Jewel K Haynes


Object Number - UPL 23709 - This picture was taken at Ardmore Airforce Base Oklahoma 1944 before beginning posted to England. It contains eight members of the crew of B17...

T/Sgt Ken Haynes first hand account.
43-38568 was our forth B-17 – we left the other three in Belgium after emergency landings. The pilot, co-pilot and myself had slow timed the ship for 4 hours on the day before to break in some newly installed engines. The next day the ship was loaded with a full load, 2800 gallons of gas and 3000lbs demolition bombs and 3000lbs of incendiary bombs.

When I raised the landing gear and was closing the cowl flaps I noticed the No 3 engine was on fire. It hadn’t gone on the intercom so I slapped the co-pilot and yelled No 3 is on fire and called out to the crew. The co-pilot pulled the extinguisher but the flames kept spreading. The co-pilot announced that there was a river at 10 o clock. We then let the crew know of the plan to ditch.

The nose crew headed for the radio room with the others. I wanted to follow thinking that would be the safest place, but I know that I should stay and call speed to assist in the landing. So I braced myself behind the pilot and co-pilots seats with right forward against the hatch.

When we touched down on the water, I think maybe a little too much tail, the ship slapped forward breaking out the glass nose and scooped fall of water. The water hit me so hard it through me through the bulk head door and I landed on my back in the bomb bay. By the time I got to my feet we were completely underwater.

Being right handed I unlocked the co-pilots first then the left sides pilots window. I didn’t know at the time but the pilot was having a problem with his chute hanging up on the window. He’s trying to get the chute off and I’m trying to push him through the window. What seemed like forever he made it and I followed.

When I surfaced I remember seeing Lt Roth in the water and thought thank God he’s made it. I then tried to pull the levers on my “Mae west” but my arms felt like they were too heavy to lift. I did manage to pull the right side before passing out. With one side inflated it pinned my head in the water. I floated downstream and was pulled from the water by a fisherman. The Pilot managed to swim ashore. The co-pilot was found later but had drowned.


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Units served with

The insignia of the 493rd Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment


  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Civilian
  • Nationality: British


  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Little Davey II
  • Unit: 493rd Bomb Group 861st Bomb Squadron 863rd Bomb Squadron



Event Location Date Description


Survived aircraft 43-38568 ditching

River Deben, United Kingdom 20 February 1945


Date4 Jan 2017 21:02:01
ContributorJeff Coleman

Jeff Coleman

Date30 Dec 2016 16:56:29
ContributorJeff Coleman

Jeff Coleman

Date27 Sep 2014 18:15:15

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