Secret of World War II: B-17 Lady Jeannette – Part 2

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“Lady Jeannette” - B-17G, SN: 42-97904. (Credits: Via B-17 Flying Fortress Rescue)

“Lady Jeannette” – B-17G, SN: 42-97904. (Credits: Via B-17 Flying Fortress Rescue)

A series of articles, laying out the true events behind the creation of: “The Best Kept Secret Of World War Two!” In December, 1945, when it became known that General Patton had told his staff, he was quitting the Army so he could speak freely and after New Years, 1946, he was going to tell the American public the truth about what those who were attempting to destroy him had done. He was positive, once that truth was known, he could live freely and it was their careers that would be destroyed.

A series of day by day articles beginning on 9 November, 2015, which is the 71st anniversary of the crash of the “Lady Jeannette.” B-17G, SN: 42-97904, on 9 November, 1944. Today and tomorrow, I will describe the shooting down and the crash of two American bombers in France. One was the “Lady Jeannette” and the other was a top secret B-24J, which was flying a top secret night mission, while attached to the top secret 100th Group Royal Air Force. The B-24J also crashed in France, early on the morning of 10 November, 1944, 138 miles from the crash site of the B-17.36BS B24 Drawing


Why was a B-24J flying over France in the middle of the night on a top secret mission, would be a very good question. One that could have been be answered by a member of the 36th Bomb Squadron! However, it was a question that the answer you received, would not have answered your question. The required information maintained its top secret listing until the 1990’s.

The following will supply some background information required, if you might decide you have to question the author’s conclusion. Please, re-research the following before contacting the author.

“When first we got to Cheddington the thing they told us that we had to be completely aware of —that (our) operation was absolutely TOP SECRET. We were not to divulge to anyone what kind of work we were in. We couldn’t send any word back home about what we were doing. If we ran into some of the other crews that we might have known in training in the states and they asked us what we were doing, to just tell them we were just flying like they were, and not divulge that we were in the counter radar top secret squadron.” Page 146 Squadron Of Deception Author: Stephen M. Hutton. 

(Stephen Hutton’s book, Squadron Of Deception is a definitive history of The 36th Bomb Squadron in World War II, Printed in 1999.)

(Stephen Hutton’s book, Squadron Of Deception is a definitive history of The 36th Bomb Squadron in World War II, Printed in 1999.)

On the 31 of March, 1944, after discovering what the English bomber streams were using to confuse their radars, which consisted of thin lengths of aluminum foil cut to match their radar’s search beam frequency. The British called the secret weapon, “Window,” while the Americans called it “Chaff.”

To overcome this problem, one day the Germans changed all their radar’s frequency. That night, the Royal Air Force lost over ten percent of their bombers to German night fighter attacks. The losses were so great, the RAF stopped all missions until a solution could be found. To continue, would have meant there would have been no Royal Air Force Bomber Command left, in less than ten days.

As fate would have it, that same day, the first aircraft from the American 36th Bomb Squadron (RCM – Radar Counter Measures) was transferred to the 100th Group, Royal Air Force. On the first mission, flown with the protection of the electronic counter measures provided by the radar jamming aircraft, the RAF lost no bombers.

German night fighters had a radar unit mounted on its nose, once it was vectored to the general area by the German ground radars, it could lock onto the British bomber on the darkest of nights. Normally, they would approach from below and behind and the British crews had no indication until their bomber was struck by the fighters fire. A detection unit was created, that would indicate they were being tracked, so they could attempt to evade. However the combination of ground radar control and the on-board targeting radar of the German night fighter was deadly. Just, as the same combination enabled Allied night fighters to over come German aircraft that flew at night.

As a former Air Force Radar Operator and a Nike Missile Fire Control Maintenance Man, this book provided a wealth of information, that was still secret when I served. Stephen’s father was in the squadron and during his research and squadron receptions, he interviewed many survivors and fleshes out the members of the squadron and their individual experiences.

Stephen and I met, as he was completing his book, and on page 185 you will find this author’s name in connection to the installation of a memorial in France to “226,” and her crew. Not far away, in the village cemetery of Cartigny, Department of the Somme, France, is the grave that started all of this for the author on Christmas Eve, 1991, when my friend and I were asked, to visit the grave of an Unknown American of WWII. The Frenchman had been tending the grave for some years and he requested, that the author identify the grave, so the person within could be honored during the 50th Anniversary of “D” Day.

B-24 Buirre MemorialOn 10 November, 2000, this memorial was dedicated by the same audience that later dedicated the grave Memorial (below) later that day. The plaques memorialize a B-26 that later crashed near the memorial location, which is about 3/4 mile from the exact B-24J crash site, which is in a working field. The B-26, actually stuck the exact B-24J crash site, bounced over a electric line, bounced again and then slammed into the woods very close to this memorial. During the crash, the radar navigating unit broke loose, crushing two of the crew to death. The two pilots were awarded the Soldiers Medal for their action in removing the bodies from the burning wreckage. The author interviewed the two pilots and each told him, if we had not removed the bodies, we would have been stuck in the burning plane and died.

The bomber belonged to the 1st Pathfinder Squadron, on the day it crashed 22 January, 1945, it marked the bridge over the “Our River” blocking thousands of Germans and vehicles on the west side of the river. It is documented as being the most successful day of the 9th USAAF. They flew so low down the Valley of the Our to successfully mark the target. As they were marking the bridge, German anti-aircraft guns were firing down at them from the valley banks.

The lower left memorial plaque is to the Americans who were stationed in the Bois de Buirre, which is the woods behind the memorial. They participated in the drive to the east during WW, fighting with the Canadians, Australians and British. The American Bony WWI Cemetery is located about ten miles to the east. The lower right memorial plaque is to the 452nd Bombardment Group, as many French citizens, as did the author had, that the “Lady Jeannette” had crashed where the top secret B-24J had actually crashed.

B-24 Grave CartignyOn 10 November, 1994, we dedicated a memorial stone on this grave. The dedication was attended by T/Sgt. Gustafson, a “Lady Jeannette” survivor, two nieces of 1st Lt. Gott, CMOH, pilot of the “Lady Jeannette” and many French citizens. The Honor Guard consisted of members of the Le Souvenir Francais, a volunteer organization of French military veterans who maintain military graves and cemeteries across France. Then, in May, 1998, after everyone else had accepted the author’s research, foundationally based on the description of the crash of the bomber these dead belonged to in the Congressional Medal Of Honor Citations for 1st Lt. Gott and 2nd Lt. Metzger, Jr.. It is a well known fact, due to the research prior to the award of these medals was extensive and unless totally supported by facts and eye witnesses, no one would be awarded that medal, the author proved the two medal Citations contained information that was false and every signor from 2nd Lt. Harms, the required “eye witness officer” knew or had to have known, the medal applications contained false information! The families of the three men, were fully informed of the existence of the second combined grave of their family members. The families requested that American allow the grave to remain where it is, as the French cared more about their loved one, than the American military commanders who were directly responsible for the original hiding of their combined remains.

On 10 November, 2000, with the sister of 2nd Lt. Metzger, Jr. present, we dedicated a new memorial on the grave, with the Honor Guard being provided by the US Air Force, identifying the grave with the proper identification of the three men, of which the grave contains approximately two-thirds of their combined remains. Recovered from a hidden grave created by American military personnel, by the village Priest, on 23 November, 1944. The village elders and the Priest, CURE Etienne Serpette, had discussed the situation and had determined these men in the hidden grave who had died for the Liberty of France, and had been discarded in a hidden grave by the United States military, deserved a marked grave of their own in a consecrated cemetery. After the war, when the American Graves Registration units were searching for isolated graves, they asked the Priest, if he knew of any unrecovered war graves around the village, the Priest answered, No. They felt, they could not trust the same people who had hidden the men’s remains once, and might do so again and these men had “Died for the Liberty of France.” He was at ease, they asked about graves around the village, when the grave in question was in the village cemetery, he had not lied in the eyes of God, as he had answered the question correctly.

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At midnight, early in the morning of the 10th of November, 1944, a B-17J began its night’s mission. Several of their squadron B-24’s were scheduled to form a line from Belgium on down to the south of Verdun. They were to fly to an assigned location, arrive at an exact time and begin the pre-arranged operation, which consisted of flying a figure “8″ flight path. The point was located fifty miles to the west of the western boundary of the “free fire zone” that ended twenty-five miles west of the front line.

The American radar unit’s assigned mission was to keep the skies swept of German aircraft, anywhere to the east of that boundary line. There were two radar battalions in the area of the eastern front line in the Metz area of France. The 563rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion, was comprised of several separate individual radar units, located in a line behind the front line. The 563rd’s area of responsibility was from the city of Nancy to their south, then to the north with their northern most unit in southern Belgium. Another Battalion’s coverage overlapped in the Belgium area to the south and continued to the north.

The radar’s coverage, depending on the weather and the height of the target, could track a target in a circle for fifty to seventy-five miles in the direction the rotating antenna was pointing. Overall, each radar unit could cover a full circle with a diameter of one hundred to one-hundred-fifty miles. Their main search areas covered the “free fire zone,” on the east as far as their radar could track.

About 01:45 in the morning, one of the overlapping 566th radars reported a probably friendly target flying from the west to the east. As the British normally flew in line instead of formation, the first target appeared to be a British bomber heading to the east to bomb Germany. Soon, another target appeared with the new target basically following the first target’s flight path.

At that time, both the 563rd Headquarters Plotting Center at Hattonville, was informed of the new target, that was just far enough north for the next actions to be determined by the 566th.

For the next few minutes, history continued in its stream with no reason to divert or divide into a different future. Then, the target that had been heading east, passed over the “free fire” boundary. Then, an astonishing thing happened, the target turned right and was heading south inside the “free fire zone.”

Aboard the target, which was suddenly declared an Unknown, instead of a Probably Friendly, the pilot, 1st Lt. Joseph R. Hornsby and the copilot, 2nd Lt. Robert H Casper were listening intently for the navigator to call out a new course correction, 2nd Lt. Frederick G. Grey, was the only person aboard the B-24, who knew what all the electronic equipment on board was intended to do. When it was time to take off, he would tell the pilots what runway to use for take-off. He, then gave them ongoing instructions to reach a certain altitude, fly a certain direction and when he was ready, he would give the pilots orders to begin the figure “8″ flight pattern orbit. It was normally fifty miles from one end to the other and about ten miles wide. Once, they began the orbit, one of the gunners normally worked with him, by sitting by the stack of electronic equipment which had many marked switches on its panels.

Sgt. Mears, one of the gunners, who normally flew in the nose turret position would listen for the navigator and follow his instructions, which would be, throw switch one, then it might be turn on switch two and turn off switch one. Mears had no idea, as none of the crew, except for the navigator had any idea of what they were doing. They would normally spend a couple of hours orbiting in the figure “8,” with Mears flipping the switches dozens of times, all at the direct order of the navigator. Then, the navigator would give the pilots a new course and they would begin the return to their base in England.

One thing, each crewman the author interviewed, supported by Stephen Hutton’s research, was the pilots and crew had no idea of where they were at or what they were really doing. All they knew, is they left their base and in due time, the navigator would guide them back.

When the Hornsby crew reported to an airfield in Maine, for their next flight over to Iceland and then England, they were told new orders had been received. They were to go to Maryland and report at a base there. Upon arrival, Hornsby was told, that the navigator was going to a special school and in about two weeks, he would return and then, they were to make their way to England. However, during that time, the crew would be given a temporary navigator and they would spend the two weeks learning a top secret flight pattern, flying first during the day and then, during the night. Plus, the crew’s job, especially the pilots, was to never question the navigator, and they were to never discuss what they were doing with anyone, not even among themselves.

Their first mission was a daylight one and the fill-in navigator told Hornsby when to start the engines, when to start their taxi to a certain runway and then, to stop and run up the engines, then to turn onto the runway and begin their take off. Upon clearance of the runway, the pilots were to fly a certain compass setting, gaining so many feet per minute and so on. Then, the navigator would give them a compass course to fly for so long and then, he led them through a new orbit pattern, in the shape of a figure “8.” They would do this for a length of time and then the navigator led them back to the base. This went on for two weeks and after a couple of daylight missions, where they could tell where they were at, due to landmarks and such, they began night missions. At first, they flew a couple of daylight missions and then it was three or four, mostly night missions. When interviewed by the author, the pilots both stated, unless it was daylight, they never knew where they were once they left their runway.

Hornsby and the rest of the crew interviewed, told the author, it was the strangest flying from day one to the day they crashed. They never knew where they were and never knew what they were doing. The author interviewed the radio operator, T/Sgt. Joseph Danahy, several times. As with all the author’s research that began many years ago, the living completed their final transfers and are no longer available to help the author.

The flight engineer/top turret gunner, was T/Sgt. Jack Chestnut; the normal nose turret gunner was Sgt. Raymond G. Mears; the waist gunner was Sgt. Robert Veliz; the ball turret gunner was Sgt. Pete Yslava; and the tail gunner was Sgt. Frank A. Bartho.

As with all their other missions, the Hornsby crew quickly settled in, they were going to fly only in friendly territory so the gunners had little to do, but sit at their position and observe what ever they wanted. On this mission, for some unknown reason, the normal tail gunner, Sgt. Bartho and the normal nose turret gunner, Sgt. Mears switched positions. Then, the normal waist gunner, Veliz, manned the tail turret, while Mears went to the bomb bay to work the switches on the stack of electronic equipment, he knew nothing about. If, one thinks about it, what is the best way to protect secrets, keep it secret and that way, if in any way one of the men becomes a captive, they had no knowledge to give up.

In about two hours, the Navigator told the pilots to change course to the south and be prepared to start the orbit. The position they were supposed to be at, was over the French/Luxemburg border. However, due to the weather, the navigator had been unable to use positive landmarks to verify their true position in the air. In fact, that night, something they knew nothing about had settled lower over Belgium, Luxemburg and France. Called the “Jet Stream,” well known today, instead of their normal easterly wind to factor in, the Jet Stream had pushed them about 55 miles to the east of the position they were supposed to be at.

At the time, Hornsby, saw the moon which was partially blocked by clouds, reflected of a large river in front of them. He assumed it was the Meuse river, which they often completed their figure “8″ over river which ran from the south-to the north roughly 75 miles to the west of the next large river, the Moselle.

As the clock reached 02:00, the B-24 turned south and the navigator and Mears had the top secret equipment and ready to broadcast, what ever it was going to broadcast. At the 566th SAW Battalion Plotting Center, a Probably Friendly suddenly became an Unknown and all Unknowns in the “free fire zone,” were to be attacked by their night fighters.

The officer who controlled the night fighters, put a call out to the 422th P-61 Black Widow night fighter that just happened to be flying a circular orbit waiting for some action, just a few miles away from the new Unknown. The controller gave the night fighter an flight vector to the Unknown target and quickly, the night fighter radar operator locked onto the target in the sky ahead of them. On the ground, the controller asked for verification to issue a shoot down order and when given, he told the night fighter to shoot down the Unknown.

The P-61 approached from the 4 o’clock position, climbing toward the Unknown target. When it was within range, the gunner opened fire with its four 20mm cannons. Immediately, in the light of the tracers and the explosions on the inboard, #3 engine on the right wing of the target, the pilot identified the Unknown target as a B-24J. It was a B-24J, where no B-24J’s were supposed to be, the Americans did not fly night missions and especially, they did not fly into the “free fire zone” at night, unless it was an American night fighter. Otherwise, the Allies would be shooting down with “friendly fire,” their own aircraft.

The pilot broke off his approach and contacted his controller, telling him that the unknown appeared to be an American B-24J and it had turned to the west, as soon as it had been hit. At the Plotting Center, they were already getting new radar position reports, showing the target was quickly losing altitude and was flying directly back toward England. The pilot of the P-61 was immediately vectored back his original orbit postion to wait for any other possible targets.

Once, the shells struck the engine of the B-24J, Sn: 42-51226, an event had started which, if General Patton had returned to the United States and after New Years, 1946, used his ability to use the American media to tell what he knew, the world would be an extremely different place today. And, if he used that fame and his natural ability and had the desire, I believe, in 1948, the new President would have been General Patton. Instead, one of those who were attempting to destroy him, had managed to continue the cover up of what he had verbally ordered on 10 November, 1944, the crash of the top secret B-24 and the existence of the 8,000 pounds of America’s most top secret electronic now on soil of France, must go away. And, it must go away in such a way, that no German spy could obtain anything for that crash site, which might enable the Germans to duplicate what we were using against them and use it against us. If, that might happen, we will still win the war, but the Germans could shoot down hundreds more Allied aircraft and during that time, tens of thousands of civilians would also die.

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Thus, whatever it took, it had to be done and it had to be done with Eisenhower’s protection or major commanders, unit officers and enlisted men who did what they were verbally told to do, would be open to immediate court-martial followed by the loss of their careers, jail time and total public humiliation and then, the direct hatred of the American public.

When this series of articles and especially, if you read the books to learn the research base foundation of this series, in the end you will and I mean, you will realize, that General Patton could not have been allowed to return to the United States and tell the American public what he knew, supported by the absolute evidence he had to support his truth.

At the end of this series, you will know exactly what Patton knew and if you, the mother, the father, the sister, the brother, the wife, the children, a relative or just a friend of a soldier who had not returned and you were told, you may never have that information and you must accept that fact. Then you listen to General Patton’s speech and you hear, what he could prove, from the eye witness officer, who would have stood next to Patton to provide his story and his support, tell how two Congressional Medals Of Honor had been awarded to two pilots, who would have deserved the awards, if the truth of their death had been presented, had been used by the highest military commander to hide the truth of how his orders led to the burial of American War Dead in unmarked graves and his verbal order that a false description of their death and heroism be the foundation of the award of the medals, when he knew from the first day, the men awarded the medal and the men who died with them, did not die as stated.

Then, Lt. Harms, would step forth and hold up his medical records that proved absolutely, their B-17 did not crash as described, nor did the men who died, die as described. Then, he would tell, how his Squadron and Group Commanders and a Colonel from General Eisenhower’s headquarters had ordered him to sign the applications without questioning their contents, or he would be sent to the front line as an infantry officer. He was a flyer, with no infantry training and he had a pregnant wife at home and he would tell the American public while holding up his official medical records proving his truth, “ I was not a damn fool then, and I am not a damn fool now, so I signed the two applications, as the required “Eye Witness” officer, verifying the description of crash and death of the men, saluted the three officers, walked outside the office and became a non-flyer accounting officer in the 452nd Bombardment Group.”

General Patton, would then ask the American public to remember how he had been punished by General Eisenhower and his Chain Of Command, for slapping a soldier that he truly thought would gain his courage back from that slap. Then, he would remind the American public about his successes in combat, in Africa, Sicily, France and Germany and during his Victory Tour in May and June, across the country, he was met by large crowds of Americans who appreciated his service to his country. While touring the country, in every newspaper, he read of two Congressional Medals Of Honor, being awarded on GO38 16May45 to the pilots of a B-17 that had crashed in his area of command.

He had learned of that crash the day it happened and early the next morning, he was told of the crash of a top secret aircraft, loaded with our most secret electronic equipment.  Then, he learned of steps being taken it the field, that could only have happened with the approval of General Eisenhower. His friend, General Wendover, the XIX Air Force Commander, had kept him briefed of what was being done and why it had to be done. The fact is, at the time I agreed with what had to be done, for the very reasons given by General Eisenhower. If, that was all that was done and I had approved of what was done, I would fully understand the wrath that would be placed upon me and my career.

However, as I had time to realize what I had learned during my tour, and I was continually being mistreated by those who had been attempting to destroy my career, a month ago, I made my mind to quit the army and stand here before you as an equal citizen, to tell you that I feel the misuse of the medal our country values so highly, by commanders who knew the truth and passed to our government and President, who most likely never knew the truth, cannot be allowed to go unpunished. Thank you and I promise, I will help you obtain the justice due to those who may never return and especially, those who never returned and will never return unless those responsible are held responsible for their actions in hiding American war dead and the deceitful use of our highest military medal, to coverup their illegal actions while in command.

If, Patton had returned and gave a speech somewhat like the above, every signor of the application from Squadron Commander to the highest position that knew the truth and then lied as they passed the application up the line would have had their career destroyed and legal action brought against them. If, that truth had been hidden from the Congress and the President, think about it. It is obvious, that Patton must not return and follow through with his plan. The car accident was just that, it was an accident, no matter what Bill O’Reilly might claim in his book. I believe, General Patton would have not returned alive from that day’s planned pheasant hunt!

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At the 566th, the on-duty highest ranking officer and at the 563rd, which was monitoring the action, both were placing calls to their commanders to inform them of the situation. This was quickly passed on to their reporting command, the XIX USAAF, the in country.

Aboard “226,” the pilots and crew, who were flying with no light, other than the instrument panel and the limited lighting required in the navigator’s compart and in the bomb bay, where the switch switcher was waiting to be told by the navigator, the next switches he was to turn on or off.

The # 3 engine, provided the major power to the interior of the B-24J, including the electric motors that drove the hydraulics which provided the power to operate the chin and tail turrets. Suddenly, their left wing was lit up and loud explosions were heard. The engine suddenly shut down and a fire started within the cowling. At the same time, the bright light ruined the night vision of the pilots and immediately the electrical power to the interior, died.

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The pilots immediately switched on the emergency power that was supposed to be provided by the #2 engine emergency generator and even though the power meter showed it was providing the interior of the bomber with emergency power, it was obvious none was being supplied. The emergency power check was one the pilots conducted when preparing to take off. Without that emergency power, they were not supposed to fly. However, the B-24’s top secret electronics was being constantly updated and each upgrade required more power. The original power was supplied from large forklift batteries, however, after some missions, one night, the top secret equipment shut down which caused that night’s mission to fail. Upon discussion by the “genies” who maintained the equipment, they realized the equipment now required additional power. As the normal emergency generator on the #3 engine was rarely used, the decision was made, without the crew being told, to install a hidden connection on that emergency generator’s supply line, that diverted the emergency power to the top secret equipment. One night, during a main generator problem, the pilots switched to the emergency power. The voltage flux in the top secret equipment caused it to fail and they had to shut down the mission early. Upon their return, the “genies” discussed the problem and decided, the engine mount for the emergency power generator was the same as the main generator, so they replace the normal emergency power generator with a larger main power generator and at the same time, they rigged the power switch, so the crew would think they had the required emergency power, when in fact, it was no longer available. That greatly increased the power available to the to the top secret equipment and it would prevent any emergency switching that may damage the equipment. So, without informing the flying crews, that they no longer had emergency power, if required, they wired the switch to give a false indication. In fact, with the obvious knowledge of the electronics officer, the executive officer and the commander of the squadron, a decision was made, that the top secret electronic equipment was more important than the lives of the aircrew!

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Hornsby felt the plane begin to buck and want to dive due to the sudden unbalance of power, so he had to gain control and with Casper working the other engine’s power output, he told Casper to set off the fire extinguisher to put the fire out. As Hornsby began to regain control, Casper told him, it was not working and the fire was growing. If it continued, it could break into the wing, melting the wing and setting the fuel on fire and then the wing would break free and they would fall to their death.

Hornsby hollered at the radio operator to get back and warn the crew in the back to get ready to bail out, as the intercom was as dead as the generator. Then, he was to go to the nose and tell the men there to be ready to bail out.

He and Casper then made the decision, their only hope was to dive as quickly as they could and build up their airspeed to a point where the fire would be blown out. At that time, their eyes were beginning to adjust to the lack of light, however, the phosphorus dots on the instruments were beginning to fade and if he could not see their altitude, he might dive them into the ground. Casper got the flashlight and used it to shine on the instruments so Hornsby could see them.

Due to the engine being out, and the interference of the airstream, the bomber had been bouncing up and down and rocking back and forth. However, he started the dive and as Casper called off the lowering altitude, they were able to blow the fire out and then, both of them had to pull back on the controls to stop diving and regain as much altitude as they could. While they were doing this, the number four, outboard engine began acting up, probably due to damage occurred at the same time the #3 engine had been destroyed.

Until Hornsby was interviewed by the author, he had always believed what he had been told by his commander when he got back to his unit. They had flown so far to the east, they were over the Rhine river when the German anti-aircraft artillery had destroyed their #3 engine and damaged the #4. He remembered seeing the moon reflected off a big river and he believed the lie he was told.

The pilots got the bomber under control, however, they were in a pickle. With no lighting in the bomber and with the one engine dead and the other hurting, Hornsby knew they did not want to try to cross the Channel. A B-24J did not fly well with an engine gone, it was worse, when the remaining engine on the same wing was failing. So, they had to bail out before they got too far to the west.

He told Danahy to go back to the nose compartment to check with the navigator to find their location and to tell them, he was going to keep her in the air as long as they could fly west, as that insured they would crash in Liberated Europe. Casper had to keep the flash light on the instruments, as the blow buttons would dim very quickly if the light was taken away. The only problem was, a couple of time he accidentally flashed Hornsby with the light and each time, he lost his night vision.

Unknown to the pilots, Sgt. Bartho, in the hydraulic driven nose turret had immediately rotated his turret to the right to see what had caused the explosion. Then, when the power went off, all of a sudden, he had no hydraulic power and he could not turn the turret. Bartho was a taller man and when the author interviewed several B-24J nose gunners, they told him, if you were tall it was impossible for you to follow the emergency instruction in case of such a failure. The gunner was supposed to bend down, reach toward the rear of his seat and disengage the hydraulic drive from the gear drive. Then, he had to reach a emergency handle that was clipped to the back of his seat. Once he had the handle, he had to insert the end in a small hole in the bottom of the turret. This would then allow him to hand crank the turret back to its neutral position and allow him to open the turret door to exit the turret. At the same time, in the nose of a B-24J, one of the crew had to be inside the nose, near the turret and he had to open an inside door that had to be open so the hatch door could open and the gunner could get out.

At some point, Lt. Grey had to have realized Bartho was not able to move the turret and with the intercom out, he could not communicate with anyone to help. I believe, as the only man who knew what the top secret equipment was capable of doing, he had been ordered, not to be captured.

In the cockpit, Hornsby and Casper agreed it was time to bail out, as they did not want to accidentally fly out over the Channel. They knew, they did not have the ability left to cross the Channel and they did not want to die in the Channel. It had been about a half hour since the engine damage had happened and when Danahy returned, he said the navigator had no lights, other than a flashlight and he actually had no idea where they were, except they had to have flown far enough to the west, it was time to bail out.

Hornsby, then gave the order to bail out, telling Casper and Danahy, he would stay in for five minutes or until the plane had less than 10,000 feet and then, he would follow. Casper, immediately stood up, opened the escape hatch above the pilots, and bailed out. Danahy and the flight engineer went to the waist, everyone had their chutes on and they started to drop out the waist emergency exit. The flight engineer headed for the nose, hollered for them to bail out and he went down into the nose escape hatch, past the nose wheel and fell free.

Back at the waist hatch, Danahy had sit down on the edge with his feet out in the slip stream, when Mears asked him, if he had seen Bartho. Mears and Bartho were good friends and tonight, they had exchanged their normal positions. Danahy hollered, no,he had not and Mears hollered back, that he was going to the nose to check on Bartho. Danahy really did not want to bail out by himself and he tried to pull himself back up, but the slipstream would not let go and it pulled him down and out.

That was the last time, any survivor saw Mears and the following is based on what must have taken place in the nose, for what happened to have happen.

Mears arrived in the nose and it is obvious that he and Grey continued to work to help Bartho. One has to question the actions of Lt. Grey. He knew, they had been told to bail out, he had his parachute on and yet, he did not drop down and out of the nose escape hatch. Mears arrived and realized that Bartho must have turned his turret away from its home position, just as the hydraulic power went out. With the intercom out, they would have been unable to communicate. Even though, they had been told to bail out and both had parachutes on and both were a couple of steps from an escape hatch. Both, were staying in the nose and both had to know, they were going to die when the B-24 crashed.

Lt. Grey, the author believes, stayed with the bomber, as he was the only one aboard, who knew exactly what the electronic equipment was capable of doing and it is most likely, that he was ordered to end his life, if he thought he might be captured.

In the cockpit, Hornsby looked at his watch and when the time was up, he climbed up out of the pilots escape hatch, slid down and off the bomber and pulled his zip cord.

In the nearby country side, the French woke up to the sound of laboring engines, then a sudden shriek as the aircraft went into a dive, followed by an explosion, the sound of the bomber hitting the earth, then another explosion and all was silent.

At the nearby, A-72 American Air Base, the home of the 397th BS, Private Barney Silva woke up in his bunk as he heard what sounded exactly as the movies portrayed the diving crash of an airplane. There were two explosions and then, silence. He had just pulled the covers up over his head, when the intercom speaker came alive, with the announcement, “Pvt. Silva, get your ambulance and report to the headquarters at once. He checked the time and it was just 02:30 in the morning of 10 November, 1944.

Lt. Casper had been the first one out and as he was higher and the wind was blowing, he landed the furthest to the west. He had been falling though the sky, when he saw dim lights and suddenly, he landed on the slate roof of a building. He began to slide down one side and his parachute went down the other. Inside the building, the office of a sugar factory, the night fireman heard something on the roof and sliding tiles. He had been looking out a window to the northwest after hearing the approaching plane. When he heard something land on the roof, it was sliding down the roof, along with some loose tiles. He started toward the door and heard a knock. Casper had slide off the roof and was falling straight down when his parachute shrouds tighten and he came to a stop, standing in front of the door. At the same time, his parachute slid clear and as it fell, he collected it. When done, he knocked on the door, which was immediately opened by a Frenchman. The man could speak enough English to understand Casper and he went to a telephone and made a call. In a few minutes, the telephone rang and the Frenchman told Casper, that the nearby American base was sending a vehicle to pick him up.

Danahy and Chestnut had bailed out very close together and landed in a pasture. They immediately got together and hearing people talking, a short distance away they saw the doors of some houses open and they walked over, they were invited in, told they were sending someone to a house with a telephone, who would call the nearby American air base to have them picked up.

Just before the men began to land, they had been tracking their bomber by the sparks blowing out of the damaged engine, then the sound changed and it was diving to the ground, looking in that direction, most of them saw two flashes and heard the explosions, then there was a flash fire and they knew, “226″ had met her end.

Danahy landed near a road and the bomber appeared to have crashed a short distance away. He decided, the safe thing to do, was walk away from the crash site until he knew he was safe. He soon came to a stream and heard someone crossing the steam, whistling “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” He hollered and Chestnut came over and they discussed their situation. They decided, they would go back to the road and walk down it, away from the crash site.

They had gone a short distance, when they heard someone coming from the other direction, the crash site was still providing a little light and they saw a boy on a bicycle riding toward then. Danahy told Chestnut, he had studied French in school, so he would try to talk to the boy. He stepped out and spread his arms apart and began speaking French. He later told the author, the boys eyes opened up to the size of a plate, he leaned over and peddled as hard as he could, skirted Danahy and rode as fast past as he could, down the road.

They continued to walk down the road and soon saw a man coming toward them carrying a lantern. The man approached them and they told him, they were Americans and he motioned they should follow him. Soon, they approached a small village and the man went to a house, opened a door and invited them in, where the man’s wife offered them coffee, with bread and butter. Unknown to them, the boy was hiding in an out building and the man went out and told the boy to go to the next village and tell the policeman about the two men. After a while, the boy came back and told the man to take them to the village hall where the policeman would be. He indicated the two should follow him and he took them to the village hall. There they were told, a man who had a working car would pick them up and take them to the next location.

In a few minutes, a small car, kind of like a Model T Ford, pulled up and Danahy remembered, it had the most chrome he had ever seen on a car. The fellow drove a few minutes, stopped alongside a small hill, indicted the men should get out. As he left the car, Danahy realized, the man was carrying a pistol and instantly, wished he had his own Colt 45. However, after a couple of missions, the crew realized they were just in the way and they never went where a gun would be needed. The man came around the car, pointed the gun at them and indicated they should start up the hill. Danahy, told the author, he was certain, the man was taking them to the woods on top the hill to kill them.

As the approached the hill they could see the trees had a lot of camouflage draped in them and that were were several American trailers. As they approached an American came toward them, asked if they were from the crash he had seen. They told him they were and the man told them, there were only two men on duty and the were the radio unit for the nearby airbase. That way, if the Germans flew down their radio beams and dropped bombs, the base would not be damaged. He told them to wait a minute and he would call in and report they were there. In a couple of minutes, he came out and asked the Frenchman, if he could take them to the base. Now, that he knew they were real Americans and not German spies, he was all smiles and the gun was put away. He agreed to do so and the radio man gave them instructions. Follow the road they were on, turn left where the burned out tank was located, watch for the plane crash site and turn left again and they would arrive at the base. When the Frenchman returned to his home, he told his story to his family and his nephew, Gaetan Chaulieu, a main part of his story was the men telling him and the American radio operators, that they were flying in a B-24 and not a B-17. He had asked them about being in a “Fortress,” when they told him, there was a great difference and they were B-24 men.

Hornsby, had landed near a small clump of brush and he went to ground to wait to see what might happen. His parachute shroud lines had sliced his face when his parachute opened and he realized he had been cut fairly deeply. He saw a growing amount of traffic on the roads, mostly heading toward the crash site, where the fire was dying out, to be replaced by vehicle light glowing in the dark.

The geographical layout of the area all this took place, is such that it was a low valley area with higher hills to the north and south, so from his position, during the daylight he could have seen the air base to the south and the crash site to his east. As it began to get lighter, he recognized all the vehicles were American and decided to walk down a nearby road and flag one down. The driver picked him up and immediately to him to the airbase. He was the last one to arrive and when the base commander told him, that they had found three dead at his crash site and gave him a list of the names of the men who had been brought to the base, Hornsby felt sick in that, he was certain he had stayed in long enough for all of them to get out. It must be remembered, no one had informed the pilots that Bartho was stuck in the nose turret. Then, the base commander demanded that Hornsby, like his crew tell the base commander everything he knew. All Hornsby would tell him, was his name, rank and squadron. Having seen Hornsby’s facial cut, the commander told him, he was going to be taken to the base hospital to have the cut sewn up and he would be given a basic check to insure he was okay.

When he arrived at the hospital, they took a quick look at him and assigned him a bunk and gave him a sedative to prepare him to go into surgery. When he went to sleep, all the beds in the ward were occupied, then when he later awoke, he was the only one in the ward. In a while, he heard two people talking outside the ward’s closed door. One, was telling the other about the coward that was in the ward. He was the pilot of the plane that crashed and as it had be flying to the east when it crashed, that proved he was a coward as he had landed further to the west than any of the survivors.  He was the pilot and he had to have been the first man to bail out, leaving three men to die in the crash. Hornsby told the author, that he got absolutely furious because they thought he was the first out, instead of the last. But, he could not say anything, that was the orders, so he bit his lip and waited to be released.

When Hornsby was released, he was taken to the isolated barracks where the rest of the survivor of his crew were living. Due to the constantly stated orders to never talk about their job, the survivors never discussed the crash between themselves and when they returned to duty at their base in England, no one talked or asked them about what happened in France.

As the hours had passed, within a couple of hours, all the survivors had been taken to the air base, where the Base Commander insisted they tell who they were and what they were doing. Each of the men refused to tell him anything, no matter what punishment he had threatened them with His Officer In Charge, had reported up the chain of command, that the crash had happened nearby and within a half hour the commander had been gotten out of bed to directly communicate with the telephone calls from their commanders. In effect, the crap had hit the fan and spreading. He was bewildered, as he reported the arrival of the men, how they would not tell him anything other than their name, rank and serial number. He was told to place them in an isolated location and limit their contact with anyone.

Then, he received a call from his highest commander, informing him, that he was to expect the arrival of a Colonel from Eisenhower’s staff and he was to do exactly what the Colonel told him to do and if, he wanted to question what he was to do, say so now and General Eisenhower would be placing a direct call to him to discuss the situation. A career miliary person, it was obvious something was going on, that was way above his position in the chain of command and he was not going to do something stupid.

About now, the reader is wondering, how the hell does this fellow know about any Colonel and where and what he was doing. During the research and discussing all the locations with many involved people, such as Silva talked about this young Colonel who arrived, talked to their officer and left. Then, the officer ordered to do things that they knew were against Army regulations. Each was told never to question what they were doing, you will do what you are told to do, AND YOU WILL NEVER TELL ANYONE ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED. EVEN WHEN YOU ARE OUT OF THE SERVICE, IF IT IS FOUND OUT YOU HAVE DISCUSSED THIS, YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO A DEATH SENTENCE!

In the early 2000’s, when the author was seeking answers, he began to receive a series of emails from an unidentified person. Over the period of communication, the person refused to identify themself. However, the research was told, their father had been a driver on General Eisenhower’s staff and he would never talk about what he had done. After he had died, they found a diary that described a period in November and December, 1944. Their father had sealed it tightly and placed a note on it, “Do not open until I am dead!’

The father had recently died and when they opened the diary, their father had been assigned as a personal driver for a Colonel on General Eisenhower’s staff. During that time, he laid out their travels, including the various stops. When they had Googled the locations, the author’s name came up for all of the locations and they wanted to compare what their father had written and what the author knew. After a series of emails, when the diary entries had been covered, the email address became inactive.

He had been gotten out of bed early on the 10th of November, 1944, go to the motor pool and pick up a staff car, go to the mess hall and pick up what would be ready and meet a Colonel out side the operation center. He would be issued with group of trip tickets, authorizing him to go where ordered and when ordered. They provided orders, that what ever service the vehicle might do, it had priority over anything else. There were open passes, that authorized him to drive anywhere in France, where his passenger ordered he could expect to be gone for several days at a time and he would continue in the assignment until directly released by the Colonel.

He arrived at the operations center, a unnamed Colonel, but an officer he recognized, had him load some luggage and told him, to get to St. Quentin as fast as he could. He was authorized to use the siren when needed and if required, he (they) could command any military police to help them break through traffic.

He had arrived at a base hospital, the Colonel went in, he came out soon with another Colonel and he was told to take them to a nearby building. There, a cart arrived with three bundles on it and he asked for a couple of extra blankets to put on his trunk floor, so the messy bundles would not stain the floor. The other Colonel seemed very unhappy, but waved after as he left the staff car at his headquarters.

They left the hospital and went to a nearby air base, with small recon planes. One of them was running with they pulled up and the Colonel got out and went and talked to the pilot. Then, the driver helped load the three bundles on the plane and as they drove off, the plane had started to taxi. The Colonel told him to take the road toward Amiens and make the best time he could. They arrived at an airbase with B-26 bombers parked around it and when he drove up to the headquarters, a Colonel was waiting for them. His Colonel got out, asked the other where the mess hall was, told the driver to go have a delayed breakfast and if they gave him any crap, tell them to call the base commander at once and as soon as he was done, return and wait for him.

He had been severed a personal breakfast by very unhappy mess hall people and was soon back at the headquarters. He had only been there a few minutes, when both Colonels came out and got in the back. His Colonel told him to head for the gate and their passenger would give him directions. In about 15 minutes, he drove through a small village, over a cross roads and had arrived at an obvious aircraft crash site. The whole time, the two Colonels in the back were holding serious discussions. He was told to park by the hole and they got out. Both went into a close by, small woods, relieved themselves and then came back out and watched a long line of civilians circulating the crash site. They walked off to see scattered parts of the plane and came back and talked to the officer at the ambulance.

They only talked for a couple of minutes and the Colonels got back in the car and he was told to head for the base. There, the Colonels went into the headquarters for some time, then his colonel came out, got in the car and told the driver to head toward St. Quentin. It as mid-afternoon when the cleared St. Quentin and the officer told him to pull over, he had some maps for the driver to see. They were all French road maps and much better maps than he had seen to date.

The Colonel explained they had to make their way from where they were at to a small village to the south east of Verdun. As he, the driver, knew the main roads, or MLRs, were full of miliary convoys and such, it was impossible to make any time using them. The Colonel told him, he had been born in American to French parents who had become American citizens. He had spent a lot of time in France visiting the families and touring with them, the World War lines. What they were going to do, was to use the small roads that spider webbed across France from village to village. If, one knew how to do it, you could cover a lot more distance, than you could following the Roman roads, which were still the main roads of France.

The rest of that day and until just before midnight, when the 10th of November, ended for them, they had arrived at a village named Hattonville. The Colonel had told the American Sgt. Of the Guard to take good care of him and for him to hit the sack and get rested for tomorrow. The Sgt. Of the Guard sent him off with a soldier, who took him past the mess hall and to a home where he would bed down. Then, as he was walking off, the Sgt. Of the Guard had driven the Colonel off to the house where the three Majors, the Commander, the Executive Officer and the Doctor were staying. When he arrived, he was met by the Majors and the 10th of November, ended for them.

Back in England, the crap had also hit the fan at the 452nd Bombardment Group concerning their B-17G, the “Lady Jeannette” that had crashed somewhere in France that day. At the 36th Bombardment Group, the news of the loss of “226″ had been reported and unit’s commanders had received calls for the commands above them, telling them to be prepared for special instructions, that were to be followed exactly. All the men and citizens involved that day, ended the day mostly confused and unsure of what was going on, all some of them knew, they were expect to be puppets and God help them, if they failed.

Thus Ended 10 November, 1944, For All Those Involved In England!

Pfc. Silva, arrived at his squadron HQ, to find Capt. Judson and the head medic waiting for him. As they climbed, Judson told the men, they had drawn the short straw and for Silva to head to the crash site. Silva told the author, “It was easy, at every intersection there were French houses and people were standing outside looking at the fire in the distance and as he approached, they would point down the road he was to take.” Within fifteen minutes, they had arrived at the crash site, it was about a quarter mile north of a village named, Tincourt-Boucly. As they approached the site, there were some American vehicles parked in a field with their lights shining out over the crash site. There was really nothing to be seen, except for a large hole in the field beyond which one could see there were larger pieces of the plane, showing the direction of the plane when it crashed.

Capt. Judson told Silva to pull up close to the hole and leave his lights on. They got out and some Americans joined them, telling them they had found small pieces of human remains spread in and around the crash site. Cap. Judson immediately told them to back away from the site, leaving their vehicles with the lights on and to insure all the French were kept out of the actual crash site. They could stand outside the area, but not to enter it.

He then told Silva and the medic, to get a set of blankets out of the ambulance and spread it out in front of the ambulance. Once, that was done, he told them to start searching the crash site for human remains and to place them on the blanket. About 06:30, after slogging through the mud of the freshly plowed field, stirred up by the crash and people walking, Capt. Judson asked a military policeman who had arrived, if they had contact with the base. He had his command jeep pulled up the ambulance and Judson used the radio to inform the base commander what they had accomplished.

During their search, the two men had located some personal items and five ID Tags, there were two sets and one single tag. As the men brought in the pieces of humans they found, Judson kept a mental image of what they were. By that time, they had recovered what Silva estimated to be, about 150 pounds of human parts, were lying on the blanket when Judson stopped their search. Judson told the commander, that he felt they had to stop searching.

By moving around in the crash site anymore without daylight, they were stepping on and hiding as many remains at they recovered. He now had enough information from the id tags and personal items found, to be certain three men had died in the crash, their names were Grey, Bartho and Mears. And, he felt it was time for them to quit, take the remains found to their next higher hospital in St. Quintin and return to base. Adding, that another recovery detail should be sent out when it was full daylight to recover the rest of the remains.

The commander told Judson to report to him when they got back to the base and he would go ahead and set up the his recommended second recovery and he would see him in a few hours. Judson turned to Silva and the medic and told them get two more sets of blankets out of the ambulance and lay one on each side of the collected pile of human remains. When they had done that, Judson told them to divide the one pile into three equal groups of human remains, which they did. When that was done, Judson told them to wrap the three bundles of remains and tie them tight. When that was done, Judson attached a ditty bag of personal items and tied the ditty bag and one IF tag to each bundle with one string, adding the second tag on a separate string on two of the bundles.

When done, he told them to put the bundles in the ambulance, which Silva and the medic did, after Silva insisted, he first lay down a fourth set of blankets on the floor to keep what they found from transferring to his ambulance floor, which he would have to clean up. They left for St. Quinton and was at the base hospital there by 07:00, Judson went in to report to the hospital commander and soon, they came back out and Judson told Silva to follow him. They drove a short distance to a building, where an enlisted man met them and they transferred the three human remains bundles to a cart he was pushing.

Judson told them, to head to the mess hall and he was going to breakfast with the commander and to meet him back at the HQ, in 30 minutes. They had breakfast and Silva dropped Capt. Judson off at the base HQ by 08:45. He drove by his squadron HQ and was told to report to his station, where all the ambulances and some medics waited by the control tower while the daily missions took place.

Silva arrived after everyone else was there and they asked what he had been doing. He described how he had spent hours picking up pieces of people, slimy and bloody and placing them in a pile. He added, when they had to load the bundles the two newly created bundles were no problem, however, they had to remember, he had no gloves and was doing all this bare handed. When they picked up the third, original bundle, they found the fats and slime from the human pieces had soaked through the blankets. He remembered and chuckled as he told the author, “When I was done, they were all looking at me and one said, sure you did. I put out my right hand and told him, if he did not believe me, he could shake my hand and remember, what I had just said that hand had been doing. He looked at me, looked at the had I had extended and told me, that he believed me. Then, we sat down and watched the B-26s bomber stream leave the base.” That ended PFC Silva’s involvement with the crash of the B-24 near his base on 10 November, 1944.

He told the author, in one way it was not the end of that involvement in plane crashes. Due to how he and the medic had handled the collection of remains at the crash site, every time there was another crash, he and the medic was sent out to recover the dead.

Then, one day, in November, 2000, he and his wife arrived at Branson, MO, to see the shows there. They had driven there from their home in California, stopping to visit friends along the way. The night they arrived, they had gone out to dinner and when they returned, every parking place was gone. They had been assigned a numbered parking place, but someone had parked in their place. He drove around for a while and found a place to park, a couple of blocks away. As he went to open his wife’s door, he happened to look down and see a bumper sticker on a van. On it was printed, the 397th Bomb Group, which was the unit he had served in, when he was in France. As an ambulance driver, he was not actually a member of the Group, he was part of the attached medic unit and Capt. Judson, the medic, along with him, were attached to a squadron of that group.

He walked his wife back to their room and went back to where he had see the bumper sticker. It was in a numbered parking place and he went to that room in the complex. He knocked on the door and when a man came to the door, he told him, that he was the ambulance driver attached to one of the squadrons. The man told him, he had been attending a group reunion, and was leaving in the morning and wait, he had some nut in Seattle, who had been calling him for years about some B-24 crash. At each reunion he asked the men in attendance, if anyone knew anything about such a crash and so far, no one had. Silva told him, “Sure, I remember, I was the driver of the ambulance that picked up the remains.” The man asked him to come in and have a drink, he then turned on a tape recorder and the two of them talked about the crash.

As soon as Silva left, he telephoned the author and told him, he would never guess what had just happened. I had to admit, I had no idea and he told me, how the only group member who remembered the crash had not attended the reunion and if, someone had not blocked his parking space and if, a space had not been open in front of his van, he would not be calling me. Then, he told me, he had recorded it all and the man had given his permission for his contact information to be sent to the strange fellow in the Seattle area.

A couple of days later the package arrived and within an hour, the author and Barney Silva were talking about a bomber crash in France. It had taken, ten years, ten months and twenty-four days after the author had started his search for someone in the group who knew anything about the crash at Tincourt-Boucly to when he received the call from the man at the reunion. Not only did I find someone who knew about the remains recovery, I was talking to the man who had driven the ambulance.

The first thing, we discussed, was the other two men. Silva had kept in contact after the war and he knew both were dead, leaving him as the only living man directly involved recovery team.  Then, he told me about what they had done and that, there was to be a second recovery team. He had no idea of who that was and as he had been sitting with the other squadron ambulance drivers, it much have been someone who worked at the small base hospital.

Biff, bang, blewwwy, I knew immediately, why the grave at Cartigny existed!!!

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In this article and the following articles, I am no longer going into full descriptions of all the events I will discuss. That information is available in the two books and in a third book, that will be in the same autobiographical format as the first book, proving the “Lady Jeannette” crashed, where she did not.

It will lay out, beginning where the first book stopped, most of the research steps required to reach the final positions laid out in the second book, “The Best Kept Secret Of World War Two!” Realizing, most readers would have a hard time understanding a book that skipped back and forth as many as ten years, ten months and twenty-five years to solidly tie two events together. “The Best Kept Secret Of World War Two!” used the author license, to write about what was done, in a direct time line. Beginning with the background of a young full bird Colonel, who was on Eisenhower’s staff and what he had done at the various locations where eye witnesses all agree, a Colonel arrived and suddenly, their commanders were ordering them to break numerous Army and moral regulations.

The following events are placed in the time line of that day, when all of a sudden calls to the next higher command began, when an American bomber was shot down by “friendly fire.” At first, it was a search to find out what had happened after the bomber was hit, then when the crash site was verified, all hell broke loose.

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At the 563rd and 566th SAW Battalion Headquarters, calls were received for them to isolate all logs concerning the shoot down of a Unknown Target, by a P-61. Suddenly, the men were informed to stop celebrating the shoot down and to forget about it, except the Unknown Target had turned out to be a British Mosquito.

At the nearby base of the 397th Bombardment Group, the base commander began to receive calls from the Ninth Air Force Commander, who was passing on what he had been told to do, by calls from General Eisenhower’s Headquarters, to be prepared for a visit from someone, who would be speaking for General Eisenhower and if, they knew what was good for them, they would do whatever they were told to do, or suffer career consequences. Each of them, passed that information to everyone of the people, they had to involve.

At the Group’s main hospital in St. Quinton, the remains had been placed in the safe storage required by Grave Registration regulation, when a second recovery had to or will take place. Sgt. Silva gave absolute testimony, that the hospital commander had been informed of their being forced to stop their recovery and another was going to take place. It was a standing regulation, when more than one recoveries were required, all the recoveries must be placed in a secure location. Graves Registration had to be notified and only after the circumstances had been evaluated by a visiting board of investigators, could the remains be combined and forwarded for official burial.

About 08:30 that morning, the Colonel the hospital commander had been notified would arrive, did arrive. He ordered the hospital commander to turn the remains over to him, when legally, they were bound by the standing Graves Registration regulations, not to do so. The Colonel, arrived at a nearby air base, met with the pilot of a light plane, placed the three bundles aboard the plane and left. The plane took off, flew to Belgium and the pilot delivered the three men’s remains to a Graves Registration representative, to be buried in a temporary cemetery under direct verbal orders they did not want to fail to follow, or suffer the problems that would soon come their way. The story was, the men’s plane had been hit over Belgium and then, it had crashed in France and the Commander of the Ninth Air Force had determined where they were to be buried. This bothered the cemetery personnel so much, they recorded extra information on each man’s Burial Report. Including the facts, that the remains identification forms were signed by a Capt. Judson, his base and the remains were recovered in France, not Belgium. It was the signature on the forms and the location, that gave me the first name of the men who had recovered the remains. That way, if they were brought up on charges for not following Graves Registration regulations, they would be covered.

When Captain Judson’s signature and the location of the recovery of the remains were found on the burial records, the author thought that he must have been the officer in charge of the one recovery the author had well documented. It had started at 09:00 and was finished by 11;00, in the morning of 10/9/45. At that time, the thought was, the recovering Americans had found, roughly, 450 pounds of very messy, human remains. Then, on their own, without their commanders knowing, they made the decision to hide two thirds of what they had collected. By separating the larger remains from the rest, they then made the decision to create three illegal burial packages to deliver to the St. Quentin hospital and then, they hid the rest. Then, Barney Silva came along and suddenly, the proof of illegal activities ordered by a much higher commander became very obvious.

To help prevent Unknown remains from being identified in due time, Army regulations in place, stated any one who died in France had to be buried in France, any one who died in Belgium must be buried in Belgium and anyone killed in the Netherlands, must be buried in the Netherlands. In addition, a line ran to the east, where anyone killed with that area to the east of France, had to be buried in France and so on. This allowed the Graves Registration personnel attempting to identify an Unknown to disregard anyone who died in the other zones, as a possible identity. Thus, all the personnel records they had to check, were units that had served in France or the area to the east of France.

This is the first, easily researched evidence that something extraordinary was taking place. The secondary recovery was just starting, when the only remains to be in the three men’s official graves were already on their way to Belgium. To this day, Sgt. Bartho’s official remains are buried in the American World War Two Henri Chappel cemetery. In that grave, is a mixture of three men’s remains, consisting of about a third of their total remains. Both Gray’s family and Mear’s family had their remains returned for burial in the United States, in 1948.

We do not know who the base hospital commander was. However, the author after searching for some time, located a Graves Registration member, who was stationed at Lille, France. Their small unit was there, to recover the dead who were returned to the air bases in the area and as there was a large number of long term recovery hospitals in the area, they made weekly trips to all the hospitals to recover remains and to transfer them to the only American temporary cemetery, that was open at that time. Which, the author has visited and found, the cemetery was located twelve air miles from the Hattonville crash site. The hospital at St. Quentin was located, roughly, one hundred and forty miles to the north of the Limey cemetery.

What most do not know, the American medics were no allowed to discard any human remains, other than covered by regulations. If, a hospital removed any piece of a patient, that piece had to be placed in a proper container and held until, they could be turned over to local Graves Registration personnel to be taken to an American temporary cemetery, where they were interned in special graves that contained all such items. Unlike the French, German and British military, who would dig a hole outside their tents and bury severed arms, legs, fingers or even ears.

When questioned about how often they made their circuits to collect remains, the author was told, in that area, if a hospital or unit called in and reported the death, they would make a special trip to recover and forward the remains, when they did that, they would also forward all the other collected parts and pieces. When asked how long it would take for a remains from the Lille unit to be buried at the Limey cemetery, he said, it usually took a couple of days, no more than three. He had delivered remains several times and a remains recovered one day, would normally be buried in the afternoon of the third day. This may read as unimportant information, however, as the days add up, you will begin to see a serious pattern of many military people breaking a host of military regulations, including creating two applications for the (then) Congressional Medal Of Honor, which from the required “eye witness” officer all the approving signors all the way up the military chain of command, had to know. One has to remember, that General Eisenhower owed his position to General Marshall and do you really think, Ike would send something like to falsified Medal Of Honor applications up the line for him to approve, without Marshall knowing the truth?

That day, after the second recovery ambulance arrived, the officer saw the large area involved and the large number of adult men and boys standing around observing their feeble attempt to collect remains and decided, there was an easy way. A Frenchman came over and was talking, in English, to the officer, when the officer asked him to call to the men and boys to come to the ambulance.

When they gathered, the officer told the Frenchman to tell them, to form a line from the bottom of the crater and extend it, until they had reached the edge of the crash site. The line formed, from the crater to the southeast and included about 150 men and boys. Then, he asked them, to begin to slowly walk counter-clockwise and to study the ground as they walked and pick up any human remains, any papers or uniform pieces they might find and bring them to the ambulance to be inspected.

As the Frenchmen began the walk, the officer had the two medics with him, go and get an articulated door that was lying nearby. It was one of the bomb bay doors and as the searchers brought bits and pieces of remains and other relics, the officer inspected the find and had the medics place remains on the door and stack the rest nearby.

In that line, were Bernard and Claude Leguillier, from the village of Driencourt, located over the hill to the north. They had been woken by the sound of the dive and explosions and as soon as it was light enough, Madam Leguillier told the boys to go ahead and find out what happened. Both were walking with the line and both had found a couple of bits of human remains and made the run to the ambulance, went back and got in place again. Then, Bernard, saw something that he could visualize the rest of his life, he picked it up and ran to the ambulance. When it was his turn, he held it up with both hands for the officer to see exactly what he had picked up. It was the partial face of a man, it looked a lot like the masks the women wore to dances. It began where the lips met, went up around the left eye, across the temple, and back down around the right eye to the meet the upper lip. The eyebrows were there, the eyelids were there, and the nose was there, it was if the face had been cut of the skully by a butcher. The officer reached for the find, pointed back to the line and Bernard rejoined the search.

Reported by several French people and Silva, a staff car drove up and two Colonels got out, he recognized one as his base commander and the other one, sure looked very young to be a Colonel. They stood and watched the search, which was almost completed, walked down to look at the larger parts of the bomber, one was a nose wheel assembly, then came back just as the search ended. The officer told the Frenchman to thank them for all their help and that the actual crash site would be guarded for a while before it would be returned to the farmer’s use.

The Colonels and the recovery officer went to the side and before he left, their officer told them to pick up the door with its large collection of human remains and put it inside their ambulance. They asked a couple of the Frenchmen to help them lift the door into the ambulance and closed the door. There can be no doubt, these enlisted men knew the regulations concerning American dead and German dead, as far as that goes. They thanked the Frenchman and the one who could speak English, told them, what they had collected looked like what they did when a pig was butchered. As he talked, he moved his right hand, which was formed as if it was holding a knife, making cutting motions down his left wrist and hand, to show how all the meat was cut off the bones of the pigs.

After a short wait, their officer told the driver and medic to load up and they were leaving. As the approached the main road which would take them to the St. Quentin main hospital, the officer told the driver to forget going there and drive across the cross roads and head back toward the base. 

They passed through Tincourt-Boucly, which is a hyphenated name as Tincourt is the main village with the small village of Boucly attached to the south. They were waved at, by the families who had taken in the men who had bailed out, hours earlier. Right after they topped a small rise in the road and arrived at a spot, that could not be observed from the nearby villages, they stopped.

Walking though a woods, a few hundred feet to the north of the road, a Frenchman who had helped recover the remains, was taking a short cut to intercept the road and follow it to Cartigny. He was the night fireman at the sugar factory and helped one of the men who had bailed out of the crashed “Fortress.” He first thought, they had stopped to go to the toilet, especially after one of the men he recognized, got a shovel off the side of the ambulance that was facing him. He was hidden from their view by the brush and trees and he decided to wait to see what they were going to do. He stood there for some time, as he could not see the men, as the ambulance was blocking his view. He was on his way home to go to sleep, but the activities of the day, so far, had him wide awake and he was not in a hurry.

After a while, the men came into view, opened up the back door of the ambulance and he watched, as they removed the door that held the human remains. It was heavy and they were struggling as they went out of sight. After some minutes, one of them closed the door and put the shovel back in place and got into the ambulance. It soon disappeared over the rise ahead, that blocked the view of the closest village from seeing the ambulance stop.

After they were out of sight, the Frenchman left the woods, climbed the fences and went to the location where they had stopped. There he found, exactly what he thought, he would find. The dirt in the freshly plowed field had been dug out and then replaced, with a small mound of the shoveled dirt rising above the rest of the dirt. He walked to the edge of the dug area and began kicking some dirt aside. Again, he found what he thought he would, the Americans had dug a shallow hole, placed the recovered remains in the hole and covered it back up. They had taken the effort to blend their digging as much as they could and they had left no marker to show the location of the grave. With the fall rains, the Frenchman knew, in a day or two unless you knew the exact location, you would not be able to tell where the hidden grave was located.

He started his walk back to Cartigny and while walking, he remembered his father, a Grand War Veteran telling him about all the Frenchmen who went to war and was never accounted for. All the families knew, was their son left, was in the Army and what he might of written in his last letter. The French government never accounted for over 500,000 dead and so, he realized his fathers’ description of what the French had done, seemed to be followed by the Americans and they were hiding their war dead. He went home, had dreams about that day and the hidden grave, got up and the 10th of November, 1944, ended as he was tending the fires at the sugar factory.

Tincourt Crater CrossThe crater created by the top secret B-24 at 02:30, 10 November, 1944. This photograph was most likely taken by a base photographer, who had his film developed by a Peronne, Department of the Somme, professional photographer.

The author Photoshopped the original French military cross and marker, that was on the combined grave at Cartigny, when he was first introduced to the grave. The marker states:

Aviator AMERICAN
UNKNOWN
DIED FOR FRANCE – November, 1943

When Emile Berger, La Souvenir Francais volunteer retired in the 1960’s, he decided the grave of the Unknown aviator deserved to be restored. He was able to get a French miliary marker and a plaque providing the information concerning the dead therein. He discussed the grave with the village elders and they decided, they would change the year by one. That way, if the Americans officials ever discovered the grave and wanted to know when the grave was made, they could tell them, when they were occupied by the Germans they were forced to bury the dead. That way, they would not have to tell the truth that the Americans who were located at the nearby air base had hidden their own military dead.

Two of the boys in the upper left, of the top photograph are probably Bernard and Claude Leguillier. Their souvenir of the day, was a bright yellow tank which was one of the oxygen supply tanks.

B24J crater Tincourt BouclyIn the photograph to the left, you will note the negative was marked, stating the date the photograph the photograph was taken and the identification of the plane that crashed as the B-24J, Sn: 226

In the photograph are the shadows of the man, who took the photograph, and others who were standing with him. In the center shadow, you will see a round object. That object is part of the top secret electronic jamming equipment, a magnetron. Invented by the British before the war, they sent the information and a sample of this top secret electronic device, which provided the power amplification that made radars and radar jammers possible.

References:

  • Willis S. Cole, Jr. “Sam”, Executive Director & Curator of Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum – Found at 13444 124th Ave NE in Kirkland, WA  98034, USA.

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External links:

All are memorials put in place by author’s organization and French citizens.


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Argunners Magazine is an independent online historian and collector's magazine, dedicated to the militaria and history of both Axis and Allied powers during the World War 1 & 2. Argunners is a central resource offering the latest militaria and war history news, journals, articles and press releases related to these themes.

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