Shot down on the July 4, 1943 mission to LeMans, France, aboard B-17F 42-29960 "NYMOKYMI" 544th BS code SU*J.

The original crew list from March 1943:

  • FO Gordon B Erickson (P) EVD
  • 2LT Clifford C Dartt (CP) POW
  • 2LT Francis M Hackley (N) KIA
  • 2LT Don W Irvine (B) KIA
  • SSGT Robert H Penly (TT) EVD
  • SSGT Frank J Wingerter (WG) EVD
  • SSGT Lawrence J Reandeau (NOT ON MISSION)
  • SSGT Paul G Welch (RO) POW
  • SSGT Charles Mankowitz (TG) EVD
  • SGT James P Coburn (NOT ON MISSION)
Above verified with Gowen SO # 70, 11 MARCH 1943

The following flew with the crew on July 4, in place of Reandeau and Coburn:

The following information was sent by Roger Cornevin-Hayton, a citizen of France, who was an eye-witness to the downing of 42-29960, and a report submitted by Gordon Erickson. Roger has researched the mission, and has followed up with a memorial dedication at the crash site which was held on July 4, 1999.

The B-17 was hit by flak over Le Mans after releasing its bombs. The plane turned North, and was hit again in the #4 engine, and the prop would not feather. The oxygen system was punctured, and Erickson gave the signal to bail out. The plane was ultimately brought down by an Me109. Roger was in a stadium watching the airstrike, and saw the B-17 smoking, at low altitude, and witnessed the crew bail out near a small town. The French citizens arrived before the Germans, and aided the crew.

Erickson landed in a tree, but was quickly helped by 8 or 9 French men. Freeman and Mankowitz, both injured, were hidden in a hut 10 miles from the crash site in the forest for 47 days before escaping out of France. Clifford Dartt and Paul Welch were captured by the Germans. Irvine and Hackley were killed in the wreckage.

Is this Clifford Dartt? Can you identify the man in this photo? If you can, please contact me. This is believed to be his evasion photo.

November 2014 Update: confirmed by Clifford Dartt to be a photo of himself.

Photos of the crash site taken July 5, 1943, by Roger Cornevin-Hayton.

The shed that was used to hide Freeman and Mankowitz.

Erickson's parachute.

The photo was taken at Eug�ne BOIVIN's home, "La Pili�re", SEES, France. Madame BOIVIN is looking on (left). Facing the photographer is Mr. GUYON, a jeweller in SEES, with his baby son. Lifting the parachute are: Henri and Lucien BOIVIN, Mr. and Ms. ALEXANDRE, Mr. and Ms. PAGES. In the background (right), sitting between 2 people ( hardly visible in the photo) is Mr. Eugene BOIVIN, who lost a leg in the first world war. (Identifications courtesy of Mme. S. Sorel, 2013)

Photos from the memorial dedication on July 4, 1999. Two veterans from the 381st BG attended, who also flew the mission. Roger Cornevin-Hayton is in the third picture, to the far right.