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42-99970

B-24 Liberator

Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Hit by flak on mission to V-1 sites at Agathe d' Aliermont, France on 21-Jan-44. Flak hit in bomb bay, nose turret, ball turret, starboard wing and taking out #1 & 2 engines leaving #3 on fire. 3 x crew baled out over French coast, A/C returned to England belly landing at Wingham, Kent. 2 x KIA, 3 x POW, 8 x RTD. MACR 8714

Crew: Major William N Anderson (KIA), 1Lt Keith Cookus, 1Lt Howard K Holladay, 1Lt Franklin A Campbell (WIA), 1Lt Woodrow W Cole (KIA), S/Sgt's Andrew A Kowalski, Thomas Fong, Walter E Boyd, Eugene K Seifried, Herman Becker (WIA) (5 RTD). Capt Robert L Ager, 1Lt Henry A Wieser and S/Sgt Richard J Trechel (POW).

US Press of the day:
"A US Bomber Base in England, Jun 21 - Flak-torn and with three of its engines gone, the Liberator 'Liberty Bell' crash-landed near a southeast England town after the Friday raids on the French coast and for three hours the pilot and four fellow-crewmen battled to save three others trapped in the blazing wreckage with the bodies of two death officers.
Thirteen men went out on the Liberty Bell. Eight returned alive.
A half-dozen flak bursts struck her over Dieppe, starting a fire in the bomb bay, igniting No. 3 engine and knocking out the controls of No. 1 and No. 2 engines.
Pilot Lt. Keith Cookus of Bonham, TX, ordered the high explosive bomb load released. Bombardier Lt. Woodrow C. Cole of Hollywood, CA, had to hang on to the bomb bay to release one bomb which had stuck because the catwalk was blown away.
The blazing engine exploded near the English coast and was still burning when at a 50-foot height Cookus veered to avoid hitting a house and the plane crashed into a field.
Trapped on the flight deck, but finally saved were the nose turret gunner, Sgt. Eugene K. Siefried, Philadelphia; Navigator Franklin A. Campbell, Detroit, and the top turret gunner, Sgt. Herman Becker, Woodbury, N.J.
"Despite the great danger they never uttered a complaint during the three hours we hacked at the wreckage," Cookus said. "High octane gas could have blown up, but they stayed calm--showed the greatest courage I have ever seen."
First to climb out of the plane were three gunners, including Sgt. Thomas Fong, Oakland, CA. Cook and Co-Pilot Lt. Howard K. Halladay, Somerset, KY., followed.
The gunners suffered superficial burns from flaming oil.
Cookus' crewmates told how he dug desperately with a shovel brought by a farmer to build up an earth wall to keep the fire in the engines from the trapped men and how he tried futilely to lift a section of the plane.
"We felt so helpless until a British fire engine arrived to put out the fire," Cookus said. "I would have gone crazy if the fire had spread to the boys. Once I was bawling there like a baby."
With axes and wrecking bars a hole was made in the wreckage to pull out the survivors and the two bodies."

Service

Units

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

  • 67th Bomb Squadron

People

  • Robert Ager

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 3-Aug-42. ETO/Flight Echelon 2-Oct-42. WIA 6-Dec-42 (Abbeyville). DS/Tunis 16-Sep-43. Trans/Group HQ. ...

  • William Anderson

    Military | Major | Command Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. ...

  • Herman Becker

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; Hit by flak in legs. Wounded in Action (WIA) RTD. MACR 8174. Awards: PH, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Walter Boyd

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; Suffered minor burns RTD. MACR 8174. Awards: AM, PH, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Franklin Campbell

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Navigator on mission to Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; became trapped in flight deck wreckage during belly landing, pinned for three hours before being released. WIA...

  • Woodrow Cole

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Flew as bombardier on mission to V-1 sites at Agathe d' Aliermont, France 21-Jan-44; A/C hit by flak, wounded, he released as many bombs as possible from the damaged bomb bay manually, before collapsing on the flight...

  • Keith Cookus

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. 25 x combat missions. Pilot on Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; RTD. MACR 8174. ...

  • Thomas Fong

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Ball turret gunner on Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; Suffered minor burns RTD. MACR 8174. ...

  • Howard Holladay

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Co-pilot on Agathe d' Aliermont V1 site mission in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle' 21-Jan-44; RTD. MACR 8174. Awards: AM, PH, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Andrew Kowalski

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer, Top Turret Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Hit by flak on mission to V-1 sites at Agathe d' Aliermont, FR on 21 Jan 1944 in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle'. A/C returned to England but crashed upon landing at Wingham, Kent. MACR 8714 ...

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Missions

  • 8th Air Force 187

    21 January 1944
    This mission is directed at 36 V-Weapon sites (34 in the Pas-de-Calaise area and 2 in the Chrebourg area of France) 24 of these are bombed successfully. All three Bomb Divisions participate in the attacks and the bomber gunners claimed 5-1-2 of...

Places

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...

Events

Event Location Date
Manufactured San Diego, CA 1943

Built at Consolidated.

Assigned Shipdham, UK 1944

Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF.

Crashed Wingham, Kent, England 21 January 1944

Hit by flak on mission to V-1 sites at Agathe d' Aliermont, France on 21-Jan-44 in B-24J 42-99970 'Liberty Belle'. A/C returned to England but crashed upon landing at Wingham, Kent. 2 x KIA, 3 x POW, 5 x RTD. MACR 8714

Salvaged 23 January 1944

Salvaged by 3rd SAD 23-Jan-44.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
09 April 2019 18:43:46 Al_Skiff Changes to description
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/28698055
https://www.fold3.com/image/28698182
We Were Eagles Volume Two: The Eighth Air Force at War December 1943 to May 1944 By Martin W. Bowman
http://www.8thairforce.com/members/rollofhonor2.asp?perIdentification=22808

Date Contributor Update
07 April 2019 19:25:05 Al_Skiff Changes to production block number, nicknames, markings, description, events, unit associations, person associations, place associations and mission associations
Sources

https://www.fold3.com/image/28698055
We Were Eagles Volume Two: The Eighth Air Force at War December 1943 to May 1944 By Martin W. Bowman

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:41:18 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

MACR 8714 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

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