Aircraft # 42-50287
B-24H-20 = Built by Consolidated in Fort Worth, Texas.
577th Squadron/ 392nd Bomb Group/ 2nd Air Division/ 8th Air Force
Based in East Anglia near Wendling, England
CREW:Back L to R:Neil Larsen(Pilot),Charles Stratton(Copilot),
Tom O'Neill(Navigator),Tommy Hiller (Bombardier) Front L to R:Clyde
Whitt(Right waist gunner),Henry Fox(radio operator),*Robert Wilcox(
Tail gunner),William Robinson(Engineer),*Donald Barker(Ball gunner),
Gus Cristofaro(Left waist gunner) & "Gertie".
*(Wilcox was MIA April 29, 1944 while flying with Lt. Shea's crew.
He spent the rest of the war as a POW. His
replacement was Stanley Prazak)
*(Barker was transferred to the 578th Squadron before June 4, 1944. His
replacement was Edward Davis)
Photo probably made in states with training plane.
Plane shown was probably made in San Diego, not Fort Worth.
Notice shape of the fairing around the nose turret and no armor plate installed under
the cockpit window that would be there if the plane was in England
Click HERE to see a map of the route they took from
Salt Lake City to England via Brazil and Africa.
S/Sgt Whitt kept a combat diary
of his missions which has been reproduced at this link.
23 June, 1944
Target: Leon/Athies airfield in Occupied France
24 bombers from Wendling take off at 1630 hours.
Two ships were lost to flak over target. Ship #287 ,which was hit by
flak over target, was hit again over Dunkirk and went down in a spin
out of control. Another ship, too severely damaged to make it back to
base, made a forced landing at Manston. Of the bombers that returned
to Wendling that day, 17 had been damaged by antiaircraft fire.
As you can see, the group did not maintain it's flight plan after
hitting the target. Due to having received such heavy damage
from flak over the target, they took
a more direct route back home.
USAAF MISSING AIRCREW REPORT #06523
Aircraft: #42-50287 (NO NICKNAME) "V-Plus" 17th Mission
Aircrew: Larsen / Squadron: 577th
CREW POSITIONS AND STATUS:
Pilot 1/Lt Larsen, Niel R. KIA
MISSION LOSS CIRCUMSTANCES: An eyewitness (Lt. Holliday, crew Pilot
577th) reported this aircraft as being first hit by flak over the target
, hit again at Dunkirk (return route) and lost a propeller with plane
going down in a spin out of control and believed to have crashed, (3)
chutes seen. A German Report #KU2368, 23 June at 2130, Airdrome
Command at Lille, stated that this aircrew of ten were recovered with
(6) dead: Larsen, Stratton, Robinson, Prazak, Cristofaro, and Whitt,
and (4) members captured. The men taken prisoner were identified
positively and sent on to Dulag-Luft center for interrogation at
Oberursel/Frankfort on 27 June.
Copilot 2/Lt Stratton, Charles R. Jr. KIA
Navigator 2/Lt O'Neill, Thomas J. POW
Bombardier 2/Lt Hiller, Thomas B. POW
Nose gunner PVT Davis, Edward T. POW
Radio operator T/Sgt Fox, Henry H. POW
Engineer T/Sgt Robinson, William F. KIA
Waist gunner S/Sgt Whitt, Clyde G. KIA
Waist gunner S/Sgt Cristofaro, Gus J. KIA
Tail gunner S/Sgt Prazak, Stanley J. KIA
INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS OF CREWMEN FATES: One crew survivor; O'Neill, later
gave information in a 'Casualty Questionnaire' to U.S. authorities
after his repatriation from POW status, as follows: that their ship
had left the Group formation about five miles north of the target
after bombing (and took a more direct route returning to England);
and about (10) miles southeast of Dunkirk some of the crew began to
bail out starting at about 10,000 feet down to 3-4,000 feet due to
the plane being in a spin (after being hit by flak again); that the
Pilot, Co-Pilot, and Engineer were in their respective flight
positions when the plane took a direct flak hit into the flight deck,
and that was the last seen of these members; that the ship had crashed
about (10) miles southeast of Dunkirk between a railroad, canal, and a
road near a house there; and it burned with no surviving crew members
able to get back to it. He noted further that the Pilot and Co-Pilot
were killed instantly, he believed, and the Engineer perished before he
could bail out since the plane, immediately after the AA hit, went into
a right hand spiral spin and no abandon ship signal was given. Another
report from Lt. Hiller, Bombardier, stated that he and the Radio
Operator bailed out through the bomb bays after the ship stopped
spinning momentarily around 10,000 feet, followed by the Navigator and
Nose Gunner who jumped through the nose escape way (Note: Escape had to
be through the nose wheel well doors as this exit was the only way
from the nose section, and quite difficult to accomplish with a
Parachute on, back or chest pack). No other accounts were filed with
NEXT OF KIN DATA IN WWII:
Larsen (Wife, Arlene I., 3145, Forth Worth, Texas)
Stratton (Wife, Virginia I., 816 North 24th St St. Joseph, Missouri)
O'Neill (Father, Walter L., 4119 A Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, Missouri)
Hiller (Mother, Margaret V., 6727 Toresdale Avenue, Philadelphia)
Davis (Father, Gilbert W., Route #1, McMinnville, Tennessee)
Fox (Wife, Frances K., 3115 Lincoln St, Columbia, South Carolina)
Robinson (Mother, Emmie V., Eatonon, Georgia)
Whitt (Mother, Mary Lee, Route #3, Roxboro, North Carolina)
Cristofaro (Father, Joseph, 38 Oxford, Fernwood, Pennsylvania)
Prazak (Mother, Antoinette C. 163 West Allen, Winsocki, Vermont)
Annie Sue Barrett
& Clyde Gregory Whitt
Sue remarried later in life and lived in Virginia. She passed away March 21, 2013 at age 88.
Clyde Whitt was my uncle and this page is dedicated to his
memory and to that of my grandmother -
Mary Lee Gregory Whitt.
These 2 ships, with the Circle D, were part of the 392nd BG.
SOME RELATED LINKS YOU MIGHT FIND OF INTEREST:
url of this page -- Revised: March 25, 2013
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