Maurice Victor Henry

Military ROLL OF HONOUR

Shot down 26 November 1943 in B-17 #42-5051 'Barrel House Bessie'. T/Sgt Maurice Henry was Top Turret Gunner on this Fortress, which ditched into the North Sea after being hit by Flak. Besides being posthumously awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart, T/Sgt Henry was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). His citation for the DSC reads : "Maurice V. Henry, 37205337, Technical Sergeant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For valor above and beyond the call of duty while participating in an operational mission over Germany on 26 November 1943, T/Sgt Henry's display of courage, coolness, skill and self-negation in the presence of great hazard and uncertainty, with utter disregard of his own personal safety, made possible the rescue of seven members of his crew although by his actions he is missing and presumed to have perished. Approaching the target on its bombing run, T/Sgt Henry's aircraft suffered an engine failure in two outboard engines and began to fall behind the formation. The crew jettisoned the bombs to lighten the load, and intercept the formation, but one fully armed bomb hung up in the racks. Despite intense attacks by enemy aircraft, evasive action, and the extreme cold, T/Sgt Henry entered the open bomb bay and released the bomb. About that time the Number Three engine was set on fire and it was decided to run for a cloud bank some distance away. At this point, T/Sgt Henry destroyed one enemy aircraft and damaged another from his position in the top turret. Despite violent evasive action, the enemy fighter attacks increased in intensity and many damaging hits were made on the aircraft. The oxygen system was shot out, the pilot's aileron control and both pilot and co-pilot's rudder control were destroyed, and the entire electrical system including instruments and turret control were made inoperative. An incendiary shell struck the left side of the cockpit, slightly wounding the pilot and setting the cockpit afire. T/Sgt Henry extinguished the fire although ill and vomiting from the acrid smoke. The enemy fighters were evaded in the clouds, but the aircraft was losing altitude and due to the failure of the intercommunications system T/Sgt Henry made repeated trips through the ship to carry out orders of the pilot and to supervise the jettisoning of equipment to lighten the load. Breaking out of the clouds at 6,000 feet directly over the city of Emden, the aircraft was immediately engaged and further damaged by heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire, but by strong evasive action escaped to the sea. By this time, the Number Four engine was completely out and it was impossible to feather the propeller. Number Three engine had been started again but was giving only spasmodic power. Shortly thereafter, both Number One and Number Two engines cut out and T/Sgt Henry quickly and with great presence of mind assembled the crew in the radio comprtment and prepared them for ditching. All radio equipment had been destroyed and is was impossible to transmit an SOS. A small boat was seen in the sea and T/Sgt Henry immediately produced a flare and a Very pistol with which to signal it. With no power, the pilot landed in the general area of the surface vessel, the aircraft breaking in two just aft of the radio compartment. T/Sgt Henry assisted the other members of the crew to leave the ship and was himself to last abandon it, renouncing all regard for his own survival. He delayed his exit further by searching for and finding the emergency radio which he took with him in the icy water. Due to the battle damage to the life rafts, the heavy swell of the waves, and the shock of entering the extremely cold water, members of the crew could do nothing to assist each other. T/Sgt Henry, still grasping the emergency radio which he considered vitally necessary to rescue, despite his valiant struggle was washed away and lost." T/Sgt Maurice Victor Henry is still listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Valor: The Saga of Barrel House Bessie
https://www.airforcemag.com/article/valor-the-saga-of-barrel-house-bess…

Connections

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Units served with

The insignia of the 384th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 13067778
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 32373835
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: waist gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 36255285
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 482nd Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron 812th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 14006633 at enlistment, then O-406671
  • Highest Rank: Major
  • Role/Job: Pilot; Commanding Officer
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19085247 at enlistment, then O-738778
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Bombardier

Aircraft

  • Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Nicknames: Barrel House Bessie
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 544th Bomb Squadron 546th Bomb Squadron

Missions

Places

Events

Event Location Date Description

Born

1914-07-14 Ravenwood, Nodaway County, Missouri

Other

Missing In Action (MIA)

1943-11-26 Didn't manage to reach life raft after ditching in the North Sea

Other

Memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing

at the Cambridge American Cemetery
Ravenwood, Nodaway County, Missouri

Revisions

Date4 Feb 2019 14:56:39
ContributorED-BB
Sources

MACR 1579
WWII Casualties for Nodaway County, Missouri
ABMC website
"Heritage of Valor" by Colonel Budd J. Peaslee (J. B. Lippincott Cy, 1964 - pages 285-287

Date27 Sep 2014 18:19:54
ContributorAAM
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 1579 / MACR 1579, http://384thbombgroup.com/_content/_pages/PersonnelSearch.php?LastName=… / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database