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Richard P. Bach, Jr.

Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces

32489211

718th Bomber Squadron, 
449th Bomber Group, Heavy

Entered the Service from: New Jersey
Died: January 14, 1944
Buried at: Plot E Row 1 Grave 3 5
Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
Nettuno, Italy
Awards: Purple Heart

718th Bomber Squadron 449th Bomb Group

SERGEANT 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. 

After 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.

The 449th 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.

On January 13, 1944, Richard Bach wrote a letter home. He said that he had been on two missions.

On January 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 mission. 

Narrative Report No. 5 Date: 14 January 1944
Target: Mostar, Yugoslavia.

Forty-one 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.

Two 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.

Flak 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.

Eight 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).

One 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.

Negligible damage was caused by flak. No aircraft were lost to enemy fighters.

Supplement Report: Mission No. 5

Ship 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 Mostar. (MIA)

Ship 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 salvage.

*10 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.

Sergeant 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.


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