Saturday, 23 August 2014
Last Mission of B17F 42-29901 LF-K 'The Flying Bulldog'
The B17 was hit by an aerial bomb dropped by an FW190-A6 of 10/JG-2, flown by Fw. Alfred Geisthardt. It seems likely that this hit the foreward fuselage as none of the crew in this section survived, whilst most of the rear fuselage crew managed to get out before the aircraft crashed near Grand-Fougery. The attack took place at 7000m at 15.48, as recorded by the Fw190 gun camera. although why an aerial bomb was used is an interesting question?
The crew were led by 1st Lt W.C. Euwer (KIA), with 2nd Lt L.M.Brown (KIA) as co-pilot. The navigator was 2nd Lt S.A.R.Evans (KIA) and the bombardier was 2nd Lt E.F.Connolly (KIA). The radio operator was T/Sgt S.N.Blatchford, who managed to parachute to safety and was subsequently hidden by the resistance, only to be captured in January 1944 and sent to a PoW camp in Germany. The flight engineer / top turret gunner was S/Sgt L.A.Hamilton (KIA).
In the rear fuselage, the ball turret gunner was S/Sgt E.W. Schroeder (PoW), the left waist gunner was S/Sgt A.D.Held (PoW) and the right waist gunner was S/Sgt C.G. Koval (PoW) who was also helped to evade by the resistance until captured. It seems likely that the bomb separated or otherwise destroyed the fuselage ahead of the bomb bay section, allowing these men to bail out. The tail gunner was S/Sgt C.M.Hart (KIA).
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a photo of either the aircraft or the crew, which is a bit disappointing. However, I have found a photo of the Fw190-A6 pilot Fw. Alfred Geisthardt's grave in Ysselsteyn, Holland, where he was shot down near Beuningen on 16th December 1943. I'm guessing that this would have been by the RAF but I'll have to check. That's another story to investigate....