The World War II Photo of the Week
for 23 April 2001
|Assessing the Damage ...
Damn Jerry got her right in the "Bee"! M/Sgt. Donald F. Genessy of Emmett, Idaho checks the damage to Spook, a 358th Bomb Squadron B-17F [No. 41-24541 (VK-B)] based at Molesworth, England. Genessy, the Flying Fort's crew chief, has moved the .50-caliber waist gun out of the way to survey what the Nazi flak did to his plane before he orders repairs. Note the waist gunner's message to Jerry fighter pilots who get too close, painted just below the gun opening. Official USAAF photo dated January 27, 1943, from the Webmaster's collection.
But what happened to Spook?
On February 16, 1943, Spook flew her 16th mission to St. Nazaire, France. After dropping her bombs on the target, Spook left the group formation to go to the aid of a 306th BG(H) B-17 being attacked by a few Me-109s. While circling the damaged B-17 at about 10,000 feet, fifteen Me-109s suddenly appeared. Some members of the 306th BG(H) B-17 then bailed out. Lt. Dunnica then started flying a course back to England. Spook was shot down in the English Channel about 20 miles from the English coast. Upon crashing in the cold icy water the B-17 broke into parts. Tail gunner Sgt. Taylor went down in the tail section. Waist gunner S/Sgt. Dew was last seen floating in high waves. The pilot, Lt. Dunnica, failed to get out of the pilot's window and went down with his B-17. Radio operator T/Sgt. Holland, had been shot and couldn't exit the B-17. Lt. Pacey, T/Sgt. Tucker, and S/Sgt. Cascio escaped through the radio hatch and reached an inflated rubber dinghy. They spent about 14 hours in the dinghy, were strafed three times, flipped over many times in the high waves, and eventually reached the French coast near Brest in the darkness of early morning. They found a small shoreline hut and slept a short time. At about 0600 they saw a French House in the distance, and headed towards it. The French family gave them coffee, bread, and a change of clothing and then asked the crewmen to leave since German soldiers were in the area. They were captured a few hours later and transported to a jail in Paris, then to Frankfurt, Germany, and on to POW camps.
In the photo below, reprinted from
The 303rd Bomb Group Web Site,
we see the crew of Spook as they looked on October 13, 1942.
Back row, left to right: 1st Lt. Lawrence G. Dunnica (P-KIA), 2nd Lt. Orson E. Pacey (CP-POW), 2nd Lt. Leonard E. Thornton (N-KIA), 2nd Lt. James H. Montgomery (B). Front row, left to right: T/Sgt. Harry W. Tucker (E-POW), Sgt. Phillip T. Cascio (BT-POW), Sgt. Bertis W. Holland (R-KIA), S/Sgt. Robert L. Dew (RWG-KIA), Sgt. Claude F. Taylor (TG-KIA). Not in Photo: S/Sgt. Wayne E. Hatcher (LWG-KIA).
May They Not Be Forgotten