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.