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B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Cheyenne 10/7/44; Kearney 19/7/44; Dow Fd 3/8/44; Assigned 861BS/493BG [Q4-A] Debach 5/8/44; battle damaged Magdeburg 12/9/44 with Capt Ellis Woodward, Co-pilot: Bill Rawson, Navigator: Gordon Weir, Bombardier: Marvin Wright, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Joe Vales, Radio Operator: Joe Sutton, Ball turret gunner: Blair Archer, Waist gunner: George Spinney,Tail gunner: George Kenawell (9 Returned to Duty); sustained battle damaged and force landed RAF Woodbridge, Sfk, on return; Salvaged.

Gordon Weir's account of this mission, accompanied by photographs, is available here:



  • 493rd Bomb Group

    493rd Bomb Group

    The 493rd Bomb Group was the last Eighth Air Force Group to become operational, flying their first combat mission from Debach, Suffolk, on D-Day, 6 June 1944. The Group was known as "the Fighting 493rd", named by their Commanding Officer Colonel Elbert...

  • 861st Bomb Squadron


  • Blair Archer

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 493rd Bomb Group

  • George Kenawell

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 493rd Bomb Group
    George Kenawell served as a tail gunner with the 861st Bomb Squadron of the 493rd Bomb Group, flying missions out of Debach, England. One of the aircraft he flew in was B-17 43-38227.

  • William Rawson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 493rd Bomb Group

  • George Spinney

    Military | Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 493rd Bomb Group

  • Joseph Sutton

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 493rd Bomb Group

  • Joseph Vales

    Military | Sergeant | Flight Engineer; Top Turret Gunner | 493rd Bomb Group

  • Gordon Weir

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 493rd Bomb Group
    Gordon Weir served as a navigator with the 861st Bomb Squadron of the 493rd Bomb Group. He completed 31 missions. Gordon's detailed and fascinating memoir of his wartime service is available here:

  • Ellis Woodward

    Military | Lieutenant | Lead Pilot | 493rd Bomb Group
    Flew 30 Mission as Lead Crew Pilot

  • Marvin Wright

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 493rd Bomb Group


  • Debach

    Military site : airfield
    Debach was one of the last Eighth Air Force heavy bomber bases to be completed. It was built by the 820th Engineer Battalion (Aviation) between late '43 and early '44. Pronounced locally as 'Deb-idge', the base was built to a class A standard with...


Event Location Date
Forced landing Woodbridge, UK 12 September 1944


Date Contributor Update
17 March 2017 16:51:31 Lucy May Changes to description

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2017 16:39:53 Lucy May Changes to nicknames

Nickname provided by George Kenawell's son, Keith.

See also 'Helton's Hellcat's' by Martin Bowman:

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2017 16:28:17 Lucy May Changes to events, unit associations, person associations and place associations

Added connections from information in biography field.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:41:26 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log