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Ernest L Smith

Military

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.

Service

Units served with

  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    Group
    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...

  • 705th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

Associated Place

  • Bungay

    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...

  • Stalag Luft IV

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born Wichita, Kansas, USA
Prisoner of War (POW) France 25 May 1944

Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
05 March 2020 04:28:58 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Changed A/C type in the "Summary biography" from "B-17" to "B-24" per info at 446th BG website.

Date Contributor Update
05 March 2020 03:58:48 jmoore43 Changes to service number and events
Sources

Added S/N and POW camp information from WW2 POW records at the National Archives (NARA).

Date Contributor Update
05 March 2020 03:48:43 jmoore43 Changes to biography
Sources

Added a "#" to the A/C serial number in the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
11 October 2019 15:18:16 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, events and place associations
Sources

Information compiled by historian Helen Millgate, sourced from The Beachbell Echo, newsletter of the 446th Bomb Group Association.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:09:16 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 5250 / MACR 5250 & Page 410 in the book 2ND AIR DIVISIONby Turner Publishing Company, 1998 edition (D790.A2S45); The History of the 46th Bomber Group, pg 102 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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