SSG William E. Drumel, USAAF
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Thread: SSG William E. Drumel, USAAF

  1. #1
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    Default SSG William E. Drumel, USAAF

    I was transferring some family photos from disks to flash drives to make sure they were preserved, and I thought I should share photos of my father-in-law when he served as the crew chief and gunner in the 44th Bomb Group. He flew primarily in two B-24s, Princess and Galavanting Gal. (There were several Pincesses apparently.)

    The after action photo of the rear turret and the award presentation was when he won the DFC for crawling back to the rear turret from his dorsal turret position to put the rear gunner's eye back in his head and bandaging him up all the while they were being attacked by Fw 190s. The gunner survived, but lost the eye. They were great friends in the postwar years. The pilot's name was Duffy and he is pictured in the turret photo next to my father-in-law who is in the remains of the turret for the photo.

    The other photos as just a couple of other 44th planes and crews that he happen to have.

    Enjoy this piece of history.

    Frank
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails D WED Award 1.jpg  

    Drume 18 turret.jpg  

    Drumel 7.jpg  

    Drumel 12.jpg  

    Drumel 19.jpg  

    Francis C. Allan
    20 Courtney Place
    Palm Coast, FL 32137-8126
    (386) 445-4225

  2. #2
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    Thanks for sharing.

  3. #3
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    Nice!
    On the fourth picture I see 4 ducks painted on the side of the plane. I'm extremely curious if those are indeed ducks and what they stand for. Thank you.

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  5. #4
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    love seeing these old photos

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big commander View Post
    Nice!
    On the fourth picture I see 4 ducks painted on the side of the plane. I'm extremely curious if those are indeed ducks and what they stand for. Thank you.
    Most likely represent “decoy” missions.

  7. #6
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    +1 on Decoy Missions from what I have gathered from vets in my younger days these were done to tie up enemy logistics and as a diversionary tactic

  8. #7
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    Learned something new! Thank you.

  9. #8
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    I never thought to ask about the duck marking. Decoy missions sounds correct. I believe most of the 44th went on the Ploesti mission where losses were VERY high. I remember my father-in-law saying his ship was part of the group that flew decoy anti-sub missions that were the supposed reason / cover story as to why the 44th was in North Africa. Thus, he missed the Ploesti raid - and survived. The 44th then moved back to the UK. His unit was based in Shipham (sp?), UK.

    He finished over 25 missions and then volunteered to go on a couple of clandestine low flying air drop missions over France. Those were black painted B-24s that were stripped. Tail turret removed and replace by twin flexible, post mounted .50s, and no belly turrets. I sure wish he could have taken photos of that B-24, but security was too tight.

    Frank
    Francis C. Allan
    20 Courtney Place
    Palm Coast, FL 32137-8126
    (386) 445-4225

  10. #9
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    Default 44th BG

    Since there seems to be some interest, I dug a little deeper into the photos and here are a couple of more.

    He had some really interesting stories about his time with the 8th Air Force. Once returning from a mission to Norway they had one engine shot out and one smoking like mad. They were separated from the other B-24S and were throwing everything out of the plane to lighten it as much as they could. As the last belt of ammo was about to go out one of the side gunners windows they were approached by a JU-88. The pilot must have thought he had an easy kill. As the German swung the JU-88 to attack each gun position the crew ran the single belt to that gun position and fired a burst at the JU-88. The German pilot would then pull away and try another gun position. Again, the crew quickly moved the belt to that position and fired a burst. The German had made five approaches before giving up. He flew up just out of MG range, Waved and pull away. My father-in-law's comment was a classic in my mind. He said the German pilot wanted the Iron Cross, but he just did not want it really bad. They had 10 rounds left in that belt when the German gave it up.

    He had many of these stories, but could not bring himself to write them down.

    Enjoy.

    Frank

    My father-in-law is in the center kneeling in these crew shots.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Drumel 16.jpg  

    Drumel 10.jpg  

    Drumel 12 .jpg  

    Francis C. Allan
    20 Courtney Place
    Palm Coast, FL 32137-8126
    (386) 445-4225

  11. #10
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    Neato-thanks for posting. Mr Allan, I respectfully urge you to contact both the 8th Air Force Museum and the American Air Museum and donate a copy of the invaluable information that you have compiled. Please do it now before its lost. My cousins and I did and have been working on a project to document an uncle's 8th AF service history; we recently discovered he had been attached to the 339th Fighter Group. It's amazing what keeps turning up in a long-forgotten box...Future generations will want to know what men like your father-in-law did during the war.

    https://www.mightyeighth.org/

    https://www.americanairmuseum.com/

  12. #11
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    Dear Shooter5:

    I am one step ahead of you. Ten years ago or so when I first came upon the photos I copied everything and dropped it off to the 8th AF Museum on one of my trips back up to PA from Florida. What a great museum.

    Frank
    Francis C. Allan
    20 Courtney Place
    Palm Coast, FL 32137-8126
    (386) 445-4225

  13. #12
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    Sadly, before he died, my wife's dad secretly destroyed all his photo's and evidence of his time as a left waist gunner in a B24, based in Dunkeswell England.
    He was in the Navy and their group flew unpainted aircraft, mostly on anti sub patrols but they also joined the Army Air Corp on the larger raids.
    He was at Swinefurt and others I can't remember.
    Their B24 got shot to hell, with most of the crew badly wounded and they limped back to base and then crashed on landing, killing everyone but him and the pilot who turned out brain dead.
    He showed me a large scrap book with dozens of pictures and notes when I first met him, my wife said that was the first and only time he had talked about the war.
    One really sad photo showed his gunnery class graduation day with all of the gunnery grads posing for a class picture.
    90% of the faces had a circle drawn around it with a line leading up to a circle drawn in the margins.
    Inside each circle was a date.
    I asked him what the dates meant and he said the day that individual got killed.
    I remember him saying that outside of flak, the scariest part of missions was taking off overloaded with fuel and bombs and after getting in the air, colliding with other aircraft in the English weather.
    He said lots of planes crashed on take off or collided with other craft as they loitered above the base waiting to group up for the channel crossing.
    He also said most bad news never made it back to the states.

  14. #13
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    Dear chasdev:

    Indeed my father-in-law also stated that takeoffs were very dangerous. On one that turned out to be a non-mission, they were ordered to take off fully loaded and in icy conditions. The pilot objected, but was ordered to takeoff. The unloaded assembly ship - gaudily painted stripped example that other planes could guide on to assemble the formation - got off ok. His was the first loaded B-24. They attempted to take off but could not and plowed into the trees at end of the runway. Naturally, the bombs were not fused as that was normally done after takeoff while in the air. The B-24 fortunately did not burn, but was a total loss. The mission was cancelled.

    He also mentioned frequent mid-air collisions as they tried to assemble over England in rainy weather.

    He also flew the Swinefurt missions. He cringed when he mentioned it.

    Frank
    Last edited by Francis C. Allan; 06-11-2020 at 07:37 AM. Reason: missing word inserted
    Francis C. Allan
    20 Courtney Place
    Palm Coast, FL 32137-8126
    (386) 445-4225

  15. #14
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    An uncle on one side of the family was tail gunner in a B24 at the ripe age of 19. He flew on one of the Ploesti raids, first one I believe. Got badly shaken up but he said worst was waiting for the last planes to come in and meanwhile required to walk the runways with buckets picking up pieces, some of which were human. He felt very fortunate to get home. A cousin flew as a waist gunner in a 24 over Germany. It was badly shot up on several of the raids. He said that his buddy on the other waist gun took a AA round that passed through him from bottom up. He said that when he grabbed him to see if he could help that the suit was full of 'pudding'. It was very hard on him. Shortly post-war he found himself in his home town (Billings MT) sitting against a tree in city park, dead drunk. When he finally got sober he remembered that on that flight he had prayed "God, if you get me home alive, I will serve you for the rest of my life." From that day in the park he never took another drink and became a dedicated church goer and a very honorable man who lived into his 90's. His daughter held the phone for him as I briefly talked with him as he was dying. I told him how proud of him I was. He was barely able to croak my name. He died that night. One of his daughters made him tell all of his war stories while she transcribed them, each mission, bomb loads, attacks, and other incidents. I was fortunate to get a copy but even more fortunate to know him. I was also fortunate to get a long twilight ride on a B24 in Bozeman MT, getting to sit in almost every position and fly slightly above ground level over a herd of Ted Turner's bison. I filmed most of the ride and still watch it now and then. But as I was looking at photos of the B-24 in this post and the fine men that flew her, I thought 'that's one homely aircraft'! But it brought the guys home almost every time.

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