S/Sgt Irvin Lewis , Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gunner on LG-Q 446117, pilot 2/Lt. R E O'Bannon (shot down by ME410 21 June 1944 new Stettin).
High school photo aged 18 in 1940
Photo Cheryl Morgan
S/Sgt Lewis fulfilled many technical roles on the flight. In combat, he occupied the dorsal gun position on the aircraft by manning the upper-gun turret (TT). So, he was standing immediately behind the two pilots. This new feature, an improved gun turret, the Bendix turret, had a 360-degree rotation and the guns could be elevated to a high angle. Because of the openings for the twin machineguns, the turret was pointing to the rear, in its normal position.
Shot down by fighters and crashed at Rothenklempenow on 6/21/44 in B-17 #446117 Prisoner of War (POW). The B-17G was given the squadron number LG-Q 117. Staff Sergeant Irvin H. Lewis was the senior NCO in the crew. His primary job was the flight engineer, assisting the two pilots, while his secondary role was to man the top turret of the plane when in action.
Eight of the nine crew survived when LG-Q 117 was attacked by an ME 410, over Rothenklempenow, as it made its attack run on Berlin. After the crew bailed out the plane crashed into a Prussian lake, which later became part of western Poland. Parts of the plane were recovered many year later and taken to Soviet Russia. Other parts are displayed in a Polish war museum.
POW in ‘Stalag Luft IV’, the enlisted men were imprisoned in a notorious POW camp and badly maltreated. Near the end of the war they were forced to undertake a forced march of 86 days westward until liberated by elements of the British 2nd Army near Hamburg.
Units served with
The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...
B-17 Flying Fortress
Delivered Tulsa 6/5/44; Hunter 16/5/44; Dow Fd 24/6/44; Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-Q] Bassingbourn 27/5/44.
Military site : airfield
Now home to a museum all about the aifield and its USAAF residents (http://www.towermuseumbassingbourn.co.uk/) , Bassingbourn opened in 1938 as part of the RAF's pre-war expansion programme. The RAF continued to use it until late in 1942 when its long...
||9 December 1922
Irvin Howard Lewis (1922-1989) was born in Bremerton, Washington on 9 December 1922, the second son of Thomas H. Lewis and Wilhelmina “Nettie” Schold. He married Virginia Davies (1926-1988) in 1943, before shipping overseas to England with the USAAF as aircrew in 1944. After the war he and Nettie had 10 children, eight boys and two girls. Following his return as a POW, Irvin remained in the US Airforce, with the rank of Master Sergeant. He never flew again as aircrew.
|Prisoner of War (POW)
||21 June 1944 – 2 May 1945
Staff-Sergeant Irvin Howard Lewis USAAF was for 10 months a POW, (POW #2541 Stalag Luft IV) and one of the many thousands who undertook the forced marches from their camps towards Berlin as the Russian armies made their way into Prussia and Eastern Germany in 1945.
On February 6,7, & 8, 1945 some 6,000 men of the camp set out on a march of 86 days to the west that would be called “The Black March”.
On the morning of 2 May 1945, the POWs were all sitting in a ditch next to the River Elbe close to the town of Laurenburg, in the State of Schleswig-Holstein, east of Hamburg. Advance combat units of the British Second Army arrived, and the POWs were ‘liberated’. The fighting troops did not have a level of rations to feed so many prisoners. The Germans were still resisting and the war in Europe had another six days to run. Still hungry, the ex-POWs were told to march westwards. Thus, ended Stalag Luft IV.