the last day of May he was transferred to the Air
Force Flexible Gunnery School at Yucca AZ for a two
month course. He arrived at Salt Lake City UT on
August 5, 1943 and was subsequently sent to Ephrata
WA, where he joined a B-17 crew as a flight engineer
and top turret gunner. He was sent, with his crew,
to Spokane WA for flight training on September 4,
1943, and then on to Pendleton Field WA for training
with the 383rd Bomber Group, where preparations were
made to go overseas.
October 25, he flew to Grand Island, NE for final
preparations were completed. Hs crew arrived at the
East Coast point of embarkation on November 11, and
he arrived in England on his 20th birthday, November
24, 1943. In England he was attached to the 367th
Bomb Squadron of the 306th Bomb Group, operating out
On 11 January 1944, Howard would fly his third
combat mission to the aircraft factory of
Halberstadt. This day would go into history as one
that saw one of the fiercest air battles of Europe
during World War Two.
Howard's crew consisted of:
pilot 2Lt Ross A McCollum
co-pilot 2Lt Marcum E Thomas
Navigator 2Lt Daniel P Jones
Bombardier 2Lt Lloyd G. Crabtree
Radio operator S/Sgt Henry A Stelmach
Top turret gunner SSgt Wayne A Warner
Right waist gunner Sgt Leander J Aurie
Left waist gunner Sgt Warren B Goss
Tail gunner Sgt Andrew P Barrus
Howard was the ball turret gunner on this crew.
After the war, 2Lt Crabtree would write a report
about the shoot down of the B17. They had just
crossed into Holland: "17 miles from the Zuiderzee,
we were lead between two cloud formations: one some
30 feet above us and the other about 200 feet below
to some reason I never learned the ship to our left
changed its position in formation by coming under us,
chaving off the tip of our right wing and jolting
the plane and crew considerable".
this point, the pilot, 2Lt McCollum sounded the
alarm bell indicating to the crew to bail out.
However, he managed to get the plane under control
and the bail out order was reversed.
Crabtree continues: "After the pilot Lt R.A.
McCollum righted the ship we were attacked from the
nose, out of the clouds directly over our heads in
elements of three's by enemy ships (as well as I
remember they were ME-109s)
Three waves of them from the front brought is down.
I stayed with the ship for a short time after it was
out of control heading for the earth. Then I bailed
before the plane was shot down, waist gunner Leander
Aurie told the crew over the intercom that he had
shot down a plane, what he thought to be a ME210.
Crabtree was the only one to survive. The rest of
the crew was either killed, according to Lt Crabtree,
by enemy gunfire or the crash. He also stated that
the navigator, 2Lt Daniel Jones, from New York, had
spilled his parachute in the plane earlier. He urged
Jones to jump with the spilled parachute, but Jones
plane crashed near hotel "De Witte Raaf" (The White
Raven) near the town of Epe, the Netherlands. The
nine crew members were recovered and buried in the
Initially listed as missing, Howard's loss was
reported in the February 5, 1944 evening edition of
the Camden Courier-Post. A later newspaper report on
March 15, 1944 reported that at least one of the
crew had survived the crash and had been taken
His mother said at the time, “We were shocked to
hear that his career in England was cut short, but
we still have hopes that he may be a prisoner of
Sadly, his death was later confirmed. The father of
the pilot, Captain W.A. McCollum, went to great
lengths to recover the remains of his son and his
crew. He and the US Graves Registration finally
found the graves in Epe. The wife of the
caretaker of the cemetery sent a picture of his
grave to the families in the United States. After
the U.S. Army arrived, the remains were removed to
the American Cemetery at Margareten, Holland.
After the war, Howard Chatelaine was brought home,
and was buried in Locustwood Memorial Park in Cherry
Hill, N.J. on March 26, 1949, He was survived by his
parents, Mr. and Mrs. Leon Chatelaine, of 213 Toledo
Avenue, Westmont NJ, a sister, Mrs. Robert Davis,
and his brother, Raymond Chatelain.