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I am named after the man who wrote this letter - James Bernard McKeon, a highly skilled attorney and my Grandma Mamie's brother. I was born on his birthday and my mom, Peter Igoe's big sister, promised him that if she had a son, she would name him "James Bernard Moore". She kept her promise.

This is one of two heart-breaking letters that JB McKeon wrote to the mothers of other Spare Parts crew members. This letter, written in the clear prose of a lawyer, is addressed to Mrs. George Baker, the mother of 2nd Lt. Thomas Baker (Bombardier) who was uninjured and sent to a POW camp deep inside German-occupied territory.

I learned that Lt. Baker evidently gave some kind of radio address from his captivity. I'd love to learn more about this but the letter contains much more information. He poignantly writes that three of the four known KIA who perished, had already had their parent's advised of their deaths. But that the mothers are hoping there is a mistake. So is he.

The letter is dated November 9, 1944 - about four months after the crash. Part of JB McKeon's wistful hopefulness, from a historical perspective is almost certainly a combination of slower communications and the massive bureaucracy of the military systems during WW II.

McKeon then goes on to mention several other crew members - Sgt. Lawrence M. Brustrom (uninjured, POW), Sgt. Louis J. McCarville (KIA - JB McKeon reveals that he thinks McCarville perished). He did.

His sentence on Sgt. Russell L. Jackson (Radio Operator) and Sgt Pete Giughello reveals that they were still in an English hospital recovering. And then, he reveals that Sgt. Robert D. Fox and Sgt. Gene L. Carroll are in a DIFFERENT English hospital and are also laid up.

This squares perfectly with what I have learned so far - the four WIA crewmen were quickly captured by the Nazis right when the plane crashed. But quickly rescued as well. I would LOVE to learn more about the details of this! For example, where was the Nazi hospital POW camp in France? Was it anywhere near Caen? Which Spare Parts had just bombed?

Sgt. Fox wrote a poignant letter to my Grandma Mamie and I have posted it here under Pete Igoe's page. He was back home in Santa Ana California by November 15, 1944.

The closing paragraph, explaining about how the officers wanted the "enlisted men" to bail out but they refused to do so is epic. Truth be told, it is the kind of story that, if true, is legend-worthy.

The final bit, about Pete Giughello getting pinned in the wreckage but somehow managing to get the rubber rafts inflated is also breath-taking. He closes by verifying the four WIA crew members being rescued by "United States forces captured the Germans in charge of the hospital".

James Bernard McKeon's letter to Mrs. George Baker does an excellent job of summarizing what happened to the men of Spare Parts after July 18, 1944. His writing has a clear feeling on his part of the faintest of hopes that "there may be some mistake in the report" and that the men who gave their lives were actually still alive.

Heart breaking.

Connections

People

  • Thomas Baker

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed into English Channel on 7/18/44 in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350

  • Lawrence Brustrom

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Ball Turret Gunner
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed into Baltic on 7/18/44 in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350

  • Gene Carroll

    Military | Staff Sergeant (Technician Third Grade) | Ball Turret Gunner
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed into English Channel on 7/18/44 in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350 POW

  • Robert Fox

    Military | Staff Sergeant (Technician Third Grade) | Left Waist Gunner
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed into Baltic on 7/18/44 in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350 POW

  • Pete Giughello

    Military | Technical Sergeant (2nd Grade) | Tail Gunner
    Prisoner of War (POW) Shot down by flak and crashed into English Channel on 7/18/44 in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350 POW

  • Peter Igoe

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator
    Igoe was killed in action on 18 July 1944, during a tactical mission to support the Normandy Invasion. His aircraft B-24 'Spare Parts' #41-29350 was hit by flak and crashed into the English Channel near Granville. Members of the crew reported he was in...

  • Edward Kaspshak

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot
    Killed in Action (KIA) Hit by flak and crashed into Baltic in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350

  • James Ruzicka

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot
    Killed in Action (KIA) Shot down by flak and crashed into English Channel in B-24 Spare Parts #4129350

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2020 14:35:25 conlogco1 Created entry with caption and person associations
Sources

Uploaded by Jim Moore 10/11/2020. I own this content.

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