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John Gavin


Joined Sqd 8/3/42. ETO/Queen Mary 9/5/42. Injured 1/3/43 (St. Nazaire). Serious injury in crash. Returned to USA Hospital. Pilot: Erwin. January 3, 1943 B-24 #4123806 'Bat Out of Hell' crashed south-west of Haverfordwest returning from target U/B yards (submarine) at St. Nazaire, France. Fuel shortage caused the crash.

On 3 Jan 1943 in B-24D 41-23806 "Bat out of Hell" while serving as Bombardier the aircraft made a crash-landing near Heverfordwest when it ran out of fuel upon return from a mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at Sr. Nazaire, France. He was hospitalized and returned to the US for medical discharge. The pilot died of his injuries on 5-Jan-43; the co-pilot was killed in the crash; and the Navigator died of his injuries on 8-Jan-43.


Units served with

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    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...

  • 68th Bomb Squadron


  • 41-23806 Bat out of Hell

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23806 "Bat out of Hell" was assigned to 44BG/68BS at Shipdham, UK. The aircraft was despatched 3-Jan-43 on a mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. Aircraft returned to England but ran out of fuel and crashed south-west of...


  • VIII Bomber Command 28

    3 January 1943
    The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are once again the target for this mission. This is proving to be a particularly difficult target to destroy due to its massive, reinforced concrete design. It consists of 14 individual pens connected together in...

Associated Place

  • 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...

  • Dreenhill

    Crash site


Event Location Date


Date Contributor Update
11 November 2019 14:37:27 Emily Changes to biography, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations

Brought together information from duplicate record, to include information from: Lee Cunningham 5-Feb-2015. All additions, changes etc. based on "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A, Hey MBE. Made connections to Place, Aircraft and Mission within existing website data,

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:16:26 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Webb Todd, Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces Vol. 1 by Bishop and Hey p. 61, 44th BG Roll of Honor and Casualties by Lundy p. 39, The 44th BG in WWII by MacKay and Adams p.27