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Irvin E Lewis

Military

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.

Service

Units served with

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    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...

  • 322nd Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 44-6117

    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. ...

Associated Place

  • Bassingbourn

    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...

  • Stalag Luft IV

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born 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) Germany 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.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
03 February 2019 12:23:18 general ira snapsorter Changes to biography, place associations and media associations
Sources

Associated media and included biographical details from the media item.

Date Contributor Update
01 February 2019 16:29:57 Lord Morgan Changes to biography
Sources

THE B17 AT THE BOTTOM OF A POLISH LAKE
The Flight Engineer’s Story, a Resourceful Pilot and a Remarkable Plane by Brinley Morgan (2018) book being revised and reprinted in April 2019. Morgan is the husband of S/Sgt Lewis's niece, Dr Cheryl L. Morgan (Lady Morgan of Raglan)

Date Contributor Update
01 February 2019 16:28:15 Lord Morgan Changes to biography and events
Sources

THE B17 AT THE BOTTOM OF A POLISH LAKE
The Flight Engineer’s Story, a Resourceful Pilot and a Remarkable Plane by Brinley Morgan (2018) book being revised and reprinted in April 2019. Morgan is the husband of S/Sgt Lewis's niece, Dr Cheryl L. Morgan (Lady Morgan of Raglan)

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:13:28 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 5980 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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