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42-26461

P-47 Thunderbolt

P-47 # 42-26461 of 78th Fighter Group / 82nd Fighter Squadron was piloted by 1st Lt Harold J. Morris when it was lost on a fighter-bomber mission 26 July 1944 to attack fuel dumps at Fournival, Bois de Mons and Givet (France, close to the Belgian border.) According to the statement of Lt Donald H. Swankowski, wingman of Lt Morris on the flight and which is on page 2 of the Missing Air Crew Report - MACR 6844 (itself mixed with Aircraft serial 43-25069, which is wrong) : “After leaving the target which the other Squadrons had dive-bombed, we started home. Lt. Morris, Surtax Blue 3 called out a truck on a road in the middle of a woods West [Note : the typewritten text has an hand-written “We” as a correction of 2 letters of the original word, which this researcher thinks must have been East… ] of Leval, France. His flight leader, Lt. Van Dyk, gave him permission to go down on it, the remainder of Blue Flight following in string. I was Red 3 and was on my downleg from the truck, when I saw Lt. Morris make a pass at the truck. He went down and did not pull out at the tree tops, but hit the trees and went down thru them. He crashed thru about a hundred yards of trees sowing a path thru them and pieces came out the end of the woods. There was no explosion, just wreckage strewn out the side of the forest. There was no flak near the target and it is my opinion that Lt. Morris dove too steeply and in the pull out, mushed into the trees.” Page 4 of the MACR (a translation of the original German report) mentions 3 aircraft as shot down by Flak on 26 July 1944, one Spitfire, one Mustang and Lt. Morris’ P-47. Lt Swankowski’s report clearly mentions 42-26461 was not hit by Flak.
As page 7 of the MACR states that 42-26461 crashed 5km South of Neuville, Belgium, it is reasonable to think that, flying back from Givet, the furthest East of the assigned targets, the truck must have been riding not West but East of Leval (France), thus near Beaumont (Belgium), which is indicated as the “location of missing aircraft” on the map on page 3 of the MACR. Local people indicate that the crash took place 2km to the West of the village of Roly, a location which is indeed 5km South of Neuville. The road on which the truck was riding might thus be the Route de Mariembourg / N5, which passes through wooded areas.

Service

Units

  • 78th Fighter Group

    78th Fighter Group

    Group
    The 78th Fighter Group was initially based at Goxhill but moved to Duxford in April 1943 and stayed there until October 1945. It flew all three of the USAAF's principal fighters. On D-Day every available Thunderbolt provided air cover to the Allied...

  • 82nd Fighter Squadron

People

  • Harold Morris

    Military | Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot, Pilot | 353rd Fighter Group
    Born and raised in Oklahoma, Harold Morris studied at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond City. After two years at College there, he moved to Pensacola, Florida. He enlisted in the Air Corps in January 1942 in Oklahoma and followed training...

Missions

  • 496

    26 July 1944

Places

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) near Neuville, 2km west of Roly, Belgium 26 July 1944

Crashed when Pilot Lt Harold J. Morris couldn't pull out of a fast dive at a German truck

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
22 February 2016 14:24:58 ED-BB Changes to markings, description, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

MACR 6844

Date Contributor Update
14 December 2015 19:56:57 Lucy May Changes to events
Sources

Crash site amended from 'France' to Neuville (2km west of Roly) in Belgium after correspondence with Louis Behiels. A friend of his lives in the area and is researching the crash.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:19 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 7600 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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