• 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)

 

15th September 1943

 

2nd Lt. James G. BORMUTH

 
B-17F # 42-3452
 
 

100th Bomb Group

350th Bomb Squadron

8th Air Force

 

Montiers (Oise)
 
 
 
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2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth 

2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was a member of the crew of the Boeing B-17 # 42-3452 belonging to the 100th Bomb Group, 350th Bomb Squadron of the 8th Air Force. Serving as a bombardier on the plane, he was 24 years old.

After a bombing mission on Caudron-Renault and Hispano-Suiza plants located in Boulogne-Billancourt, the aircraft crashed in the evening of 15th September 1943, near the village of Montiers (Oise).

When the aircraft was hit by Flak, all the crew managed to evacuate. The airmen landed near St Just-en-Chaussee.

Eight were rescued by the population and they were able to return to England with the help of escape networks. The co-pilot Smith and the top turret gunner Parsons, wounded in the leg, were both taken prisoner.

    

The crew :

2nd Lt. Arthur M. VETTER Pilot 25 Evaded Pittsburgh, Pennsylavania
2nd Lt. Donald G. SMITH Co-pilot POW Montana
2nd Lt. Wendell K. McCONNAHA Navigator 24 Evaded and dead* Blair, Nebraska
2nd Lt. James G. BORMUTH Bombardier 24 Evaded Baltimore, Maryland
T/Sgt. Orval L. PARSONS Top turret gunner 22 POW Ohio
T/Sgt. John M. WAGNER Radio-operator 22 Evaded Newport, Pennsylvania
S/Sgt. Edward W. FONTAINE Ball turret gunner 26 Evaded West Warwick, Rhode Island
S/Sgt. Hobart C. TRIGG Waist gunner 21 Evaded Simpson, Illinois
S/Sgt. Edward M. DALY Waist gunnner 21 Evaded Newark, New Jersey
S/Sgt. Warren G. LUSH Tail gunner 22 Evaded Atlanta, Nebraska

 

* 2nd Lt. Wendell K. McConnaha died in December 1943 during his escape while crossing the Pyrenees. He drowned in a torrent. He now rests in the Margraten American Cemetery, Netherlands.

Around 7:00 pm, 2nd Lt. James G. Bormuth landed in a garden of the Castle in Plainval, belonging to Mr Charles de Jandin.
Madame de Maissin and Anne-Marie de Jandin, stepmother and sister of Charles, immediately rushed to rescue the pilot. He was uninjured. They helped him get rid of his parachute, tangled in the bean poles, then hid him in the park until nightfall.

Meanwhile, the Germans arrived very quickly in the village. Some people, although they had seen the airman come down, directed them in the wrong direction. Pierre, Charles de Jandin's brother, who spoke English, arrived. He asked the airman if he prefered to be hidden in the house or outside.

2nd Lt. Bormuth chose to remain hidden in the woods. Around 1:00 am, Charles and his brother Pierre took the parachutist to a small wood nearby where straw bales had been taken, and they gave him food.

The next morning, in addition to food, they brought him civilian clothes, cigarettes and English reading to help him pass the time.
Through the trees, he was able to see passing German vehicles on the main road.

Dr. Edmond Caillard, of St Just-en-Chaussee, was contacted. Having a permit to circulate, he transfered 2nd Lt. Bormuth on 17th September in his car to the castle of Wavignies, having previously put a bloody bandage on his head. If they were checked at a control point, Dr. Caillard could claim he was transporting an injured man to hospital. 

At Wavignies, he was housed by Mr Henri Vincenot and his wife Yvonne who were the caretakers of the castle.
The navigator, Wendell K. McConnaha, was already here.

On 21st September, 2nd Lts. James G. Bormuth and Wendell K. McConnaha were taken to Clermont, to the Fleury family, where they stayed for 18 days. There they met their crewmates Daly and Trigg.

The airmen at the Fleury's
From left to right :
Hobart C. Trigg, Jean Bourdon, Alain Fleury, Wendell K. McConnaha, James Lartizien, Edward M. Daly and James G. Bormuth. 
 
 

During this stay, pictures of the airmen were taken to be used on their fake identity cards.

The pilot, Vetter, the tail gunner, Lush, and the radio-operator, Wagner, were housed during this time at Gaston Legrand and Odette Sauvage's home, another family in Clermont.

On 9th October, James G. Bormuth, McConnaha, Daly and Trigg left Clermont and were driven by car to Creil. There, they met a guide and reached the station.

The four airmen took a train to Paris and then separated. James G. Bormuth remained with McConnaha. Both airmen were taken to a flat, certainly that of Madeleine Mélot', in the 5th arrondissement. The next morning, a woman took them to Montreuil where they stayed with a couple for two nights.They were taken in charge by the Burgundy escape network.
 

Then both airmen returned to Paris where they probably stayed with Madame Marie Wiame, rue Poliveau.

On 15th October, James G. Bormuth and Wendell K. McConnaha were transferred to Ms. Simone Besson's flat, located at 6 rue Emile Allez, Paris 17th, where they stayed until 29th October. Both airmen were then moved to Pierre Chanez, Avenue Maurice, at Gagny. They stayed there until 10th November. At that time, in the evening, René, Pierre Chanez's son, brought the two airmen back to Paris to Simone Besson's flat.

Simone Besson had a sister named Andrée who lived in the same neighbourhood. The airmen took their meals at Simone's but then went to spend the night in Andree's flat.

On 3rd December, one of two Besson sisters led the two airmen to the Austerlitz station where they joined other American escapees. With a guide, they took a train to Toulouse and then reached Perpignan.

On 9th December, two new guides took the group of about 12 men through the Pyrenees. They walked at night and hid in the bushes during the day. When crossing streams, they removed their clothes to keep them dry. Unfortunately, during this journey, 2nd Lt. Wendell K. McConnaha slid on a mountainside and disappeared. In the snow and the cold, the group crossed the border in the night of 10th to 11th December. Once on the Spanish side, the group was arrested by the Civil Guard. The airmen spent the night in a dilapidated cabin before being taken to Figueiras the next morning. They spent two nights in the city jail. 

On 12th December, they were transferred to Figueiras Camp where they remained for about two and a half weeks. Their heads were shaved and they were given 25 pesetas from the French Red Cross. The guards were trying to sell their cigarettes for 10 pesetas when they only cost one peseta per package.

 Figueiras Camp
 

Released from prison after the intervention of the British and American Consuls, the airmen were taken to Girona. They were then transferred to Madrid and reached Gibraltar on 31st December.

On 4th January 1944, 2nd Lt.James G. Bormuth was back in England by plane.

He then returned to the United States where he met his fiancée again.

Discharged on 26th August 1945, he married on 1st December 1945.

James G. Bormuth died in March 2007.

 

In July 2010, we had the pleasure of a visit from Kathleen Bormuth when she was following in the footsteps of her father. 

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