Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army 1
Birth:
1919 1
Massachusetts 1
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Personal Details

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Person:
Harold F Govoni 1
Level of Education: 4 years of high school 1
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 1
Birth:
1919 1
Massachusetts 1
Residence:
Place: Plymouth County, Massachusetts 1
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World War II 1

Branch:
Army 1
Enlistment Date:
10 Dec 1941 1
Army Branch:
Medical Administrative Corps - For Officers only 1
Army Serial Number:
11032438 1
Enlistment Place:
Boston Massachusetts 1
Enlistment Term:
Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law 1
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 1
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Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Source Information:
Box Number: 0059 1
Film Reel Number: 1.52 1

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Harold F Govoni (KIA) 321st BG, 447th BS, B-25 /MTO

North Africa

Harold Govoni; KIA by enemy fighters, B-25 TRIGGER #41-13171 Shot-down at Sea.  Harold was an Engineer and Aerial Gunner.

Harold F Govoni was living at "Box 316, Wapping Road, Kingstown, MA. at Enlistment.

S SG Harold F. Govoni ID: 11032438
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Plymouth County, MA
Status: KIA

MISSING IN ACTION on 20 March 1943 on Sea Sweep Mission Between Tunisia and
Sicily. Attacked By Enemy Fighters~SHOT DOWN at SEA.

One Crew Member Killed Before the Crash,

The 5 Surviving Crew Members Made it to the Life Raft, Rowed to Shore~EVADED ENEMY CAPTURE~Made
it to Friendly Lines, Were Treated for Minor Injuries, and RETURNED to the 447th Squadron on 27 March
1943, ALL 5 Were Wearing British Uniforms.

A/C No. 41-13171 "Trigger" (shot down)
Ackley, James H., 2Lt, pilot
Duke, Albert (NMI) "Al", 2Lt, pilot
Orr, Douglas C. "Doug", 2Lt, bombardier
Drogosch, Robert C., T/Sgt, radio-gunner
Govoni, Harold F., S/Sgt, engineer-gunner--(KIA)
Noble, Francis L., S/Sgt, armament-gunner

----------------
FROM: 321_BG_1943-03
FANTASTIC Account by LT. McDuff:

447th BS: War Diary of: McDuff, Daniel R., 2Lt, pilot: (although Lt Duke &
Crew didn't return to the 447th until 27 Mar 43, this entry is placed here
for continuity)

Saturday, 20 March 1943

"…no one in the outfit is very fond of sea-sweeps! Too many ships have
turned up either missing or all shot to pieces. Burns and Duke, to begin
with---and now several others I'd rather not write about.
Burns brought his ship down in a crash landing at Bone==shot full of
holes. We have pictures of it now at headquarters and, believe me, it looks
like a sieve. They immeasurably increase my faith in the ability of the B-25  to fly under adverse battle conditions.
…Duke went down at sea---and miraculously lived to tell about it. In
fact, all but one member of his crew (the engineer) escaped with minor
injuries. This is what happened according to Lt. James H. Ackley, the co-pilot,
as best as I can gather.
Ackley, James H., 2Lt, pilot
Burns, John P. "Buster", 2Lt, pilot
Duke, Albert (NMI) "Al", 2Lt, pilot

They were flying No. 4 position of a flight of four ships and were
flying it close. Oil was leaking out of the right engine and going back over
the wing. They had had a little trouble with it during the attack, but it was
working O.K. on the trip home.
But the oil on their wing was their ruin. Enemy fighters
(ME-109's-yellow nose jobs, indicating Goering's prize squadron) picked Duke's ship as a
possible cripple, and concentrated their attack on them. They were doing
O.K. in holding off their attackers, Sgt. Noble, the turret gunner shot down
one ME-109 and Sgt. Drogosch the radio operator on the waist guns, shot down
another. One Nazi, however, paid no attention whatever to the fire power
concentrated on him and came boring in in spite of it. He did a good job.
His fire raked the ship from one end to the other---a 20 mm shell exploded in
the navigator's compartment, tearing things up generally. But other than a
few cuts on their hands and faces, did no damage to Duke and Ackley. A string of 20mm
shells hit the right engine, going back across the wing towards the fuselage
and the tail section. That was the burst that did the dirty work. The
engine caught fire and quit. The wheel assembly came down out of the nacelle
and hung there. The right wing flaps came down and fell off. The right wing
itself was badly shot up and weakened. The tail section was riddled, and
Sgt. Govoni, the engineer on the tail gun, was killed. He never knew what
hit him.
Ackley, James H., 2Lt, pilot
Duke, Albert (NMI) "Al", 2Lt, pilot
Drogosch, Robert C., T/Sgt, radio-gunner
Govoni, Harold F., S/Sgt, engineer-gunner
Noble, Francis L., S/Sgt, armament-gunner

Duke had no choice but to set it down---and that was a job! His ship
just wouldn't fly, dropping fast. He tried to slow it down by closing the
throttle, but it was falling so fast it kept its speed. Nothing to do but hit
and hang on…
They hit---and what a wallop it must have been. The ship broke into
three pieces---the right wing came off and the fuselage broke just aft of the
turret. The radio operator had hold of the life raft release when they hit,
and in falling, released the raft. Duke, for some reason, had his safety
belt off and bounced around in the cockpit doing various and sundry damage to
his ribs, head and hands. Ackley got a nice cut from his hair line down
over his forehead, but isn't sure just where or when he got it. Doug Orr, the
bombardier, got out O.K. with minor scratches.
When they hit, Orr was back in the navigator's compartment, and when
the forward motion of the ship ceased, water came gushing up in to it with
such force that Orr, Ackley, and Duke were washed out through the pilot's
escape hatch. They don't know who got out first, but Ackley claims they all went
out together…
The radio operator got out safely with only slight bruises and
scratches, but Sgt. Noble was knocked unconscious in the crash. The ship sank in 20
to 25 seconds so there was no time to try to reach him. However, as the
ship went down Noble was revived by the cold water and swam out the only hole
he could see over the riddled body of Sgt. Govoni.
Ackley, James H., 2Lt, pilot
Duke, Albert (NMI) "Al", 2Lt, pilot
Noble, Francis L., S/Sgt, armament-gunner
Orr, Douglas C. "Doug", 2Lt, bombardier, navigator

After he was clear of the ship, Ackley discovered himself in trouble.
His parachute harness was still fastened across his chest and he had
inflated one side of his Mae West life jacket. The inflated side, in expanding,
had tightened the chute harness so that he couldn't unfasten it---and the
heavy pack kept pulling him down in the water. It was all he could do to hang
on to the raft while the others unfastened his harness. Finally free of it
he crawled into the raft, and then, he said, he promptly got mad! While it
was on him and he couldn't get it off, his chute pack dragged him
under---but when he got free, the damned thing began to float!

 His little experience taught us never to inflate our Mae West under our
chute harness.
As the ship sank one ME-109 returned, circled low over them, and headed
back toward Tunisia. Taking stock of their situation, they decided they
were about 10 or 15 miles off Cape Serrat----enemy territory! But it was
land, and land being their main interest, they began to paddle for it. They
paddled with everything they had as fast as they could---arriving on the
mainland at about 1 or 2 in the morning---or after about 12 hours of paddling!
They landed in enemy territory and it took them 3½ days of walking to
get back inside our lines. They walked mostly in the hills---the coast was
generally too rocky---and they found it easier to dodge enemy patrols by
staying in wooded country. Duke was the only one anywhere near seriously
injured---the bouncing around in the cockpit when they hit the water gave him a
pretty good beating. He was in pain quite a bit of the time---going sort of
out of his head at times. They gave him morphine on several occasions until
they ran out.
They had a time getting food, and most of the time they did without.
Doug Orr can speak a little French and succeeded in getting a little food
from Arabs.
Orr, Douglas C. "Doug", 2Lt, bombardier, navigator

They hired one Arab to guide them safely to the Allied lines, but after
careful checking on their compasses, decided he was taking them to an enemy
outpost. They thought they might kill him, but decided against it as it
could easily rouse the Arabs against them. So they gave him the slip.
They waded rivers, climbed hills and rock, and somehow got through to
the British. Somewhere along the line they met a Frenchman who had escaped
the Nazis and who knew the country pretty well. They all admit he was a big
help-especially in dealing with Arabs.
The British treated them royally---gave them new clothes, fed them well
and often, treated their injuries, and after a few days, sent them back to
us.

Duke kept complaining of headaches and is now in a hospital somewhere.
The rest of them are in either Oran or Algiers for a rest cure.
Duke, Albert (NMI) "Al", 2Lt, pilot

Barbi Ennis Connolly ~ 321st Bomb Group Historian PRINCESSBARBI_B25@msn.com

 

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