May 18: Mission to Ploiesti
Another busy day for more than 200 US heavy bombers that attacked Ploiesti.
Enemy defenses were prepared, and 14 planes were lost, five of which crashed in Yugoslavia. Aircraft 42-52253 made an emergency landing in Montenegro at the only suitable airfield, near Podgorica, where they were immediately captured by the Germans.
Another Liberator, No 42-78081, crashed in Macedonia. Local pro-Bulgarian militia killed one airman while capturing the others.
A third B-24, 41-29246, reached Đakovica, western Kosovo. The entire crew was captured by Germans. However, the pilot managed to escape from the makeshift prison, and after running through the mountains managed to make contact with Partisan forces who rescued him.
Another damaged aircraft, B-24 No 41-29576, became a victim of the heavy antiaircraft defenses surrounding Bor. The crew bailed out and were scattered across 5 miles. Two of the airmen were captured, while the others were assisted by the local peasants, who took them to the nearby Chetnik Hq.
The airmen were: John Brownell Newton Baughman Glenn O'Neal Richard Sheehy John Carroll James Mortimer William Whelan Vitus Crandall The crew remained there for two months and were taken to Pranjani, from where they were evacuated on August 10.
Finally, Liberator No 42-52355 was attacked by enemy fighters. The crew was forced to bail out near Leskovac, in Southern Serbia. Upon reaching the ground, peasants immediately helped them and called Chetniks, who took four wounded to the hospital. One of the wounded, John Dunn, lost a lot of blood, and the doctor Milan Petrović, could not do anything to save him. Five of the airmen stayed for one month in the vicinity: Charles Stevenson Clifford Lovitt John Carlson Wilbur Wright Shadrick Methvin After, they went to Pranjani, where they were evacuated on August 10.
Three of the wounded airmen; Douglas Poland, Edward Kuhle, and John Woodland, remained in the Chetnik hospital. However, some ten days later, around the end of May, the hospital was forced to move in front of advancing Partisans. A few days later the Partisans arrived and took over the hospital. The airmen remained in place for eight days. When the American mission of Lynn Farrish arrived he took the wounded airmen, and on June 16th, they were evacuated from Jastrebac mountain.