July 9th, 1944. (part 3/3)
Finally, on July 9th, a third aircraft that crashed in Yugoslavia during its from to Ploesti mission was B-17 No. 42-107166 from the 483rd Bomb Group. While flying near Brasov, Romania, one engine stopped working. The aircraft fell out of formation as it could not maintain speed. The pilot still wanted to bomb the target, but when another engine failed the crew decided to drop its bomb load on a target of opportunity, after which the ship started back to base. While over Bosnia, another engine stopped working, and the order to bail out was given.
Jay Mueller Alfred Berger Cecil Spencer Jr. Alexandar Dewa Francis Jones David Spindel Emmett Jones Warren Jones Robert Baum Merle Peart
The crew landed in the vicinity of Kalinovik. Women gathered all the airmen, hid their parachutes, and tool the crew into the hills above the village. They saw German patrols who were searching for them. In the evening after the Germans withdrew the Americans came to the village. Chetnik forces organized their movement to the East helping to move the injured airmen by horses.
In his testimony, one of the airmen, navigator Alexander Dewa, mentions that they encountered OSS Lieutenant Gavros, who told them that the Allies fully supported Tito's forces. This was strange since at the time there were no Allied missions with the Chetniks.
On the same day, two airmen, Spencer and Spindel, tried to try to reach Partisans and the Allied mission, but they were captured by Germans.
The remaining Airmen continued their journey. On July 31, while they were in Rudo, Partisan forces attacked the city. The Chetniks and Airmen retreated, while injured Merle Peart was left in the hospital. He was taken by the Partisans, who slowly moved him around, until he was evacuated from Niksic on October 13th.
Seven other Airmen went to Zlatibor mountain, where they joined 30 other downed American airmen. On August 3rd they all went to Pranjani, from where they were evacuated on August 9/10.
Crews were usually named after their pilot, but this crew was known as the Jones crew - since there were three airmen with the same family name.