DEDICATED TO 97th BG 414th BS
COL. ROBERT H. RAST II
12th AF 97th BG 414th BS
Material submitted by his brother-in-law
Robert (Bob) Lineberger [email@example.com]
Site edited and maintained by Doug Cook
Contacts from 97th BG and 414th Squadron Welcome!
Last Update October 9, 2010
Pilot 1st Lt. Robert H. Rast (1943)
97th Bomb Group
(photo credit Bob Lineberger)
97th Bomb Group Stations
During Bob Rast’s Service
97th BG 414th BS
Mission Aug. 1, 1943
The 414th Bomb Squadron Logo was from the popular song “On a wing and a prayer”.
(Photo from the collection of Lloyd Merrifield)
B-17 Pilot 1st Lt. Robert H. Rast (back right) and crew.
(Photo credit Col. Wm. Ross collection)
B-17F-10-DL 42-2985 ‘Nut Cracker’ and crew. Then 1st Lt. Bob Rast is back center.
Waist gunner Harrison Welch’s Jacket patch for B-17 ‘Nut Cracker’ 97th BG 414th BS
The obvious interpretation is that the ‘nuts’ are Axis dictators Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito.
This cartoon mocks the intentions of the Axis powers during World War II, and shows Adolph Hitler cutting the world into pieces like a cantaloupe to share with Hirohito and Mussolini.
414th BS Mission Sheet with the Aug. 1, 1943 mission to
(Photo credit David Shelby)
(Photo credit Col. Wm. Ross collection)
97th BG, 414th BS Bombs dropping on a mission in 1943.
Note the accurate anti-aircraft flak bursts so near the big “Flying Fortesses”.
1943 Night photo of anti-aircraft fire with tracers making
a heavily defended target. Naples
(Photo from Chas. Cook collection)
Capodichino Airport, today. Naples
After successfully bombing the 1943 aerodrome, the 414th squadron was attacked from behind by 8 to 10 German
ME-109 fighter planes. A burst of flak immediately after bombs away blew off the right wing off of the B-17 ‘Nut Cracker’
at the #1engine. Pilot Rast could not see that the wing tip was gone from his left seat. The bombardier bailed out at
25,000 feet knowing the plane could not fly. He free fell to the altitude of oxygen. Rast could not get the plane righted
but held it steady while the four men that were alive could get out and it circled the bombardier parachutist as
they descended. The plane went into a spin and crashed. It is seen belly-up in the frame below. Pilot Rast was the last
to leave the plane. Five crewmen died from the initial explosion or perhaps a second 88 mm shell hit the rear.
A German and Italian soldier came to where Rast landed. He hurt his knee in the jump. He went with the Italian guy
them all and put them in the railroad yard in
Somewhere I got the idea that they were bombed because the
cattle cars and 4000 were killed. (I can't prove that in writing anywhere.) As German POW’s, they were sent to a
stalag in Germany.
The lead ship was taking pictures every 15 seconds of the bomb run which had just finished.
The wounded ‘Nut Cracker’ happened to get into the bomb run frames below.
These detailed copies were in the collection of 414th Pilot Col. Wm. L. Ross.
The picture also appears on Page 4 of ‘VENIT HORA’ with a poem under it.
"Immortal is the Name."
Lord, hold them in thy mighty hand
Above the ocean and the land
Like wings of Eagles mounting high
Along the pathways of the sky.
Immortal is the name they bear
And high the honor that they share
Until a thousand years have rolled,
Their deeds of valor shall be told.
In dark of night and light of day
God speed and bless them on their way.
And homeward safely guide each one
With glory gained and duty done.
(Photos above from Wm. Ross collection)
B-17F-10-DL 42-2985 “Nut Cracker’ 97th BG, 414th BS (
MACR355; missing air crew report) .
Shot down by anti-aircraft flak Aug 1, 1943 at
. Naples . 5 killed; 5 POW (including Rast). Italy
This report is from the 97th BG book ‘Venit Hora’ (The hour has come).
Target Capodichino Naples A/D was an enemy aerodrome (air base) and is now the
. Naples Airport
The following text repetition is for clarification
and for internet search engines to pick up the names:
Pilot 1st Lt. Robert H. Rast
Copilot 2nd Lt. Alexander Alvarado
Navigator 1st Lt. Seymore J. Ponmone
Bombardier 2nd Lt. Frank M. Bigelow
Radio Operator SSgt. William D. Dibble
Engineer/Gunner TSgt William J. Shea
Right Waist Gunner SSgt John L. Anderson
Left Waist Gunner SSgt Robert J. Nichols
Ball Turret Gunner Sgt. George B. Smith
Tail Gunner Sgt. James R. Mathews
Pilot Bob Rast relayed to his brother-in-law Bob Lineberger that the crew that were killed were in the back of the plane.
We are still researching this to be exact about the names.
Roster of 414th BS Officers (Comp= 50 missions completed and rotated back to the States)
Robert Rast was shot down on his 49th mission Aug. 1, 1943 just before Wm. Ross got his ticket home.
(From Wm. Ross collection)
Letter from Bob Lineberger with Col. Robert Rast’s story and some biographical information.
WORLD WAR II
On page 82 of WORLD WAR II, April
2006 edition, you have pictured the B-17 named “The Nut Cracker,” Serial Number
42-2985. The name came from the nose art in one of the enclosed pictures of the
heads of Hirohito, Mussolini and Hitler in a commonly used nutcracker. The
pilot and aircraft commander was my brother-in-law. His name was Robert H.
Rast, II. That picture is the lead picture in the “coffee table” book of the 97th
Bombardment Group with a prayer under it, “Immortal Is The Name.” This picture
has been published many times but no publisher has ever connected his name to
the picture. I wish you would give him the well-deserved honor of doing that.
Documentation is given in a photo copy of an excerpt from the history of the 97th
Bombardment Group book [Venit Hora]. He was born in
They were then shipped to a
His wife and he died about 3
months apart. He leaves three, children: Patti, Mark and Robert, III. Mark
spent 5 years in the Navy and 15 years as an air traffic controller at the air
Letter from Robert H. Rast III with Col. Robert Rast’s POW story
STALAG LUFT III
Pat just sent me the links. So glad you put Dad's history on
there. Glad set [Dad’s story] straight. Have never seen the 2nd picture
of the ‘Nut Cracker going down].
I'm trying to find out more about Dad as a POW. Knew he was in
the Italian Camp and then moved to
story about being bombed on the tracks. A British POW smuggled a sword
into a car and they had cut a hole in the bottom of their car. When the
bombing was imminent the guards took off and the Brits got out and
unlocked other cars. He remembers running and diving into a crater with
a German soldier. After the bombing they took off their separate ways.
Said he was headed with some others for
were picked up by Germans on one of only a few routes over the
of escape attempts in
[escape tunnels named] Tom, Dick and Harry. Told of how they
spread the dirt out from their trousers. Also told of Brits making a hobby horse
in the walking path with two guys in there who would tunnel all day.
This had to be Stalag Luft III.
know about his knee and almost getting shot but this must have
been the 'death march' from
I always tell everyone that Dad's WWII adventures were the basis
for two movies: 'Von Ryan's Express' and The Great Escape'.
Bob (Robert H. Rast III)
VIDEO B-17 Memphis Belle (Hollywood movie)
NATIONAL ARCHIVES AUDIO 1943-1945