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42-31189

B-17 Flying Fortress

(GH) Delivered Cheyenne 29/9/43; Gr Island 22/10/43; Memphis 4/11/43; Assigned 525BS/379BG [FR-X] Kimbolton 22/11/43; Missing in Action Leipzig 7/7/44 with Bob Harrah, Co-pilot: Bob Giles, Bombardier: Joe Ashbrook, Ball turret gunner: Ken Mays (4 Prisoner of War); Navigator: Dick Tracy, Radio Operator: John Alexanian, Waist gunner: Frank Garofalo,Tail gunner: Bill Campbell (4 evaded capture); Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Phil Cimino (KIA – actually after joining Resistance in Belgium was killed bu German machine gun fire on 10/9/44); flak KO’d #3, crashed Noord-Oost-Polder, NE of Emmeloord, Hol. Missing Air Crew Report 7358.

Service

Units

  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 379th Bomb Group (H) (heavy), based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit...

  • 525th Bomb Squadron

People

  • John Alexanian

    Military | Sergeant | Radio Operator | 379th Bomb Group
    Evaded (EVD) Shot down by flak and crashed near Leumer on 7/7/44 in B-17 #4231189

  • Joseph Ashbrook

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 379th Bomb Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed near Leumer on 7/7/44 in B-17# 4231189 POW

  • Richard Asplund

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 527BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 36 x combat missions. ETD Awads: DFC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME.

  • William Campbell

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Evaded (EVD) Shot down by flak and crashed near Leumer on 7/7/44 in B-17 42-31189. Retired as LtCol. Wrote the following (summarized) 7 July 1944 forced down to Leipzig, 'The flak was heavy. . . we tried to return to base. . . over Holland and the...

  • Carl Christensen

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Bombardier / L,R Waist Gunner, Nose Gunner / Togglier | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 525BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 25 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) in 42-31083; A/C exploded mid-air near Downham Market, England. Killed in Action (KIA). Awards: AM, PH.

  • Phillip Cimino

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) Shot down by flak and crashed near Leumer in B-17 #4231189

  • Frank Garofalo

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Evaded (EVD) Shot down by flak and crashed near Leumer in B-17 #4231189

  • Robert Giles

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed near Leumer on 7/7/44 in B17 #4231189 POW

  • Robert Harrah

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Prisoner of War (POW) Crashed near Leumer on 7/7/44 in B-17 #4231189 POW

  • Donald Makins

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 379th Bomb Group
    Shot down and disintegrated in mid-air and crashed near Schlebusch, GR on a mission to Wernigorde, GR on 22 Feb 1944 in B-17G #42-97520. Killed in Action (KIA).

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Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 159

    20 December 1943
    The port area of Bremen is the target for 546 heavy bombers. The total includes 12 PFF-equipped B-17s from 482BG. All 12 of these are effective on the target and 11 are damaged. The bomber gunners of this element claim 1-1-0 (this total included with...

  • 8th Air Force 183

    14 January 1944
    This mission is a combined effort of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Bomb Divisions to attack V-Weapon sites near the French coast near Pas-de-Calaise. Some targets of opportunity were also bombed. A total of 20 out of 21 V-Weapon sites are hit with varying results. ...

Places

  • Kimbolton

    Military site : airfield
    Planned for RAF use, Kimbolton airfield was built by W and C French Ltd. in 1941. The airfield was increased in size to accommodate a full US heavy Bomb Group, and the first such unit to us it was the 91st Bomb Group, who arrived in September 1942....

Events

Event Location Date
Failed to Return (FTR) Germany 7 July 1944

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2020 15:00:20 phil marchese Changes to markings
Sources

... Story; Freeman/Osborne, block chsnges.

Date Contributor Update
24 September 2020 14:35:42 screwball Changes to events
Sources

42-31189 (FR-X) Paragon. MIA July 7th 1944. Target Leipzig, aircraft factory.
1st Lt Robert M Harrah, Pilot. 2nd Lt Robert E Giles, Co-Pilot. 2nd Lt Richard M Tracy, Navigator.
2nd Lt Joseph L Ashbrook, Bombardier. Sgt John Alexanian, Radio. T/Sgt Phillip Cimino, Top Turret. S/Sgt Kenneth E Mays, Ball Turret. S/Sgt Frank E Garofalo, Waist Gun. S/Sgt William R Campbell.
During the bomb run the aircraft was hit by flak. The bombardier was able to drop the bombs, but the aircraft had damaged engines. The pilot tried to fly the aircraft back to England, but was losing altitude. The crew threw everything that was possible overboard, but they were still losing altitude. By this time they were near the Dutch town of Vollenhove and down to about 5000 feet, The pilot gave the order to bail out. All 9 crew members sucessfuly bailed out.
A Construction company was building a farm in the area they came down in. The foreman of this company, Mr. Jacob Muller watched as the men came down. The area they landed in was marshland, with tall reeds. After spending two hours searching, Mr Muller and found seven of the men and later found the other two. The Germans were also searching for them, It is unclear how many of the men Mr. Muller was able to take to safety from the marsh, but he drove 5 men in the construction company lorry to company works shed in Vollenhove.
The next day they were taken in groups of two and three to a resistance group in Meppel, which is where I believe all nine men were re-united.
The next day Hurrah, Giles, Ashbrook and Mays left Meppel to go by train to Amsterdam. On arrival at the central station they were met by a police officer called De Jong. After a couple of days the four men left Amsterdam by train on route to Eindhoven. Later that day the men were in a small Dutch town called Erp. They were given shelter by the Otten family, who were members of the resistance. After a few days it was decided that the four men would separate into two pairs.
Giles and Ashbrook were the first to leave and made their way to another small town, it was called Dinther.
Then it was the turn of Hurrah and Mays to leave, they made for the town of Schijndel, where the Van Den Boogard family took care of them. The next day, two resistance members acted as guides while they cycled towards the Belgium border.
At the border, their guides left them hiding in a field. They were instructed to wait and someone will come to them. It was a woman, all three walked to a nearby village, from there they took a bus to Antwerp. On arrival they were given shelter in a small room above a shop. After a few days they were taken to another house, where they were asked many questions to prove they were American and not German spies.
Once the resistance men were satisficed that they were Amercan, they were taken by road to Brussels. In Brussels they were led to a large building. On entering it they were arrested by German soldiers. They were taken away and soon found themselves in Stalag Luft 1, which is near Barth on the Baltic coast. Where they spent the rest of the war.
Ashbrook and Giles were captured while in Antwerp and were taken to a German POW camp.
The remaining five crew member were with the resistance. However, they were split into two groups. Tracy, Alexanian and Garofalo made up one group, while Campbell and Cimino were in the other. The three man group moved between towns, but found shelter at a farm in Rodermond. All three stayed in the area and on 16th November the British 2nd army liberated them.
Cambell and Cimino were with a group of Belgian underground who attempted to get them across the border into France. It proved impossible, so they stayed with the resistance fighters in Belgium. During the course of two weeks Campbell and Cimino joined forces with the resistance group and took part in a number of attacks against German soldiers.
On September 10th, near a town called Barrumne thery attacked a German convoy, after fours hours of fighting the resistance group withdrew. It was during this attack that T/Sgt Phillip Cimino was killed while attacking with Bren gun.
Campbell stayed with the resistance group and when he was in Leige he was able to make contact with the American forces and was liberated.
The final resting place for T/Sgt Cimino is at the Resurrection Cemetery, Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin. May he rest in peace.

Date Contributor Update
22 March 2018 16:49:31 TennyBelle Changes to nicknames and mission associations
Sources

8th AF mission database

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:37 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log / MACR 7358 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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