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William B. Cuthbert

713th Bomber Squadron, 448th Bomber Group, Heavy

Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Montana

Died:

4/20/1944

Grave Location:

Plot D, Row 14, Grave 42

2ndLt. William B. Cuthbert’s unit, the 713thSquadron of the 448thBombardment Group, was activated on May 1, 1943 at Gowan Field in Boise, Idaho. In December Cuthbert was deployed with the Eighth Air Force to Seething Air Field, nine miles southeast from Norwich in Norfolk, England.  The bomb group entered combat operations in December 1943. Cuthbert was a navigator on a B-24 Liberator, heavy bomber, hitting targets such as aircraft factories in Gotha, ball-bearing plants in Berlin, U-boat facilities at Kiel, a chemical plant at Ludwigshafen, synthetic oil refineries at Politz, aircraft engine plants at Rostock, marshalling yards at Cologne, and a V-1 bomb assembly plant at Fallersleben. He took part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry known as Big Week, February 20 – 25, 1944.

The 713th Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 448th Heavy Bombardment Group at Seething Airfield Station 146.

On April 20, Cuthbert’s 713thBomb Squadron was on its way to hit a V-1 flying bomb launch site near Abbeville in the north of France. The aircraft was hit by German flak at 8:45 p.m. Eight men parachuted out of the aircraft, the sightings of which were confirmed by several witnesses, including the pilot of the aircraft in formation directly behind them. The aircraft circled in the air and crashed approximately three minutes after the others bailed out. Seven were taken captive, and one died on the ground.

A B-24 Liberator of the 713th Bomb Squadron.
Cuthbert and his crew were attempting to bomb a launch site that would have housed a V-1 Rocket, similar to the one pictured.

Cuthbert was one of the two men who did not exit the aircraft. Their bodies were found in the wreckage of the B-24 by German troops, 200 miles north of Paris. One of Cuthbert’s surviving crewmembers indicated that he thought the nose gunner, SSgt. Anthony J. Zuminski, was trapped in his turret, and Cuthbert tried to get him out of the damaged aircraft. Zuminski is also buried at the Normandy American Cemetery. Cuthbert was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

Awards: Air Medal, Purple Heart

William B. Cuthbert is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot D, Row 14, Grave 42.