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July 28th Pt1

July 28th saw another large raid on Ploesti. More than 320 B-24 and B-17 bombers attacked the target area. Once again, enemy defenses took a heavy toll on the attacking forces. A total of 9 planes crashed in Yugoslavia.

The 451 Bomb Group had three planes crash in Yugoslavia.  Liberator No. 41-28933 was hit over the target and lost two engines and its hydraulics. The damaged aircraft managed to reach deep into Yugoslavia where the crew had to bail out 5 miles north of Raška, on Kopaonik Mt. 

Glenn Kerres Lawrence Horn Joseph Justin Charles Kear Robert Powers Victor Clarke Martin Graney John Burton Wendell DeLong Hugh Balfanz

The crew was immediately contacted by Chetniks who took them to a nearby village, except Lt Justin who was captured. They remained in the vicinity for the following 3 weeks. 

During the wait, Martin Graney and Wendell DeLong were eager to move, and they tried on their own to find an Allied mission with the Partisans. Unfortunately, they were captured during their attempt.

The remainder of the crew went to Pranjani on August 22, where they arrived after traveling for four days. They were evacuated on August 28.

The second plane lost on that day was No. 41-29541. It was also damaged over the target and managed to reach Yugoslavia. 

Jack Holtz William Farley Kenneth Patten Leonard Goldstein Albert Pearce Harry Billings Jack Sickels John Thomas Marion Tennison Jr. Victor Gibson Edward Lynch

Billings lost communication with the crew, and he bailed out first, near Bor. He injured his leg but managed to get to a nearby village after some rest. He was taken to a doctor to receive medical care. After that, he was taken by Partisans to the British mission in Soko Banja, and he was evacuated on August 22.

The remaining crewman bailed out later, near Ćuprija. Goldstein was separated and captured.

Others were contacted by Chetniks who brought them to Pranjani, from where they were evacuated on August 10.

The last aircraft of the 451st lost on this day was No. 42-52378. It was damaged over the target, lost one engine, and one landing wheel extended, causing significant drag. The pilot was forced to make a forced landing 10 miles south of Belgrade. The aircraft was immediately surrounded by 50 peasants, who shouted they were Chetniks and were delighted that Americans were in the plane. They left the plane and went to the hills. After some time the Chetniks thought it would be a good idea to retrieve the radio and armament from the aircraft. The radio operator returned to the aircraft with them, but the Germans were approaching, so they had to retreat after setting the plane on fire.

Frank Vernon Robert Walton Vernon Callicotta John Cunningham Melvin Nierman Edward Brown Vincent Volrath Lemmie Murray Duane Patterson Willard McGinn

Airmen were taken to the nearby village of Balonovich, where they stayed for two days. During their stay, they reviewed Chetnik troops, watched a soccer game, and visited the carnival. After that, the crew started their journey to Pranjani. They covered up to 25 miles a day, sometimes during rain and on mountain tracks. When they arrived at Pranjani, the crew stayed in local farmhouses for several days, until they were evacuated on August 10.

Photo: Some of the oil installations in Ploesti


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