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Rollin D. Childress, Pilot
42-H Ellington
387th Bomb Group, 558th Bomb Squadron
From Enlisted Sergeant Pilot to Lt. Colonel



From 559th history book: "On June 7th 1944, it was learned that the 17th German Panzer Division was moving north to the Invasion beachhead. The report called for a mission to deny this route to the Germans. Because of bad weather the formation attempting to bomb the rail junction at Rennes was not successful, but it did get good results on a railroad west of Vire and on a choke point of vehicles near St. Lo. The next morning a highly successful mission was flown against the railroad junction at Pontaubault. The best strike was made by Lieutenant Donald Tall, bombardier in Captain Robert H. Will's flight, whose bombs hit the target perfectly.
 
From Alan F Crouchman: The afternoon mission proved to be one of the roughest and most remarkable ever flown by the Group. Captain Rollin D. Childress was to lead eighteen aircraft to a fuel dump in the Foret de Grimbosq, south of Caen. At the take-off at 1958 hours the ceiling was 900 feet. The formation assembled with difficulty, but on going up through the solid overcast it became widely dispersed. Eleven of the planes returned to the base, one crash-landed at Gravesend, and one, piloted by First Lieutenant Raymond V. Morin, crashed while attempting to land at Briston in ceiling zero weather. Captain Childress gathered three aircraft with his own and continued on, sometimes at deck level (tree top, 50-100 feet over land and sea) in quarter of a mile visibility. His bombardier, First Lieutenant Wilson J. Cushing, managed to find the target and after heated exchange between bombardier and pilot, Cushing told Childress "I see the target, raise it up, higher, higher" Childress replied, "OK, dang you, I'm going up" and Cushing bombed it with great accuracy from 6,000 feet. As the formation of four turned off the target, extremely heavy and accurate flak shot down the fourth airplane piloted by Captain Charles D. Schober. The airplane exploded in mid-air and no parachutes were observed (after mission debrief, squadron of Spitfires found those 88s). Included in Captain Schober's crew was Captain John D. Root, Group Weather Officer. The remaining three aircraft, proceeding homeward, braved the horrible weather conditions over England and landed at the base at 2230 hours. Captain Childress was congratulated on his tenacity and perseverance by Colonel Willard Lewis, Commander of the 98th Combat Wing, and by Group Commander Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Seymour. Captain Childress was also awarded the Silver Star (written up for Medal of Honor but not submitted). The effectiveness of the bombing was attended to by a congratulatory telegram from the ground forces which stated that "the important fuel dump, the immediate supply for an entire Panzer division, was destroyed."
 
Regarding Rollin Childress - his normal aircraft was "Lil Chum's Warhorse". I have some pieces of the Plexiglas from this aircraft that my dad liberated from it when it crash landed (Lt. James was flying her) on June 12th 1944. The mission of June 8, 1944 was a high priority target to take out a fuel dump behind the German lines and the crews were asked to attack it at all costs and to go in low if necessary. The weather was bad and only three other aircraft managed to form up on Capt Childress aircraft, they crossed the channel with ever decreasing height due to cloud, they finally attacked the target at approximately 3000 feet with good results but at that height the flak was murderous. Capt Schober flying "Heavenly Body" (41-31664) took a direct hit and blew up, all the crew was lost, including Capt John D Root the groups weather officer who went along for the ride. The other three ships returning to base. For his tenacity and leadership Capt Childress was awarded the Silver Star.
 
Many thanks,
Alan F Crouchman

Rollin Childress (left) with crew

Rollin D. Childress

Rollin's plane, "Lil Chum's Warhorse", crash landed by another pilot.


Rollin Childress (right)

 

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