Major Douglas H. McKellar, Pilot
387th Bomb Group, 558th Bomb Squadron
[Letter to Earl Seagars, President 558th Bomb Squadron]
Dear Mr. Seagars,
When I decided to resume my search to learn more of my father’s military service it was with the hope that I would unearth some additional information - - but never expected the prompt responses and the detailed and personal information I received. Therefore, I would like to sincerely thank the 558“' Bomb Squadron, Hugh Walker, Mary Lucas, • and most especially you and George Walish for my successful search.
As I communicated to you previously, my father served in WWII and was fortunate to return home from the war. He subsequently married and he and my mother had 11 children. My father died in 1969 at the age of 45. Since there were 11 children (the youngest 2 yrs. old) - we were more concerned with the basics of food, shelter and clothing than wondering about our father’s military service. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I developed my interest and began to ask relatives if they had any information.
A gentleman by the name of George Walish had contacted my aunt in 1987 as he was attempting to track down my father. Mr. Walish indicated that he and my father had been very good friends when they served in WWII and he was saddened to ieam that my father had died. Shortly after that he sent my aunt a letter and copies of some of his military orders (which included my father’s name). A few years ago my aunt gave me the papers and I attempted to contact Mr. Walish but he was no longer at the address on the letter. It wasn’t until I read about the WWII Memorial to be built in Washington, D. C. that I decided to resume my search.
In August of 2000 I posted a message on a couple of military-related web sites requesting assistance in my search. I stated my father’s name and the limited information I had about his military service. A Mr. Hugh Walker read my message and forwarded it to a woman named Mary Lucas.
Mary Lucas promptly contacted me and gave me your name and address. You instantly replied with information about the 558th Bomb Squadron - and-George Walish’s current address Mr. Walish has subsequently written to me and provided additional information about their military service in WWII. And, best of all, he also sent reprints of pictures taken of himself and my father!
It is heartwarming to have contact with people who are interested, concerned, and willing to take the time to assist someone they do not know. So, even though I have not personally met any of you, I do not consider you “strangers”, and I truly appreciate your kindness.
Mary Stumm Jarussi
(Editor’s Note: This is the kind of letter that pleases us very deeply. We have been able to help a 2*. Generation person of one of our 55&h Bomb Squadron crew members. Mary came out of cyber-space. A contact made possible by e-mail. We supplied her with George Walish’s current address, information and our 387/558 History Book. We opened wide a closed door to her and her siblings - the sunlight flooded into a previous empty space.
T/Sgt Jim Stumm was an engineer-gunner on a 558th Bomb Squadron Martin Marauder B-26 Twin Engine Medium Bomber. We answered the nagging question, “what did my father do during his military service in WWII?” He flew combat missions, probably 25 of them until the war ended. All of the family is justifiably proud of their father and what he did for his country and them. In his memory they have achieved a new and rewarding love for him.
Our thanks to Hugh Walker, Mary Lucas (559*) to our George Walish (558*) who helped make all of this possible
558 B.S. FLYERS ON SECOND MISSION. INVASION MORNING. JUNE 6.1944
“CAPTAIN MONK OF THE 559th BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON IS SHOWN INTERROGATING THE LEAD CREW OF THE SECOND MISSION FLOWN D.DAY - JUNE 6,1944, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SHIP HAD LANDED.” “READING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: MAJOR ROBERT KELLER, 558°* BOMB SQUADRON COMMANDING OFFICER, CAPTAIN MONK, CAPTAIN JAMES, LT. HINES AND CAPTAIN KUNDE ”
___________THE INVASION OF FRANCE FROM A B-26 BOMBER - Part Two______________________________
By Major Douglas H. McKellar (In a letter to his wife Jessie)
(Editors Note) In the first part of this story in our August 2000 Newsletter, Major Douglas H. McKellar tells how he left headquarters to come down to his old 558th Squadron 387th Bombardment Group (M) to fly in the first wave of B-26 Aircraft to participate in the Invasion of France on June 6, 1944. He flew with Capt. Schober. They left Chipping Onger, site 162, in the predawn hours, in the rain and heavy cloud cover, with icing conditions. Upon arrival over Southern England above the cloud cover they radioed for instructions. The instructions were always the same, "Bomb under the cloud cover". O, Boy!)
From a westerly course we now turned south over the channel and started down again. Formations of Liberators were now crossing us from the north and they started down, too. We found holes this time through layers of clouds and were able to keep formation. Down, down we went still unable to see the water and the thousands of boats we knew were under the cloud deck. The Libs were flying parallel to us now on our left. We sneaked through the last hole and got under the clouds at 6,000, but it was now raining, and we could just make out landfall ahead on the Cherbourg Peninsula. We were the second group of Marauders to go in.
The first group was just now forming ahead of us, parts of it coming from all directions out of the clouds.
I don’t know how they made it at this late instant. Hundreds of Liberators were just on our left. I sure felt sorry for those lumbering crates down at this altitude. In our box we now had 12 out of 18. Our wingmen didn’t belong to us but they were Marauders, so what the hell. I don’t know where the other 6 were, probably behind us in the mob somewhere back there. We were on time, I was in my correct /osition and I was full of confidence and excited. Schober took over again and I now could watch the show.
As we crossed the coast the rain stopped, the weather cleared beneath us and for the first time I caught a glimpse of the surface operations. From this time on it was like trying to watch all 10 rings of a circus at once. It was 6:10am. No troops had landed yet and it was quite light now. The front row of ships standing offshore, one a huge battleship, it’s gun flashes from ship to shore were colossal. The little landing crafts lay behind the warships waiting to go in. I could only see the beginning of the masses of landing craft because the weather beyond obscured more from our view. The available air space was literally packed with airplanes of every description.
As for bombers, there were formations, flights, threes, twos and even singles
who probably couldn’t find their formations and went anyway by themselves. There
were fighters (ours) by the hundreds from the ground up strafing, dive bombing,
patrolling, and escorting. Any Jerry pilot who came up in that stuff was either
crazy or had a gun in his back. I never saw one. I saw a destroyer hit and after
the stern was under water the forward turrets were still firing. The Libs had
the south beaches in the Arromanches area. Four-hundred-odd of us Marauders had
the west beaches along the course I have drawn.
Our only worry now was flak. At 6,000 feet murderous light flak is deadly. It soon began to come up in showers with red, green, and yellow tracers, pretty to some people, maybe. I shrunk up in my suit of armor like a turtle. A Lib went down on our left, a Marauder went down just in front, then the flak yhower shifted, thank God. There were so many of us they didn’t know who to shoot at next Bombs away and we dumped our load on gun positions where I marked X. Just before we turned right I looked back and saw two planes laying a smoke screen just over the water in front of the warships through which the landing craft would come. Our last plane dropped at 06:22 and at 06:25 our troops were on the beaches. The explosions of our own bombs rocked us so, both Schober and I thought we were hit We had never felt them before.
On the way out to Granville we could see gliders and parachutes on the ground,
red, green, and white ones that looked like poppies growing in a garden from our
height. I wondered where those guys were and how they were doing. The panorama
ended when we ran into heavy rain again, sleet, and cloud that herded us
together like sheep for safety. We had to go down where we could see, and not
stumble over the flak-infested Jersey and Guernsey Islands. Dodging them we went
back low over the water forced down by the clouds passing over every type of
vessel by the hundreds on their way to the beachhead. As one gunner said, “It
was the longest queue he had seen in the E.T.O.” Back at base the crews prepared
to go again and that’s the way it’s been ever since.
It was some spectacle, Jess, and let’s hope this is the beginning of the end we have been waiting for. We feel it was miraculous that as many Marauders as did got to the target and hit it, and we are glad we were able to make it easier for the boys on the ground. That was the worst weather in which I have ever flown a mission but it was worth it and more. We are happy that the initial stages of the invasion went well and we are confident that it will continue that way. We could double our part now if the weather were better and hope for a clear stretch soon, but the morale is high and that will make a big difference.
(Editor’s Note: The August Newsletter Part I of this story brought us a letter from his wife, Jessie, that Douglas H. McKellar past away in June. 2000. We are happy that we published his story, but sorry it wasn’t sooner so he could have read it His family can always be proud of him for his wartime contributions).