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Edward Frank Espitallier

Military

Edward Espitallier was Radio Operator on B-17F-15-BO #41-24496 'Chenault's Pappy' on the 17 November 1942 mission to St. Nazaire, France. After leaving the target area, the Fortress was attacked by FW190s. The TTG Aulenbach was killed and 3 crew members were wounded as the plane suffered severe damage. A/C landed at Exeter.
Returned to Duty (RTD).
Edward was Radio Operator on B-17 #42-5717 on the 16 February 1943 mission to the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. The aircraft was attacked by fighters and Pilot William Warner was killed by enemy fire. Co-Pilot Arnold Carlson continued the flight but a/c crashed near the village of Guillac, 7km SW of Ploërmel (Morbihan), France. Seriously wounded in a leg, Eddie was immediately captured and spent six weeks in a German hospital. Interned at Stalag Luft 3 in Sagan/Zagan, Poland. Force-marched from there, he arrived at Stalag VIIA at Moosburg, Germany. Liberated there on 29 April 1945 by US troops. NARA WWII POW record : "Returned to Military Control 26 July 1945."
From an interview with Espitallier: 'The #4 engine was hit by flak, aflame, and we dropped out of formation. The plane was hit by fighters, then, and was hit very hard. Pilot Bill Warner and Navigator Wm. Utley were both shot through the forehead and killed instantly by a head on fighter attack. Espitallier was hit in the left hip and leg by 20 mm cannon fire. Williams came out of the tail, but then went back to his position. Copilot Carlson was also hit by gun fire. Neeley was killed in the plane. Kisling was lying in the waist and bleeeding badly. Clay Wilson came back and said to bail out as there was no pilot. Clay went out first, followed by Espitallier. Morgan never left the plane, and 'I believe he went back up front and tried to fly the plane.' Espitallier made plans to escape as he came down in his parachute, landing in an orchard in a village, but could not walk. He gave his watch and contents of his escape kit to some Frenchmen and told them to leave him. He hobbled across the street and into a house, where he lay down on a couch. He saw the plane hit the ground. He was later taken to a German field hopital, where the shell fragments were removed, and was hopitalized six or seven weeks. He was then sent to Stalag 7-B at Moosburg.' [ Note : This should be the last camp he was in : Stalag 7A (VIIA) in Moosburg, Germany, liberated by US troops on 29 April 1945.]
A Memorial honoring the crew of B-17 #42-5717 was erected in Guillac, France in October 2007 by representatives of France, Germany and USA.

Service

People

  • Arnold Carlson

    Military | Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Arnold Carlson was serving as Co-Pilot of B-17 #42-5717 on the 16 February 1943 mission to the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. The aircraft was attacked by fighters and Pilot William Warner was killed by enemy fire. Co-Pilot Arnold Carlson...

  • Robert Kisling

    Military | Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner, Waist Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Robert Kisling was Right Waist gunner on B-17 #42-5717 on the 16 February 1943 mission to the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. The aircraft was attacked by fighters and Pilot William Warner was killed by enemy fire. Co-Pilot Arnold Carlson continued...

  • Robert Kylius

    Military | Lieutenant | Bombardier | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Robert Kylius was Bombardier in the 306th Bomb Group/423rd Bomb Squadron and completed 12 missions. His 13th mission was on B-17 #42-5717 on the 16 February 1943 operation to the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. The aircraft was attacked by fighters...

  • Walter Morgan

    Military | Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Walter Morgan was an original crew member on the John Barnett crew. ...

  • Colon Neeley

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    On 17 November, 1942, after leaving the target area near St. Nazaire, B-17F #41-24496 'Chenault's Pappy' 306BG/423BS was attacked by FW190s. The TTG Aulenbach was killed and 3 crew members as the plane suffered severe damage. A/C landed at Exeter....

  • Lewis Utley

    Military | Lieutenant | Navigator | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Lewis Utley was Navigator on B-17 #42-5717 on the 16 February 1943 mission to the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France. The aircraft was attacked by fighters and Pilot William Warner was killed by enemy fire. Co-Pilot Arnold Carlson continued the flight...

  • William Williams

    Military | Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    Served as Tail Gunner on B-17F #42-24496 "Chennault's Pappy", 306BG/423BS. The aircraft was attacked by FW190s after leaving the target area near St. Nazaire, on 17 November 1942. The TTG Aulenbach was killed and 3 crew members were injured as the...

  • Claiborne Wilson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Flight Engineer | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    On 17 November, 1942, after leaving the target area near St. Nazaire, B-17F #41-24496 'Chenault's Pappy' was attacked by FW190s. The TTG Aulenbach was killed and 3 crew members as the plane suffered severe damage. A/C landed at Exeter. ...

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Units served with

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 423rd Bomb Squadron

Aircraft

  • 41-24496 Chennault's Pappy

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24496 'Chennault's Pappy' Delivered Great Falls, Montana, force landed Nashville, Tennessee with Jim Dale; repaired & assigned 423BS/306BG Westover 15-Aug-42; Thurleigh 8-Sep-42. ...

  • 42-5717

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F-VE 42-5717 was delivered Cheyenne 13-Sep-42; New Castle 11-Oct-42; Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD-F] Thurleigh 29-Nov-1942. The aircraft was attacked by German fighters on the way to bomb the U-Boat pens at St Nazaire, France on 16 February 1943 and...

Missions

  • VIII Bomber Command 20

    17 November 1942
    The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are the Primary (P) target for a combined force of 49 B-17s despatched from 91BG (20), 303BG (16) and 306BG (13). Another element of 14 B-24s despatched from 93BG also joins the bombing force on St. Nazaire. The...

  • VIII Bomber Command 36

    16 February 1943
    The port area and U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are designated as the primary target of this mission of 71 B-17s and 18 B-24s. B-17s are from 91BG (18); 303BG (15); 305BG (18); 306BG (20) of these 59 are effective on the target and 6 are lost....

Associated Place

  • Thurleigh

    Military site : airfield
    Built for RAF use in 1941-42, Thurleigh was initially used by RAF Bomber Command before being handed over to the Eighth Air Force. Its runways and hardstandings were improved, and the B-17s of the 306th Bomb Group began using the base. It was their...

  • Stalag VII-A

    Other location

Events

Event Location Date
Born 18 August 1918

Aberdeen, Grays Harbor County, Washington

Lived in October 1940

Clovis, California

Enlisted 21 October 1941

Presidio of Monterey, California

Prisoner of War (POW) Zagan, Poland 16 February 1943 – May 1945

Wounded & captured near Guillac, France. Hospitalized, then sent to camps in Poland and Germany.
Stalag Luft 3 Sagan-Silesia Bavaria (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser) 49-11

Discharged 16 September 1945
Died 30 June 1996
Buried Fresno, Fresno County, California, USA

Fresno Memorial Gardens

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:51:45 jmoore43 Changes to events
Sources

Added a Buried event per Find-a-grave Memorial ID 177017651.

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:25:47 jmoore43 Changes to events
Sources

Added POW camp info to the POW event from WW2 POW records at the National Archives (NARA).

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:13:28 jmoore43 Changes to person associations
Sources

Removed a dup connection.

Date Contributor Update
26 September 2020 00:09:22 jmoore43 Changes to firstname
Sources

Corrected his first name by moving his nickname to the nickname field.

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2020 13:21:48 ED-BB Changes to events, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

NARA WWII Enlistment records
WWII Draft Card
NARA WWII POW records
Veterans Affairs BIRLS death File

Date Contributor Update
05 September 2020 10:46:19 ED-BB Changes to middlename, firstname, service number and biography
Sources

MACR 15472

Date Contributor Update
19 July 2020 19:46:33 mjmiller Changes to biography
Sources

Daughter of Edward F Espitallier - Mary Jane Miller

Date Contributor Update
19 July 2020 19:32:37 mjmiller Changes to nickname, service number, biography, awards, person associations, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations
Sources

Daughter of Edward F. Espitallier - Mary Jane Miller

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:08:20 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

306th BG Association Directory, 1 September 1999 Edition; MACR 15472, Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces Volume I by Bishop and Hey p. 46 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

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