• Plage Bonaparte à Plouha (Côtes d'Armor) - Haut-lieu de la Résistance

  • Sacy-le-Grand (Oise) - Mémorial en souvenir du F/O H. H. MacKenzie (RCAF)

  • Supermarine LF Mk.Vb Spitfire EP120 - G-LFVB - (The Fighter Collection)

  • Le Cardonnois (Somme) - Stèle à la mémoire de l'équipage du Boeing B-17 #42-31325, 452nd Bomb Group

  • B-17G-85-VE 44-8846 - F-AZDX - (FTV)


30th December 1943


Boeing B-17F # 42-29963 "Judy"


379th Bomb Group

527th Bomb Squadron

8th Air Force


Ully-Saint-Georges (Oise)

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                                                                                                               En français france



Thursday 30th December 1943.
169th strategic operation for the U.S. 8th Bomber Command for which there was no let-up at this end of the year.
The Allied High Command once again decided to hit on a great scale the Nazi industrial machine.
The target of the mission was the bombing of the IG-Farben chemical complex and the port area of the city of Ludwigshafen, Rhineland.
Distant and dangerous mission for the young American crews who will have to fly over and confront the enemy over a particularly well-defended territory.
On this 30th December 1943, at 8:00 am, 710 heavy B-17 and B-24 bombers took off successively from their English bases, assembled over England and headed for Germany.
Fighter aircraft escorted them to ensure their protection against possible attacks by enemy fighters.

379th Bomb Group

The 379th Bomb Group, based in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, was designated to take part in this large-scale raid, sending a formation of 44 B-17 bombers.
Among these, the "Judy" # 42-29963.

Having completed a mission on the Focke-Wulf plant in Bremen, Germany, on 20th December and another on 24th December on the V1 site at Bonnières-Beauvoir, in the Pas de Calais, France, this was to be the 3rd mission of the crew.

2nd  Lt. Glenn E. CAMP Jr Pilot 21 Evaded and POW El Paso, Texas
F/O Joseph F. FITZGERALD Co-pilot 20 KIA Minonk, Illinois
2nd Lt. Jarvis H. COOPER Navigator 23 Evaded and POW Lakewood, New Jersey
2nd Lt. Edward J. DONALDSON Bombardier 19 Evaded Dumont, New Jersey
S/Sgt. Richard R. GIERSCH Top turret gunner 19 KIA Cleveland, Ohio
S/Sgt. Milton J. MILLS Jr Radio-operator 20 Evaded  Kenova, West Virginia
Sgt. Marcus C. PIERCE Ball turret gunner 20 KIA New Orleans, Louisiana
Sgt. Douglas J. FARR Right waist gunner 22 Evaded Michaux, Virginia
Sgt. Neelan B. PARKER Left waist gunner 20 Evaded Choice, Texas
S/Sgt. Robert E. CROSS Tail gunner 24 KIA Licking, Missouri


 Glenn E Camp  Joseph F FITZGERALD  Jarvis H Cooper  Edward J DONALDSON               2nd Lt. Glenn E. Camp Jr             F/O Joseph F. Fitzgerald                 2nd Lt. Jarvis H. Cooper                   2nd Lt. Edward J. Donaldson

  Richard Giersch  MJ  Marcus Cecil PIERCE  Douglas Farr
          S/Sgt. Richard R. Giersch               S/Sgt. Milton J. Mills                   Sgt. Marcus C. Pierce                    Sgt. Douglas J. Farr                     
Neelan Parker   RE Cross

                                                                      Sgt. Neelan B. Parker                    S/Sgt. Robert E. Cross


Near Ludwigshafen, cloud cover completely covered the city. The German anti-aircraft artillery returned fire on the attackers in the final approach. Allied planes came under fire from bursting shells. Bombers were hit, others were slaughtered, often resulting in the death of their crews. 23 bombers and 13 fighter planes were reported missing on this raid.

Despite the losses, the bombing took place at an altitude of 21,000 ft between noon and 1:00 pm.
1,400 tons of bombs were dropped on the target.

The B-17 "Judy" was hit in one of its engines over Ludwigshafen. The four-engined bomber, losing power, was gradually left behind. However, the pilot was able to maintain the flight line and tried to reach England.
Above France, flying above the department of Oise, the damaged B-17 was attacked three times by German fighters. The gunners fought back.
Both gunners, Parker and Pierce, claimed over the intercom, that each of them had shot down an enemy aircraft.

Hit again, the Flying fortress became uncontrollable. Some crew members were injured, others killed. The pilot ordered the crew to evacuate the aircraft.

Now at very low level and doomed, the B-17 "Judy" hit the treetops and disintegrated in the Bois Morel, in the territory of the municipality of Ully-Saint-Georges (Oise).

Among the wreckage, three dead bodies were found: those of the co-pilot Joseph F. Fitzgerald, of the ball turret gunner Marcus C. Pierce and of the tail gunner Robert E. Cross.

Injured and having evacuated the aircraft at too low level, the body of the gunner Richard R. Giersch was found in a field near the scene of the crash. His parachute did not have time to open.

The bodies of the four airmen were buried the next day in the cemetery of Boran-sur-Oise.

After the war, three of them would be repatriated to the United States, at the request of their families.

Only Marcus C. Pierce still rests in France, his body being transferred post-war to the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer.

Marcus C Pierce's grave Normandy American Cemetery
Marcus C. Pierce's grave

Upon landing, the other six airmen of the B-17 "Judy" were more lucky. They were all rescued collected, hidden and cared for by the people of our region, despite all the risks.

On 12th January 1944, in the United States, all the families of the crew members were notified by a telegram from the War Department that their husbands or sons had not returned from the 30th December mission. There was no further information. For the families then began the agonizingly long wait, in the hope that everyone had survived the crash.

Lt. Cooper missing

French families did not hesitate to provide immediate help to the survivors throughout their escape in our region. Among these, the Robillard, d'Haleine families and Dr. Andrieu at Neuilly-en-Thelle, the Malingue family at Crouy-en-Thelle, the Legrand-Sauvage family at Clermont, the Toussaint family in Creil, the Lauro family at Gouvieux, the Dorez and Duchateau families at Montataire and the Eckert family at Noailles .

The Alsace network, led by Gilbert Thibault at Auneuil played a major role in helping many Allied airmen, including some from the B-17 "Judy", before directing them to established escape routes.

The six airmen received the help of different escape lines :
- Sgt. Douglas J. Farr, with the help of Vengeance-Turma network, managed to reach Spain on 27th January 1944, less than one month after the crash of his plane. Via Gibraltar and Casablanca, he landed at Prestwick, Scotland on 24th March 1944.

- 2nd Lt. Edward J. Donaldson and Sgt. Neelan B. Parker, with the Shelburn escape line, were conveyed to the north coast of Brittany. They were repatriated to England aboard a corvette of the Royal Navy, on the night of 16th to 17th March 1944 during Operation Bonaparte III.

- S/Sgt. Milton J. Mills Jr. was conveyed to the Pyrenees by "Jacqueline," the future Mrs. Geneviève Le Berre, of the Burgundy network. He reached Spain on 20th April 1944. Via Gibraltar, he returned to England by air on next 30th May.

Taken in charge by the Comet network, 2nd Lt. Glenn E. Camp and 2nd Lt. Jarvis H. Cooper were captured by the Germans in early May 1944, on a train, not far from the Spanish border which they were hoping to cross.
They were incarcerated in the prison of Bayonne, then in Fresnes. Later they were sent to Stalag Luft I at Barth, in northern Germany.

Glenn Camp War prisoner        Cooper POW Stalag Luft 1


Released in April 1945 by the Soviet Army, Glenn E. Camp and Jarvis H. Cooper were repatriated in the following weeks to the United States.

On 11th September 2011, a ceremony was held at Ully-Saint-Georges (Oise) in memory of the crew.

March 2012 - Visit of the Mills family

October 2013 - Visit of Rudy Sanders, S/Sgt. Robert E. Cross's nephew

10th August 2014 - Visit of Glenda Gray, 2nd Lt. Glenn E. Camp's granddaughter

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