won the Air Medal with three OLC and a Purple Heart (probably from when he was killed).

.Brooker medals

He was a graduate of Lincoln H.S. and lived in Pocatello, Idaho. Brooker was employed by the John Hancock Insurance Co. before joining the Army Air Corps and was deployed in April 1944. S/Sgt. Brooker was older than most of his crewmates as he was in his 30’s. He was survived by his wife, Ann; mother, Mrs. Robert Brooker; daughter, Eurnice; sister, Virginia Lindenau; and brother, Robert Brooker.

Next two photos courtesy of Beddingfield Collection:

Brooker Beddingfield Reynold

.S:Sgt. Charles Franklin Brooker fishing

Brooker was originally stationed in Stansted, England. Later the bomb group moved to Cormeille-En Vixen, France.

He is buried in Ardennes American Cemetery in Liega, Belgium.

Grandson Eric contacted the historian/webmaster of the 344th bomb group and included a Christmas card S/Sgt. Brooker sent his wife, Ann in December 1944 from France. He provided a letter he wrote to his wife and daughter. (waiting for a copy of the letter to wife from Eric). The card and letter to his daughter are shown below.

.Lt. Brooker Card

.Lt. Brooker envelope

.Lt. Brooker daughter letter

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Brooker’s pilot, 1st. Lt. H.M. Mallory, that was shot down with Brooker was actually shot down two weeks before as well but managed to land the plane and survive. See the summary and link below.

Feb. 10, 1945 42-107607 Sexy Sal II Y5-Z MACR 12196 Aircraft shot down. Pilot bailed out in friendly territory and crew bailed out over enemy territory. Shot down by flak just after releasing bombs on the 10/2/45 mission to Horrem, Germany. The crew bailed out over the battle line, enemy territory, and no-mans land. Five of them came down in enemy territory and no-mans land. Four were captured and one man drowned attempting to swim across the Roer river to allied lines. The pilot, 1st Lt. Humphrey Marshall Mallory was the last man to bail out and he came down safely in allied territory. The aircraft crashed at Krefeld in the vicinity of Hinesberg,(495)

1st Lt. H.A. Mallory, Pilot (escaped capture)

2nd Lt. C.L. Early, Co-Pilot (POW)

2nd Lt. Walter Harden, Bombardier (escaped capture)

T/Sgt. J.H. Chevalier, Engineer-Gunner (POW)

T/Sgt. W.C. Farrell, Radio-Gunner (POW)

S/Sgt. E.C. McCarter, Tail-Gunner (Drowned crossing river to escape)

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S/Sgt. Brooker’s crew position was toggilier. Most don’t know exactly what that means.

At some point the Army Air Corps concluded that every plane does not need a trained bombardier officer. Either the Air Corps didn’t have enough of them or it just wasn’t necessary to put one in every plane. Instead a sergeant was assigned to drop the bombs.

Because sergeants were non-commissioned officers, it was thought that the Germans would treat them better if captured.

They called the position toggilier. He was assigned to drop the bombs when the plane in from of him did. In this way, no special training was necessary. The lead plane had a bombardier who would aim with the Norden bombsite or use the special radar guided GEE or Oboe system.

Records for two missions have been found thus far. The first was two days before Brooker’s death. The other is the final mission on Feb. 24, 1944. Both the Load Lists and Formation diagram are shown below.

.B0297 p1663 LL 2-22-45 Rittcher Brooker

Above is the Load List for the February 22, 1945 Mission. Brooker flew in Y5*O “Lak-A-Nookie”

.B0297 p1657 Form 2-22-45 Rittscher Brooker

Above is the formation diagram for 3/22/1945. Note that Rittscher / Brooker were at the very back of the formation. As toggilier, S/Sgt. Brooker salvoed his bombs when he saw Cotton’s plane do so.

.B0297A p5 LL 2-24-45 Mallory Brooker

The Load List above indicates the Brooker is toggilier for Lt. Mallory. Their plane was 42-107698  Ma’s Blasted Event Y5-R pic2 pic3 pic4

.B0297A p121 Form 2-24-45 Brooker Mallory

.Note in the above formation that Mallory / Brooker are located in Box 1 Flight 3 Position 5 (marked with an *).

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.Here is a summary of the Missing Crew Report when S/Sgt. Brooker and his crew-mates were killed. Click the link for the complete document.

Summary of 344th MISSING CREW REPORT MACR# 12612

DATE – 24 February 1945 14:05

MISSION – Viersen, Germany (Communication Center)

SHOT DOWN BY FLAK OVER TARGET

PLANE# 42-107698 Y5-R “Ma’s Blasted Event”

344TH BG 497TH BS Station A-59 Cormeilles-en-Vexin

 

Pilot- 1st Lt. Humphrey Marshall Mallory 0-793142 (killed)

CoPilot- 1st Lt. Thomas Lewis Van Over 0-791742 (killed)

Flew as Bomb/Nav.- S/Sgt. Charles Franklin Brooker 35516194 (killed)

Radio/Gun- Sgt. William Franklin Ramsey 18083597 ? (killed)

Eng/Gun- Sgt. James Sherwood Gilroy 36457707 (killed)

Tail/Gun- Sgt. Homer Dean Duncan 39916133 (killed)

 344th Spread Sheet Info: Served with the 344th BG / 495th BS. Nose art depicts a Stork carrying a sling & bomb. Shot down by flak over the target on the 24/2/45 mission to Viersen, Germany. The aircraft flown by 1st Lt. Humphrey Marshall Mallory took a direct hit, severing the right wing, flipping the aircraft over on its back, and spinning down to the ground. All the crew were killed.

Fields of Honor Database: The aircraft was hit by flak in the right wing while on the bomb run in the target area. The right wing had been completely shot off. The aircraft flipped over and went down in a spin and was out of control.

From 344th BG history edited by Austin Lambert p46-47: “Following the gigantic attack of all the air forces on 2/22/45, the group on February 23 flew to the Erkelenz communications point and on February 24 to the Viersen Communication Center. On each of these missions one aircraft was shot down one man was wounded 12 aircraft damage category “A” and 14 personnel and two aircraft missing. All damage done to the formation was by flak gun positions. The aircraft shot down where of the 497 and 495 bomb squadron’s and the crews were as follows:

Pilot- 1st Lt. Humphrey Marshall Mallory 0-793142 (killed)

CoPilot- 1st Lt. Thomas Lewis Van Over 0-791742 (killed)

Flew as Bomb/Nav.- S/Sgt. Charles Franklin Brooker 3551619 (killed)

Radio/Gun- Sgt. William Franklin Ramsey 18083597 ? (killed)

Eng/Gun- Sgt. James Sherwood Gilroy 36457707 (killed)

Tail/Gun- Sgt. Homer Dean Duncan 39916133 (killed)

Persons who are believed to have last knowledge of aircraft:

S/Sgt. Edward Mahler 496 BS Tail Gunner

Sgt. George R. Wood 496th BS Radio/Gunner

S/Sgt. Robert E. Davies 495th Tail Gunner

No parachutes were seen to leave the aircraft. None were seen to walk away from the aircraft. Aircraft was last seen in a spin.

Eyewitness Description Statement by S/Sgt. EdwardMahler 496 BS Tail Gunner:

“I saw the aircraft piloted by Lieutenant Mallory which was hit by flack in the right wing while on the bomb run. The aircraft flipped over and went down in a spin. The aircraft was out of control. I followed the descent of the aircraft until it disappeared from view in the clouds. I did not see the aircraft crash. I did not see any chutes leave the aircraft.”

Eyewitness Description Statement by Sgt. George R. Wood 496th BS Radio/Gunner:

“I saw the aircraft immediately after it was hit by flack on the bomb run. The right wing of the aircraft had been completely shot off. The aircraft went into a tight spin. I followed the descent of the aircraft until it disappeared from view in the clouds. I did not see the aircraft crash. I did not see any chutes leave the aircraft. The aircraft was immediately out of control when I last saw it.”

Eyewitness Description Statement by S/Sgt. Robert E. Davies 495th Tail Gunner

“Aircraft piloted by Lieutenant Mallory was hit in the wing by flak while in the target area. The aircraft immediately went into a roll went down through the formation. I next saw the aircraft in a spin. I did not see the aircraft crash. I did not see any parachutes leave the aircraft.”

Links:

http://www.honorstates.org/index.php?id=95579

https://www.fold3.com/page/529856314_charles_f_brooker/details/

http://www.b26.com/page/344th-bomb-group-mia-kia-world-war-two.htm

https://www.fieldsofhonor-database.com/index.php/fr/american-war-cemetery-margraten-g/48785-gilroy-james-s

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:6xzJBpBAwdQJ:https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/11109122/+&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

.—————————————Brooker address

The above is a document showing the wartime address of the next of kin for the deceased airmen.

Eric Johnson (Brooker’s Grandson) also provided a picture that looked familiar of a group or crewmen including Brooker, in front of a café.

Brooker with guys

L to R: Tail Gunner Sgt. H. Duncan, Eng. Gunner Sgt. James S. Gilroy, Radio/Gun Sgt. W.F. Ramsey, Pilot 1st Lt. Robert S. FitzSimmonds,Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas L. Van Over, Toggilier S/Sgt. Charles F. Brooker

.

The image was familiar in that it was the same one I received from Ed Fitzsimmonds, son of Lt. Robert Fitzsimmonds, at an earlier date with some of the men identified.

http://shopwornangel.imaginarynumber.net/1st-lt-robert-s-fitzsimmonds/

As per Ed FitzSimmonds:

In the photo at the cafe, the guy 2nd from the left definitely looks like James Gilroy and as I scan back 1st guy on the right was the Bombardier (toggilier), Staff Sgt. Brooker, 2nd from the left was the Co-Pilot, 1st Lt. Van Over (an older guy which fits as he was born in 1917). Third from the left was my Dad, Lt. Robert FitzSimmonds, the Pilot and the other two were both gunners, the man with the sunglasses looks like a tail gunner to me. This is of course, mostly speculation on my part. But after flying 40+ missions with my Dad, for him to lose his entire crew right after he rotated home, would just add to probably one of the crazier WW2 experiences/stories any Pilot has had! I still haven’t told all that went down with my Dad & his brother Jack, but I will as soon as I have time.

From John Beddingfield’s diary:

February 24th 1945
“I went to Paris today for a few hours and when I came back they told me that we lost another ship on today’s mission.  No one got out either.  What made it bad was that the fellow that sleeps, or slept, just across from me went down with it.  His name was Brooker, and he was a very good friend of mine.  We sure have lost a lot of ships over the target his month.  Three in this squadron alone.”

After being first listed as missing in action. S/Sgt. Brooker was later found to be killed in action.

.Brooker article

An article appeared in the local newspaper.

Information on James Gilroy- A

Related Post from B26.com:

Date:

5/28/2007

Time:

8:22 AM

Marauderman’s Name: Sgt. James S. Gilroy
Bomb Group: 344
Bomb Squadron: 495
Years in service: 1943 / 1945
Comments: I am looking for information on James Gilroy. He was an engineer/gunner on a B-26. He was KIA on February 24 1945 during an assault on a German communication centre at Viersen, Germany. He is buried at the American Cemetery at Margraten, Holland.

The crew he flew with that day was:

– Pilot 1st Lt. H. M. Mallory
– Co-Pilot 1st Lt. Thomas L. Van Over (Ardennes American Cemetery)
– Bombardier S/Sgt Charles F. Brooker (Ardennes American Cemetery)
– Engineer Gunner Sgt. James S. Gilroy (Netherlands American Cemetery)
– Radio Gunner Sgt. W. F. Ramsey
– Tail Gunner Sgt. H. Duncan

He was stationed at Stansted, England and at Cormeilles-en Vexin, France.

regards,

R. Wetzels

Links:

https://www.honorstates.org/index.php?id=95579

http://www.b26.com/page/344th-bomb-group-mia-kia-world-war-two.htm

https://www.fold3.com/page/529856314-charles-f-brooker/