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Laurence Henry Meidl


Laurence Meidl was killed in Action on 18 March 1944, on a mission to Villaorba, Italy, while flying as Ball Turret gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress 42-29584. It was Laurence's 40th mission with the 2nd Bomb Group/429th Bomb Squadron. He had flown his first one on 22 November 1943 and flew on 7 different Fortresses, with 7 different pilots. He was on his second mission with Pilot Clifford Magnusons on 18 March 1944 when their aircraft was jumped by enemy fighters, who attacked the right wing and cockpit, causing the B-17 to become ablaze. While the crew were bailing out, Meidl was seen at the escape hatch, either afraid to jump or struggling with the door, when the aircraft was hit by another shell. After escaping the aircraft, other members of the crew were told by Yugoslavian villagers that they had found Meidl's body.
A website (in Serbo-Croatian), where the case of “Sad Sack” is reported from pages 55 to 59, with a photo of “Sad Sack” and one of its crews on page 59 :
A Google translation of part of that text mentioning Laurence Meidl (with some corrections by ED-BB) :
"Janez Jerman, the then authorized commander of national protection for the Cerknica area, was among the first to arrive at the scene of the accident. A good six hundred meters away from the wreckage of the plane, he came across a part of an American uniform, which made him pay attention. When he got closer, he noticed that he was basically an American aviator, who was completely buried in the soft swampy ground. Janko Leben also testified about the discovery of the dead aviator, which was written by Matija Žganjar in his work. The testimonies differ slightly: while Jerman writes that he had (found) a pilot, Leben recalls that the airman probably jumped without a parachute. Jerman further recalls that he and his brother, a Notranjska detachment fighter, pulled the body out of the ground and found that apart from the injuries he had suffered on the hard landing, he was not injured. Leben recalls differently: "I noticed a large wound on his back, he was probably hit in the air by an enemy anti-aircraft grenade."
Based on the identification card that the victim had around his neck, the American was identified. The fighters of the Notranjska detachment then arranged for the funeral. The deceased was buried in the cemetery in Žerovnica, the funeral was attended by a huge number of locals and partisans, who set up an honor guard and accompanied him with an honorary rifle volley. The funeral was led by the pastor Janez Jalen, a well-known Slovenian writer. After the war, the Allied Commission exhumed the body and transported it to Belgrade.
Jerman's account of he and his brother trying to find the reason why the dead airman did not use his parachute (at first concluded that it might have been possible for the parachute not to open.) But they found later that that was not the case. When they opened the parachute, they found that it was working normally. “I gave the parachute to my brother to make camouflage clothes out of. He later told me that this is what he did."



  • Raymond Horne Jr

    Military | Second Lieutenant
    Was Navigator on B-17 "Sad Sack", Serial 42-29584, lost on the 18 March 1944 mission to Villaorba, Italy. Made prisoner of War (POW). Interned at Stalag Luft 3, Sagan, Poland.

  • Theodore Lauterbach

    Military | Second Lieutenant
    Was Co-Pilot of B-17 "Sad Sack", Serial 42-29584, lost on the 18 March 1944 mission to Villaorba, Italy. Evaded capture with help of Yugoslav partisans.

  • Clifford Magnuson

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot
    Was Pilot of B-17 "Sad Sack", Serial 42-29584, lost on the 18 March 1944 mission to Villaorba, Italy. Evaded capture with help of Yugoslav partisans.

Units served with

  • 2nd Bomb Group

    2nd Bomb Group

    Served on antisubmarine duty for several months after the U.S. entered World War II. In October 1942 was re-designated as 2d Bombardment Group (Heavy) and earmarked for combat. The group was transferred on paper to Geiger Field, Washington, where it...

  • 429th Bomb Squadron


  • 41-24366

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned RAF [FA681] but transferred 353BS/301BG Westover 7/7/42; Podington 6/8/42 {6m}; Tafaraoui, Alg 24/11/42; 346BS/99BG Navarin, Alg 3/4/43; transferred 429BS/2BG {5m}; ret 99BG; Le Senia, It. depot 3/44; crash landed 19/8/44. Salvaged. K.O.

  • 41-24435

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 92BG Bangor 2/6/42; 340BS/97BG Polebrook 19/8/42; flew Operation Torch commanders to Gibraltar 5/11/42; Maison Blanche, Alg 13/11/42; Tafaraoui, Alg 22/11/42; Biskra, Alg 25/12/42; Chateau-du-Rhumel, Alg 8/2/43; Pont-du-Fahs, Tun 1/8/43;...

  • 42-29584 Sad Sack

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 15/1/43; Salina 23/1/43; Morrison 10/3/43; Assigned 429BS/2BG Navarin 19/3/43; (2m) Missing in Action Villaorba airfield, Italy, 18/3/44 with Pilot Clifford E. Magnuson; Co-pilot: Theodore G. Lauterbach; Flight engineer/top turret...

  • 42-29619

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/1/43; Salina 31/1/43; Kearney 7/2/43; Morrison 10/3/43; Assigned 96BS/2BG Navarin 17/4/43; Chateau-du-Rhumel 27/4/43; Ain M'Lila 17/6/43; Massicault 31/7/43; Bizerte 2/12/43; Amendola 9/12/43; 99BG Tortorella 28/3/43; 483BG...

  • 42-29845

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 25/2/43; Tinker 10/3/43; Assigned 419BS/301BG St Donat 14/7/43; Oudna 6/8/43; {41m} transferred 429BS/2BG Massicault 14/11/43; Bizerte 2/12/43; Amendola 9/12/43; 99BG Tortorella 28/3/44; {2m 99BG} 816BS/483BG Tortorella 31/3/44;...

  • 42-3066

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 9/2/43; Tinker 10/3/43; Assigned 96BS/2BG Navarin 17/3/43; transferred 353BS/301BG Oudna, Tun 10/43 {3m}; ret 429BS/2BG Massicault 16/11/43; Bizerte 2/12/43; Amendola 9/12/43; 348BS/99BG Tortorella, 28/3/44; {1m} 483BG Tortorella 31/3...

  • 42-5350

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/11/42; West Palm Beach 9/1/43; Assigned 32BS/301BG Biskra 21/1/43; Ain M'Lila 17/1/43; St Donat 6/3/43; Oudna 6/8/43; 67m transferred 429BS/2BG Massicault 14/11/43; Bizerte 2/12/43; Amendola 9/12/43; 1m 347BS/99BG Tortorella 28/3...

Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born Nicolett, Nicolett County, Minnesota 4 March 1921

the son of Austrian-born Frank and Annie Meidl

Lived in 1930

Byersville Township, McLean County, North Dakota

Lived in 1942

Butte, McLean County, Minnesota

Enlisted 14 October 1942

Butte, McLean County, North Dakota

Killed In Action (KIA) 18 March 1944

above Javornik, Slovenia (former Yugoslavia)

Buried 18 March 1944

in the cemetery at Žerovnica, in Slovenia (former Yugoslavia)

Buried New Ulm Catholic Cemetery 1949

New Ulm cemetery, New Ulm, Minnesota


after the war, his remains were exhumed and re-interred in a Belgrade cemetery


Date Contributor Update
14 March 2021 10:52:56 ED-BB Changes to aircraft associations

MISSIONS flown on various B-17s, from

Date Contributor Update
13 March 2021 15:02:04 ED-BB Changes to biography, awards, events, person associations, unit associations and place associations

* US Census 1930 for McLean County, North Dakota
* A website (in Serbo-Croatian), where the case of “Sad Sack” is reported from pages 55 to 59, with a photo of “Sad Sack” and one of its crews on page 59 :
* Missions :

Date Contributor Update
11 March 2021 11:40:26 Emily Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations and aircraft associations

Information provided by Cassandra Thorson, Great niece of Laurence Meidl, and Granddaughter of Hilarious Meidl
(SSGT US Air Force Korea) .

Missing Air Crew Report

Account of 463rd Bomb Group misisons, 1944

Find a Grave