Skip to main content
Edit entry 

42-102515

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Cheyenne 10/3/44; Gr Island 29/3/44; Grenier 7/4/44; Assigned 338BS/96BG [BX-J] Snetterton 8/4/44; Missing in Action Magdeburg 27/5/44 with Joe Borkowski, Co-pilot: Walt Hester, Navigator: Bill Ahearn, Bombardier: Theo Ream, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Ross Welch, Ball turret gunner: Bill Anderson, Waist gunner: Ralph Bazell, Waist gunner: Ralph Hagermaier (8 Killed in Action); Radio Operator: Ernie Grant(1 Evaded),Tail gunner Wallace Young (Prisoner of War); mid air coll with 42-97269 (96BG); crashed Massards Farm, Villy le Haut, nine miles SE of Le Treport, Fr. Missing Air Crew Report 5163.
There are two records of what happened from interviews with Ernest Grant and Wallace Young.
Ernest Grant "We were headed for Germany again, but we were over France when the plane took a sudden jerk. It stopped and started, like. And nobody could figure out what caused it. I came out of the turret, looked at the pilot, and he said he didn’t know and the next moment the plane just turned over and went into a spin headed for the ground. Just flipped over and heads into a spin, and of course we fly at 20,000 feet and I was looking out the front window. I could see the ground coming and we were headed down. I was on the ceiling, then we come around and I was on the floor and there was my chute. When you’re in the turret, you can’t wear it because it won’t fit in the turret, see. So when I come around and it was on the floor I tried to grab it and it wouldn’t come loose. So I was on the ceiling again, pretty soon around and round the floor and there it is again. So I grab it, and it’s loose. So I took the chute and I hooked the one side and in the meantime I’m looking out the window and I could see the ground getting closer and I didn’t know if I was going to get out of the plane. So all of a sudden I felt a big breeze coming form part of the plane. It was just like a big whirlwind, you know. And I kind of laid forward into this breeze and it took me right out of the plane. Now where that hole came from I don’t know, because the only thing I could ever think of was when this other plane and they cut our tail off that’s what made the plane jerk. It must have cut a hole close to where I was standing. You know, that’s the only possible answer I can give you where this hole came from. And what happened was a plane above us in a formation above us got hit and they came down and they cut the tail off our plane. That’s how the tailgunner got out when they cut the tail off, it just floats and he crawled out and him and I were the only two out of the two planes. There was 18 killed and two of us got out. But, when I got out of the plane I was floating. You float on the air and my chute was only hooked on the one side and I had to pull it down and hook the other side and I know the ground is getting closer. So I pulled the cord right away and I opened it up, the chute opened up and I looked around once and the next thing I know I was on the ground."

Wallace Young "Somewhere over the edge of France," he said, "we were attacked at 23,000 feet. I could see from my tail gun position my bomber was afire, but it seemed to be under control. As a safety measure, however, I reached back and started to harness on my parachute and a personal oxygen container.

"Just then the bomber next to mine exploded. A huge section of it crashed the tail of mine, splitting it wide open. I was thrown into the air, 23,000 feet up, with 'half a parachute'; that is, it was fastened to me and dangling.

"I managed to get it on properly. Had I had more parachute training I might have waited then until I was down to 3,000 or 4,000 feet before opening it, and I might have made my way back to fly again.

"But when you're alone 23,000 feet up, the first impulse is to get that chute open. I pulled the cord. The little pilot chute popped out and fluttered near my head. But I wanted that chute open fast, so I began to paw it out of the sack in great folds until it opened. Of course, the Germans could watch me all the way down, so I was a prisoner for the rest of the war."

Service

Units

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 96th Bomb Group

    96th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 96th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945. ...

  • 338th Bomb Squadron

People

  • William Ahearn

    Military | Flight Officer | Navigator | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42-102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • William Anderson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • Ralph Bazell

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • Joseph Borkowski

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft and crashed at Villy Le Bas SE of Le Treport France on 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • Ernest Grant

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Evaded with the help of French Civilians ...

  • Ralph Hagenmaier

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42-102515. KIA. Purple Heart

  • Walter Hester

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • Theodore Ream

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). PH

  • Ross Welch

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42102515. Killed in Action (KIA). Purple Heart

  • Wallace Young

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 96th Bomb Group
    Collided with another aircraft 27 May 1944 in B-17 #42-102515, Prisoner of War (POW). POW Young was held POW for a year, until June, 1945. He left the AAF after the war, married, and raised 6 children. Wallace Young died in 1975 at age 51.

Places

  • Snetterton Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Intended to be an RAF bomber base, construction of Snetterton Heath started in Autumn 1942 but continued until mid-1943, because it was extended after allocation as an Eighth Air Force bomber base. It had eventually three concrete runways, 50...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) France 27 May 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
29 May 2020 07:35:10 kstrykerAK Changes to unit associations
Sources

Snetterton Falcons II: The 96th Bomb Group in World War II by Robert E Doherty & Geoffrey Ward, Second Edition with Errata & Supplemental Information, Taylor Publishing, 1996. pages 143, 149, 293

Date Contributor Update
29 May 2018 22:28:56 RayWells Changes to description
Sources

x

Date Contributor Update
29 May 2018 22:28:00 RayWells Changes to description
Sources

x

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 20:52:13 RayWells Changes to description
Sources

Michael Young Son of Wallace Young

Date Contributor Update
28 May 2018 20:49:09 RayWells Changes to media associations
Sources

All Photos courtesy of Michael Young son of Wallace Young crewmember of 42-102515

Date Contributor Update
05 October 2015 11:22:29 Lucy May Changes to description
Sources

Changed date from 'Missing in Action Magdeburg 27/5/45' to 'Missing in Action Magdeburg 27/5/44' to bring it in line with when each of the crew's entries list their aircraft as Failing to Return.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:10 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 5163 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Share