Shot down 25 May 1944 in B-24 #41-29140 'Banger'. Prisoner of War (POW).
Ernest Smith was radio operator/top gunner in 2nd Lt. Winn's crew, part of 705th Sqdn 446th BG. Their very first mission out of Flixton AFB on 25th May 1944 -which also turned out to be their last- was to attack the marshalling yards at Mullhausen in Germany. Shortly after take-off the bombardier reported an oil leak from No 1 engine but, as there was no indication of any problem on the instrument panel, the pilot carried on. However twenty minutes later the engine seized and they were forced to abort. With an escort of two P-38's they turned for home but just north of Brussels flak knocked out No 3 engine and the electrics failed. The crew took a vote and opted to bail out there and then rather than ditch in the Channel.
Smith was the third to eject and recalled afterwards that it felt like five minutes before he touched down. They were met by the locals one of whom apparently betrayed them because, as they came out of the woods where he sent them to shelter, they were met by German soldiers. Four were captured that day, five of the crew managed to evade discovery and were back at Flixton by August.
Incarcerated at Stalag Luft IV Lager B for the rest of the war their hosts encouraged the men to participate in sport. The main interest seems to have been the softball league and - as Smith's barracks boasted one or two professional players - they lifted the trophy.
Units served with
The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...
Military site : airfield
From late November 1943, the three bases of Bungay, Seething and Hardwick were the stations of the 20th Combat Wing of the Eighth Air Force. The base had previously housed individual squadrons of the 310th Bomb Group (Twelfth Air Force) and of the 93rd...
||Wichita, Kansas, USA
|Prisoner of War (POW)
||25 May 1944
Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11