PIC

PIC

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Last Mission of B17F 42-29901 LF-K 'The Flying Bulldog'

 
A bit of googling and I've identified the 379th Bombardment Group, 526th Bombardment Squadron B17 that was destroyed on September 16th 1943. This was a mission targeting the ball bearing plant in Nantes, Brittany. The crew, who may have been known as 'The Nasty Ten', were flying B17F 42-29901 LF-K, which was either 'The Fighting Bulldog' or 'The Flying Bulldog' but, as there are no photos of the nose art, it's difficult to be sure.
 
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....
 

7 comments:

  1. Interesting post, thank you. You've found a lot of info!

    You might get more or photos from the 8th Air Force Historical Society or the 2nd Air Division Library in Norwich -

    ReplyDelete
  2. Researching B-17 missions can be richly rewarding and incredibly frustrating as well. I was fortunate when I started researching my Great-Uncle's time in a B-17. The 390th Bombardment Group has its own museum in Arizona, and an amazing amount of material about the missions they flew. Best of all they took the the time to get it into a very searchable database so tracking his 30 missions was remarkably easy. But finding any information before stumbling on their website was agonizing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the research links. I'll follow them up when I get back from the holiday.

    Cheers

    Jim

    ReplyDelete
  4. I really know hardly anything about this, but I read somewhere that the B-17 'box formations' were so tightly packed that the Luftwaffe did try using aerial bombs against them for a time.

    It was apparently a largely unsuccessful tactic, this case excepted... which would be a case of a lucky/unlucky hit, depending on which plane you were sat in.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Indeed - aerial bombs were an experimental tactic and worked sometimes but the Luftwaffe moved on to using large rockets for the same purpose - with again rather mixed results.

    Interesting story - please post again on TMP if you manage any updates.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a picture of the crew... Cyril was my grandfather.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have a picture of the crew... Cyril was my grandfather.

    ReplyDelete