Shot down 9 October 1942 in B-17 41-24510 while serving as Engineer/Top Turret Gunner. Evaded to Spain. Aircraft attacked by fighters which killed pilot Olsen and copilot Gates. Assigned target Lille I/A, France. Plane crashed near Nechin, Belgium. His story was published in Time Magazine, September 6, 1943.
His twin brother Erwin was in the 367th BS and flew on John Olson crew. Darwin's most unusual experience: 'was when I saw my twin brother shot down on our first combat mission. Their plane was flying to the right side of ours. We were attacked by German fighter planes and their plane was the first plane hit. It seemed to me that the whole top part of the plane blew off in an explosion and then the airplane went into a spin falling towards the ground. I watched until it was out of sight and did not see any parachutes come out. That evening when back to England a gunner from a plane behind our squadron came to me and said he saw two parachutes from the plane my brother was in. Somehow I knew Erwin was one of them. One day, several months later while I was a Prisoner of War (POW) at Stalag 7A, a group of American airmen who had just been shot down were broght to the Prisoner of War (POW) camp where I was. Two of them saw me and said 'Erwin, how did you get here?' It was then I learned Erwin had returend to England alive. I learned he had managed to get into the French underground and with their help made his way to Gibraltar. There he hitched a ride to Engalnd on a B-17 bomber which was later shot down on a mission over Germany. These two men who thought I was Erwin were part of the bomber crew who gave Erwin the ride back to England. '
Units served with
Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...
B-17 Flying Fortress
Assigned 367BS/306BG Westover 16-Aug-42; to Thurleigh 27-Sep-42; Missing in Action Lille 9-Oct-42 shot down by hptm Priller (III/JG26), crashed railway line Tournai, near Nechin (Menen), Belgium; (first aircraft loss of group) MACR 6706. SNOOZY II....
Military site : airfield
Built for RAF use in 1941-42, Thurleigh was initially used by RAF Bomber Command before being handed over to the Eighth Air Force. Its runways and hardstandings were improved, and the B-17s of the 306th Bomb Group began using the base. It was their...
||21 June 1920
||9 October 1942 – 20 February 1943
Evaded capture and returned to England on 20-Feb-43. His evasion is recorded on Escape & Evasion Report #11 and my be viewed at: http://media.nara.gov/nw/305270/EE-11.pdf