Skip to main content
Edit entry 

42-31097

B-17 Flying Fortress

Delivered Cheyenne 20/9/43; Gt Falls 12/10/43; Scott 18/11/43; assigned 401BG Deenethorpe 19/11/43; transferred 535BS/381BG Ridgewell 21/11/43;

Missing in Action (1st mission for this aircraft) Leverkusen 1/12/43 with Pilot Harland V. Sunde (KIA - body recovered 12/6/44); Ball turret gunner: Doyle C. McCutchen (KIA; body recovered from river 30/5/44); Tail gunner: John F. Healey (KIA). Co-pilot: James W. Sweaney; Navigator: Roger G. Christensen; Bombardier: O.D. Tully; Flight engineer/top turret gunner: William P. England; Radio Operator: Claudio Carano; Right Waist gunner: Charles J. Culver; Left Waist gunner: Carlton A. Josephson (those 7 Prisoner of War).

Hit by flak, left formation a few minutes before hitting the target and was attacked by fighters. Ditched in River Lek between Streefkerk and Nieuw-Lekkerland, Holland.

All wounded, except Co-Pilot Sweaney. Ball Turret gunner McCutchen was killed by MG fire in the radio room. Tail gunner John Healy was last seen slumped on his gun. He had reportedly asked to let him stay there. According to the testimony of a crew member, when the aircraft was ditched, having only one serviceable dinghy, Lt Sunde refused to use it (probably so as not to overload it) and tried to swim to shore, but he drowned before that crewman could reach him. See Missing Air Crew Report 1661.

Read more about this aircraft and its crew on John Heuvelman's informative website: http://hazy.home.xs4all.nl/MissionBelle.html

Service

Units

  • 381st Bomb Group

    381st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 381st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and...

  • 535th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Claudio Carano

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator / Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Radio operator, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS, 8th AF. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft III and Stalag XIIID. Brooklyn, NY

  • Roger Christensen

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 381st Bomb Group
    Navigator, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft 1. Marne, Iowa

  • Charles Culver

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    RWG, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS, 8th AF. Former member of the 534th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft III and...

  • William England

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner; Flight Engineer | 381st Bomb Group
    ETTG, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag IXc and Luft 1. Texas

  • John Healy

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Tail gunner, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Killed in Action (KIA). Buried in the Ardennes AMC. ...

  • Carlton Josephson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    LWG, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Former member of the 533rd BS. On board "Mission Belle" - #42-31097 - Shot down 1 December 1943 - Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft XV11B. ...

  • Doyle McCutchen

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    Ball Turret Gunner, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS, 8th AF. Shot down on 1 December 1943 on B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. KIA (Killed in Action) - MACR 1661. ...

  • Harland Sunde

    Military | Flight Officer | Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Pilot, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical plant at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Killed in Action (KIA). Buried in the Netherlands AMC. ...

  • James Sweaney

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 381st Bomb Group
    Co-pilot, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft 1. Riverside, CA

  • O Tully

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 381st Bomb Group
    Bombardier, Sunde crew. 381st BG, 535th BS. Shot down 1 December 1943 in B-17 #42-31097 'Mission Belle'. Mission #46 to the chemical factory at Leverkusen, Germany. MACR 1661. Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft 1. Guntersville, AL

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 145

    1 December 1943
    This mission was directed at the industrial areas of Leverkusen and Solingen, Germany. The mission is composed of two elements. The first element is a combined force of 221 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division that included: 91BG (27); 92BG (18); 303BG (17);...

Places

  • Deenethorpe

    Military site : airfield
    Deenethorpe was a base purpose-built for American heavy bombers, with the Class A regulation 2,000 and 1,400-yard runways. All the buildings on site,such as the accommodation and administrative blocks, were temporary. In December 1943, several local...

  • Ridgewell

    Military site : airfield
    Built during 1941-42 as an RAF bomber station, Ridgewell operated as a satellite to RAF Stradishall until May 1943. It had three concrete runways, initially 36 pan hardstandings, and two dispersed T2 hangars. Taken over by the Eighth Air Force in June...

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Leverkusen, Germany 1 December 1943
Crashed Nieuw-Lekkerland, Holland, The Netherlands 1 December 1943

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
09 March 2018 10:39:09 Lucy May Changes to description and events
Sources

http://hazy.home.xs4all.nl/MissionBelle.html

Date Contributor Update
22 December 2017 03:56:14 ARowe95 Changes to markings
Sources

ARowe95

Date Contributor Update
25 July 2015 10:40:29 ED-BB Changes to description and person associations
Sources

Changes to punctuation and spaces in Biography.
Corrected some names of crew.

Date Contributor Update
24 July 2015 15:45:48 ED-BB Changes to nicknames, description, events, place associations and mission associations
Sources

MACR 1661
Freeman's "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story"
Corrected some crew members' names in the Description

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:36 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 1661 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Share