RICHARD P. BACH SR.was born in 1917, in New Jersey to John Joseph Bach and
his wife Jane R. Bach. In 1920 the family lived at 914 Lafayette Street
in Elizabeth New Jersey. Joseph Bach was a machinist in a shipyard at
the time. J. Joseph Bach made a career change in the 1920s, and by 1930
the family was living at 204 Pine Street in Roselle, Union County NJ. He
was working as the Assistant Superintendent for an insurance company at
the time, according to the 1930 census. The family later moved again,
this time to 428 Browning Road in Collingswood NJ. Richard Bach was the
fourth child of the Bachs.
completing two years of college, Richard Bach
followed his father into the insurance business. He married Helen Kane,
of Camden NJ. The 1940 Census shows him living in Manasquan, New Jersey
with his wife and son Richard Jr. Richard Bach worked for the Prudential Insurance Company, and he had
become the manager of the Manasquan NJ office in Monmouth County before
the Army called. He was
inducted into the Army on January 30, 1943, and qualified for flight duty.
After receiving training in aerial gunnery, he was assigned with a
bomber crew to the 718th Bomber Squadron, 449th Bomber Group. This group
flew B-24 Liberator bombers, and Sergeant Bach served as a tail-gunner.
Bombardment Group (Heavy) was constituted on April 6 1943. Activated on
May 1, the group prepared for combat with B-24's at Davis-Monthan Field,
in Arizona, Alamogordo Army Air Force Field, Alamogordo NM., and Bruning
Army Air Force Field in Nebraska. The Group moved to Italy, in December
of 1943, completing the move to Grottaglie, Italy on January 4, 1944.
The mission of the 449th was to serve primarily as a strategic
bombardment organization, attacking such targets as oil refineries,
communications centers, aircraft factories, and industrial areas in
Italy, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria,
Albania, and Greece.
13, 1944, Richard Bach wrote a letter home. He said that he had been on
14, 1944, the 718th Squadron along with the rest of the 449th Bomb Group
participated in a raid on Mostar, Yugoslavia. At
this point in time, the 449th had not lost a plane and crew over an
enemy target. Although "two ME-109s attacked the formation"
and "flak over the target was heavy and moderate," the Group's
first combat loss was not directly attributable to enemy action. The
Group formation "followed the route but missed the IP and missed
the target -- 5 miles north" with the result that the formation
"circled before the bomb run began." During the circle
maneuver, the 449th formation came unglued. Aircraft lost their
positions relative to each other with disastrous results. When bombs
were released, ship #606 "White Fang" with Lt.
Pickard's crew was directly below the bomb bay of ship #737. The first
two bombs in the string struck ship #606 amidships causing the ship to
explode in mid-air in a "huge ball of fire, smoke, and
debris."}. Below is the official report of that
Narrative Report No. 5 Date: 14 January
Target: Mostar, Yugoslavia.
B-24-H's took off to attack the town of Mostar, Yugoslavia on
this date. Thirty-two were over the target in two flights. One
flight bombed the target; the other jettisoned its bombs after
failing to reach the objective. 42-1/4 tons of 500-lb GP .1 and
.025 were dropped at 1050 hours. One aircraft was lost. One
aircraft was down at Bari. Eleven men were killed*.
Five men are missing. There was good coverage of the target
area. Bombs were seen to strike the town and much smoke was
observed. Bomb strike photos disclose many hits. Results of the
attack are considered good.
ME-109s attacked the formation over the target. They came in
from five-thirty o'clock high and closed to 800 yards. They were
engaged by P-38s and were not seen thereafter. One unidentified
aircraft was seen on fire and trailing smoke at 4323N - 1745E.
It was falling and disappeared behind a mountain.
over the target was heavy and moderate. It was good as to
altitude, but deflection was poor being off to one side.
Locations were as previously plotted. Two crews reported a flak
battery west of the town of Mostar. Two other crews reported
heavy flak located about seventeen miles SW of Mostar.
aircraft returned early for these reasons: gun cover exploded
during test (one A/C), accidental release of bombs (one A/C),
turret inoperative (one A/C), alternates (two A/C), engine
throwing oil (one A/C), superchargers out (two A/C).
of our aircraft was lost over the target. A/C Number 737 dropped
its bomb load over the target at 1045. A/C number 606 was
directly under 737 at the time. The first two bombs were
observed to enter A/C 606 and there instantly followed a
tremendous explosion and fire which completely destroyed
aircraft 606. Eleven men were aboard aircraft 606. Aircraft 737
was damaged and thrown out of control by the explosion. It began
to lose altitude rapidly. The pilot used the interphone to warn
the crew the aircraft was out of control. He regained control of
the ship at 20,000' and called the crew to stay with the ship.
Five men on the catwalk could not be contacted and bailed out
over Mostar town. They are missing. A/C 741 did not reach the
target but turned back at the Yugoslavian coast due to engine
failure. Four crew members bailed out four miles from Bari. Six
crew members crash-landed the aircraft. A/C 741 was damaged
badly and probably will be salvaged.
damage was caused by flak. No aircraft were lost to enemy
Supplement Report: Mission No. 5
737 dropped bombs on target at 1045. Ship 606 was directly under
737 at the time. First two bombs were seen to strike ship 606
and there followed a tremendous explosion and fire which
completely destroyed ship 606. Eleven men were aboard and
killed. Ship 737 went out of control from the explosion, lost
altitude and pilot warned crew plane was out of control.
Regained control of ship and called crew to stay in position.
Five men on catwalk could not be contacted and bailed out over
741 did not reach target. Electrical system went out. When
engines cut off over Adriatic, pilot was able to goose ship
intermittently with #2 and #3 sufficiently to see land. Pilot
warned crew to be ready and gave sign to gunners who parachuted
successfully. Six men stayed with ship and when Bari Airport was
sighted pilot dove ship with no power and came in for landing.
Landed plane wheels down, rolled about 2,000 feet when left gear
gave way gradually. Ship turned on left wing and lower ball
turret, which could not be retracted, dug into ground ripping
fuselage. Bomb bay doors open ripped off. Ship recovered for
men were lost when White Fang went down. As to the identity of
the 11th fatality, no other 718th Squadron member was reported
lost over Yugoslavia that day. The casualty either died aboard a
returning plane, or this report is in error as to the number of
fatalities on the January 14 mission- PMC.
Richard Bach was among those lost over Yugoslavia on January 14, 1944. A
friend in his unit wrote his family, stating that Sergeant Bach was not
with his regular crew when he was lost. Initially declared missing in action, his death was reported in the
Camden Courier-Post on September 1, 1944. His body was recovered after
the cessation of hostilities, and he rests at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
in Nettuno, Italy. Richard Bach was survived by his parents, brother
John and two sisters, Genevieve and Eleanor, his wife Florence Kane
Bach, who had moved back from Monmouth County to 606 South 6th Street in
Camden NJ, and two sons, one named Richard P. Bach Jr.