July 9th, 1944. - three planes in a day
Another day of big losses for the US bombers on missions to Ploesti. One B-24 and two B-17 aircraft fell in Yugoslavia.
Liberator No. 42-78348 was returning from its mission to Ploesti when gunner Carl Walpusk noticed a group of ten aircraft, which he thought were P-51 escorts. But they turned out to be enemy Me-109, which soon attacked the B-24. After it was hit many times, the crew was ordered to bail out in the vicinity of Čačak.
Paul Mato James Kidd Richard Felman Kenneth Munn Leonard Pritchett Israel Meyer Preston Angleberger Carl Walpusk Thomas Lovett Carl Astifan Roland Hodgson
When the signal for evacuation was given, waist gunner Angleberger signaled to the ball turret gunner Lovett to bail out. Lovett waved him off and continued to fire at the attacking enemy planes. The pilot and co-pilot were the last to leave the aircraft, ten minutes later. The machine guns were silent by this time. On the ground, local farmers quickly helped the airmen to hide and contacted Chetnik forces. Soon the group was en route to Pranjani, from where they were evacuated on August 10th. However, they were missing one crewmember. Ball turret gunner Thomas Lovett went down with the aircraft. He remained at his position, fighting off enemy airplanes until he was mortally wounded. German soldiers buried him near the wreck site. Later, Chetniks came to the site and reburied him at the local cemetery in a large ceremony with honors. On the cross, we can see that his name was written in a strange combination of Cyrillic and Latin letters.