ALDRIDGE, ANDREW B., Staff Sergeant, # 39275956, USAAF

 

Andrew B. Aldridge was born on 30 November 1922 in Los Angeles Co., California, to William Jennings "Bryan" Aldridge (1896-1975) (MO) and Velda Maurie (Harger) Aldridge (1896-1977) (MO). Siblings included Stanley G. Aldridge (1919-1941) and Max Donald Aldridge (1924-1998). Living ith them in 1930 was a paternal cousin, Albert Aldridge (1898-    ).

 

He enlisted in the USAAF in Los Angeles, California, on 9 January 1943. He was trained in the maintenance and repair of the mechanical and electrical parts of the B-24, the operation of an aerial .50 caliber machinegun, and earned his crewman wings. He was sent overseas to India. On 22 October 1944, a flight of B-24Js, including # 44-40588, # 44-40992, and # 44-70414, assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pandaveswar, India, on a bombing mission over Moulmein, Burma. The bombers were hit by anti-aircraft fire, collided, and crashed, exploding. Five minutes after bombing the target at about 1202 hours, the formation was attacked by eight to twelve enemy fighters. He saw Oscars. Lt. Blair was in the # 2 position on the wing of Lt. Young. Maj. Jack Bradford, 0-424404 (OK), was in the # 4 position behind Lt. Young. 1stLt. Bodmer was in the # 3 position and Lt. Hill was in the # 5 position. When the enemy fighters were sighted, the formation closed. On the 3rd or 4th pass by the enemy, Lt. Blair’s # 2 engine caught on fire. He pulled out slightly left and feathered the engine. The fire went out and Lt. Blair made a diving left turn into clouds. He was not seen afterwards. Five minutes later, Maj. Bradford appeared to be looking back to see what happened to the other bombers. He was flying a rough formation but none of his bomber’s movements were violent. His bomber descended slightly to the left. He pulled up just under Lt. Bodmer, who was flying to the front and left of him. As he pulled up, Lt. Bodmer climbed up and out. After Maj. Bradford moved back into position, Lt. Bodmer took his own position. Almost immediately, Maj. Bradford climbed under Lt. Bodmer, his left vertical stabilizer went into Lt. Bodmer’s bomb bay doors. It seemed the # 3 and # 4 propellars of Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 cut off the tail of Maj. Bradford’s B-24 at a point just behind the waist windows. Maj. Bradford’s B-24 climbed violently and fell into a spin. Lt. Bodmer’s B-24 lost a bomb bay door and fell off onto the right wing, did a half-turn-spin, then spiraled down. Both B-24s hit the water about 200 yards apart and exploded. No parachutes were seen. It was near Bilugynn Island, Bay of Martaban. He is remembered on the memorial wall of the missing in the Manila Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

 

His brother Stanley G. Aldridge, born 4 February 1919, enlisted in the USAAF in Dallas, Texas, on 11 September 1941. He died on 11 August 1942, an engineer-gunner on a B-17, 97th Bomb Group, 340th Bomb Squadron, and crashed into a mountain in Wales during a training flight. He is buried in a group grave in the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (Sec. B, Grave 176).

 

His brother, Max D. Aldridge, born 25 July 1924, enlisted in the U.S. Army on 7 July 1943. He died on 3 March 1998 and is buried in the Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California.