Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum
A Non-Profit Corporation
Updates added as required.
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:26:06 AM
Latest Newsletter........ First!
The true stories of
Five Bombers of World War Two
Lost In Action _ In Europe
"Lady Jeannette" _ 2 Medals of Honor _ On Site Remains
"Where's It At" _ 2 Soldiers Medals
"Unnamed B_24J" _ 'Top Secret' and Documented Hidden Grave
"Lucky Lady" _ American Evader Execution
"Unnamed Halifax" _ Canadian Evader Execution
Vol. 4 No. 2
Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum
13444 124th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA U.S.A. 98034_5403
Telephone And FAX: 425.823.4445
Positive Proof Found At Suspected Crash Site!
Identity Tag Recovered After 56 Years!
Remains Found At the Site!
Search And Recovery
On May 23rd, while visiting the crash site at Hattonville with a
French friend who must remain
un-named at this time, he recovered two relics that will forever affect the crash site, its place in
history and the memorial dedications on 9/10 November, 2000.
With over 250 hours onsite research time, I had begun to give up all hope of
finding a physical
relic that would provide irrefutable evidence that the crash site was that of the Lady Jeannette. I
could put the four official Location of Death entries of the four crewmen at that location, providing
a paperwork trail, but after years of seeking some other paperwork trail, I could find none. Someone
could always call that into doubt, I had done that myself, using the medal citations and their totally
different descriptions of the crash, as well as survivor interviews.
Now, I was holding in my hand an item that no person on earth could dispute.
This relic has
not only an on-site presence, but a presence in the Official Burial Records of Lt. Gott. One that
proves that the Identity Tag had once been in the possession of the Graves Registration personnel
and later was not. The question had always been, "Why?" My reasoning remains the same... he knew
the four men's remains had not been properly recovered and by leaving the Identity Tag at the site, he
covered his personal feelings by leaving this relic to be found by someone who may become interested
in the crash site. Our friend, with Carol and I, provided that interest at the site. Needless to say, Carol
and I were elated and overwhelmed! For the past six years, we had been called a lot of names, by
people whom I always considered uninformed, and now our position had finally been proven. Of
course, I had to first prove myself and all recorded history about the event, except for the Place Of Death
entry on the Burial Records wrong and then prove myself right
That proof turned out to be an Identity Tag that had come to the site around
the neck of the pilot of
the bomber, 1st Lt. Donald J. Gott, Congressional Medal Of Honor. In the future, when my
research is questioned, I will allow Donald's Identity Tag and the recovered remains D.N.A. identity
to speak for me.
I had gone back to my clearing and recording the locations of relics I found
from the others who
had dug them up and cast them aside, when again our friend called out, "Attention, attention!" And,
again we came running.
When we arrived, we found him cleaning another relic. It was a fairly large
bone fragment. Large
enough to qualify for the next step, as I had been informed by Mr. Tom Bourlier, Director,
Mortuary Affairs Center, Fort Lee, Virginia. During my two visits to the Graves Registration/Mortuary
Affairs reunions at Fort Lee, I had discussed what
The bone fragment was, in my estimation, in very good condition and it showed
no immediate damage
other than the fractures. It had not been burnt, even though it had been found in an area where we knew
the fire had occurred during the crash. Again, an item of physical proof that through D.N.A. testing could
prove without any doubt, that this was the correct crash site and with our prior eye witness evidence both
American and French, as well as our on-site research, we could now prove that the Lady Jeannette
had crashed in a totally different way than recorded history states! After searching the exact area a bit
more, we agreed that we had met the requirements as I had been told and we ceased our search after
finding three English coins and what, I believe, is part of a packed parachute that had been burnt.
On May 26th, Carol and I drove to Memorial
at Landstuhl, Germany, to meet
with them and to turn the two relics over to create a trail of custody.
We were most graciously greeted by Mr. David Roath, the Director, Ms. Diane
Director, and Mark Baldwin, all of the United States Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe. We spent
several hours there, covering the relics found and the events leading to their discovery.
During this meeting, we discussed the situation that the relics created and
the long term steps that would
be taken, once they were approved up the chain-of-command of the Memorial Affairs Center-Europe.
We left that day, with an appointment to meet Mr. Baldwin the afternoon of Memorial Day at Hattonville
so that he could conduct the first "Official" inspection of the crash site.
At this point, I do want to inject that we realize so little, the work load
placed upon these dedicated
members of our country. Not only, do they take care of all the current military dead in Europe, they provide
needed services to all Americans who die in Europe and are constantly involved in researching Missing In
Action American World War Two dead, as well as an occasional World War One remains.
To think, it all began with a simple French Military Cross with a simple
aluminum plaque in a small
cemetery in France. It will be almost nine full years from the time I first saw that cross to when the final
memorials will be dedicated in France at all four of the memorial sites that my research has tied together.
The memorials at the four sites will honor the crews of five bombers lost in action during World War Two,
the 109th Evacuation Hospital which treated four of the five survivors of the Lady Jeannette and the
27th and 30th Divisions of World War One.
Three men died in a crash near Tincourt-Boucly early in the morning of
November, 10, 1944, which
lead to the "Unknown Grave" at Cartigny. Just about 15 hours earlier, four men died in the Woods of
Hattonville, not only heroes in the sky over Germany, but also in the final minutes before their death. These
seven men died just three months and one day after two men were executed at Olizy and just two months
and some days after their death, two more died in the woods above the B_24 crash site of the 10th of
November, 1944, on the 22nd of January, 1945.
The deaths of these eleven men are tied together by history. Just as the
history of their surviving crew is
tied together, from the day of their survival to the day of their transfer and to those living survivors today.
On the 9th and 10th of November, 2000, four memorials
sponsored by our museum will be dedicated
in France. The four villages are working together to have a combined dedication, moving from Hattonville,
via Olizy, on to Tincourt-Boucly and Cartigny.
The four by six foot memorial at Hattonville will memorialize the crew of the
Lady Jeannette and the
109th Evacuation Hospital where four of the five survivors were treated. The two by three foot memoria
As of this date, I have told many of you about the chance of a planned tour
to enable as many to
visit at the best possible price. The tour plan is based upon the intent to visit several American
Cemeteries of World War Two and especially the graves of those of the eleven dead who are buried overseas.
1. November 2nd, Thursday, everyone flies to France to take
advantage of best winter rate fare for flying
Monday through Thursday . You will arrive on Friday.
2. November 3rd, Friday, upon arrival in France you will transfer to a hotel close to the airport for Friday
evening to provide a night's rest and gathering of the attendees. Early arrivals can visit Paris that evening, if desired.
3. November 4th, Saturday morning, picked up by tour coach to
begin planned trip. We will travel north from Paris
to the Somme for a quick visit to a few of the most important sites of the World War One Somme Battle Field
and to enable some of the French to join the tour. We will continue north to Liege, where we will spend two nights.
4.November 5th, Sunday, we will begin the day with a visit to the Ardennes Cemetery lying a wreath in honor
5. November 6th, Monday, we will travel to Luxembourg, via
Malmedy and Bastogne, to visit the Luxembourg
Cemetery and General Patton's grave, as well as lying a wreath in honor. From there, we will travel via
Montmedy to the Metz where we will check into a hotel for three nights.
6.November 7th, Tuesday, we will travel to the St. Avold Cemetery to lay a wreath and visit the official
7. November 8th, Wednesday, we will make a day of it in the area
of the Lady Jeannette crash. We will first
travel to the St. Mihiel World War One Cemetery at Thiaucourt, which is next to the location of the
109th Evacuation Hospital on the day of the crash. We will visit their exact camp location and I am certain,
they will be the very special guests at a reception in their honor. That afternoon, we will visit the Lady Jeannette
crash site and we trust that T/Sgt. Gustafson, Lt. Harms and Sgt. Robbins will be with us to visit the spots they
landed. I promised to break Russell's leg at his landing site, if it will bring back memories. Later, we will be
guests at a dinner in your honor, hosted at a site to be selected by the people of Hattonville and the surrounding area.
8. November 9th, Thursday, we will leave the hotel in time to
arrive at Hattonville to be guests of honor at the
Hattonville dedication of the memorial to the crew of the Lady Jeannette and the 109th Evac. Hospital.
After a short reception following the dedication, we will travel to Olizy, via Verdun and the Meuse Argonne
Battle Area of World War One, the American Memorial at Montfaucon and the Meuse Argonne World
War One Cemetery. At Olizy, we will dedicate the memorial there and visit P.O. DUBE's grave.
Following their reception, we will travel on to the St. Quentin/Peronne area, with a quick side visit to the
Partisan Memorial at Charleville-Meziers to honor the civilian that was attempting to help both Noble
and DUBÉ evade when the three were captured. He, and 30 other French Freedom Fighters were executed
on the 29th of August, 1944, the day before the Americans arrived. We will arrive at St. Quentin and check
in to stay two nights. Please remember, these dedications are happening due to the combined efforts of the
four villages and their members of the Union National Combattants and Le Souvenir Francais. 9. November
10th, Friday, we will travel to Tincourt-Boucly to dedicate the memorial there and following their reception, we
will go to the cemetery at Cartigny to dedicate the new memorial at the fourth and combined grave of the
three men killed in the crash of the B_24. We will also lay wreaths at the graves of the Village Priest and
Mr. Berger. That afternoon, we will also visit the Bony American WW1 Cemetery. That evening, we
will be guests of honor of the two villages for dinner.
9.November 11, Saturday, we will go to Paris. It is my hope that our visit will become well known and that
10.November 12, Sunday, a free day.... unless you wish otherwise. Carol and I will probably be visiting the
11. November 13, Monday, for those of us on a short leash, we will each begin
our way back to the United
States. For those who wish to spend more time in France, I will be very happy to work with you to set up
visits to places you may wish to see, such as the beaches at Normandy or the Loire Valley chateau.
If you are interested in attending, please contact me as soon as possible at
(425)823_4445 or via the
Internet at email@example.com for full information. Depending on your location in the U.S., the basic round trip
air fare, fancy travel coach in France and hotel cost of the trip will be from $ 1,150.00 to $ 1,500.00 per person,
double occupancy. When you call I will tell you how and why we are keeping the cost low enough to allow those
on a very limited budget to go.
To try to make your trip a good one, I will be the main talker on the coach,
telling you about the places we
are visiting and/or driving by. If you have information about a relative who served in France during World War
One in the areas we are visiting or who might be buried at one of the cemeteries, please let me know and I will
insure you hear more about that area and visit that grave if at all possible.
As to the rest of the story, it is my intention to write a second book to
complete the series began with my first
book, The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette. The title of the first chapter will be And Then I Proved
Myself Wrong! The second book will end with the completion of the identification of the final remains
recovered and their reburial, be it in the four existing "official grave or in five graves, the fifth being a new
combined-grave of any unidentified remains. The proposed working title is Rendezvous With Death. An
offshoot of the title of a poem of World War One by Alan Seeger, a poem that helped start my research.
We will visit his place of death during the Somme area visit on the first travel day.
The villagers of all four villages involved are working to make these four
dedications very, very special
events and they have asked my help to seek the attendance of the highest possible American military and
civilian authorities in Europe!
On Memorial Day morning, Carol and I were privileged to meet one of our
country's finest, Major Ken
White, U.S. Marine Corps. We were all visiting the American Monument on top of Mont Sec, near Hattonville,
when we met. I was able to tell Ken about the events of World War One and World War Two that occurred
within sight. It is now a great one, as last winter's great storm blew down most of the trees that used to block
the view. Ken, his wife and two children were returning to their place of duty in Germany after he was in charge
of the Memorial services at the Aisne Marne World War One Cemetery the day before.
I spent some time telling Ken about the crash of the Lady Jeannette
and the up-coming dedication of the
Hattonville memorial to the crew, which will include two pilots awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor.
Ken made the personal commitment to see if he could help us get the Commanding General Europe, currently
a Four Star Air Force General, to become aware of the memorial dedications and Ken will present the General
with the invitation of the four villages to represent the American troop's of World War Two, with the hope he
will come and help dedicate the four memorials to their service. Ken also has the ability to present the same
information to the French American Ambassador, in the hope he will also attend.
The Mayors, Village Elders and the villagers of the four villages have
requested that I present to each of
you, the same invitation to come to France to participate in the dedication of the memorials.
I do have one request to ask of anyone who reads this newsletter, if at all
possible, please take the time
to write to your elected representatives requesting that the United States participate in the dedication of the
memorials in France on the 9th and 10th of November, 2000. Please send me copies of all communications
and I will see they are passed on to others.
With your help, we can give these four villages a representation of the
American people to show them
that we care as much as they do about the sacrifices made by our boys and girls, "Over There" during
World War One and World War Two.
It is most important that you contact me as quickly as possible if you are
interested in the Memorial Tour,
so we can finalize our plans to insure we are prepared to assure an excellent memorial trip for all to enjoy.
The trip planned is not a tour, it is a planned visit to Europe with everyone
invited to go along!!!!!!!!!
And we are asking the French who have been so helpful in completing our research to join us to
make this trip a truly extraordinary one.
The original idea of this visit, was to get as many of you to go to France
this fall to participate in the
dedication of the four memorials as we could. No hideaways or tourist traps until Paris, just travel and
sharing in a wonderful memory time and memorial events!
The hope is to get as many of the World War Two veterans, especially aircrew
survivors and the
families of the aircrew men who died, who have become so much of my past nine years to come along.
For many, this may be the last opportunity to visit a place where you were at during World War Two
in France or visit the location where your loved one died. For the survivors, this is the last real chance
to go with people who shared those time, hardships and sacrifices with you.
We are planning a trip that will be held to the lowest cost we can. You will
be met, or arrangement
will be made to meet you, by someone who is spending the same money you are, while in France, and
the main difference will be in the cost of the off-season round trip ticket to and from your home town.
In France, we will share the cost of the coach, we will go to the same economical hotels and we will
share our lunches and dinners in the form of picnics and what we can put together while there. With
the best of luck, we will have several interested people from France going with us.
1st Lt. Donald J. Gott, Congressional Medal Of Honor, Lady Jeannette, 452nd Bomb Group
2nd Lt. William E. Metzger, Congressional Medal Of Honor, Lady Jeannette, B_17G
T/Sgt. Robert A. Dunlap, Lady Jeannette
S/Sgt. Herman B. Krimminger, Lady Jeannette
2nd Lt. Frederick G. Gray, Unnamed B_24, TINCOURT-BOUCLY, France, 36th Bomb Sq. (RCM)
Sgt. Raymond G. Mears, B_24, Secret American Bomber flying with 100th Group, R.A.F.
Sgt. Frank A. Bartho, B_24
2nd Lt. Hugh W. Robbins, "Where's It At?", B_26, 1st Pathfinder Sq., TINCOURT-BOUCLY
Sgt. William G. Glass, "Where's It At?"
1st Lt. Richard F. Noble. Lucky Lady, 452nd Bomb Group (H), Executed, Olizy, France
P.O. Henri E. DUBÉ, R.C.A.F., 425th Sq., Executed, Olizy, France, 8 August, 1944
are honored by our country by insuring their memorial dedications are
Official Representatives of the United States and Canada!
The 452nd Bombardment Group (H) is represented on three of the
four memorials. The
36th Bombardment Squadron (RCM) on two, the 1st Pathfinder Sq. and the 109th Evacuation Hospital
on one, and the 27th and 30th Divisions of World War One on One.
Again, if you are interested contact me as soon as you can. I will be happy
to answer any
questions you may have. A basic payment of $ 200 will be needed by September 15th and total
prepayment of two thirds of your tour will be needed by October 1st. Remember, those in the
east save on airfare and the savings is yours.
A survivor who is attending, asked us to contact local news and media people
sending someone along to cover the travel. We think that is a super idea and if you know
any such people or organizations and can get through to those who make decisions, have them
contact me as soon as you can.
|NEWS||'The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette
to be expanded and retiled
(Possible New Title)
Five Bombers of World War Two
Missing In Action - In Europe
"Lady Jeannette" 2 Medals of Honor
"Where's It At" 2 Soldiers Medals
"Un-named B-24J" Documented Hidden Grave
"Lucky Lady" Evader Execution
"Unnamed Halifax #LW591" Evader Execution
|Vol. 2 No. 1|
PUBLISHED FIRST BOOK BRINGS NEW LEADS AND
ART LOTT STARTS IT OFF WITH INVITATION
TO BOOK SIGNING AT TINKER AIR FORCE BASE!
We had just started to get books out, when we were contacted by Art Lott of
Midwest City, Oklahoma, who is retired from the Air Force, to see if I would come
to Tinker A.F.B. to sign books at a book sale at the Main Exchange, if he could
After talking it over with Carol and realizing that I might never be asked to a
book signing again, plus it gave the opportunity to visit Russell Gustafson, Flight
Engineer, at his home, it was decided I should go.
But, first it was time for my spring trip to France, where I was going to stay at
the home of Richard Boniface, whose son, Peter was going to stay with us in mid-June.
While in France, we met with the Mayors and Councils of Tincourt-Boucly and Cartigny
so that I could give them the special bound books that I had. I had also sent each village
several regular books, so that they could pass them out to the villagers to read.
On Memorial Day, I had received permission to walk the field in which the bomber had
crashed, as I had promised people at home some pieces. At the same time, I installed a
temporary plaque to the B-26 bomber, "Where's it At?" and its crew on the side of the
main memorial. While walking in the field a person approached me and invited me to his
home. It was Gerard Leguillier, who owned the field. At his home, Gerald presented
me with two pieces of the bomber he had recovered while working the field. Both were
large enough to identify and both had numbers on them. It was kind of a reward for
writing the book. Before I left, his wife went into the house and came out with a bent
50 cal. machine gun cartridge with the bullet still in it, also recovered in the field.
Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Leguillier
with B-24 Rudder Bell Crank, 50
cal. cartridge & Hydraulic swivel.
I did get a start in excavating the hole in Avril's B&B's front yard. We got
22 feet when I hit lots of hard and large chalk rocks, but it did look like tunnels branching
off to either side. When I left, I promised to dig some more when Carol and I came in
September. I got back, just in time to go to Oklahoma City for the book signing visit. There,
I gave the cartridge I had made safe, before I left France, to Russell and a piece or two of
the bomber I had found at the crash site to Art.
The book signing at Tinker was a gas and the OK. Air Museum decided to put the
book in for sale. The night before I left for home, we were looking at Russell's mounted
collection of his Army Air Force days, when he suddenly said, "Sam, I think my Purple
Heart Orders are behind the display. I remember now, I did save a copy just in case of
trouble with my knee." Russell took down the display and took off the back and wouldn't
you know it, no orders. After putting on his thinking cap, Russell said he would run
to his bank and check his safe deposit box before he took me to the airport in the morning.
Early the next morning Russell came back from the bank and yes, he had two copies of
General Order 55, 9 November, 1944, from the 109th Evacuation Hospital (SP) awarding
him the Purple Heart. Super interesting to me, and it was signed by a 1st Lt. William E. Weller.
Perhaps a search could locate him and I would finally prove where Russell, Fross and Harms
had received their Purple Hearts, as they all got them from the 109th Evacuation. Hospital.
I got home late on the 8th of June and on 10th, I placed telephone
calls to over 23
telephones listed to the name William E. Weller. I remember, how surprised I was by how
many had answering machines. About two hours later, I got a telephone call from a Mr.
Weller who told me he had retired from the service as a Colonel, and that he was the 1st Lt.
in question. Better still, he told me that he had written the history of the 109th Evac. Hospital
and that they were at Thiaucourt, across a field from the American St. Mihiel WW1 cemetery
from October 24 through December 3, 1944. Also, he told me about going toward a bomber
that had crashed a few miles away and that he had picked up one of the men, a Lieutenant,
in a field close to the crash site and took him back to the hospital. Joe Harms and his story
medially jumped to my mind. And, foremost in my mind was the fact that the St. Mihiel
cemetery was located about 130 air miles from Tincourt. Colonel Weller quickly told me,
they gave Purple Hearts only to the people they worked on and they worked on people
from a circle of about 20 miles. Wow, that sure made troubles with the Tincourt crash site.
As of that conversation, I still had to identify the bomber parts.
Starting on the 9th, I had scanned in the two parts of the bomber that I
thought would be
easily identified and was faxing and mailing copies to all the museums that had B-17 and
B-24 bombers asking their help in identifying them.
I also made two trips to the Seattle Air Museum's Paine Field restoration facility to look
at their B-17 manuals and to look over their B-17F to see where the parts fit. After many
hours looking at what manuals and books they had and peering into and around the bomber,
it was getting questionable.
We also went to visit the "Aluminum Overcast" another B-17 that came to
the area. You
could purchase a ˝ hour ride for 375 dollars or so. As you suspect, I was not one aboard.
Again, we left with two parts that just didn't seem to fit anywhere on a B-17.
The telephone calls and picture faxes continued and still no help from any outsiders.
Finally, I called Dennis Parks, Curator of the Seattle Air Museum and asked for his help.
In just a short while, he got back to me and said he had located a Tech. Rep.'s set of 7
manuals on the B-24 and I was welcome to come see them.
On the 17th of July I arrived and within 10 minutes, I had identified the first
A Rudder Bell Crank, one of two on a B-24. They were parts which helped pivot the twin
rudders. A few minutes later, I found the other part. It was a Hydraulic Swivel Cylinder,
the mountable version. There were several on a B-24-J and from the damage to the one
I was given, I could figure it was from the Pilot's side landing gear hydraulic system.
Now that was big trouble, the Purple Hearts were awarded 130 miles away and the parts
from the hole were from a B-24. I made a quick run home and call Mickey Russell at Maxwell
A.F.B. Mickey called back the next morning and told me, that the history showed no B-24's
crashing in France for several days on either side of 9 November, 1944. Well, I might doubt the
French memories now, but I did not doubt the Priest's statement giving the date, "as the night of
9/10 November, 1944." There had to be a B-24 crash!
What went though my mind, was perhaps the exact same thing happened to the B-24,
as did the B-17. The B-17's records state it had not crashed in France. Could it have happened
the same way, since the B-24 crew was quickly accounted for, could someone have also
fudged on keeping the correct records on the B-24.
It took lots of telephone calls, many hours on the Internet and finally a listing on a
web site to get a call from Stephen J. Riordan, IV, a volunteer at A.F. History, near Washington,
He was working on a book accounting for every B-24 and at first he told me, no such crash
could have occurred on those dates, as he knew what happened to every B-24 and there was
no B-24 crashes accounted for during that period in France. The same story I had gotten from
Meanwhile, I figured the only way I would know for certain was for me to go to Maxwell
A.F.B. and spend the time to go through every B-24 Squadron history and look for men who
were killed on 9/10 November and the look to see what happened to their bomber. But, I had no
money and no tickets to do so. I explained to Stephen Riordan, via email, how I was going to
conduct my research at Maxwell, when I got there. If the bomber did not show up, surely the
dead crew members had to be accounted for. Once found, follow the trail back to the bomber.
the rescue, came PAT GANN, niece of 1st Lt. Donald J. Gott, C.M.H.
to donate 50,000 United Air Lines Frequent Flyers to the museum, so that I could make the
trip. Pat was the only one, besides Carol, I had dumped my heart to when I began to find things
out. I didn't want to disturb everyone and everything until I was very certain, but I needed to
discuss it with someone other than Carol.
Just before Pat donated what would equal two trips in the U.S., thanks to Colonel Weller,
I had contacted Art and Blanc Scherbarth. Blanc was a 109th Evac. Hosp. nurse and Art the
Commander of the 594th Ambulance Company. They told me about the hospital's reunion
at the end of August in Minneapolis. When Pat agreed, I decided to use one ticket to attend
the reunion where I became an Associate Member of the 109th Evac. Hospital Association.
The second ticket was to be to Maxwell the day after I got back from our next trip to France.
I had to get this over and get to work if at all possible and I did have a chance of going back
to work in October, but in the end it did not work out. I was now at 2 ˝ years of unemployment
since starting the quest on Christmas Eve, 1991.
Stephen Riordan got back to me a few days after he had first contacted me and said
he had located the B-24. He had found three men killed in a crash and a check at Total
Army Personnel Center showed they had been killed in France. They had been aboard
a B-24 from the 36th Bombardment Squadron, attached to the 100th Group R.A.F. and it
was engaged in Electronic Counter Measure Missions with the R.A.F. on "Carpet Bagger
Missions," which were leaflet dropping missions. The B-24 had lost an engine and later crashed.
He gave me the names of the three men killed and the other crew members names as well.
He also faxed me some of the crash information, as did Mickey Russell once I called him
and told him, that a B-24 crash in France had been uncovered, and guess what, there were
pictures of the crash site and they matched the one on the jacket and inside my book. The
one marked by the French photo developer as being "The hole of the B-17 that crashed at
I had just got back from the 109th reunion where I interviewed three men who
a B-17 crash and people bailing out of it and we had to leave for the 452nd Bomb Group
Reunion in Portland, Oregon, which by the way was nice. The only "Lady Jeannette" people,
besides us, were Bill and Shirley Robbins who were having a grand time. That same day, I
managed to locate the B-24 pilot, Joe Hornsby who gave me the 'poop from group' about that
bomber's last flight. He also told me that a Stephen Hutton had contacted him about the flight as
Stephen's father had been in the same squadron and Stephen was writing a book about it. I
quickly sent a FAX to Stephen and the packing continued for Portland and France.
The day before we left for Portland, Stephen called and we got in email contact. He
had all the information about what happened in the air to the B-24, as he had researched it for
his book. He even had the Individual Deceased Personnel Files for the three dead crew,
Bartho, Mears and Gray. Something that would have taken me six or more months to get.
He told me the bomber had crashed at Boucly and he had spent hours looking for it on a
map and not found it. Of course, it is Tincourt-Boucly. But the some of the men landed
near Boucly and the bomber crashed near Tincourt. See, I'm not the only one confused.
Anyhow, Stephen and I agreed that we would exchange information with each other
and I sent a book off to him with a small piece or two of the B-24, with more parts to follow.
I knew enough, to know that I was wrong about the crash site of the B-17 and that
the Frenchman who insisted the B-17 crash site I had located in 1994 happened in late
November, 1944, and not on the 9th was wrong. I got on the telephone to Bernard Delsert,
a good French friend, and asked him to get in contact with the Mayors and such in that area
again and double check on the date. He works for the tax department and few lie to him.
At the 452nd Bomb Group reunion I stood in front of the business meeting and
what I had just found out and that my book was still very correct. One just had to substitute
a B-24 in some places and shorten up the time the B-17 was in the air. What I wondered
about and would later confirm was the complete difference about the actual crash of the
B-17 bomber I had heard about in 1994 and the one in the Medal of Honor Citations. I was
zeroing in, but there were still many questions that did not match the answers that I was getting.
We got back home on Sunday afternoon to leave very early the next morning for France.
We arrived in a rainy, chilly France, that everyone swore was not the standard September. It
was not the one we expected and we were not prepared for it.
Avril' daughter had married Cyril who had helped me with the digging in May and they
had the nerve to go on a honeymoon. Avril was short handed and hustling hither and yon.
Carol, as we promised, became our wedding present and she helped with the tea room and
meals while we were at Avril's. A good lesson on why one might not want a B&B after all.
For three days, I tried to dig, but about 2 ˝ feet of dirt had fallen back into the shaft
and it was soaked. What had weighted several pounds in May was very heavy in September
and poor Carol, she huffed and puffed to get the buckets of spoil pulled up and out of the
shaft. We got down to where I had to quit in May and I got out one large chalk rock and closed
up the system for the winter. I shored up above the partially bricked up part to keep from
having to dig the same dirt for the third time and put on a water proof tarp we had taken over
with us, to insure the shaft stayed as dry as possible over the coming winter.
We were visited at
Avril's by our friends from the Seattle area, Mary and Roger Giesecke.
We had helped lay out a tour of the World War One lines in France for them and they came by to
check out the digging and Avril's. The next day, we took them on one of my whirl wind tours of
some of my favorite places in the Somme. We did stop by the B-24 crash site and the grave and I
got to make excuses of having the wrong names on the grave. But, that is going to be fixed.
We covered lots of
places from the north end of the start of the 1st of July Battle to almost the
south end in the French Zone. They were going to be in the area for a day or two more, so I made
quick trips to places one might visit in a longer stay. My spies later told me, they saw them again the
next day. Good going, Mary and Roger.
Bernard Delsert took a week's vacation to go to the suspected crash area of the B-17 with
us to act as an interpreter and searcher. On the way, we stopped by Olizy where 1st Lt. Richard
F. Noble, of the 452nd Bombardment. Group had been executed when captured by the Germans
while evading. We presented a framed picture of him to the Mayor, which told where Lt. Noble,
came from, his family, wife and child, as well as the military information to permit my research to be
duplicated. While at the Mayor's office, we were introduced to a fellow who had been cleaning the
cemetery for fall. He greatly surprised us, by telling me that he had just cleaned the fellow's grave.
It turned out that it was not Lt. Noble's grave, but that of Flight Officer Henry Dube. The R.C.A.F.
Officer that was executed with Lt. Noble.
Bernard has a list of several French people who had contacted him about his crash inquires
and a proof sheet of a new book, showing where several bombers had crashed and the dates. No
bomber names or serial numbers, just the dates and the fact a B-17 had crashed on 9 November,
1944, and that there were survivors. Also, that it stated it was on a Saarbrucken mission. No doubt
now, this was the bomber I had located in 1994. If I had been given the right information then, I
would have dropped the B-17 research and found the B-24 much earlier. However, in that case,
I would never have written a book, I would have just marked the grave and gone on in the old
directions. Instead, I am finishing up research on five crashes and much more interesting and
One of the people we found was a retired forester who volunteered to take us to the crash
site in the woods the next morning. Another, was an author to whom I ended up giving a copy of my
book, with permission to use what he wanted as long as he gave credit in his book. He, in exchange,
gave me an identifiable piece of the B-17, he had recovered from the site we were to visit the next
The next day, we walked about 2 kilometers in the woods to locate the crash site, and when
fellow could not find the exact place, other than to say it was right here and wave his arms to cover a
wide area, we were a bit worried.
We had to take the fellow back to his home and then we headed back to the supposed crash
Bernard continued to search in the same general area, but I finally took off in a straight line about the
distance back from the nearby field that several people had said the bomber was when it crashed in the
woods. Down over a sloping bank and up another, searching and searching. About 1,000 feet away, I
saw a piece of black something. When I picked it up, it was a rubber boot that looked like something
someone might find on an aircraft. I continued to look around and about 40 feet later, I kicked a small
piece of something under the leaves and moss that did not sound like wood. I picked it up and at first I
though I had found a piece of WW1 steel. But, a quick scratching with my Super Tool knife showed it to
be aluminum and that coloring had to be Olive Drab paint. I was now sure, I had airplane parts.
Off I went running and hollering, I've found it, I've found it. Carol who was near
me, started to look
around and by the time I got back with Bernard, she was in the center of the site with several pieces of
The next day, we visited the site where the 109th Evac. Hospital was at on 9
November, 1944, and
talked to several more French. All of a sudden a lot of stories, from a lot of people were coming together
and each one pointed to one spot. The spot, where we had found airplane parts the day before. We also
went back to the site and I began what will stretch on into what I hope will be an archeological grid type
excavation of the crash site. I did learn enough to become certain of the direction the bomber entered the
woods and how it probably hit the ground and what probably happened at the end.
In the area from where I thought the tail first struck the ground, remember Krimminger was
hanging under it, and where I think it stopped moving, Carol found a strip of material which when
cleaning it a few days later I found it to be part of a parachute. We also realized, the French witnesses
story of the main part of the bomber burning was probably true and that Lt.s Gott and Metzger and
Sgt. Dunlap may have burnt to ashes in the fire. Bernard did find a closed, burnt and rusted pilot's or
co-pilots seat belt clasp.
It became apparent that the people who recovered the I.D. tags after the fire was out,
Krimminger's remains into four parts to provide remains for all four men. Though a real Graves
Registration person would probably have just included some ashes from the fire and left all the parts
of Krimminger in one grave. I had reasoned Krimminger's remains accounted for the remains in the
four graves after I received their Individual Deceased Personnel Files and the evidence at the crash
site backs up that belief. However, if that is true, the three may not have a hidden grave. Their lives and
bodies could have ended in fire in the Boise de Hattonville, on the afternoon of 9 November, 1944.
Back at the B&B, I told some visiting Canadians, Lorna and Barry Lucas, about the
Pilot Officer Henri E. Dube and darned if they didn't go visit it on their way to Verdun. Avril had
some Canadian flags and we gave them to the people to put on the grave and to give the Mayor the
others so the village can change as the ones on the grave weathers. They were the first Canadians
to visit the grave, that we know of, since the war ended.
Just after our return, on September 28th, I took my suitcase full of airplane parts to the
Air Museum to see if Dennis Parks, the Curator, and to see if we could prove they came from a B-17.
When I spread my finds below the tail of the museum's B-17F, Dennis realized I was serious. Within
a minute, he looked at the Engine Plaque, Bernard Delsert had found and said it was a B-17 type engine,
1st proof down.
Before long, I identified one piece as a cowl flap and inside we identified the dial
system as one
from the trailing antenna control box. The dial showed how much of the trailing antenna was played out.
Just over the location of the box holding the dial, I saw three white china standoffs, just like the one still
in France. Dennis continued to look at one part and said, "There's Boeing's name." And, he was right.
Back inside the museum, I spent another 2 hours looking at the books they have and I located that part
as another part and determined both came from an engine's cowl flap system. It now looks like the
bomber lost an engine when it was breaking its way into the woods and the engine fell just in front of
where the tail first hit the ground.
As I was leaving, I again walked part way around the B-17F on display and I realized that
piece I was trying to identify and could not, was actually part of an air escape on the top of the wings.
I had been holding it upside down in what I thought was the right side up position all the time. I left,
knowing that we had located a B-17 crash site, there could no longer be any doubt remaining.
Today, February 17, 1999, I have been reviewing this newsletter I had sent and correcting
it somewhat to meet all the information now known, bringing it up to date. One thing that keeps
coming to mind over the past nine months, is how many people came down on me for publishing
my book. They always knew I was wrong, for someone, someplace, had written something different
than I did! Who was I to challenge these well known and world famous authors when I was just a
People who actually participated in the event were told they could not be trusted with
remembering what happened to them. Everyone is wrong, only they are right, these people
state! They know everything about the B-17 and who is this Sam Cole to differ with them?!.
Not one of these people ever sent me anything in disagreement with the research I had
In several instances, I had sent them copies of items I had found during my research and my own
position on that prior research. I continue to be amazed by these people, so afraid that someone might
learn something from them that will take away their power, the holding back of knowledge.
All my life, I have
been learning while exchanging ideas and conclusions with others. For who am I to
I am better than anyone else, just because I have knowledge, especially if I refuse to pass that knowledge
on. If I did, perhaps, I too could be making a living from the research I do. But, I have one tremendous
drive behind me to pass on what I have learned through the 'Burden of Wonderment' that I discussed at
the beginning of my book.
Not once, when I have been in the field, where in the end, I proved a B-24J had
crashed, or during
the trips to the Boise de Buire where the B-26 crashed, nor when I have been standing in the cemetery
where P.O. Dube is now buried and 1st Lt. Noble was buried and especially in the Bois de Hattonville,
where I have spent so many hours and where I can prove the B-17G-35VE, SN: 42-97904, named "Lady
Jeannette," crashed, have I met or seen the tracks of one of these people. They have been to none of
the important places of this research and they have not been to the grave where it all started.
I may have had the wrong bomber's name on the memorial at Tincourt and the wrong names on
the memorial on the grave. But, it was not one of these people who in the end doubted his own research
enough under the 'Burden of Wonderment' to prove himself wrong, I proved myself wrong! None of these
people have spent any time, working labor or money in seeing that those places are properly marked for
future generations to honor those places and men, Carol and I have! We are the ones searching for the
donations of material, labor and transportation to correct the mistakes. We are the ones arranging for new
memorials at the other places, the bomber crash site and place of execution. And where were they, at home
bragging about how right they are and how wrong I was.
It will be interesting in the future, to see what happens to these nay saying people's own
they slowly convert their own material to the truth and give credit where the credit is due, or will they continue
to try to use the 'Bully Pulpit" they already have to continue to spread what did not happen, instead of what
I have to thank one person ever so much. If I had been told the truth in 1994, I
would have known of the
B-24-J, 42-51226 much earlier, but I would never have known the true stories of the "Lady Jeannette,
Where's It At?, and the execution of 1st Lt. Noble and P.O.. Dube! I know all their stories now and the second
book will fill out the first to complete this compelling history.
So you have already purchased The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette or are
thinking about ordering
one of the remaining copies to have a dedicated and signed first, very limited edition of Willis S. Cole, Jr.'s
first book. What's he going to do about that?
People with the first book will be given the options of obtaining an addendum containing
all the changes
made to the first book and/or obtaining the new book at a discounted price.
I wish, I was able to give everyone who purchased the first book, a new book.
However, the expense of
manufacturing a book is such that the museum which operates on donations, and book sales cannot do so.
The rights to the first book was given to the museum as will be the second book's with the hope of creating
enough museum income to assure its continuing life, as well as supporting its current research and web site
The following has not been updated -- February 17, 1999
Date: Monday, December 7, 1998
Remembering December 7, 1941
So many lives changed-including many below!
The following pages are a set of ongoing updates and answers to
questions that I have recently been asked
about my research into bombers of WWII. The first very limited edition book is very true, except for two
situations, both are explained before the end of this letter. In fact, according to the Air Force History and all
written information when the book was printed, it was fully correct.
However, over the past months, I have proven myself both wrong and
right. All the events recorded in the book
did happen. In the case of the B-17, everything leading up to the final crash happened as written. It just happened
faster and closer to the Front Lines. However, as you will read, the final end of the bomber has proven to be
very much different than any written or spoken history has given it. And at the very end, I believe, both Gott and
Metzger made a decision that would have qualified them for the Congressional Medal Of Honor for that act
alone, without their prior actions being included.
There was a crash at Tincourt-Boucly, three men died in the crash. Most
of their remains were hidden and the
are the men in the grave at Cartigny. Lt. Noble did die, and you will read below how he and P.O. DUBE died.
In the end, the truth is much stranger than the first book states.
I hope, my continuing research will be complete enough to permit me to
write an addition to the first book by
mid-1999. There are few questions left to be answered, however, one of those questions is a most serious one.
It will not change the events below, but if answered, it will tell us why there are only the remains of one crew man
in the graves of four crew men. By early next summer, I believe, I will know if I can ever answer that question.
Date: Sunday, November 29, 1998 9:13 PM
Placed on Web Site: December 14, 1998
(Edited for clarity - 12/7/98, spell checker is nice but it will change
things at times leading to confusion.)
Willis S. Cole, Jr. "Sam"
Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum
A Non-Profit Corporation
13444 124th Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98034-5403
Dear Communications Buddies and Book Owners:
For the first time, I have selected "select all"
in my email edit list. If it works out, it will be my intent to
use this option more often.
I have just returned from being away from the computer for
about a week. And, during that time, I received
several email notes from some of you, that asked questions about information I had sent individually after my return
from France. During the time, I was reading these questions, I was constantly thinking to myself, "I had included
that information." Upon review of all the various email letters I had sent, I realized that I had given information to
one, which I had not provided when sending an email to another.
Since you all know my long term goals, leaving out such
information was not on purpose. To enable better
communications between us, it seems to me, that when I have a general increase in information, I will just send it
to everyone on my list. Some of you will read about things, I have probably not written you about before, not
because you might not be interested, but because we were discussing other things.
If you feel, you don't want such a broadside, please let
me know and I will set up a separate list for you.
I must admit, an overall mailing to everyone that might be interested in my on-going research would save
a lot of time and everyone would have exactly the same information.
Lynn Hahn is one of the first people I ever had
communications with, that served with Graves Registration,
other than Will (Wilmer) Henderson, who is a Director of our Museum. Thanks to him and other G.R./M.A
people, I was able to attend a reunion of these people who handled the most delicate (in my mind) service
during World War Two, and before and since. I am proud to know such people and from knowing them,
I have learned much about situations that they and others like them handled. And, as much as they possible
could, they handled the situations in, "Dignity, Reverence and Respect."
I sent the following email to them and upon reading their
reply, I realized that others must have questions
themselves. Therefore, I am taking this broadside approach this very first time. The important thing is, does
this or does this not help your understanding of our ongoing research? If you don't want it, let me know
at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you do, please let me know and add all the comments you wish, also to email@example.com.
Dear Beatrice & Lynn:
Well, I just got back from my latest trip to Franc, which
was not a total success, but still one that gave m
much more insight to the actual end of the Lady Jeannette. Such strange turns of events in the end.
The crash site at Tincourt-Boucly, France, is actually the
crash site of a secret B-24J bomber used as a
Radar Counter Measure bomber, assigned to the R.A.F. and flying night missions. When it crashed at 2:30 a.m.
early in the morning of 10 November, 1944, it was loaded with over 6,000 pounds of secret and top sec
equipment. Its forward movement during the crash is what made the crater look like bombs went off. Three
men were killed in the crash, the only identified piece in1948, when their remains were disinterred, was an elbow.
Two of the men could have bailed out, but they must have stayed in the bomber trying to save the life of the nose
turret gunner, who was probably trapped in the turret because the # 4 engine was not running. The normal backup
electrical power was from the # 2 engine, but that generator had been exchanged for one to power the counter
measure equipment. The operation was so secret, as was the equipment, the crash was never fully reported and it
is not in official statistics.
The Air Base it crashed nearby, Peronné A-72, probably
reported the crash and the Lady Jeannette's Group
picked up that report and used the end of the B-24 to describe the Lady Jeannette's crash for the Medal Of Honor
citations for Gott and Metzger. They did not know just how the B-17 crashed, though some information in papers
in the summer of 1945 makes a bit more sense now. I think, the Commander of the Group must have heard more
by then. However, nothing written describes what really happened to the B-17G.
It came from the east and two men bailed out, a bit later
three men bailed out in a row. The bomber flew on
toward the village of Hattonville, the villagers thought the bomber was going to crash into the village or at least the
hill just to the west of the village. As they watched it roar over the village, it made a 180 degree turn to the north
over the church and started back where it came from, but a bit more to the north back over a large woods. It flew
past the three men still floating down into a large field. Just after it got past the men, the bomber tried to make
another 130 degree turn back into the large field, however it ran out of height about 600 feet from the edge of the
fields and started to plow into the large oak trees. (If it had turned earlier, passing through the floating men, it
probably would have landed safely, but perhaps killing one the men.)
The bomber went into the woods at almost a flat angle, but
turning to the right. The bomber started to break
apart as it entered the woods. The man hanging from the tail was beginning to be torn apart as was the bomber.
About two hundred feet from where it first hit the tree tops, the tail broke off at the back of the radio compartment,
probably about the same time the bomber struck tree trunks hard enough that one engine tore loose and plunged
into the ground. I believe, it was the number 1 engine, and perhaps the # 2, as parts connected to that engine was
in the pre-strike debris trail. The broken off tail fell down and struck the earth some feet before the impact point of
the engine. It struck tail mount first and bounced forward turning to the left, mean while completing the dismemberment
of the tail gunner. The tail, now turned with the broken right stabilizer upward landed partially on the engine that had
broken off and stopped.
Gasoline was atomized throughout the air as the trees tore
at the wings and fuel tanks. Tearing off the wing tips
partway, engines coming loose and breaking open the tanks. The forward part of the bomber, now with the wings
breaking away hit the ground two more times, with, I think, the inboard right engine hitting the ground and the forward
part of the bomber, still mostly in the air. Its nose struck the earth about 165 feet past the point the tail first struck.
It pushed up dirt in front of it and as it slowed, it slewed to the right, meanwhile tilting over to the right. As it slid to
an end, the front part of the bomber was at about a 90 degree angle to the impact craters of the incoming bomber route
and broken off parts. With the cockpit rolled to the right, about 45 degrees.
At this point, the fuel was continuing to pour out of the
ripped tanks, one wing tip leaning against a tree, another off to
one side. Somewhere, along the line, either before it stopped or just afterward, an explosion racked the area with
large whooshing sound. The oxygen tanks under the pilots and flight engineer's floor exploded and that explosion threw
parts of the bomber out to 120 feet. Rubber part inserted into the oxygen masks were blown out of the masks.
The pilots were trapped, perhaps dead already and they and
the radio operator unconscious in the radio compartment
burnt with the bomber.
This is were it does get more interesting. I was told,
back in 1994, when I first located this crash site, that the story teller
had seen small burnt bodies at the bomber, as well as large human parts. However, I discounted this site, as I was given
another (wrong date, and now I know it was on purpose.) crash date and the B-17 was supposed to be only in small
pieces, which we now know the B-24 was.
When the four men's graves were disinterred in 1948, there
were only enough parts to account for one man. There were
no extra body parts or bones. One skull and jaw in Gott's grave, a shoulder and knee in Metzger's grave, a knee and
elbow and some broken bones in Dunlap's grave and in Krimminger's grave, a shoulder and pelvis found in his tee shirt
and shorts, identified by laundry marks. Nothing else. The remains were picked up by a G.R. Officer from the XIX TAC.
Air Command, probably the day after the crash, they were buried on the 11th.
One of the French men we interviewed swears there are
remains at the site in a crater. He says, they thought the
Americans just didn't check the crash for all the remains, and the ones left were covered up in the crater. Gott's Burial
Record states that the XIX TAC G.R. Officer kept one Identity Tag. Why, one has to ask?
I think, he was there to recover something that he
couldn't handle and that he divided up Krimminger's remains and hid
the others. Perhaps they were burnt so bad, they just tended to fall apart when touched, or burnt so far away he couldn't
I spent 8 days at the site, working from 3 to 7.5 hours.
Mostly clearing and laying out distances and such. I was permitted
to metal detect, which is against the law in France. But, I was not allowed to dig deep until I get final permission. I expect
to be there for several more trips and many hours before it is all done. When the area is clean enough of all the small metal
parts buried in the nearby ground, we will do a deep search with a very good metal detector and perhaps we will find
Gott's I.D. tag. One of Krimminger's tags was not recovered and I hope to find it back along the debris trail before I
am done. However, it could be gracing some Frenchman's souvenir shelf.
One interesting thing, the 605th G.R. was nearby and I
don't know why they had a TAC G.R. Officer pick up the
remains when experienced people were so close?
I did receive permission to put a new memorial to the
bomber and its crew in a small park next the village church and
also to replace the first memorials with ones correcting the previous miss-identity. At Tincourt, I will also be putting a
memorial to the B-26 bomber, the 452nd Bomber Group and the 27th and 30th Divisions and their duty there in 1918.
Also, have found the truth of 1st Lt. Noble I wrote about.
He and an R.C.A.F. fellow tried to reach Allied lines in
August, 1944, after being at an evader camp. They were captured by the Germans on the morning of 8 August, 1944,
and executed that afternoon, after being made to dig their own graves with their hands, being buried alive with their heads
and hands, which were tied together, above the ground and then shot between the eyes. The village of Olizy, where they
were executed has given me permission to put a memorial plaque on the church wall where they were chained to the down
spouts before being killed.
If you get out this way, plan to stop. We do have an extra
bed room. The museum is very small. I have been unable to
add to the collection since I started these aviation projects. But, I think the memorials in France are now more important.
Rebecca is named after the daughter of a person who owned
a motel where my mother and I used to clean when I was
a teenager. I just liked the name and she was a great kid. How she got that name, I do not know.
Will keep you posted, did get the minutes. I do still hope to do a book about the experiences of G.R. people during WWII.
Thanks for your interest.
Willis S. Cole, Jr. "Sam"
Received your mail and thanks. I find your explanation of
your trip to France very interesting and a little complicated. If I
understand, the crash and crater you explain in your book is really the result of the B-24J bomber. You indicate the bomber
carried top secret equipment. Is it possible to obtain information from the military via the Freedom of Information Act about
the plane and the crash? Also of interest to me is how you can describe the minute details of the crash (such as the angle
the bomber went into the woods or gasoline was atomized throughout the air). The description sounds like an eye witness.
Can you make assumptions based on the crash evidence? How do you handle the new information with regard to the book
you have published? Anyway it sure is interesting. Your dedication to remember and honor those who gave so much is
You mentioned that the 605th G.R. was involved and we have
some members of the 605th in our reunion group. In fact,
one member is trying to locate more of his buddies who served with him. If you want more information let me know.
Will sure be interested in information as your adventure continues.
I don't know if I told you but in our area the Veterans
Affairs office has developed and promoted a memorial for
all veterans who have served at any time in the military. The memorial is a concrete walkway around a road causeway
where traffic going each way is separated by a beautiful body of water. A veteran or benefactor can purchase a bronze
plaque with his or her name, years of service and branch. Beatrice and I purchased plaques for my son who served
between wars, my son-in-law who served in Vietnam and me. I believe there are currently over 1,500 plaques on the
If we should ever get out your way we will let you know
Beatrice and Lynn
Other's have asked me about things I did not explain well
enough, but Beatrice and Lynn's seemed to cover the best
points, so in the interest of this broadside, I am using their return email to try to answer open spots in my communications.
Yes, the bomber that made the crater shown on the front of
my book, was not a B-17. A B-17 bomber that has had its
crash described and believed by a minimum of two villages, and well over 3,000 French people. If anyone knows of the
crash site, it is referred to as a B-17 crash site.
In fact, it is not. Problem, how could I be so wrong. This
is about the easiest question to handle, if people keep an open
mind. Just read the Congressional Medal of Honor citations and the information I was given about crashes in France,
by United States Military Historian, in 1994 and until I discovered the error via a gift of recovered identifiable parts.
The citations describe one crash and one crash only... the
crash at Tincourt-Boucly, France. The bomber in question
actually crashed about 14 hours after the B-17 crashed. However, it is now obvious when the crash of a bomber
near the Peronné A-72 base was reported to England, there was only one missing bomber to account for it, as far
as the 8th Army Air Force knew. On the 10th of November, 1944, they had only one bomber missing in France to
account for a crash at that location. Remember, they had a missing B-17 bomber, with an E.L.F. at Personnel A-72
Air Base and now there is a bomber that crashed near there.
Remember, the 36th Bombardment Squadron (RCM) was assigned
to the Royal Air Force to fly secret Radar
Counter Missions at night with the R.A.F. and not with the 8th U.S. Army Air Force. Even today, all I have
been able to locate about the crash, is 11 lines of type written information on a report for November, 1944,
and several pictures of the crater and surrounding area. Pictures that prove without a doubt that it was the
B-24J, SN: 42-51226, that crashed at Tincourt-Boucly, during the night of 9/10 November, as the Priest
stated. In that military record, the crash site is said to be at Boucly, France. Unless one has a very large map
of France and the thought that Boucly might be the end of a hyphenated name, one could look for many hours
and never find such a place. If you don't believe me, ask Stephen Hutton, I will give you his email address
upon request and his approval to do so.
The bomber came toward the crash site from the east. It
had fire streaming from the #4 engine and the
#3 was going, if it had not gone bad. It rolled over, dove to earth and probably did explode once in the air,
blowing off at least one door, and again when it hit the earth. However, the explosion on the ground, the one
that created that great crater was not due to bombs on board. That bomber had no bombs on board, but it
did have anywhere from an approximate 5,000 to 8,000 pounds of very secret Radar Counter Measure
equipment on board. Part of that weight consisted to large RCM transmitters that kind of looked like bombs
and they were in the bomb bay. Also, a lot of the weight was dead weight in the form of batteries to help power
The laws of physics declared that this weight continue to
go forward and it did, at a very high speed. Its contact
with the onrushing earth, as well as the bomber's own wish to continue forward very fast pushed a lot of dirt away,
compacting it and blowing part of it up and out, forming the crater shown in the book and on the cover.
Thanks to Stephen Hutton and his almost printed book about
the Secret Squadron that his father served in,
and his research into the crash of a bomber lost over France, I am way ahead of where I was when I began
to research the bomber that made the crater. For he had the Individual Deceased Personnel Files of the
three men killed in the crash, as well as recorded telephone interviews with two of the surviving crewmen.
The Hutton family was very kind in helping my research and invited me to visit them and during this visit,
Stephen gave me all the information he had on the bomber and we listened to the interviews together. To
say the least, I learned a lot, very quickly.
Now, as to the B-17, the actual Lady Jeannette.
The military has no information available in any records I
have been able to locate about the crash of the B-17.
I am still searching for such records, but every effort has hit dead ends. Please, remember that I have a friend
at Air Force History, Maxwell A.F.B., that has spend many hours on 'snipe hunts' for me. Once in while,
Mickey has found the 'snipe,' but most often he finds that the units in question did not keep detailed histories.
They did nothing more than report the most minimum required. Why worry about it, it you were a 'for the
war duration person?' I have only found detailed histories by units that were commanded and officered by
'Professional Officers,' for they needed their military history detailed to insure their careers went forward,
both during and after the war. You don't have to duplicate all my research, if you don't believe what I am
about to tell you, but just go to Carlisle Barracks in Penn. and read the history of the T/Sgt. Wilmer
Henderson's 606th Graves Registration Unit. You will find a few pages of typewriter paper, then read
the 607th Graves Registration Unit's history. After that, you can tell me which one was formed in England
by people taken from Replacement Depots and suddenly told they were now Graves Registration personnel
and a company that you will find was set up at Fort Vancouver, Washington State, and one that went to
Europe as a professional officered company.
When I contacted Capt. James T. Passman, Commanding
Officer of the 609th G.R. Reg. Co., who signed
the Burial Records of the 4 men killed in the B-17 crash, he told me, "He had retired as a Colonel and he
had gotten out of G.R. as fast as he could." If I remember right, he had switched to a staff job by the end of
the Battle of the Bulge. Colonel Passman has transferred during my research.
In my email to Beatrice and Lynn, I mentioned the 605th,
not as being involved, but as being in that area
of France. I think, they were the recovery G.R. Company, as the 609th was the Cemetery Company.
I might be wrong, but it sure sticks in my mind that they were in the area. I do know the 609th was the
cemetery unit, according to the Burial Records, at the Limey Temporary cemetery.
I will accept any information from any G.R. personnel of
WWII. Especially some that will help in
explaining the duties of Unit G.R. personnel. Lt. Gott's Burial Record states the G.R. Officer of the
XIX TAC kept one I.D. tag. For what purpose? Knowing the final result of the bomber's crash,
according to some French witnesses, I believe the remains of Gott, Metzger and Dunlap were so badly
burned during the final burning of the fuel still in their broken off fore end of the bomber, that the G.R.
Officer and his help could not handle them. And, instead of doing as I really thing the real G.R. personnel
would have done, that officer and his helpers did what I have been told by several French witnesses, that
there were remains left in the major impact crater of the bomber. They did collect the remains of the tail
gunner who was hanging under the tail when the bomber struck the tops of the woods. He appears to
have been torn apart as the bomber went in, this is from information contained in the 4 men's Burial
Records, and their Disinterment Records of 1948. In all 4 graves, there are only identifiable parts on
one person, if they were all combined.
I have been told some very gruesome stories by the men of
the G.R. service. In none of them, have
I heard of such a thing happening, unless the remains of only one was found and there were more than
one involved. The information, I have, is that burnt, shrunken remains were at the crash site. Burnt, shrunken
remains of more than one person, besides the torn apart person.
If real G.R. personnel had done the recovery instead of a
XIX TAC G.R. Officer, I believe, the
Disinterment Records would have shown at a minimum, more than enough remains to account for
more than one dead. That XIX G.R. Officer should not have kept an I.D. Tag, it should have remained
with Gott's remains. For what reason would he have done so? I will gladly accept any input on that.
I believe, one of two things happened. Either, all three men in the fore end of the bomber burnt to ashes,
or that they were literally cooked and shrunken as some French have said.
If that happened, I believe, that when the XIX G.R.
Officer and his assistants attempted to recover the
remains they literally fell apart, as I have read of W.W.I remains doing. This officer and his helpers were
not used to recovering remains that were not full people, or at the least almost a whole person. They may
have experience in a fighter crash, but blown apart dead fighter pilots did not normally return to base. And,
if they did have a burnt fighter pilot, it was one, in one crash. Not pieces of 4 men.
I honestly believe, and hope my ongoing requests to do a
real historic research of the crash site will be
approved so that I can follow up on that belief, that there is more than a 50/50 chance that as some French
have stated, there are remains that were left in the crater.
It is a fact, that the French took much of the wreckage to
sell on the scrap market. I have been told the
wings were used for temporary roofing and that the tail wheel was used to make a wheelbarrow. Perhaps,
I will locate that wheel some time. It is very plausible that they found the remains when digging down to
recover that wreckage.
How did I write about the end of the bomber? From
interviews with survivors, Americans who witnessed
the crash from afar, French people who witnessed the event from afar and some fairly close and with interviews
with people who were told by their parents of the flaming bomber that they thought was going to crash into them
and the village.
Today, I told Russell Gustafson, the last man to bail out,
verified by the French testimony, of what I have now
found. Except, Russell says he does not believe what I now have to tell him. The same thing happened, when
I interviewed Lt. Joe Harms. However, his story to the Flight Surgeon in January, 1945, has proven to be the
fullest, in the same time frame, story of the actual event. Where, I once questioned part of the report Joe Harms
provided to me, I can no longer do so.
You see, as I said, I have now spent time at the site and
all around the site. I could never find an American
eyewitness to the B-17 at Tincourt, but I have American eyewitnesses to the crash at Hattonville, and two more
who provides the backup to what two survivors have told me. These American eyewitnesses testimony match
exactly with the French eyewitnesses.
By the way, I did not know of the V.A. office memorial.
But, then even knowing about it, my goal is to memorialize
the men of WWI and WWII in France where what happened to them occurred. I have four such sites to complete.
One at each crash site, one at a grave and one at the village of execution of an American and a Canadian. In two
villages in France, I have been given permission to establish locations where the men and women of the United States
who wish to memorialize their service in Europe can do so. I do hope that many more do so. For it is as important
for the people 'over there' to known units and people who served to regain their Liberty, as it is for people here. I
can guarantee you, without any doubt what-so-ever, that they (pardon the language) do a hell of a better job of
Souvenir/Remembrance than our country even begins to dream of. They just do it and they will maintain your
memorials and their memories of the Dead's sacrifice deep down where it counts, long after our country just
gives 'lip service.'
I welcome any veteran's input as to places where they
served and events they were part of. If possible, I will visit
those locations and I will talk with the people and I will give them the information they have always so appreciated,
just who were the men who were there for their Liberty.
This first broadside email turned out to be real long.
Perhaps, if I keep you all properly informed as events go forth,
the rest will be much shorter.
Feed back, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Willis S. Cole, Jr. "Sam"
Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum
Dear Charlie: Per your request!
Early in the evening of 24 April, 1944, the engines came
to live at the Air Station, Tholthorpe, England, where the
Canadian number 425 Alouette Squadron (Je Te Plumerai) were stationed. Among the bombers taking their place for
the night attack against Karlsruhe, Germany, was a Halifax bomber, Serial Number, LW591, crewed by, Flight Officers,
J.W. L'Abbee, J21415, Pilot, and T.G.A.J. Gavel, J24923, Navigator. Three Sgts, P.P. Whalen, R171362, B/A, H.N.
Girard, R187514, R/AG, and A.J. Michaud, R189959, MU/AG, were enlisted men of the crew, the WAG, Wireless
Operator/Gunner, was Pilot Officer Henri Edouard DUBE R96579. The bomber left with the Squadron on time an
was carrying a full load of bombs, consisting of 1 2000 pound H.C., 40 30 pound H.C. and 450 4 pound H.C.
(From papers provided by Lorna and Barry Lucas on December 6, 1998, this was DUBE's first mission.)
At 21:40 after encountering FLAK at the target, LW591 went
missing in action and failed to return to base. All but
three of the crew were captured by the Germans, three apparently evaded. Though some later records state DUBE was
presumed dead that night.
On the 12th of May, the 452nd Bombardment Group (H)(H for
Heavy), of the 45 Combat Wing, 3rd Air Division, 8th
U.S. Army Air Force departed for the Group's 48th Mission, Brux, Czechoslovakia. The first attack on German oil
refineries. One of the bombers, flying the number 2 position in the "B" low squadron was the 'Lucky Lady," SN: 42-9941.
Bomb load was, 3,800 pounds of General Purpose Bombs, consisting of 38 100 pound bombs.
The crew consisted of:
1st Lt. Richard Francis Noble, Pilot
2nd Lt. Daniel G. Viafore, Co-pilot
2nd Lt. Richard D. Laule, Navigator
2nd Lt. Bruce W. Clago, Bombardier
T/Sgt. Lloyd A. Martin, Flight Engineer
T/Sgt. Robert Atkins, Radioman
S/Sgt. Ralph J. Murn, Ball Turret Gunner
S/Sgt. Vernon L. Moody, Right Waist Gunner
S/Sgt. George B. Brush, Left Waist Gunner
S/Sgt. Leon H. Navies, Tail Gunner
When over target, the bomber was struck by FLAK and began
to lag behind with two engines out. The pilot
was heard over the radio net requesting fighter protection. At last, over Sprimont, Belgium, the pilot had to give
the bail out order as German fighters threatened the crippled bomber.
As the bomber crashed, five chutes were reported by
returning crewmembers. This was the worst mission
for the 452nd B.G., of 42 possible bombers over the target, the Group lost 13 crews and 14 bombers, the
equivalent of a full Squadron. Of the four Squadrons in the Group, three flew the mission, while one stood down.
Twelve bombers were carried as Missing in Action with two ditched in the English Channel.
The crew all managed to bail out and the bomber crashed at
Remouchamps, 3 km east of Aywaille, 18 km
southeast of Liege.
Three of the crew were captured on the 12th, seven of the
crew were hidden by the Resistance Movement
for sometime. In the end, 7 were captured, and two evaded until the Allies reached their positions in the fall of 1944.
Lt.s Noble and Viafore evaded together to southern Belgium
where they were located at a Resistance Camp
made up, mostly of European men from Belgium and Luxembourg who had been forced into the Germany
Army and who had deserted.
At this camp Noble and Viafore became friends with an
R.C.A.F. man, P.O. H.E. DUBE, who had been
evading for some time. Two others of DUBE's crew were also in the camp, Sgts. Best and Michaud. The
men spent their time helping farmers with their crops, dressed in either civilian clothing or military clothing
modified to look somewhat civilian.
At the end of July, 1944, when the Allies broke free of
the Normandy area and began their drive
across France. The men in the camp discussed trying to reach the oncoming Allied lines. Noble an
DUBE decided that DUBE's command of the French language would help in such an effort and it
as their duty to try to reach Allied lines. Viafore, decided with the rest, that staying where they were,
was good enough for them, let the Allies come to them. Which they did, in the first week of September, 1944.
One morning, without knowing they were leaving, Viafore told me, he awoke to find the two men gone.
According to fairly long accounts by French eyewitnesses
taken in 1944, the two men were first noticed in
the area of Olizy, France, on the 6th of August, 1944. One of them, in very accented and not too good French
asked a young man the way to Grand Pre, located a few km to the south. For his help, they gave him a few
American cigarettes. The two men went back into the woods, where it was thought they were hiding in the
World War One trenches. It appears, that they had some contact with other citizens of the area while hiding
in the trenches in the woods.
Early in the morning of 8 August, 1944, the village of
Olizy was disturbed by the roar of the engines from
several German trucks and a car. The car contained the commander of the troops located at Vouziers,
the large town a few km to the northwest . Declaring they were there to locate French Freedom Fighters
using the trenches as a place to hide, the German troops began to search the woods and WWI trenches.
In the mid-morning, several women on their way to the
village's stores, passed the church and saw two
men chained to the down spouts at the side of the church. One was tall, with a round face and one smaller.
The tall one seemed to be quite distraught. During the day, several others saw the men at the church, as
they passed on their business.
Late in the afternoon the two men were loaded into the car
and it drove off, up the hill to the west.
A short time later, shots were heard coming from the direction of top of Les Canapés, an open sloping
field located at the edge of the village, near the church.
The German convoy was soon seen heading back through the
village and toward Vouziers. A young
man, the son of the Mayor, walked up to the top of the hill and into the woods where the shots were
thought to come from. Not far from the edge of the woods, he found two men buried in graves so
shallow, that their heads were above the ground, as was their tied together hands in front of their chests.
The fingers were torn and dried blood coated them.
One of the men, later proven to the be short, dark one,
had a bullet hole exactly between his eyes. The
taller of the two men, had a hole in his forehead, just above his eyes
On the third day, after the executions, the Mayor and a
villager moved the two bodies to the village
cemetery. Burying the tall one in grave number six and the shorter one, in grave number seven. One,
the tall one had on a wedding ring, with an inscription: B.B.N. to R.F.N. This ring was removed and
kept in the Mayor's desk.
In May of 1945, the American Graves Registration people
came to the village and with the Mayor
observing disinterred the two men. After comparing the tall man's teeth with a chart, they decided the
remains were not the Lt. Noble, they were searching for and that the men must be civilians killed by
the Germans, perhaps, F.F.I. With that decision, they reburied the remains. It appears, the ring was
not shown to these American personnel at that time, perhaps the Mayor had forgot about it being in his desk.
In early June, 1948, in reaction to a message and the ring
being passed on by the Mayor of Olizy, a
joint American-British Graves Registration inspection was made of the again, newly disinterred remains.
This time, the ring was present and the dental chart of 1st Lt. Noble matched the teeth of the tall man's
remains in Grave 6. A later comparison of the teeth of the remains in Grave 7, a blue shirt of R.A.F.
issue and the Mayor, who with another citizen had helped bury the bodies in 1944, matched up the short
dark man's face with a photograph. All this was accepted as positive identification of P.O. DUBE. Lt.
Noble's body was removed for transfer to an American Cemetery. P.O. DUBE's grave is still at the village
cemetery of Olizy, France, Grave 7.
P.O. DUBE was shot between his eyes and his top mandible
was broken off the skull, causing some of
his teeth to be posthumously missing. Lt. Noble was shot higher on the forehead. (Partial Canadian report.)
I am now working on a memorial plaque to be installed on
the wall between the two down spouts were
the two men were held before being executed. I hope to do get it installed close to next Memorial Day, 1999.
Well Charles, you now know much of what occurred to 1st
Lt. Richard Frances Noble, of Lakeside Drive,
New Concord, Ohio. Born: 20 August, 1918, and Died: 8 August, 1944, 12 days before his 26th Birthday.
Father: Burl Noble, Mother: Nellie Noble. Wife, Betty N. Noble Carrell and son, Richard N. Noble Carrell.
When Betty remarried, her new husband adopted her young son. According to Ellis Duitch, Dick Noble made
the winning basket in the county basketball Championship in his final year of high school, back when
Mr. Duitch was the coach.
I remember Lt. Noble's son, their grandson, visiting the
Nobles in the summer, when I used to deliver
papers to them. He, of course, does not remember me.
Do you have Webb access? If so, please visit www.ww1.org
Previous News Distribution
December 7, 1998
For those who question the first limited edition of the
book, The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette,
ISBN 0-9662728-0-3, the book is really very correct. Three men died at Tincourt-Boucly, France. Their remains
were gathered by both American soldiers and French people. The Americans did hide much of the remains of the
for years. In facts, all the events as written in the book is as true as possible, as I knew them to be, at that time.
There are two parts of the book that are wrong.
The final end of the bomber's flight as specified in
General Order 38, 16 May, 1945, the Citations for the Congressional Medals Of Honor awarded
to 1st Lt. Gott and 2nd Lt. Metzger, Jr., are wrong. Having used these citations as a foundation, which
one would believe to be correct, I did make deductions and decisions based upon the citations in Book One.
But, I understand now why they are wrong.
Hopefully, thanks to my research you will also understand
why I was wrong. I trust, that you will also remember
and verify, that I am the one who found them to be wrong and have done the research to prove, that though
wrong they do not in any way detract from the awarding of the medals. In fact, what I have found in the past
few months to be the actual end of the bomber and the four crewmen prove, that the pilots made a final decision
that on its own would qualify them for the award of the Congressional Medal Of Honor.
The second part of the book that is wrong, was the
location of the end of the bomber. It is again obvious that the
citations for the medals describe the crash of one bomber and only one bomber. That bomber being the B-24J-1,
SN: 42-51266, of the 36th Bombardment Squadron (RCM), attached to 100th Group R.A.F., which crashed
about 5 miles northeast of the Peronné A-72, early in the morning of 10 November, 1944. Now for those who
seem to think this was wrong of me, I do wish to remind them of Lt. Gray and Sgt. Bartho, two men who stayed
with a bomber when they knew that they were supposed to bail out of it. The only possible reason for them to
have stayed with that bomber was that Sgt. Mears was trapped in the nose turret and they stayed to the end
to try and free him from certain death, leading to their own deaths. To those people, I say, those two men on
the B-24J did no less than the men on the B-17, except their heroism was not observed and reported by Officers
and surviving crew. In its own way, history has provided the Congressional Medal Of Honor Citations for
the two who were awarded the medal, as well as memorializing the two who did not.
This search, that has lead me down roads of life and
experiences, that I never thought I would be exposed to.
Men, who were awarded the Congressional Medal Of Honor and earned it at least twice over, men who
should have been awarded that medal, men who were awarded the highest non-combat action medal, the
Soldiers Medal; men who lived through the missions of the bombers I have written about and am going to write
about. I have learned of the execution of men, who were just trying to do their soldier's duty, I have learned deeply,
of the sadness of the families of crewmen who did not return. I have learned of families that stretch to today, and
that life does go on. It is true, they are not gone, until they are forgotten. I do hope, that if nothing else, the book
I have written and the books I will write will keep the memories of the sacrifices of our men and women during war
alive in the new generations of our world.
For those who may be interested, before I received Herman
Krimminger's I.D.P.F., Bernard Leguillier and I
conducted an extensive search in France along the supposed flight path. We contacted Mayors of villages and
managed to get some articles in newspapers asking if anyone had knowledge of a body falling out of the air
after a bomber had passed. Our contacts with the mayors of the villages in the Hattonville area did receive an
answer from a mayor who told of being in a bomber that had flown into a woods and burnt. There were large
pieces of the bomber left and he had walked into the bombers fuselage, also that he had seen three burnt and
shrunken bodes. He said, he thought it had crashed in early November, but we should contact a local
teacher/historian/author for the exact date as he was researching all the aircraft crashes in the area during
WWII. The description of the bomber's final end, did not at all match the known end of the bomber in question,
especially as written in the citations for the medals. However, we did check with the recommended fellow and
he told Bernard Leguillier, that without doubt, the bomber crashed in the last part of November and not on the
9th. In 1998, I was able to prove the crash site of B-17G-35VE, SN: 42-97904, The Lady Jeannette, is as
I found it in 1994, before we were diverted by one person's, personal reasoning.
Today, I/we must give this fellow's miss-dating of the
crash credit for all my many adventures in this research and
in the end, the finding of the truth involved with several bombers and many crew. This letter would not have been
written, a book would not have been written with a follow-up to come, if he had just told the truth at the time, he
did know it. It now appears he was afraid I would steal some of his research. Instead, I would have turned over
all that I had to him and went on with my original goal of identifying the grave at Cartigny. That was my only
goal at that time. Further goals came into being, when these new and strange events came to my attention and
I realized the world needed to be aware of them. The base goal all along has been Remembrance!
I do wish to remind everyone, the publishing rights to the
two books and all the income goes to the museum, only
and only when the museum has the funds to pay all expenses in meeting the museum's goals, such as placing
memorials in France, would Carol and I collect any funds to pay for our expenses to date, including the full
cost of publishing of the book. There is no provision for us to be reimbursed in any way for our physical labor
and time spent in the museum's behalf over the past years. For yes, the Directors of the Museum and our personal
goals have followed the same trail, Remembrance and Souvenir. There would be no restored and conserved
16,000 German 210mm Lange Mörser sitting on display, if such had ever been our plan. There would be no book
and I fully believe, history would be misserved-served, if such had been our plan and our research advanced only when
funds were available for us. As a student of history, Carol and I are willing to let history judge our motives and goals.
The museum's Board of Directors, Carol and I have agreed,
that we will continue to strive for that original goal of
identifying the remains in the grave, memorializing them, and insuring they are remembered and we will continue our
efforts to install physical memorials and mental memories of all of these men, in France and in the United States.
By mid-summer, 1999, I hope to have combined the two books
of the The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette
into one full book that tells of our search into the identity of a grave in France. The new book will be named
The Last Flight Of The Lady Jeannette, - Books One And Two. A search that ended with the placement
of memorials at four places in France. Memorials that for years to come, will help the people of France remember
those who served to obtain their Liberty during two great wars, World War One and World War Two.
If you have received this 14 page passage in a book,
please make certain that you maintain contact through
the mail or through the Internet. Your purchase of the very limited edition first book will permit us
to strive to complete the research and install the memorials at the planned four sites in France.
It also insures, that you will have the opportunity to obtain the addition made to the book as an soft bound
addendum to the limited (600) first edition, and/or a discount on the final, combined book when it is available.
If you already have a book, continue to keep in touch, for you too will have that option. If you are just
interested in on-going events, keep in touch.
Willis S. Cole, Jr. "Sam"
Battery Corporal Willis S. Cole Military Museum
A Non-Profit Corporation
13444 124th Ave NE
|Kirkland, WA 98034-5403
Note: April 28, 1999 - The second book title is still open to change. W.S.C.
Return to top of page: Top Of Page
Return To The Museum's Front Page:
This Page Last Updated: Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:26