Willis S. Cole
A Non-Profit Corporation
Kirkland, Washington, U.S.A.
B-17G-35VE SN: 42-97904
Dual Medal Of Honor Bomber
Follow the author's research
from the day when he first heard about
the bomber, including tracing the bomber from its delivery to the Army Air
Force in California, on 1 April, 1944, to its trip to England, arriving on
"D Day," 6 June, 1944, and its final flight on 9 November, 1944.
Shown here as described to the author shortly before the bomber
ended its last flight. Bailing out below is T/Sgt. Russell W. Gustafson
and hanging under the tail, where he was trapped, is the tail gunner,
S/Sgt. Herman B. Krimminger.
729th Bombardment Squadron (H)
452nd Bombardment Squadron (H)
45th Combat Wing
3rd Air Division
8th United Sates Army Air Force
On the 9 of November,
1944, the "Lady Jeannette" left England on
162 mission of the 452nd Bombardment Group. The primary target was the
Metz/Thionville area, with the secondary target being the marshaling yards of
The last 300 bombers of the 1,000 plane raid was diverted to the secondary
target after the primary target was covered by clouds and dust. The "Lady
Jeannette" was one of those bombers.
Four minutes before bomb drop, the "Lady Jeannette" was struck by flak,
tearing the number 4 engine off the bomber clear back to the wing. Seconds later,
the bomber was struck again, with the shell exploding just below the numbers 1 &
2 engines. This shell also broke the leg of the Flight Engineer and almost cut off
the right hand, just above the wrist, of the Radio Operator.
The Pilot, 1st Lt. Gott, and the Co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Metzger, using all their skill
managed to keep the bomber in the air and they decided to keep it going until they
reached the Allied lines.
For their actions from the time the bomber was struck by flak until the bomber
crashed in the Boise de Hattonville, the Pilot and Co-pilot were awarded the
Congressional Medal Of Honor, one of two dual Medal Of Honor awards in the
8th United States Army Air Force, accounting for two of seventeen Medals Of
Honor awarded to the 8th Air Force.
The museum's book, The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette,
ISBN 0-9662728-0-3, includes the author's research into this mission.
Crew: 1st Lt. Donald J. Gott, Pilot, K.I.A. Medal of Honor
2nd Lt. William E. Metzger, Jr., Co-pilot, K.I.A., Medal of Honor
2nd Lt. Joseph F. Harms, Navigator, W.I.A.
2nd Lt. John A. Harland, Bombardier, W.I.A.
T/Sgt. Russell W. Gustafson, Flight Engineer/Top Turret Gun, W.I.A.
T/Sgt. Robert A. Dunlap, Radio Operator, K.I.A.
S/Sgt. James O. Fross, Belly Turret Gunner, W.I.A.
S/Sgt. William R. Robbins, Right Waist Gunner
S/Sgt. Herman B. Krimminger, K.I.A.
At this spot, on 9 November, 1944, the B-17G-35-VE, SN: 42-97904's
forward section, of the bomber, nosed up, came to rest and burst
into fire. The Pilot, Co-pilot and Radio Operator appear to have
burnt to ashes. At this site, we recovered either the Pilot's or
Co-pilot's closed, burnt and rusted seat belt clasp.
As the bomber crashed through the woods it broke apart with the
tail hitting first in the first depression, an engine fell in the second
depression (we found its serial number plate) and the broken off,
at the radio compartment, tail came to rest in the third depression.
Just to the right of the first depression and a bit toward the third
depression we found a tattered strip of parachute. Probably the
parachute of Sgt. Krimminger who was hanging under the bomber's
trail and who was torn apart when the tail hit the ground.
One has to wonder which crewman had last wore this throat mike
and which crewman's oxygen mask the air release flap came from?
Willis S. Cole, Jr. "Sam" with identifiable cowl flap piece
found down the debris trail, indicating the direction the
bomber crashed into the woods.
Congressional Medal Of Honor
1st Lt. Donald J. Gott, Pilot, C.M.H.
2nd Lt. William E. Metzger, Jr., Co-Pilot, C.M.H.
Read the Medal Citations, General Order: 38, May 16, 1945.
(Click On The Picture And Go!)
The is about the first six
year's research by the author.
Very limited edition of this first edition
given as a premium for Tax-Deductible donation.
(Click On The Picture And Go!)
question is just who named the bomber, when and were? If you
know anything about this bomber, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lady Janet name for the bomber upon which the dual Medals of Honor
were awarded has been wrong since first used, the 'Lady Jeannette' was found
through archive and personal interviews to be the correct name of the bomber.
Visit The "Lady Janet" information page. The bomber
in the Dual Medal Of Honor Award, which crashed in France, is the
'Lady Jeannette.' However, in 1963/64, the wrong name started to be
placed in famous 8th Air Force history books, even though all the media
of 1944/45 referred to the bomber as the 'Lady Jeannette.' All newspaper
articles, including an interview with Colonel Batson Burnham, the
452nd Bombardment Group (H) Commander used the name,
'Lady Jeannette,' as well as all survivors reports, death reports and the
Congressional Medal Of Honor award ceremonies.
Return To The Museum's Front Page:
Date Page Was Last Updated: Saturday, June 10, 2006 21:43