Skip to main content
Edit entry 

41-24533

B-17 Flying Fortress

The ship was 'Boom Town', 41-24533 a B-17 which got its name back in the
States because, according to the crew, 'it was always shooting oil'. The
pilot was Captain Clyde B. Walker, a quiet-spoken young man from Tulsa,
Oklahoma, who has been flying for the Army since September, 1940, and used
to be an instructor at Brooks Field, Texas.

`On the afternoon of December 30th, Captain Walker and his crew
headed with a formation of Flying Fortresses for the German submarine pens
at Lorient in Occupied France. Visibility was excellent and the crew saw
their target some time before the bombing run. As their bombs dropped, the
ball turret gunner, Sergeant Oscar Green, of Great Falls, Montana, followed
their course and saw bursts on the platform between the two sub pens. Over
the intercom the crew heard the bombardier shout: 'Bull's eye!' At almost
the same moment heavy flak tore up through the nose of the Fortress and
enemy fighters dove in to attack. 'We were only hit once,' Captain Walker
said. 'That was when they knocked us out of the formation.'

The hail of flak and explosive bullets together almost blew the
Fortress out of the sky. In the nose, the bombardier was killed. A piece
of flak hit the navigator, Lt. Wilbert M. Smith, of Ashland Wis., in the
arm, passing through his flight jacket and knocking him off his seat. The
high also save Lt. Smith's life. As he lay momentarily stunned, bullets
from one of the attacking fighters swept across the navigator's perch where
he had been sitting. Simultaneously, an explosive shall ripped the bottom
out of the ball turret. Blinded by oil and escaping fumes, with his oxygen
supply destroyed and his ammunition jammed so tightly against him that he
'thought his leg was off', Sgt. Green stayed in the turret and 'kept
covering his area'. In the tail turret, Sgt. Stephen G. Krucher, of Werick,
L. I., was badly hit. Despite his wounds, the former New York City clerk
continued to fight his gun, and as one FW190 charged in on the tail he shot
half of one of its wings off, sending it down. Two minutes earlier S/Sgt.
W. W. Stroud, of Fredonia, Kansas, had destroyed another enemy aircraft.
The fighter attacked from the nose, passing so close to the sights of the
right waist gun that Sgt. Stroud could see the enemy pilot's head.

"He cam in towards the nose around 12 o'clock", Sgt. Stroud said.
"As he banked and started in on our tail I let him have it. It looked as if
part of the fuselage came off and he fell off towards the sea."

As the Fortress staggered away from the target more enemy fighters
came in, attacking the nose in pairs. Captain Walker's ship was practically
disabled. The first blast had broken the drive shaft of the No. 1 engine.
The No. 2 engine had been hit on the top cylinder and soon had only a little
emergency power left.

"The prop would run away when I advanced it a little bit," Captain
Walker said.

The oil pressure was giving out and flak had put a large dent in one
of the prop blades of the No. 3 engine. There was a big hole in the nose,
the ball turret was shattered, the bomb bay doors had been shot up by
shellfire, the oxygen lines were cut and the de-icing fluid was punctured.
The radio equipment was damaged and the control cable had been knocked off
the elevator.

"They missed the pilot and co-pilot, that's all," Captain Walker
said. "And the co-pilot had a piece of flak in his parachute."

Despite these handicaps, the pilot kept making for the cover of the clouds,
keeping up such skillful evasive action that the enemy fighters were unable
to score any more hits.

The co-pilot, Lt. Bill J. Reed, of Siloam Springs, Ark., a former student at
John Brown University, told how Sgt. Stroud took a .50 calibre bullet, and,
as the plane plunged along, worked the slipping elevator cable back on its
pulley.

In its effort to keep up with the formation the Fortress was losing altitude
at the rate of 2,000 feet a minute. At 10,000 feet, the top turret gunner,
Sgt. Phillip L. Judkins, an ex-clerk from Tacoma, Wash., brought down a
third enemy fighter in flames. Sgt. John T. Frishholz, who hails from
Wilmington, Cal., and played football under Alonzo Stagg at the University
of the Pacific, had to leave his gun to put out a fire in his radio
compartment. In the waist, Sgt. Stroud and Sgt. Lewis P. Berring, a former
mechanic from Los Angeles, Cal., drove off two more FW190's which fell
smoking, but the gunners were too busy to verify their destruction.

For a few moments a Fortress from another Group came down and flew beside
them.

"He probably saved our necks there for a little while," Captain Walker said.
"He kept them off us just long enough."

"I had time to reach back and grab my ammunition can and re-load," Sgt.
Stroud added.

The 'Boom Town' finally ducked away into the temporary safety of the clouds.
When it came out again over the channel, it was alone, still losing altitude
at 2,000 feet a minute. All the crew were still at their posts except the
bombardier and Sgt. Krucher who was relieved in the tail turret by Sgt.
Stroud.

"I had to get rough with Krucher to make him lie down," the navigator said.
"Stroud cut open his electric suit to give him first aid and, when he put
the iodine on, Krucher didn't even let out a whimper."

All at once they spotted land.

"We were all looking for England," Captain Walker said. "We were looking
for land so hard that when we saw some a little off to the right we started
right in. We thought it was England and started look at the roads to see
which side the cars were running on. We saw one bicycle. Green called on
the intercom: 'That don't look like England to me!' Then, all of a sudden,
we saw the sub pens we'd bombed before and we knew it was Brest."

By this time the fortress was down to six hundred feet and still losing
altitude.

"We came right over the harbor," Lt. Smith said. "They must have been
pretty surprised. We were within five miles of the merchant ships there
before they even got their balloons up."

Cutting across to the open Channel, Captain Walker passed directly between
two destroyers, neither of which had time to fire.

"Reed watched one side and I watched the other," Captain Walker said, "and
we took straight out over the harbor."

They were now flying on two engines and the pilot was worried about the No.
2 prop which was running away, threatening to wreck the ship. Several times
the ball turret bounded on the Channel and they hoped the propeller would
jar loose.

"I think the pilot was just doing that to gain altitude," Sgt. Stroud
remarked. He kept dragging the turret, and each time we'd bounce up about a
hundred feet."

Presently Captain Walker gave orders to prepare for a crash landing in the
sea.

"We began heaving everything over," Sgt. Frishholz said. "Ammunition,
oxygen bottles, masks, parachutes, everything we could. Just as we'd thrown
out the last .50 calibres, two German fighters showed up overhead. I
yelled: 'Where's my ammunition!' Berring just shrugged his shoulders."

"Each time the Chief told us we were going to ditch," Lt. Reed said, "he
sent me back to get braced for the crash. Then just as I thought we were
going to hit, I'd look out and we would be going up again."

Finally they made it. Captain Walker managed to pull the ship up eight
hundred feet and they crossed safely over the English coast, landing soon
after at a British base.

"I'd like to say," Said Lt. Smith, who studied mining engineering at
Michigan Tech and joined the Air Corps the day before Pearl Harbor, "that
the crew thinks the pilot deserves very special credit."

"It's the crew that deserves that," Captain Walker said.

"I think a lot should be said about our bombardier, too," Lt. Smith said.

"You might tell about Stroud," Lt. Reed said. "He's high gunner in the
Group now. Four destroyed and one probable. Funny part is he never went to
gunnery school. He's a qualified bombardier."

Sgt. Green, who worked on a ranch and for the Great Northern Railroad back
home, said he still couldn't see how they'd made it.

"The Gremlins must have been holding us up," he said.

"Yes," Lt. Smith added, "the Gremlins were with us this time."

The co-pilot may have hit it more accurately.

"Boy!" Lt. Reed said, "We've got a real crew, no kidding."

(Story based on direct interrogation of crew. All quotes explicit.)

NOTE: Bombardier's name not mentioned because of death in action. If
releasable, he was Lt. G. C. Bentinck, Jr., of Galveston, Texas. He entered
the service on December 11, 1941, graduating from the Bombardier school at
Victorville, Cal. In civilian life he was a shipfitter.

Original Crew

Captain Clyde B. Walker, Pilot
"Boom Town" and "Boom Town II"

Lt. Bill J. Reed, Copilot
(8/42-6/43, Pilot, "Boom Town," "Patches," and "Boom Town II")

Lt. Grover Cleveland Bentinck, Jr., Bombardier, KIA "Boom Town"
(Killed by flak 12/30/42 Lorient, France)

Sgt. Oscar Green, Ball Turret Gunner
(Goldman crew, "Boom Town")

Sgt. Stephen G. Krucher, Tail Turret Gunner
(365th, 42-8/43, T/Gun., "Boom Town" & Boom Town Jr.")

S/Sgt. W.W. Stroud
(Passed Away After Leaving Chelveston)

Sgt. Phillip L. Judkings
(Passed Away After Leaving Chelveston)

Sgt. John T. Frisholz
(Passed Away After Leaving Chelveston)

Sgt. Lewis P. Berring
(Passed Away After Leaving Chelveston)

Nav. Wilbert M Smith

Assigned 365BS/305BG [XK-T] Presque Is 19/10/42; Grafton Underwood 25/10/42; Missing in Action 22/6/43 with John Hall, Navigator: Walter Allen, Bombardier: Jim Mause, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Jasper Doster, Ball turret gunner: Bob Gunson, Waist gunner: Chris Morris (6 Prisoner of War); Co-pilot: Arnold Grose, Radio Operator: Leroy Kanetzky, Waist gunner: Willard ParkerRIP 23/7/43,Tail gunner: Dennis Jackson (4 Killed in Action); enemy aircraft, crashed Slijk-Ewijk on River Waal, near Valburg, Hol. Missing Air Crew Report 16205. CHERRY.

Service

Units

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    Group
    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 365th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Walter Allen

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Jasper Doster

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Arnold Grose

    Military | Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Robert Gunson

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. KIA (Killed in Action

  • John Hall

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Dennis Jackson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Killed in Action (KIA).

  • L Kanetzky

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • James Mause

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Prisoner of War (POW). POW

  • Christopher Morris

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533.

  • Willard Parker

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Shot down 22 June 1943 in B-17 #4124533. Killed in Action (KIA).

Places

  • Grafton Underwood

    Military site : airfield
    Grafton Underwood was built in 1941 by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd. It was the first airfield in England to receive an Eighth Air Force flying unit, when in May 1942 personnel of the 15th Bomb Squadron took up residence. As a satellite airfield for...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Loenen, Netherlands 22 June 1943

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
20 March 2017 18:08:50 FMS Changes to nicknames, markings and description
Sources

(Story based on direct interrogation of crew. All quotes explicit.)

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:03 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 16205 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Share