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Ewart Theodore Sconiers

Military

Lt Ewart Sconiers was Bombardier on B-17 41-9089 'Johnny Reb', one of the 12 B-17s participating in the first heavy bomber raid of the 8th Air Force on 17 August 1942. The target were the shipyards of Rouen/Sotteville, France.

He also flew in 41-9103 "Dixie Demo" on the 19 August one, planned to bomb the German airfield at Abbeville/Drucat, France. This mission was flown to occupy the Luftwaffe and to try to prevent them from opposing the invasion of Dieppe, France by over 5,000 allied troops (mostly Canadians), six 97th B-17s flying a diversion for the Abbeville raid.

On the third mission staged by the 8th AF on August 21, 1942 to shipyards in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 41-9089 "Johnny Reb" lagged in the back of the formation and became easy prey for German Fw190s. A shell went through the right windscreen and the Co-Pilot, 2nd Lt Donald A. Walter, was killed instantly. The cockpit was wrecked, the top turret was blown out and pilot 2nd Lt Richard S. Starks was severely wounded, in the chest, an arm and legs, his hands badly burned. His mask had been knocked off and, lacking oxygen, barely conscious, Starks managed to call Sconiers on the radio.

Coming to the cabin, Sconiers quickly sized up the situation. He put Starks' mask back on, pulled the body of the co-pilot from the seat and controls and took his place. Sconiers, who had tried to become a pilot, had washed out in primary training and had gone back to civilian life before joining again as a Bombardier. Now at the controls, the Bombardier noticed that two engines were losing power as he flew the stricken plane in sight of the coast of England.

Struggling with the controls, trying to manage the gyrocompass and stabilize the air speed, advised by pilot Starks, Ewart Sconiers finally managed to bring the plane safely back, landing at Horsham St Faith. The story made the headlines all over the US as well as in the United Kingdom.

Both Lt Starks and Ewart Sconiers were awarded the DSC (Distinguished Service Cross) in a ceremony at Polebrook airfield on 17 September 1942. A Pathe newsreel of the ceremony: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/us-air-heroes-decorated

Ewart Sconiers flew some other missions and was on the 97th Bomb Group's last mission before being transferred to North Africa, the raid to the German submarine pens at Lorient/Kerovan, France on 21 October 1942. His plane, "Johnny Reb II" was one of three 97th's B-17s shot down that day. Ewart Sconiers had bailed out over land and the plane crashed in the Bay of Biscay, the rest of the crew being saved by a French fishing boat. All were made prisoner. There is no Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) for the plane's loss.

Ewart Sconiers was interned at Stalag Luft 3. He died in a hospital in Lubin, Poland on 23 January 1944, the cause of his death being officially declared by the Germans as schizophrenia. There is reason to doubt this, as Sconiers had a severe ear infection that had not been treated properly, which most probably led to meningitis and associated bizarre behavior.

Ewart Sconiers was buried in the municipal cemetery of Lubin, but efforts to retrieve his remains after the war had long been in vain. Still listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and the last Stalag Luft III POW not to have been brought home, new hopes had been raised in August 2015, when a grave marked "Edouard Sconiers" could miraculously be located at the French Military cemetery in Gdansk Poland.

On the premise that these could be the remains of Lt Ewart Sconiers, the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency - http://www.dpaa.mil), after meetings in Poland and with the help of the Polish and French authorities, permission was granted in 2016 to have that grave opened and the remains there analysed. A first examination made in a Polish laboratory proved positive enough to have all the remains brought to the USA for further analysis by dedicated staff at the DPAA laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

At long last, in the first days of April 2017, the DPAA officially announced to Lt Ewart Sconiers' grateful family that his remains had been positively identified. For over 65 years, Ewart Sconiers' name was on the Walls of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium. At long last, a rosette indicating his recovery could be placed next to his name there in May 2017.

Ewart Sconiers was reburied next to his Mother at the Defuniak Springs cemetery on 27 January 2018. See http://bringsconiershome.com/home

Service

People

  • William Adams

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Radio Operator. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Thomas Calhoun

    Military | Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Left Waist Gunner. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Robert Carlberg

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 97th Bomb Group
    Robert Carlberg was assigned to the 97th Bomb Group/414th Bomb Squadron, and was sent to England. Shot down on 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Co-Pilot on a mission to bomb U-Boat pens at Lorient/Keroman, France. The Fortress was hit...

  • John Hughes

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Right Waist Gunner. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Roy Nalley

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 97th Bomb Group
    Note : the 1930 US Census has his family's name wrongly spelled as Nally... This was corrected in the 1940 one > Nalley... A Top Turret Gunner, Roy Nalley was shot down on 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • William Schimke

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Ball Turret Gunner. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • James Simmons

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 97th Bomb Group
    Shot down 21 October 1942 in B-17 41-24443 while serving as Tail Gunner. Prisoner of War (POW). After being held at Stalag Luft 1 (Barth, Germany), he was transferred to Stalag XIII (Hammelburg, Germany), where he was head of the escape committee.

  • Harold Spire

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 97th Bomb Group
    Note : In both the 1930 and 1940 Censuses, Harold and his parents are listed as Spires. All later documents, including his Enlistment records, his Escape & Evasion Report have him as Harold Spire... ...

  • Richard Starks

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 97th Bomb Group
    Richard Starks grew up in Woodford County, Kentucky. He attended the Midway High School and the University of Kentucky before enlisting in April 1941. After his enlistment, he was sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma for primary training, starting to fly the...

  • Milton Stenstrom

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 97th Bomb Group
    Milton Stenstrom enlisted in April 1941 and followed pilot training. Assigned to the 97th Bomb Group/414th Bomb Squadron, he was sent to England. ...

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Units served with

  • 97th Bomb Group

    97th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 97th Bomb Group flew the Eighth Air Force's first heavy bomber mission from the UK when they bombed a marshalling yard at Rouen on 17 August 1942. Just a month later though the Group were reassigned to the Twelfth Air Force and left England for the...

  • 414th Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-24443 Johnny Reb II (or Johnny Reb Jr)

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 326BS/92BG Bangor 1-August-1942; transferred to 414BS/97BG Polebrook 24-August-1942; Missing in Action 21-October-1942 on mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at Lorient/Keroman, France. The Navigator, 1Lt Harold Spire provided the following...

  • 41-9089 Johnny Reb

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Sarasota 15/4/42. Assigned 414BS/97BG Polebrook 4/42. Flew on first 8th Air Force heavy bomber mission 17 August 1942 with Pilot Lt. Richard S. Starks (WIA 21/8/42); Co-pilot: Donald A. Walter (KIA 21/8/42); Navigator: Harold Spire;...

  • 41-9103 Dixie Demo

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 414BS/97BG Polebrook 11/4/42; with Lt. Clarence L. Thacker on first 8AF mission 17/8/42; transferred 92BG Bovingdon 24/8/42; 91BG Bassingbourn 3/3/43; 385BG Gt Ashfield 8/43 as target tow & hack; Returned to the USA 23/6/44; Reconstruction...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 1

    17 August 1942
    The US 8AF launches its first strategic bombing raid of the war, sending 12 Boeing B-17Es of the 97BG on a strike against the railyards of Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France, while another six fly a diversionary route. The attacking force is split into two...

  • VIII Bomber Command 2

    19 August 1942
    Bombers from 97th Bombardment Group are despatched to bomb the German airfield Drucat at Abbeville, France. This mission is flown to occupy the Luftwaffe and to try to prevent them from opposing the invasion of Dieppe, France by over 5,000 allied...

  • VIII Bomber Command 4

    21 August 1942
    97BG despatches 12 B-17s on a mission to bomb the shipyards and harbour facilities at Rotterdam, Holland. The mission is aborted when attacked by approximately 25 Bf-109 and Fw-190 fighter aircraft. Spitfire aircraft were despatched by 31FG as escorts...

  • VIII Bomber Command 15

    21 October 1942
    German U-Boat pens are Lorient, France are the Primary (P) targets for this mission along with the German airfield at Cherbourg, France. 93BG despatches 24-B-24s to Lorient, but cloud cover prevents them from bombing. The main attack force to Lorient...

Associated Place

  • Polebrook

    Military site : airfield
    Polebrook was laid down for RAF Bomber Command use in 1940-1941. Built by George Wimpey and Co. Ltd, it had short runways which were lengthened for USAAF heavy bomber use. The RAF used the base for operational trials - including of B-17 Flying...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Defuniak Springs, Florida, United States 29 November 1915

Born Ewart Theodore Sconiers, the son of William Warren Sconiers and Almond Maude Spencer.

Enlisted Georgia,United States 16 September 1941 – 21 January 1944

Enlisted in the Army Air Corps, residing in Georgia.

Buried Lubin, Poland 23 January 1944

POW-DIC Died in Captivity buried by the Germans in the Cemetery of Lubin, Silesia, a part of Poland controlled by Germany since 1939. His remains could not be located after the war and he is officially listed as MIA. He is memorialized at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Neupré, near Liège, Belgium.

Lt Sconiers' remains have been identified by the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) April 2017
Buried Defuniak Springs, FL, USA 27 January 2018

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2018 09:40:44 Lucy May Changes to biography and events
Sources

http://weartv.com/news/local/world-war-ii-us-serviceman-returned-to-nort...

Date Contributor Update
21 September 2017 14:06:23 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Added details to BIO + Photo of rosette next to his name on the Walls of the Missing at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium.

Date Contributor Update
21 September 2017 13:51:15 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Changed address of the link to the Pathe-News video

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2017 11:39:41 ED-BB Changes to biography
Sources

Made some additions to the biography

Date Contributor Update
10 April 2017 10:32:25 ED-BB Changes to biography and events
Sources

Lt Sconiers remains have been certified by the DPAA.

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2015 09:45:43 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added burial photo (4)

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2015 09:44:51 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added burial photo (3)

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2015 09:43:57 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added burial photo (2)

Date Contributor Update
11 September 2015 09:42:34 ED-BB Changes to media associations
Sources

Added burial photo (1)

Date Contributor Update
09 September 2015 10:24:43 ED-BB Changes to nickname, biography, awards, events, person associations, mission associations and media associations
Sources

Added details and photos.

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2015 16:04:26 ED-BB Changes to middlename, nickname, biography, events and aircraft associations
Sources

Various sources since 2006...
http://bringsconiershome.com/home

Date Contributor Update
23 December 2014 07:43:19 ED-BB Changes to middlename and events
Sources

Sconiers Family website www.bringsconiershome.com

Date Contributor Update
22 December 2014 15:06:44 ED-BB Changes to middlename, biography, awards, events and person associations
Sources

97th Bomb Group sources.

Date Contributor Update
22 November 2014 19:28:49 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography
Sources

Lee Cunningham 22-Nov-2014. Re-arranged Summary biography data in chronological order.

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2014 23:12:34 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography and events
Sources

Lee Cunningham 12-Nov-2014. POW corrections.

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2014 23:08:56 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography
Sources

Lee Cunningham 12-Nov-2014. Added events.

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2014 22:54:23 Lee8thbuff Changes to events
Sources

Lee Cunningham. WIA data.

Date Contributor Update
28 October 2014 20:49:11 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography
Sources

Lee Cunningham 28-Oct-2014. Edit to Biography description.

Date Contributor Update
28 October 2014 20:23:35 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography, place associations and aircraft associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 28-Oct-2014. "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
28 October 2014 19:04:07 Lee8thbuff Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 28-Oct-2014. Correction to aircraft association.

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2014 20:06:31 Lee8thbuff Changes to service number, biography, events, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Lee Cunningham 19-Oct-2014, "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story", Roger A Freeman & Dave Osborne; "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE; National Archives Records Administration (NARA) POW records. No MACR was ever issued documenting this loss.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:09:31 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Roll of Honor, Losses of the 8th & 9th AFs Vol 1, pp 38-39. 493 by Bishop and Hey

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