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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 details of the loss in his Escape & Evasion account (EE #2846). "Over the Brest peninsula just under the 13,000 foot ceiling, FW-190's and flak wounded Lt. Spire and shot away one engine, the ball turret, the top turret, the intercom system and the elevator controls. The bombardier, Lt Ewart Sconiers salvoed his bombs and bailed out over land. At 13:00 the plane landed 10 miles from shore in the Bay of Biscay and remained afloat for 30 seconds, giving the crew time to ditch. No swimmer, Lt. Spire inflated his Mae West and paddled to the half-inflated large dingy which supported all of the crew except the engineer who sat in his own small dingy." All were picked up by a French fishing boat and turned over to the Germans at Quimper, France. 8 POW, 1 DIC, & 1 EVD. No Missing Air Crew Report (MACR).

Pilot 1Lt Milton Stenstrom (POW); Co-Pilot 1Lt Robert L. Carlberg (POW);
Navigator 1Lt Harold Spire (POW-ESC); Bombardier Ewart T. Sconiers (POW-DIC 21-Jan-44)
Engineer/Top Turret Gunner SSgt Roy T. Nalley (POW); Radio Operator SSgt William A. Adams (POW); Ball Turret Gunner Sgt William E. Schimke (POW); Left Waist Gunner Sgt Thomas C. Calhoun (POW); Right Waist Gunner Sgt John M. Hughes (POW); Tail Gunner Sgt. James C. Simmons (POW).



  • 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).

  • 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).

  • 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... ...

  • 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. ...


  • 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...


  • 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...


Event Location Date
Failed to Return 56100 Lorient, France 21 October 1942


Date Contributor Update
23 April 2020 00:52:29 jmoore43 Changes to description

Added punctuation to the "Summary biography" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2015 14:00:54 ED-BB Changes to nicknames, description and person associations

NARA archives
Crew list
Escape & Evasion Report E&E 2846 of Lt Harold Spire
"17 août 1942 - Objectif Rouen" by Frenchman Paul Le Trevier ( )

Date Contributor Update
21 November 2014 20:04:03 Lee8thbuff Changes to description

Lee Cunningham 21-Nov-2014. Description details of loss: National Archives Records Administration (NARA) Escape & Evasion Report #2846 which may be viewed at Formatted crew entries, rank and proper names extracted from NARA WWII POW database, confirmed in "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
28 October 2014 19:01:10 Lee8thbuff Changes to nicknames, description, unit associations and place associations

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

Date Contributor Update
18 October 2014 20:29:11 Lee8thbuff Changes to production block number, manufacturer, nicknames and description

Lee Cunningham 19-Oct-2014, "Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A Hey MBE; National Archives Records Administration (NARA) POW records.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:40:02 AAM AAM ingest

Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log