May 6th, Three Planes

On May 6th, 1944, while returning from missions in Romania, three bombers crashed in Serbia. Liberator No 42-52307 crashed near Tutin, and the entire crew of 10 was captured the Germans. 


Flying Fortress B-17 No 42-32022 was damaged over the target area. The pilot tried to keep pace with the group, but the damage progressively got worse,  no longer able to maintain altitude. The crew bailed out near Požega and were chased by the Germans who captured three. The remaining seven were gathered by Chetniks who helped them to hide. These crew members were:

Robert Weiss George Thomas Wilbur Earl Willard Curtiss Leslie Wolfe Jr Ivan Foster Julian Entrekin

The crew was taken to Pranjani, where Allied missions were preparing for their withdrawal. The landing strip on Galovića field was prepared so C-47 aircraft could land on the night of May 28th.

Finally, Liberator No 41-29343 was damaged by flak and enemy fighters over the target. On the way back over the Bor mines they were hit once again. The crew was forced to bail out. Once on the ground, they were immediately contacted by Chetniks, who evacuated the entire crew:

Thomas Oliver

Camillus Rechtin

John Thibodeau

Charles Gracz

Griffin Goad

Jodie Oliver

Franklin Bartels

William Keepers

Donald Sullivan

Edgar Smith

The crew was sent to the vicinity of Pranjani. However, as a result of Allied coordination with the Chetniks being discontinued, it was not possible to communicate with the Allied home base to arrange a rescue. Thomas Oliver, with the help of several other Airmen, contacted HQ using a makeshift code to let them know the location of 150 Airmen waiting to be rescued.

Soon George Musulin and the Halyard Mission were deployed and the Airmen were rescued on August 10.

Images: Thomas Oliver and crew near Rtanj mountain

Flying fortresses of the 483rd Bomb Group in flight



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