|B-17F 42-5848 "Patches"|
|photo courtesy of James Murray.|
|"Patches" was the first B-17 of the 384th BG to attain legendary status. An original aircraft of the Group, she was assigned to the Donald Ogilvie crew in the 547th BS and had the code SO*R.
On the very first mission on June 22, 1943 to Antwerp, Belgium, 42-5848 came under heavy attack by German fighters from JG 26 after she had fallen back from the group while covering the mortally wounded lead aircraft in her element. The tailgunner and ball turret gunner were both injured in attacks that left the airplane riddled with cannon holes in the waist, radio room, and cockpit, and a hole in the tail large enough for a man to walk through.
The damage to 42-5848 warranted her being out of action for over a month, and she returned to combat on July 28 with over 40 patches covering her previous scars. She also displayed her appropriately titled name, "Patches," on both sides of the nose.
On July 30, 1943, the crew of 2LT William Harry, on their 4th mission, flew "Patches" to Kassel, Germany. The trouble began for the crew after "bombs away," when she was first hit by flak, wounding both waist gunners. She was then set upon by German fighters. TSGT Curry A. Reid was thrown from his top turret after being hit in the thigh by a 20mm bullet, fracturing his leg. He manned his guns and claimed the destruction of a Fw 190. Pilot William Harry was struck in the hip and CP Ivan Rice was hit by fragments. The loss of oxygen and power to the tailgunner's electrically heated boots forced Harry to drop to a lower altitude.
The attacks resumed for over 20 minutes as the ship limped home. "Patches" took numerous hits, and the German fighters did not break off their attacks until well over the North Sea.
Both Harry and Rice struggled to put the plane down at the first friendly airfield, which was Boxted. They successfully landed despite jammed throttles, a ragged elevator, and a jammed rudder. Six of the crew received Purple Hearts for their wounds received, and "Patches," with over 1000 holes in her, was turned in for salvage.