Charles E. Zschiesche: The Last Flight of the Exterminator

by Mark Hofman

Drafted in the March 17, 1942 Third National Lottery (as reported in the "Hamilton Herald Record" of March 20, 1942; Pottsville, TX, Tech Sergeant Zschiesche was killed in action while serving with the 579th Bomber Squadron, 392nd Bomber Group, Heavy. Nose Gunner on the William Clifford crew (EXTERMINATOR) on a mission to Vegesack. Their aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters in the vicinity of the coast while returning to base after the completion of their mission. This was their fourth missions. From Pottsville, Texas.

8 October 1944 Mission #4 Target: Vegesack
Seventeen (17) aircraft took off for this mission over the heavily defended target which (15) succeeded in bombing. The 576th squadron led the attack and (432) 100# bombs were released through clouds which obscured the primary and observation of results. Two aircraft were forced to turn back prior to target because of mechanical problems. Again enemy fighters were encountered in great numbers some 40-50 single and twin-engine aircraft consisting of the FW-190, ME-109, ME-lb and ME-210 categories. Gunners of the 392nd claimed (6) losses for the German Air Force while the Group suffered the loss of (2) B-24s, both to fighter attacks. Additionally (12) aircraft in all suffered battle damage due to flak and fighters but all managed to return safely. The grim statistics on this day reflect (22) aircrew casualties (12) KIA, with (p) POW and (1) injured. The mission flight time was 6:00 hours back to Wendling.


P l/LT Clifford, William W. KIA
CP 2/LT Schroeder, Harold R. KIA
N 2/LT McLemore, Paul L. KIA
B 2/LT Whitnah, Joseph C. KIA
R/O T/S Willhite, Max R. KIA
EnG T/S Tynes, David D. Jr KIA
NG T/S Zschiesche, Charles E. KIA
WG S/S Cavell, Dominick F. KIA
WG S/S Stevens, Hirschall M. KIA
TG S/S Tweten, Ernest A. KIA

MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: The only very brief remarks that were associated with this aircrew's loss was that the aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters in the vicinity of coast out, north of the target at Vegesack after the Group attacked this target. No German reports were available on the final situation regarding this crew and the Liberator. It could be concluded only that this aircrew went down just off shore into the North Sea waters, and never recovered.

BURIAL RECORDS: No German reports exist. U.S. National Cemetery reports listing these crew members are as noted: At CAMBRIDGE, England on the WALL OF THE MISSING are the names of: Whitnah, Zschiesche, Willhite, Tynes, and Cavell. On the WALL at the NETHERLANDS (Margraten) Cemetery are: Clifford, McLemore, Schroeder, Stevens, and Tweten. All members are noted to have been awarded Air Medals and the Purple Heart.

NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII: The listing records these relatives: Clifford (Mother, Mrs. Frank Clifford of Louisville, Kentucky); Schroeder (Mother, Mrs Buelah Schroeder of Westphalia, Missouri); McLemore (Father, Mumford McLemore of Salem, Indiana); Whitnah (Mother, Beatrice Whitnah of Berkeley, California); Willhite (Father, Ralph Willhite of Fredonia, Kansas); Tymes (Father, David Tymes of Bluefield, West Virginia); Cavell (Mother, Frances of Bayside, Long Island, New York); Stevens (Wife, Gwendolyn of Mansfield, Ohio); and Tweten (Mother, Sarah Tweten of Bamburg, North Dakota.

42-7470 Exterminator, courtesy of

42-7470 Exterminator, courtesy of