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Frederic C Martini


Joined in August 1941, trained as a quartermaster. Volunteered for air service after the war started. Went to gunnery school and mechanics school. Joined Lt Loren Jackson crew when it formed at Drew Field, FL. Flew to ETO in April 1944, plane crashed on landing due to broken landing gear. Second plane named Crashwagon II ditched in English channel 24 May 1944. Third plane B-17 'Crash Wagon III' was #42-97818 but it was in the maintenance bay on 12 June and they called their substitute plane (#42-31762, aka "Junior") Crashwagon III for good luck. They had little of that; hit by flak, crashed at Boisemont 12 Jun 1944. He was sheltered by the resistance in Hacqueville for 2 months, then betrayed by Jacques Desoubrie. Beaten, taken to Fresnes Prison, then boxcarred to Buchenwald on 15 August 44 with 2000+ French civilians. Survived 2 months in Buchenwald before Luftwaffe transferred him to SL III. Forced march through blizzard to reach train to Stalag VIIA where he remained until the camp was liberated by the 3rd Army. Returned to US severely traumatized but all information on his record was classified Secret and the US government denied he'd been in Buchenwald until 35-40 years later.



  • Ross Blake

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 385th Bomb Group
    B-17 Crash Wagon III (#42-31762) hit by flak, crashed at Boisemont 12 Jun 1944. Prisoner of War (POW).

Units served with

  • 385th Bomb Group

    385th Bomb Group

    The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9...

  • 551st Bomb Squadron


  • 42-31762 Junior aka Crash Wagon III

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 12/12/43; Gt Falls 16/12/43; Denver 20/12/43; Kearney 31/12/43; RAF Nutts Corner 15/1/44; Assigned 551BS/385BG [HR-M] Gt Ashfield 17/1/44; Missing in Action French A/fds 12/6/44 with Loren Jackson, Co-pilot: Ross Blake, Bombardier: Joe...

Associated Place


Event Location Date
Born Brooklyn, New York, USA 18 October 1918
Prisoner of War (POW) France 5 August 1944 – 29 April 1945

Picked up by Gestapo in Paris, held in Fresnes Prison, sent to Buchenwald, transferred to SL III, forced evac to Stalag VIIA

Died 21 September 1995

Died in Bradenton, Florida

Buried Cremated, Ashes scattered off Bradenton, Florida

Cremated and ashes scattered at sea.
Memorial plaque at Maui Veteran's Cemetery, Makawao HI


Date Contributor Update
23 February 2016 03:50:07 Frederic Martini Changes to middlename, firstname, highest rank, biography and events

Family information and Army records

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:10:23 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 5628 / MACR 5628, son Frederick H. Martini / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database