|1LT Edmund S. Goulder crew (547th BS)|
|Back row L-R: Edmund Goulder (P), Arthur C. Harris (N), William Boomhower (B), Tex Carter (CP) Front row L-R: Claude Leslie (BT), Bill Seager (TG), Bill Sears (WG), Ed Thomason (TT), Paul Saunders (RO), Mike Vodilko (WG)|
|Originally formed as crew #18, with Francis Witt as pilot. On June 12, 1943, Witt and 4 other crewmen were involved in a mid-air collision over Grafton-Underwood with another B-17 piloted by LT Kowalski. Kowalski and his 4-man crew were killed. Goulder, formerly a co-pilot with the Donald Ogilvie crew, took over as pilot when Witt was taken off flying status.
On October 14, 1943, the entire 10-man crew baled out of B-17F 42-5852 "The Natural" over England, after returning from Schweinfurt, Germany. The plane's radio callsign was "Flapjack T." The aircraft was over the target at 1439-1440 hours, and returned over the UK with battle damage. The crew found extensive ground fog over the center of England. Also low on fuel, the decision was made to bail out over the RAF airfield at Oakley.
"The Natural" was abandoned shortly after 1940 hours. One crewman landed in a tree and was injured. Four others were also injured. One lucky (perhaps unlucky?) crewman landed in the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) compound, which was a sealed area that was locked at night to keep the RAF personnel out. It is not known what kind of reception he received, however, there was a note of consternation in the Operational Training Unit Diary. Nine of the crew were accounted for, but T/Sgt. Sears could not be found. An extensive search was made, and was finally called off at 0235 hours. It was discovered later that morning that he had been picked up by the local civilian police and taken to the headquarters of 43 Group, RAF, which had taken over Magdalene College, in Oxford. This was close to the USAAF HQ for the area, located in the middle of Oxford at the Clarendon Hotel.
After being abandoned, "The Natural" flew herself another 11 miles before landing in a field, south of Chetwode, at a shallow angle at about 2000 hours. It skidded over the field, crossed a road, and embedded itself into two small cottages. At the time of the crash, one cottage was occupied by a Mr. Tew and his son, and a Doris Cox was in the other. Apparently, after the crash, a small boy was sent into the wreckage to pour buckets of water on the fires in the grates of the house to keep the plane from catching fire as well. All 10 were returned to flying status.
On December 1, 1943, the crew was MIA after mechanical difficulty aboard B-17F 42-30033 "Little America." The were flying as lead aircraft with 547th Squadron CO Maurice Dillingham aboard. All 11 men were taken as POW's.
|LT's Ivan Rice and Edmund Goulder, following a Purple Heart ceremony, August, 1943|