Skip to main content
Edit entry 


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; Bombardier: Ewart T. Sconiers (WIA 21/8/42); Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Roy T. Nalley; Radio Operator: William A. Adams; Right Waist Gunner: Wallace M. Smith; Left Waist Gunner: Thomas P. Calhoun; Ball Turret Gunner William E. Schimke; Tail Gunner James C. Simmons.
On the 21 August 1942 mission to the Rotterdam shipyards, The Netherlands, "Johnny Reb" was severely damaged by Fw190s. Co-Pilot Donald Walter was killed, Co-Pilot Richard Starks was too seriously wounded to fly the plane and Bombardier Ewart Sconiers, who had failed pilot training, took the controls and with advice from Starks, managed to bring the plane safely back in England, landing at Horsham St Faith in Norfolk.
41-9089 was transferred to the 92nd BG at Bovingdon 24/8/42. Moved to Snetterton Heath on 16/5/43 to the 96th BG/11 CCRC (Combat Crew Replacement Center) and was used as tow target ship. Recl Comp 27/11/45.



  • 97th Bomb Group

    97th Bomb 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


  • 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).

  • 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).

  • Ewart Sconiers

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 97th Bomb Group
    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. ...

  • 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...

  • Donald Walter

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 97th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) in fighter attack in B-17 #41-9089. First Killed in Action (KIA) for VIII Bomber Command.


  • 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 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...


  • 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...

  • Snetterton Heath

    Military site : airfield
    Intended to be an RAF bomber base, construction of Snetterton Heath started in Autumn 1942 but continued until mid-1943, because it was extended after allocation as an Eighth Air Force bomber base. It had eventually three concrete runways, 50...


Not yet known


Date Contributor Update
09 September 2015 11:18:01 ED-BB Changes to description and person associations

Corrected error in names (Walter instead of Walters, Roy Nalley instead of Allen...)

Date Contributor Update
12 November 2014 23:56:03 Lee8thbuff Changes to unit associations, person associations and place associations

Lee Cunningham 12-Nov-2014. Update person associations.

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2014 19:43:15 Lee8thbuff Changes to mission associations

Lee Cunningham 19-Oct-2014, Mission associations "Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2014 19:21:37 Lee8thbuff Changes to production block number, manufacturer, nicknames, description and person associations

Lee Cunningham 19-Oct-2014 "Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:07 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log